I have always been intrigued by dark and eccentric visual arts. Dense color scheme is so irritating to my senses and while observing the art, its always like I am being slammed with insufficient of information in order to process my thoughts on it. And it rarely happens but I like it a lot when it does. Sometimes I don’t seek for an answer, sometimes I do, but the beauty in observing an unconventional artwork for the sake of both is an extraordinary experience.
Marshall Arisman is an American painter and illustrator, well known for his expressionistic works of disturbing images and figures, sometimes washed in violence and tortured postures. His work is mainly dark, I’d say quite obsessive and compulsively driven towards the subject or focal point. Some artists are using hard stroke technique to identify the light source, many of them for giving a symbolic or obvious importance of the detail. But this is definitely not the case in Arisman’s work habit. Once we think we got it, we detect a brushstroke that suddenly appears from nowhere, and its not there to emphasize our observation, nor to adjust the light and balance of the image. Its quite an intriguing element, a strange delivery he doesn’t afraid to go for, a bold smeared stroke against the darkness behind, giving the observer a hard time to process and digest. Just enough to shatter all of the illusions we might have for understanding the concept that we are looking at.
And this is more than Fine Art fans can expect of an artist. Its brilliant and beautiful. Even when we know the technique the artist is fond of, when we are familiar with the creational process or have an info on artist’s biography and life style, we are still struggling to get the ultimate answer. This is why I like Arisman so much and his odd way to mystify well articulated description of his work. When I think of cross-hatching technique I can’t help myself but recall the American Psycho book cover art he made for Brett Easton Ellis or his Frozen Images illustrations. Sometimes I play with a pocket comb on the steamy mirror in the bathroom, only to see how my blurry reflection looks like in Marshall Arisman way.
I don’t get Arisman, but it doesn’t slow me down in freakishly admiring him or his artistic skills in the process of creating some heavy, brain-fuck stuff I can’t even associate with.
author Ivan Bjørn
Book cover designer and contemporary visual artist. Over 500 publications, prints, book covers and artworks worldwide. www.nadavisual.com