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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

Tassos Kouris a.k.a. Anubis

" Something more than technical perfection

The charm of illusion and the various methods used to stimulate the imagination are among the vital ingredients of art. They form the basis of much-of the painter's artifice, as long as he refuses to let himself be led astray by the delusive appeal of the ersatz. Art is not needed for the purpose of making reproductions based rigidly on the principles that govern the "real" world. It is not a window looking out on to everyday reality, and therefore a work of art is neither an antecedent nor a sequel nor another version of that reality, A work of art is a new object created by the will of the artist and the fact of coinciding with what pre-exists. Amidst the infinity of coincidences, the creator's artistic will is always insatiable and the painter's world of objects is free of emotional entanglements and available for continuous renewal. The value of the artist's efforts, which are aimed at achieving a better understanding of the world, lies in this autonomy and self-sufficiency of the artistic object; but one of the prerequisites of the artist's efforts is that there shall be no trace of naturalism. In art, fortunately, dreams are not subject to deterministic laws of cause and effect. The artist's freedom is unbounded: the end alone justifies the means.

I have put down these thoughts in the belief that they may perhaps lead us towards a sounder approach to the work of Tassos Kouris by minimizing the initial sense of shock and astonishment aroused not only by his choice of subject matter but also by his superb technical mastery, which, taken as a whole, one might almost describe as a magnificent immoderation. True, all that hard work, that meticulous attention to detail, those endless hours he spends on his paintings, are not a virtuosic end in themselves. His knowledge of classical painting and his undisguised love of the Pre-Raphaelites provide this "maniac for technique" with something more than a tool: they give him the power of creative transcendence, whenever that helps him to attain what he is striving for. But at the same time they are two more components of his artistic identity.
No one can deny that the kind of mastery exemplified by flawless technique and meticulous workmanship is one criterion of artistic merit. It is from the Pre-Raphaelites, in particular, that he has drawn his love of beauty and the sort of realism that finds expression in minute attention to detail. But Kouris uses the showy externals of beauty, and of preoccupation with technique, in absolute conjunction with the content of his painting-In other words, it could be said that his technical mastery has its meaning and its justification in what he paints, rather than in the way he paints it. His work does not obey the logic of a landscapist or a portraitist or a painter of still-life. It is dramaturgic painting. His pictures lay no claim to the kind of realism that properly belongs to a Nikon or a Canon, nor do they provide a substitute tor it They neither copy nor simulate objects, even though the viewer has no difficulty in naming the objects as constituent elements of the pictures. On the contrary, they boldly proffer their own alternative visual reality, their own alternative visual mythology, which is right outside: the range of Ptolemaic anthropocentricity or Aristotelian logic. His versions of places, people and things, in all their,; various combinations, know no numerical limits, since: it is only through chance, accidental discovery or some unexpected turn of events that: the endless chain of associations can put an end to these versions or interpretations of the visual narrative. Kouris' artist's license is unlimited and provocative, because it is made with the materials of a perpetually self-negating logic which nevertheless does not cease to perform an evidential function.
Anyone who repudiates the conventional reality in his art will sooner or later have to put forward some alternative reality, which, by the very nature of things, will be not only unconventional but also — almost inevitably — formalistic. Faced with this danger of humdrum repetition, Kouris offers not one but an infinite number of realities, all equally "real", equally probable and equally captivating. These, however, are not innumerable ver sions of the reality of the absurd or of Surrealism, but of another, imaginary, reality, which is highly desirable for art in its poetic dimension.
I think it is not difficult to detect in Kouris' paintings a striving to depict time as the archetype and essence of eternity, which every creative artist has always aspired to do; a hopeless striving — which may equally manifest itself in movement or in immobility — to express eternity by means of the fleeting present. In Kouris' paintings time seems to be trapped in its very stream, and its apparent motionlessness makes it visible. You can put out your hand and touch it. His seas are calm, his skies never threatening; objects coexist in an alliance that disarms all rationalistic determinism; bodies are "contained" in their void, or their presence is inferred from their impact on the surrounding space. Faces seem to have their gaze fixed on some point undefined in space or time; they know no emotional turmoil; they are ignorant of memory and death. They seem to be saying, with Borges, "Our life would be much poorer if it were not everlasting." And this is true insofar as the ephemeral is a constituent element of eternity.
All the time that Kouris is painting, he is searching avidly for his artistic style, his artistic origins, his artistic spirituality. Every new picture of his amounts to a confrontation with his own artistic calibre. He brings to mind the words written by the French critic Philippe Sollers about Poussin: "The sole end he has in view is painting, in the modern sense of the word, that is to say striving for a perfect work which will invalidate all that have gone before." The only fixed point of reference that one can discern is his birthplace, Corfu, which is the almost invariable setting of his work, a setting sometimes explicit and sometimes merely hinted at — a geographical matrix that has molded his art. This may, perhaps, be the origin of his somewhat theatrical approach to spatial arrangement, which conveys a "stagy" atmosphere in as much as everything is exaggerated and larger than life, though never melodramatic. And his pictures possess all the lyricism of a deliberately subdued melancholy, always discreetly suggested by his rich, almost musical, tonal values.
One point that deserves our special attention is that although Kouris' work is unquestionably modern, his techniques are based on those of the great classical school and of Baroque and the Pre-Raphaelites. He adheres to the classical principles of unity and integrity of shapes, equality of lighting, closed forms and smooth gradations of color. There are times, however, when he dramatizes landscapes, submerging some of the forms in shadow. " Then the color tones will be analyzed even more minutely on the surfaces of objects by means of successive layers of paint, often transparent, revealing subtle qualities and palimpsest relationships of the subjects depicted, which are enwrapped in, or emerging from, a cocoon of white.
Kouris is a genuine neo-romantic who recounts in a lyrical way, but with a realistic purpose, the validation of his imaginary reality: a projection of the past into the future.

"...The whole image comes instantaneously to my mind… As a whole. As a real Dreamscape… Then starts the refinement, but not the betrayal of the initial idea… The backdrop (usually my beloved Corfu), the composition, the meticulous under painting, the main painting and last, the lights…"

Tassos Kouris

more about the artist and his work here

Lee Chapman a.k.a. Lencho

High on a jungle hillside, overlooking the bay and the town of Puerto Vallarta is the home and studio of the artist Lee Chapman (aka Lencho) that he shares with his wife Nancy and their 2 dogs, Rudy Rojo and Pinta la Vaca. Their house is filled with paintings, antiques, and colorful Mexican folk-art from their gallery “Puerco Azul” (the Blue Pig), opened in 1995.

Lee is originally from Los Angeles where he directed TV commercials for cars, soaps, toys, and various junk-foods. In 1992 he moved to Mexico to fulfill his dream of being an artist. His work has been strongly influenced by the people, color, music and folklore of Mexico (and also the many dogs, cats, pigs, and burros in his neighborhood). This “folklorico” style is signed Lencho, his Mexican “apodo” or nickname. His more realistic style is signed with his “gringo” name, Lee Chapman.

His images have been licensed and reproduced as prints, calendars, greeting-cards, and decorative items sold in stores such as Pier1, Aaron Bros., JC Penny, Kohl’s and Ross. He has illustrated many children’s picture books for various publishers in the USA, some co-written with his wife Nancy. Over the years his whimsical paintings have been shown in Puerto Vallarta galleries and other cities throughout Mexico. His work is represented in many private collections both in Mexico and the United States.

"Among Puerto Vallarta’s many wonderful galleries, one in particular promises comic relief along with aesthetic nourishment. Its name alone, Puerco Azul (Blue Pig), provides the first inkling that something beyond still-lives and pastoral scenes are in store. Originally a four-room house complete with courtyard, Puerco Azul is now home to an eclectic mix of colorful one-of-a kind art, rugs, jewelry, pottery, vintage clothing, furniture and other unique collectables. The common denominator, it would appear, is whimsy and animals.

Owners Lee and Nancy Chapman, admitted “shopaholics”, love traveling Mexico in search of the unusual. Having filled their LA home to capacity with acquisitions from their forays, the couple opened Puerco Azul in Vallarta ten years ago as a perfect venue to feed their passion and share their treasures. Initially intended for others’ works, the gallery eventually evolved as the perfect showcase for Lee’s artistic creations, as well. Schooled in marketing and fine art, he’d dabbled in painting while working as an advertising film/video director and producer. At first focused on such serious subject matters as the Gulf War, Lee made a conscious decision one day to “lighten up,” and thus was born his trademark blue pig and other fanciful creatures, now licensed in the US and pictured on calendars, greeting cards, mugs, tee-shirts, and a variety of other popular gift items sold in Pier One and Penny’s Department Stores, among others.

The Chapmans have contracted with artisans throughout Mexico to incorporate Lee’s signature artwork into traditional folk ware, resulting in some of the Gallery’s more innovative merchandise such as embroidered appliqué pillows featuring a multi-level feline housing development (catdominium) or decorative bowls with colorful clay nuns perched on its edge. Lee’s original canvases, from which these works have been adapted, are a study in artistic humor. Cirugia Plastica (plastic surgery), for example, features three stylized men and women in before-and-after poses following procedures to enhance various perceived bodily imperfections. At the bottom of the painting in a shameless effort to recruit patients, Dr. Lencho (Lee’s sometime pseudonym) has signed his name alongside his phone number.

The Chapman’s appreciation for animals and their light-hearted approach to life is evident throughout the gallery, making it an entertaining and productive place to search for distinctive home accessories, unusual mementos of one’s trip to Puerto Vallarta and hostess gifts or special occasion presents, among others. One of my favorites is the colorful Bad Dog/Good Dog products (mugs, chairs, etc.) featuring an impish pooch whose caught-in the-act expression is all too familiar and irresistible to canine lovers. Another charming item is the series of educational children’s books ($200 pesos each) featuring Lee’s artwork. In Eight Animals on the Town, targeted at four-to-eight year-olds, the text teaches simple Spanish by documenting the characters’ various activities, such as baking a cake and playing ball. Doggie Dreams, which the Chapman’s produced collaboratively, utilizing Nancy’s writing talents, is a humorous look at pups’ naptime preoccupations. Trippers Travels, scheduled for release in September is designed like a photo album that takes the reader to various countries, showing important landmarks, customs and cultural celebrations. ..."

Thomas Ehretsmann

Thomas Ehretsmann started his career as a comic book artist in 1998. Subsequently he moved into illustration. His clients include many European publishers and magazines: Elle, Flammarion, Gallimard, Hachette, Nathan, Delcourt, Milan, and Syros...

In 2009, he studied with the great Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum.

His most prestigious award to date came in March 2011 when he won a gold medal at the Society of Illustrators for "Muder Inc.".

Linda Brunker

Born Dublin, Ireland, 13th March 1966


National College of Art & Design, Dublin 1983 - 1988

Degree in fine art, Sculpture - 1988

Diploma in fine art, Sculpture - 1987

Large commissions

‘The People's Counsil’, City Hall, Laguna Beach, 2006.

Pact Woodland Sculpture Project. East Tynon Park, County Dublin. 2006

Private commission, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, 2005.
‘Earth, Water, Air’, private commission, Newport, CA, USA, 2004.

‘Samhain – (Winter), Bridgid’s Meditation Garden, Roscahill, County Galway, Ireland, 2004.

‘Aphrodite Rising’, private commission, San Francisco, 2004.

Project for Jury’s Hotel in Boston, 2004.

‘Voyager’, Laytown Strand, commissioned by Meath County Council, Ireland 2004.

Sculpture for Treasure Island Park, commissioned by Laguna Beach City, California, 2003.

‘The Healing Tree’, Virginia Community Services Center, Co Cavan, commissioned by the NEBH 2002.

‘The Wishing Hand’, Department of Education, Marlborough Square, Dublin, commissioned by the OPW 2001.

Commission for the Sea Castle development, Santa Monica Beach, California, USA, 2001.

‘Two For Joy’, Bray Garda Station, commissioned by the OPW, 2001.

‘The Ocean Meets The Land’, Hawaii, commissioned for the Maui Marriott Hotel, 2000

‘Meeting Point’, Scotch Quay, Waterford, commissioned by Frisby Construction, 2000.

A commission for the Telecom Ireland, London Office, 1999.

‘Continuum’, Radisson St. Helen's Hotel, Stillorgan, Co Dublin, commissioned by Cosgrave Homes, 1999.

‘Overflow’, Pembroke Place, Grand Canal Street, Dublin, commissioned by Cosgrave Homes, 1998.

‘Orchard Gate’, Athy, commissioned by Athy Urban District Council, 1997.

‘Signal’, RTE, Dublin, commissioned by RTE, 1996.

‘Source’ RTE, Dublin, commissioned by RTE, 1996.

‘Flow’ New York, commissioned by the Lennox Hill Medical Imaging Center, 1996.

Piece overlooking Lough Owel, commissioned by Westmeath County Council, Mullingar, 1993.

‘Awakening’, Rue Montroyer, Brussels, commissioned by Irish Life Assurance plc, 1991.

Sculpture for the plaza of the Earlsfort center, Dublin, commissioned by Burke Kennedy Doyle Architects 1990.

Selected Commissioned Award Pieces

Numerous award and presentation pieces such as;

AIB Export Awards 1999/2000.

COTHU Art Sponsor of the Year Award 1999.

National Entertainment Awards 1997/1998.

Noel Bensted

Noel was born in 1970 and studied illustration at Brighton University and the Royal College of Art. He carried out many commissions for pubishers before concentrating on full-time painting in 1997.

Many galleries throughout the UK and America feature Noel's work.

Noel's subjects are the young men and women who socialise in the cities of Europe, America and Africa. His paintings are peopled with the young of today, dressed in contemporary clothing with all the edginess of urban life.

Noel's portraits have an intimate atmosphere, which draw you into the painting, suggesting a connection between the subject and the viewer. There is no apparent poising but a reflective moment shared.


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