Wallpaper of the Week: Jacek Yerka

May 22, 2009

yerka04

FROM JASON’S DESKTOP — Ferocious, living alligator-mobiles. Villages carved from hulking strawberries, onions, and loaves of bread. A steam locomotive roaring from the maw of a cavernous dragon’s head.

This is the mind of Polish fantasy artist Jacek Yerka.

Yerka’s canvases are places where physics doesn’t give a damn about enforcing its own rules, where the mundane and the unlikely collide in a matter-of-fact way. Often, the paintings show two worlds living on top of each other — one recognizable and the other entirely alien.

yerka03

The result is that you start to doubt your grasp on the known; another land could be lurking a few yards under my feet, filled with goblins, unearthly cities, strange dreamscapes, and peril.

It’s a nice thought to foster in this work-a-day world.

yerka01

Yerka, now 57, bucked his college art instructors, who wanted his style to fall more in the camp of loose and unstructured modernism. Instead, he insisted on elevating his neo-Dali-ism with exacting detail in the classical northern European tradition.

The pieces are better for it. The composition gives incredible depth to each world he creates, while hinting that there’s even more lurking below the surface. He shows me so much that it causes me to imagine even more — which is what good art should do.

Advertisements

Wallpaper of the Week: AT-AT walkers

April 10, 2009

atat01

FROM JASON’S DESKTOP — The Empire Strikes Back is easily the best of the original (good) Star Wars trilogy, due in large part to the ginormous quadruped attack dogs called AT-ATs.

They only appear for a few brief scenes during the Battle of Hoth, and they’re not strictly dogs, really, but the slow-marching mecha are so animistic that it’s easy to assign them some canine properties. I mean, they’re stomping around with the “head” looking back and forth — you can almost imagine an All Terain Armored Transport wagging its tail (if it had one) as it zeros in on the rebel shield generators.

The wallpaper at the top of the page is typically-brilliant concept art by Ralph McQuarry, who I think is just as responsible for the design success of Star Wars as is George Lucas.

atat03

This one, though, comes from a Flickr set about ATilla the dog in various poses: Getting a bath, wearing a hat, taking long walks on the beach…. Every guy loves dogs. Geeks are no exception; we’re also born with the Old Yeller gene. And a lot of sci-fi (or should I say SyFy?) finds a way to work in man’s best friend, whether it’s Boxey’s daggit in the old Battlestar Galactica, Megaman’s dog Rush, K9 from Doctor Who, the mechanical hound from Farenheit 451, or Chewbacca.

Everybody loves a dog. And any boy born in the early 1980s is going to be infatuated with the idea of mecha — I mean, how many hours did I spend watching RoboTech and Voltron? So mix the two and you get AT-ATs (or the Gobots Command Center).

atat02

But as canine-pomorphic as we’ve made them, the cinematic AT-ATs are still terrifying in an almost zombie-like way, slowly encroaching on the rebels’ hidden base and deploying waves of snow troopers to harry the retreating Alliance soldiers. There’s no escape from their heavy, plodding assault once they land on the horizon.

I first saw the Battle of Hoth when I was four years old, and it remains one of the most captivating sequences I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t ever seen it, take a gander and be amazed:


Wallpaper of the Week: Paul Cézanne

March 20, 2009

cezanne02

FROM JASON’S DESKTOP — I’ve had an itch lately for colorful impressionist paintings. I don’t know why. My tastes normally run to art deco (see: Batman The Animated Series), but in the past couple of weeks I’ve gained great contentment from heavily-daubed European country-scapes.

cezanne05

Now, I’m no real art nerd, though I do love both versions of The Thomas Crown Affair. So I really have no eye or authority to comment on paintings; I’m a groundling, here. But to me, Cézanne is different because of his use of color.

cezanne06

Sure, other 19th century painters (especially Cézanne’s French compatriots) had already experimented with shape being the most important element of a work; what I like is his ability to use bright, active colors further define those shapes.

cezanne07

So enjoy these desktop wallpapers. As usual, I’ve touched them up with a couple of Photoshop filters to reduce fading and fuzziness, and resized them to the 1024×768 standard. I know there are better monitors out there, but again I am a groundling, trundling away with my pitiful 4:3 display*. Enjoy.

*That will change come Christmas, won’t it, Lisa? Yes. Yes it will. You know it’s true. Buy me a big LCD widescreen monitor. You know you want to. Do it. Everybody is doing it. You want to be like the cool kids. C’mon. Do it. Do it. DO IT. DO IT NOW.


Wallpaper of the Week: Leonid Afremov

March 13, 2009

afremov01

FROM JASON’S DESKTOP — Usually my wallpaper selection strays toward geek culture, but sometimes sheer force of atmosphere is what’s needed. And that’s what Belarusian painter Leonid Afremov provides.

Afremov’s gallery is replete with hundreds of heavily-oiled canvases, all sharing an affinity for Cézanne-ish clashes of warm-on-cool color combinations.

afremov02

The 53-year-old, a graduate of the Vitebsk Art School, emigrated from Russia to Israel and now lives in Florida. He uses a palette knife-heavy technique that gives his works a thick and textured quality with large, raised edges that pop off the monitor.

It’s easy to see how those Mediterranean-cum-western-Atlantic influences have shaped his works; Afremov’s oil paintings are decked with Spanish and Romanesque architecture, glowing electric light and a permanent, golden autumnal theme.

afremov04

The result — in my younger eyes — is very collegiate, like an eternal first semester on campus. There’s a certain romance to the intimate enclosures of deciduous trees and paving stones and umbrellas, with the paths covered by what looks a recent warm rain.

His paintings remind me of the season I met my wife, and the nights we walked under the broad leaves talking. That’s probably 90 percent of my attraction to Afremov’s work.

At any rate, his paintings make excellent desktops, providing your monitor isn’t huge. I was able to eke several worthy 1024×768 backgrounds from the downloadable content on his deviantART page, and there’s many more to be had if you want to take the effort to clean them up and size them in Photoshop.