As the editor of the art publication BloPop Magazine, I’ve come across some wonderful and thoughtful artists who have become well-known in the pop-surrealist and lowbrow movement. Even though much of my focus has been on artists who define themselves to be part of this movement, I have also come across various new contemporary artists and illustrators who don’t necessarily fall into this category.
Even though much of my work consists of searching for fresh new artists, I always come back to certain artists who I’ve favored in the last few years. It just so happens that three of these particular artists happen to identify as queer.
For my latest issue I chose three new contemporary artists whose styles are different from one another yet whose work resonates on an existential and human level. Even though identifying as gay men does not rule their profession or their work, it has influenced some of their art and career.
I would like to introduce you to the work and talent of Dan Barry, Jon MacNair, and Anthony Hurd.
1. Jon MacNair
“I feel like my artistic voice is being heard to the degree that I would wish. However, my ambitions and motivations to make the art that I do, might differ from other artists that label themselves first and foremost as ‘queer artists.’
“Art has always been a big part of my life, starting as a small child. Being gay has also always been a part of my life. The thing that my art and sexuality have in common is that they have both been influential in shaping the person I am today. However, neither has ever been the primary thing to define me.
“I wouldn’t specifically label the art that I make as having dominantly queer themes, but it would be untruthful to say it was completely devoid of them because my art is so personal and often deals with themes of self-reflection, family relationships and lost love.
“Because of my overall dark aesthetic and the otherworldly environments I depict, it’s easy for these emotional themes to get overlooked. I enjoy this aspect of my work, though. Viewers who are in tune with certain emotions might see exactly what it is I am saying with my art, like an invisible message that is suddenly visible. Others might simply be drawn to the world I create or relate to the overall tone and mood, even if what is happening in the piece remains a mystery.
“I do think that artists who identify as gay or bisexual are of great value to the gay community. To me, making work that speaks to any minority group is of value. In making this work, people find connection, strength, comfort and often empathy in a world where it is easy to feel isolated or alone.”
2. Dan Barry
“Recently while cleaning out my studio, I came across two 20-plus-year-old artist statements, one from 1994 and the other from 1996. Both reflected where I was at as a young gay man and artist who came of age in the first decade of the AIDS epidemic. My artwork at that time was influenced by my own personal acceptance of what my life may hold as an adult gay man, as well as the related social and political issues of the time.
“In hindsight, these works were also a reflection of desire and sexual repression. At the time, I had a lot of anxiety around sexual experiences and intimacy. In my mind I had drawn a parallel connection between sex and death. And I had yet to find myself in a committed, loving relationship.
“Three years ago I left my corporate job, working for the same company for 20-plus years, in order to be a full-time artist. Today I do not think of myself as a gay artist but rather an artist who happens to be gay. My artworks contain less of a ‘gay’ narrative and rather a more universal ‘human” one.”
3. Anthony Hurd
“I wouldn’t call it a series, but the large paintings I started and finished after my last breakup were particularly emotional for me. Titles ‘darkest night of the souls eternal journey,’ ‘rebirth,’ ‘the collapse of grief,’ ‘eternal flame’ and ‘the veil of impermanence’ were all very important pieces to me as I worked through the grief and pain of the end of an 18-year relationship.
“When I pour my emotions into it, it leaves a lasting impression for sure. These pieces really helped me understand myself better and leave something behind when they were completed.”
Head here to read the full-length interviews with these ‘new contemporary’ artists at BloPop‘s official site.
BloPop magazine will release its next issue, “Volume Three,” on Oct. 31., featuring work by various pop surrealist, lowbrow and new contemporary artists.