07 January 2012

Branches of Change: Christopher Konecki

Incoming Waves
   We are honored to feature the work of Christopher Konecki which beautifully exemplifies the heart of San Diego with its focus on the sweetness of nature as well as the environmental and economic challenges that face us city-wide and globally. 

   Growing up in San Diego, Konecki spent a lot of time around the ocean, which influenced his artistic eye and provided the inspiration for many of his early pieces.
   "I surfed as much as possible," Konecki says. "My love for nature began with a love for the ocean. The natural beauty is undeniable and it has influenced my work from subject matter to suggested color palettes."

The 180
   Konecki has experimented with several different visual styles in his never-ending quest to express his ideas. Just looking at the first four paintings shown here, we see a wealth of variation, including the placid hues found in many South East Asian works, the stained glass window look of European churches, and "modernist" mixed media collage. In Incoming Waves and Untitled (commission piece), we can even see the dripping textures of spray cans which is often found in street art. But through each of Konecki's pieces, there is the unmistakeable essence of layered and adventurous communication. 
   "Mainly, I'm trying to share what's on my mind. If I could articulate it, I would be an author. But I can't spell, so I paint. I have goals to live off my artwork, but I don't think anyone goes into this for the money. It's about sharing what I feel and hopefully affecting some positive change in my surroundings."

Untitled (commission piece)
   Konecki's Untitled (commission piece) depicts a scene through bird-laden branches of a rolling ocean curl and the gleaming sun behind it, and is an awesome sight to behold. Its composition and its fantastic sectioning of colors and patterns gives us a glimpse of a wondrous world that rivals our own. Working primarily with acrylic and spray paint, Konecki sometimes adds touches of newsprint as well as some digital effects in the sketching and touch-up stages.
   "Digital art is a pretty wide range of art and technique. I use a limited amount of digital help but I wouldn't say I am a digital artist. I have no problems with artists using technologies available to them. I don't mix my own paint or kill a baby calf for canvases so why not use digital tech to enhance a painting's finished result? But the extent of my digital involvement is doing mock-ups and sketches in photoshop because it's just quicker than producing similar sketches over and over again. Past that, I rely on my brush or can for the piece because I am more comfortable with tactile items, and I feel a different sense of creation with them." 

10 Cordobas
   In 10 Cordobas, the surfer is a bit removed from the idyllic beach. He sits on a bicycle, wrapt in contemplation, his foot leaning on a dead fallen branch. The entire scene is encapsulated within a unit of money, a subtle statement on the way global economics pervades even the most serene natural habitats on the planet. The piece parallels the shift in Konecki's artistic interest away from depicting beach scenes to encompass other styles and more complicated themes. 
   "To be honest, painting beach-scapes is way more lucrative but it doesn't take much effort from the audience to appreciate a palm tree and a wave," says Konecki. "As my life changes my creative expression changes with it. And now, certain social issues are more pressing. It is more of a challenge to paint in my new style, but once it's understood, I feel my new work will be seen as a logical evolution from the old."

Three Little Birds
X-Ray Exaltation

   In 2011, Konecki's focus left the beach completely as he produced a series of tree paintings. The series retains his evocative tree-texturing but introduces more design work, patterns and symbols. The result is more immediately impacting than Konecki's earlier work, in a 1920s Constructivism way. 
Nothing New Under the Sun
   "Three Little Birds was one of the first pieces in my exploration of the relationship between man and nature. I thought it would be interesting to illustrate something natural with the most unnatural compounds possible."
   The tree series culminated in Konecki's 3-dimensional found-object piece: Nothing New Under the Sun. "This was a fun one. I was given a guitar body at a Family Wagon show that would have otherwise been discarded. I hacked a branch from a tree and attached the two. It was a challenge to transform what I usually paint into the third dimension, but once it was completed I was totally satisfied. I feel its gravity on a wall."
   Nothing New Under the Sun is notable, in part, for its brown, yellow, and orange color scheme, which Konecki kept as he began depicting his recent issue-based pieces. 

Leslie Finds a Job

   Leslie Finds a Job is one of Konecki's most challenging pieces. In full disclosure, we initially shied away from posting it because of its grim view of the future. But after spending more time with it, its aesthetic perfection became undeniable, and its cautionary meaning increased in volume, until we came to see it as a true masterpiece of our time. Additionally, the fact that Leslie strives for grace even in the midst of a broken world is an image that inspires even as it breaks down the viewers' defences. 

   Clearly, Konecki is one self-motivated, hard-working, and thoughtful hombre. We hope he and all others like him can continue enriching our city and our globe with their work. 
   When asked what San Diego can do to ensure this, Konecki says: "Support your local artists."
   Fair enough.

[We will continue to report on Christopher Konecki's marvellous work. His latest painting is on display at Thumbprint Gallery and will remain so through the Works of Wisdom exhibition. For more info on Konecki, feel free to visit his website at: christopherkonecki.com.]

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