Art of Character: Four Artist Exhibit @ the Corey Helford Gallery, Opening Sat. Jun 29th, 2019

Downtown Los Angeles’ Corey Helford Gallery is excited to announce Art of Character, a four-artist show unveiling a series of stunning new works by Los Angeles-based animator Andrew Brandou, Canadian illustrator Bennett Slater, world-renowned animator Jim McKenzie, and Argentine/American artist Ramiro Davaro-Comas.

One of the most popular movements within the New Contemporary scene are artists who explore the human condition through their own iconic characters. Born through a strange prism reflecting the antics of the most popular animated characters or the panels of the comics (notably Kaws’SpongeBobor Ronnie Cutrone’s Felix The Cat), artists have interpreted or created their own unique characters to capture our imagination. Opening Saturday, June 29th in Gallery 3Art of Character will host a slew of characters from four talented artists.

Andrew Brandou’s new series, entitled The Giant Series: Mandala, touches upon consciousness and the psychedelic. In his show statement, he states: “The Bunny has been a part of my work for years and over time has played different roles. Each of these roles has represented an exploration of the varieties of psychedelic experience. In 2009, The Bunny and his world became overwhelmed by the hallucinatory flowers found in the Garden of the Mystic. Representing ego loss, the physical form of The Bunny and his world were in fact replaced by nothing but flowers, to a point of almost total abstraction. In 2014, The Bunny returned, now joined by his companion The Giant. 

The Giant is a stand-in for a sense of peace and security which The Bunny has found since his breakthrough. Whether The Giant is physically there with The Bunny, at any given moment, is in question. Perhaps The Giant is simply a ‘higher power’ or ‘cosmic consciousness’ – a presence that The Bunny knows is there, but cannot define. 

The current works represent The Bunny’s meditation as focused on The Giant. Each piece takes the form of a kaleidoscopic mandala. While they may have elements of abstraction, each piece is revisiting works from the last decade. Imagery from The Garden of the Mystic comes to the fore with imagery from today and fades again, just as The Bunny’s meditation searches for self-unity.”

“Jacques Four” (acrylic, cel-vinyl, spray paint, gold sumi ink on wood, 12” x 12”) by Andrew Brandou

Bennett Slater is inspired by the relationships the future shares with the past; the new from the old, life from death. Utilizing traditional oil methods on wood, his work plays with techniques borrowed from Flemish and Dutch master disciplines combined with bold, geometric forms linked to more contemporary futurism and deco sensibilities. This dichotomy of contrasting artistic disciplines and influences lends itself to the underlying dualities observed in his work.

Regarding his new show, entitled Goody GumdropsSlater shares: “With age, the idea of a ‘simpler time’ melts away, revealing new truths. The hard, molded shells of innocence become soft and malleable as life’s experiences beat down- bleaching the rose of our cheeks, and weathering down our more delicate edges. We begin life in a mold; decisions made about us and opinion dictated for us. Some wish to remain in their cast, functioning in a life of perceived form. Others choose a life determined to strip away all remnants of their mold in an effort to realize their own truth. There is no such thing as a simple life, but the desire to achieve one drives so many of our base impulses. Why can’t I be as happy as the kid on the Popsicle box?

In a time few would call ‘simple,’ the dream of our own perfect tomorrow seems less straightforward, but nevertheless desired. This series aims to capture the textures, smells, tastes, and essence of a ‘simple time’ – even if it only existed on a screen – and begin to bend, melt, and skewer that idyllic perception to reveal truer experiences and fulfill deeper desires.”

“Mint Dip” (oil on wood, 16” x 12”) by Bennett Slater

Jim McKenzie isknown for his detailed character-based sculptures and cinematic art process videos. Though his whimsical esthetic is visually vibrant and at times satirical, McKenzie’s characters share underlining themes of distress, and melancholia, stemming from everyday life. 

Regarding his newest creations, entitled “Friends With Death” (pictured below) and “The Woogle,” McKenzie shares, “‘Friends With Death’ depicts the personification of Death as a skeleton in casual clothing walking through a field of blooming flowers. This piece captures Death in a rare moment of reflection, stopping to recognize the beauty of the newly hatched butterflies—symbolizing the cyclical nature of re-birth.” While still maintaining McKenzie’s signature style,“Friends With Death” has a more grounded-in-reality feel than previous work, as it was inspired by both the grief of loss and the joy of new life simultaneously. It is a very personal piece by the artist, constructed of resin-based clays. The piece has been featured on ABC’s Localish and in art publications.

“The Woogle” is a regal appearing hybrid avian creature, who emanates an observant and protective aura. McKenzie states, “In aura spiritualism, turquoise radiates a calmness and knowingness while gold indicates a connection to the spiritual soul and enlightenment.” The egg, which he guards in a pouch above his feet, features a brilliant crystal in its center. The piece itself is accented with pink flowers containing the same crystals. The expressive face of “The Woogle” is the key feature of this piece.

“Friends With Death” (resin sculpture with fabric flowers, 24” x 21” x 21”) by Jim McKenzie

Ramiro Davaro-Comas’ artwork is heavily influenced by his travels, street life, comic books, and creates depictions are bold and expressive, and launch the viewer into a colorful mystical world. Regarding his new series of paintings, entitled Electric AnimalsDavaro-Comas’ shares: “The migration that both animals and humans make throughout their lives looking for a better home to live and thrive in. Weather its crossing borders, oceans or rivers, animals always illuminate the way for a better tomorrow!

In this new series I play with many themes and narratives that I have worked with before. Particularly I bring up the story of migration, as I am an immigrant from Argentina, and believe that my human story and the story of endangered species are tied together. We are just looking for a safe place to live. I believe that the best way to tell a story is through characters and relatable images. All these images tie in together and tell one long epic tale, the tale of search and survival. In each panel there is movement, weather by human or animal, into a new and glowing world.

I was brought up on myths, fables, stories, picture books and comics, and these various ways of telling tales have always stuck with me. My characters have some influence from all these sectors, with some illustrative dashes of Ralph Steadman and the early Fleischer Brother Cartoons.”

“Ghost Girl” (acrylic on panel, 18” x 18”) by Ramiro Davaro-Comas

Opening night forthe Art of Character showis Saturday, June 29 from 7pm-11pm in Gallery 3, alongside the Hello Kitty® 45th Anniversary Group Showin the Main Gallery and a solo show from The London Police, titled The Return of The London Police, in Gallery 2. The gallery is located at 571 S. Anderson St. Los Angeles, CA 90033 and normal hours are Tuesday – Saturday, from 12pm – 6pm.

About Andrew Brandou:Los Angeles artist Andrew Brandou graduated from Otis Parsons school of Design, Los Angeles, with a BFA in 1990. Since that time, he has worked as a fine artist, illustrator, and in the animation industry as an art director and producer. His animation credits include The Simpsons,RugratsSpongeBob SquarePants, and Invader Zim. He was art director for In The Realms of the Unreal, a feature documentary about outsider artist Henry Darger. He also produced animation for underground comic artists Richard Corben, Martin Emonds, and Robert Williams. His work can be seen in music videos for Tupac Shakur, The Squirrel Nut Zippers, and Bjork.

As an illustrator, Brandou’s work has appeared in publications worldwide. Notably, he produced album artwork for the A&M records, Geffen records, and Warner Brothers. His illustration has appeared in The New Yorker magazine, Nickelodeon magazine, and Streetvirus.

Brandou’s fine art career has also garnered the attention of the Los Angeles TimesSan Francisco Chronicle, and New York Times. He has been featured in numerous periodicals including JuxtapozIdNSwindle and Hi-Fructose. Books featuring his work include In the Land of Retinal DelightsDesign Stars Boulevard of DPIBeasts!, and The Three Apples Exhibition Catalog honoring the 35th anniversary of Hello Kitty.

About Bennett Slater:Bennett Slater is a Canadian illustrator, designer and graduate from the illustration program at the Sheridan Institute. Slater’s work is drawn from the relationships the future shares with the past; the new from the old, life from death. Utilizing traditional oil methods on wood, his work plays with techniques borrowed from Flemish and Dutch master disciplines combined with bold, geometric forms linked to more contemporary futurism and deco sensibilities. This dichotomy of contrasting artistic disciplines and influences lends itself to the underlying dualities observed in his work.

About Jim McKenzie:Jim McKenzie is a world-renowned artist, animator, and director based in Burbank, California. His vast body of work ranges from surrealist paintings, to stop motion films and designer toys. McKenzie is best known for his detailed character-based sculptures and cinematic art process videos. Though his whimsical esthetic is visually vibrant and at times satirical, McKenzie’s characters share underlining themes of distress and melancholia, stemming from everyday life. 

McKenzie graduated from School of Visual Arts in 2011 with a BFA in computer art and visual effects. Shortly after graduation, he returned to SVA as a professor, teaching various film-making and animation courses. During this time, McKenzie became a staff director at Aardman Nathan Love, a renowned character-based animation studio in New York.

Over the course of a decade, McKenzie has directed spots for major brands such as Prada, National Geographic, Clash Royal, Capital One, H&R Block, and has recently helped in the creation of Xifaxan’s mascot character “Gut Guy,” who could be seen during Super Bowl 50. McKenzie has exhibited his artwork in numerous galleries across the U.S. and around the world.

About Ramiro Davaro-Comas:Ramiro Davaro-Comas is an Argentine/American artist and entrepreneur living and working in Brooklyn. He is the creator and director of Dripped on the Road (a traveling artist residency program based out of an RV) and an artist on the road at times. His dedication for painting, traveling and community work have allowed him to travel through his career and collaborate with other artists, and the combination of all three passions after many years led him to launch this unique program and artistic career.

Davaro-Comas is currently directing the artist residency program, painting murals, working on creative projects for design clients, and showing his work in different gallery exhibitions and public projects. His artwork is heavily influenced by his travels, street life, comic books, South American/European muralism, skateboarding culture and animation. He works within his own vocabulary of characters, symbols and iconography, creating fantastical worlds in which his characters float and loom about. With a mix of illustration, painting and mural work, his work is bold and expressive, and launches its viewer into colorful mystical world.

About Corey Helford Gallery:
Corey Helford Gallery (CHG) was first established in 2006 by Jan Corey Helford and her husband, television producer and creator, Bruce Helford (The ConnersAnger ManagementThe Drew Carey ShowGeorge Lopez) and has since evolved into one of the premier galleries of New Contemporary art. Its goals as an institution are the support and growth of young and emerging, to well-known and internationally established artists.

CHG represents a diverse collection of international artists, primarily influenced by today’s pop culture and collectively encompassing style genres such as New Figurative Art, Pop Surrealism, Neo Pop, Graffiti and Street Art. CHG is located in Downtown Los Angeles in a robust 12,000 square foot building presenting new exhibitions approximately every six weeks.

For more info and an upcoming exhibition schedule, visit CoreyHelfordGallery.com and connect on:
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We’d like to thank Eric Alper for the media release.