Oakland based artist Lauren Napolitano along with the UK’s David Bray and Word To Mother have come together to create a wondrous and folksy illustrative dream world in their collaborative group exhibition “Better Habits” at the Athen B Gallery in Oakland. Athen B. studio artist, Lauren Napolitano has been evolving a new body of work with a rich color palette inspired by her residency in Tulum, Mexico. David Bray’s graphic lines and witty play on words create stripped-down compositions rich in symbolism. Layers of wash and textured abstraction mingle with hints of playful illustration in Word To Mother’s most poetic body of work so far. Each of the artists have created new individual works to be shown alongside a series of collaborative works. The exhibition will be on view May 14th to June 4, 2016 with an opening reception on Saturday, May 14th at 7pm at 1525 Webster St. in Downtown Oakland. More info and images after the jump!
DAVID BRAY | For as long as I can remember. I’ve been surrounded by art and artists since I was born. My late father worked for 30 odd years at the Royal Academy of Arts in London – so by default I was brought up in this environment of creativity and imagination. We were allowed to wander the galleries before the Royal Academy opened in the morning, so we had all this art to ourselves. There was minimal security before opening, and no cctv so we used to lick all the Picasso’s and Monet’s. Wine and turps. When I was growing up I didn’t have any posters on my wall, I had 3 drawings by Alfred Hitchcock – of some birds. I was terrified.
The work is all about the line and the human form, keeping it fluid and feminine. Mainly though it is about PLAY, to keep pressing and pushing so I’m not constantly repeating – so my job doesn’t feel like a job……..I usually tend to work with pen/pencil on paper but over recent years i have started experimenting with different mediums. A lot of my most recent work has been large scale pieces on wood, minimum 6ft high. I like the challenge and try and push myself to try new things. Most of these pieces are in private collections but you can currently see 3 of them in Gordon Ramsey’s Union Street Cafe in London.
I have done a few sporadic street pieces, and that was more about testing myself – if I could translate the work on paper to larger scale and in new environments. I’m quite a restless soul and get bored quite quickly, so new mediums are new challenges, something to get out of the house for. With this restlessness I bought a canal boat in Amsterdam and tried to sail it across the Channel. I’m very sorry for this. All the work comes back to the same themes……. It’s very inspired by 40′s and 50′s pin-ups, religion, breathlessness, heels, black magic, not drowning in the sea – all mixed up and presented in ink, paint and wool.
WORD TO MOTHER | Balance. Life and Death. Love and Loss. That’s what I am trying to capture through making images. Authentic observations of human character and a reaction to the world we live in.
“When a piece of music moves you to the point where you feel it…That’s what I try and realize, visually. Whether that feeling is good or bad…I haven’t felt that way about anything I’ve made yet but I think that’s the whole point, I’m not sure you ever do as an artist. Saying that everyone creates art for a different reason.”
Perseverance and positivity
Melancholic, pensive figures exist within an ethereal depth created through texture and loose, gestural painted layers. With an acute observational eye and confident mark making, WTM captures the subtleties of human character and emotion in his unmistakable style. Images of nostalgic popular culture, wordplay, architecture and tattooing are infused throughout the works and reveal themselves to the viewer as they look more closely at the pieces.
LAUREN NAPOLITANO | As a self taught traveling artist, I create work that is deeply rooted in my mother’s Mexican heritage and the symbology it presents. Joseph Campbell has been a huge inspiration for me this past year and my art clearly reflects it. Working around the central themes of myth, symmetry and the symbiotic relationship between animal and earth…
I work within a simple color palette to truly let these simple lines and dots take you to a cathartic space. I am not a person who is good about capturing moments in photos, but I am obsessed with this idea of story, and thus am constantly stopping to gather objects that serve as mementos….markers along my path. I’ll be creating an installation in the gallery to serve as a safe space for all the treasures I have collected and created this past year, an ode to all the moments and people that have inspired and made this life possible.