Wednesday, December 10, 2014


That Greg Spalenka is a man of many and prodigious talents is amply evident in the handsome new book put out by Titan Press, The Art of Greg Spalenka: Visions from theMind’s Eye.  Splendidly and richly illustrated on every page, this coffee table volume explores the range and depth of the work of an artist and illustrator already well known for his contributions to print media and film. 
Accompanied by the artist's own commentary, it covers the early work, the inventive sketches Spalenka uses to generate and explore ideas, the portraits and editorial illustrations that have appeared in the pages--and on the covers--of such magazines as Time, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone and the New York Times Sunday Magazine, and the fantasy material for films like The Chronicles of Narnia.  All this, along with a wealth of personal works and photographs.

The book is an impressive compendium of accomplished, colorful, sometimes exotic and wildly heterogeneous artwork.  Spalenka is eager to turn his skills to virtually anything that catches his fancy, and his vision is consistently a blend of the Dionysian and the Apollonian, the dark and the light side of the human spirit--evident already, before you open the book, in the neo-rococo cover image of a nude female figure with a butterfly at the head and a skull at the feet.  Aesthetically, you might imagine a cross between Gabriel Rossetti and Odilon Redon, Max Ernst and Salvador Dali, with a lot of the spirit of art nouveau thrown in for good measure.  His work can be elaborately decorative, emotional and nostalgic at times, but the next moment it will turn startlingly realistic or futuristic.  His love of comic books is evident, as is his passionate embrace of the spiritual yearnings of our species.  He is as exuberant with color and image in painting the head of a Buddha as he is in designing the set for a fantasy or science fiction movie.  At times, his vision can be disturbingly bleak, in dreamscapes that can border on nightmare.  At other times, he strives for serenity and beauty.

No matter the genre or the style in which he chooses to work for any particular purpose, Spalenka seeks to explore the range of human experience with an unfailing curiosity and an all-embracing passion for the many different forms of visual art.  Readers of his book will surely be inspired by his embrace of all life forms, his passionate dedication to an ever-expanding vision, and by his excitement in constantly discovering new media in which to give them widely diverse expression. 

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