Micky Dolenz is a passionate lover of the arts, among other things. In the past, he has introduced me to the works of Christopher Voelker (http://www.voelkerstudio.com) who took my all time favorite photos of Micky for his album, Remember (pictures at the bottom of this post) and it seems only appropriate that we acknowledge Micky’s appreciation for art on this page from time to time. Micky himself has dabbled into the world of art with his own series (miraculously available to see and buy online – CLICK HERE) which to be honest reminds me of vaginas. I know they’re meant to be depictions of what he sees when he looks through a microscope but all I see is vaginas, which probably just says more about my own perversion than anything else. “Micky Dolenz has distinguished himself as actor, musician, director, writer and most recently visual artist. ‘A few years ago, while studying physics in England, I was struck by the beautiful images captured by the electron microscope, and those images are what I am depicting. I describe my work as still life of things you can’t see.’ ‘I do careful research for my art, not to ensure that my images are technically accurate, but to ensure that they are aesthetically so.’” (From http://imagemakersart.com/mickydolenz.axpx)
Last October, Micky posted the following picture on his Facebook profile and the oil painting of him he is posing beside instantly devoured my mind and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since. I became an instant fan of Zhenya Gershman, the artist who created this masterpiece as part of her Larger Than Life Art Exhibit.
Los Angeles, CA. October 1st, 2014.
Dramatic over-sized portraits of iconic public and private figures told in the story of paint by renowned artist Zhenya Gershman is the subject of a stunning new exhibit, her newest work, entitled “Larger Than Life” to be unveiled this Winter at the Building Bridges International Art Exchange in the premier Bergamot Station Art Complex beginning Thursday, February 12th.
Assessing Zhenya’s work Peter Frank, an art critic for Angeleno Magazine, Huffington Post, and LA Weekly said, “Gershman’s effort evokes not only Whistler’s and Sargent’s, but that from which they took inspiration, Manet’s and Velazquez’s–masters of the figure who in their own ways avoided the banal literalities of their contemporaries for a rendition truer to the vagaries of vision, and (thereby) to the dynamics of human presence.
Describing her inspiration, Zhenya states, “Over 100 years ago, my great-grandfather advertised his photography studio as ‘Portraits up to life-size with negatives carefully preserved for re-prints.’ At the time, this was a technological wonder and stretching of human perception and recognition of self – photography being a miraculous mirror capturing and reflecting the image of your identity. Today, I am working with this family tradition but in reverse, instead of the living model I am using photography as a starting point to blow up the images into larger than life-size portraits. For this series I used a mix of celebrity public figures and private intimate faces of my family and friends circle.”
“A very different part of the brain is activated when the artist is using a face of their loved one verses one of the stranger to create a portrait,” Zhenya continues. “Ironically it is easier to ‘see’ when one has no emotional connection to the subject. To infuse these portraits with substance I used various dimensions to get closer to the subjects: the recording of their voices, interviews, songs, memories, associations, and film appearances. A curious psychological reversal occurs: while the viewer can easily recognize these iconic faces, slowly they begin to fade away replaced by a new persona presented by the painting that takes over the original source.
In these up-to seven feet tall faces not only the size of the image but the very brush stroke is enlarged. In addition to large house painting brushes and palette knifes, Zhenya had to resort to huge sponges and squeegees to carve out the faces in oil paint, creating a highly tactile, sculptural surface.
“These portraits are literally, poetically, and metaphysically LARGER than LIFE. Like my great grandfather, I used human subjects; only this time the people themselves became the ‘negatives’ that are used to ‘develop’ the works of art,” Zhenya adds.
April Neale, an art critic for Monsters and Critics, writes: “These are not pretty people pictures. They are jaw dropping, honest reveals that give the observer a sense of insight and appreciation to the whole of the subject. Her art provokes, mesmerizes and intrigues with the sense of energy in what is normally a calm, still subject, and more importantly, Zhenya’s work creates dialogue, not only about her art, but about the life of the subject she has captured.”
Peter Frank continues: “Gershman may thus conjure the artistic manners and attitudes of centuries past, but her approach is not anachronistic or retardataire. Rather, it is summative. Besides its Baroque and romantic features, Gershman’s style bespeaks a thoroughgoing familiarity with the modern, with painterly expressionism, surrealist distortion, and even the structure and sensuousness of pure abstraction. Gershman’s brushstroke may inherit its integrity from that of Whistler, but its assertiveness, even its sculpted quality, descends from Soutine, Nolde, Munch, even van Gogh.”
I am definitely the furthest thing from an art critic but I know what I like. As a fan of Micky’s for the majority of my life, I was in awe of Zhenya’s vision of the man I so deeply admire. It’s raw, it’s in your face and I love it. I highly recommend you view her other work, which is equally brilliant and powerful.
For more information on Zhenya Gershman, artist and art historian: