Los Angeles painter, Randi Matushevitz reminds us badass babes are ageless. Her Ugly Portraits thrill me in a world buried behind cuteness filters. She creates these glorious messes with charcoal, pastel and spray paint. I adore her work. It’s exciting, cool, and relevant. But Randi’s also a kickass lady. Her bright energy’s infectious. This shines through her artwork. It invigorates ideas within the imagery.
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Take the hero image of this piece. It’s a crop of Matushevitiz’s Ugly Portrait entitled Rough Night. We’ve all felt like a clown after a bruising night on the town. This portrait captures that feeling with a refreshing frankness. Yes, in fact, you did wake up looking like this. Randi Matushevitz proves that simple can indeed subvert. That’s especially true now. Pretty paintings are taking over the world. Even the darkest artists smooth all their edges with polish. That same fear we have of death lies within our fear of ugliness. Sure. Sure. It’s real. It’s true – inevitable even…. Just don’t let it happen to me.
Ode to Alice Neel
Some of my favorite Randi Matushevitz portraits are odes. This Alice Neel one above especially. It’s a fitting portrayal. That’s because much of Neel’s modern notoriety lies in unflattering self-portraits. Her sitting nude with big belly and paintbrush retains unforgettable charm. This Matushevitz ode captures that spirit.
The chin juts high and proud. Her mind’s elsewhere. We know this because her eyes look away and off to greater ideas. The audience can only watch, passive. It’s not that interesting to her. In fact, the portrait’s expression shows an upsweep to another place. It’s the iconic one – the person who cares not what others think. After all, that’s what it takes to be great. The best artists don’t lose themselves in their work. Rather, they forget everyone else. Randi illuminates this wonder of Alice Neel in her piece.
Background compositions bring order and intrigue to the Ugly Portraits. They may seem messy and murky. Randi even says this about her work. But she fashions wallpaper-like scrim around faces. It grounds the work within the frame. Still, they maintain a mystery. Bubbles seem to surround Ode to Alice Neel. They float upward, like her expression. This lends effervescence to the work. Turns out smiles are less necessary for this feeling than society assumes.
A Piece of Head Spin
Randi Matushevitz does more than Ugly Portraits. Her work spans many spaces. For instance, the piece above (cropped for website purposes) called Head Spin. There’s a similar feeling thanks to the orderly backdrop and expressive face. But this one confronts the viewer. It’s not only a catchy title, there’s meat in this piece. The bubbly background highlights tension even though only one figure appears.
In fact, the work feels populated with conflict. The figure’s face conveys a teenage shrug of expression. But everything around them screams otherwise. The numb, emotionless mask means little given the surroundings. From rubbed-out profanity to the colorful newspaper in their hand, feelings are lit. This crop shows only the center of the piece. But it showcases my favorite part – those knobby knees. The kid sits so nonchalant. They don’t seem to care. It’s all in the knees and disappearing hand. The eyes look right through us, a crystal meth blue.
Yet they see everything. The piece title Head Spin could point to many themes. But I see a play on Headline. The figure holds a flamboyant paper. The news today spins stories as well as in our heads. This figure seems spun also. Blurred obscenities are a form of spin too. When it’s bleeped or blurred, are we any less aware of it? Or most likely even more so. After all, that blur works like a spotlight. We can’t look away. Even with the figure’s bright blue eyes peering at us over the paper. The word has our attention. Randi Matushevitz directs our gaze to what matters – the real reaction. The figure can only shrug off these feelings. So, it’s on us to master them.
Check Out Randi Matushevitz
Her work speaks for itself. But visit Randi’s website for much more of her invigorating art. The @randimatushevitzart instagram also highlights her glorious work. Videos and pictures abound. Her studio shots are especially cool. In fact, those exact videos were what first got me into her work. Check them out and see for yourself.