Monday, October 5, 2009

My favorite etsy artists, Carlos Sebastian

Yes, it's true, Carlos Sebastian is more than just a consumate charmer livening up the etsy forums. He's an amazingly talented artist, spanning a wide variety of mediums and styles. This first painting is titled Icon, oil on canvas, 48" x 60". Carlos writes in the item description that this piece evolved across a year and a half's time, starting as a fairly simple study of a bird in flight that then took on more complicated and emotional symbolism for him: "Over time, and likely due to my interest in contemporary US geopolitical affairs, I started to think about an eagle and how it is a universal symbol of America/The United States. As a strong peace advocate, and a critic of the US' arrogant, aggressive involvement in the affairs of other countries, I wanted to try to use the 'iconic' bald eagle image to say something about the state of US politics today. On the Mexican flag, there is an indigenous-derived image of an eagle holding a snake in its mouth. The original hieroglyph, however, actually depicts a red ribbon/flag which symbolizes war. I thought it would be interesting to use this eagle + red flag, a depiction of a warlike culture, to juxtapose with a peace message... in order to touch on the contradictions and propaganda used against Americans to get them to subsidize war and death for the pursuit of so-called 'peace' in the Middle East. This past year, I also became very interested in the beauty of Arabic typography, so in this painting, the red ribbon forms the Arabic word for 'peace.' In short, the iconic bald eagle literally brings war, but advertises an ushering of peace. The landscape that the eagle navigates is aggressive, harsh, dangerous, and warlike."
Icon is a forceful image, even without knowing the backstory or intent. The colors and movement suggest violence and force so beautifully. I am always amazed by artists who can convey their emotions, even their politics, in a single image, without explanation. This painting certainly accomplishes that brilliantly. One glance, and the viewer knows exactly what the artist's intent is, and that is my definition of success for this genre of art.

This second piece, 4141, is my favorite that Carlos has listed in his etsy shop. It's a diptych, acrylic on canvas, and originally reminded me of Jasper Johns' work. Again, from Carlos' shop description:

"'4141—US-Subsidized Corporate Murder We Can Believe In.' Subject: Corporate military contractors / the commerce of murder. Panel 1 depicts a climbing number of US casualties in the Iraq/Afghanistan wars. Panel 2 contains names of prominent military contractors hired by the US government."

Once again, the visual impact of the piece is sizeable, even shrunken down on a computer monitor. After reading the description, the emotional impact of his intent is even stronger. Extremely thoughtful and provocative, this piece also melds the personal, the political and the artistic without resorting to becoming the propaganda it rails against. Factual, visceral and effective.
Last but not least, here is an ACEO giclee print of an original ink drawing of John Lennon during the Plastic Ono Band days. What a wonderful interpretation of a famous face and personality that we all know and love so well. Lennon, doing the thing he loved the most in the world, singing about peace and love.
So, art in three different mediums (oil, acrylic and ink), on three different scales, from fairly large to a 2.5" x 3.5" ACEO, all with artistic, emotional and political impact? Not too shabby, eh? Oh, and he also has great knowledge of rock music and DJ's at parties. No, really.
Check out his etsy shop, and, remember, love is all you need.

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