Studio Brunstrum

Does Art Trend?

November 15, 2017

Are there trends in art? I think so… but I believe they are motivated by the artists’ desire to make a statement about what’s happening in the world around us.

Are there trends in art? I think so… but I believe they are motivated by the artists’ desire to make a statement about what’s happening in the world around us, whether that’s political, environmental, cultural, spiritual or something else. At the massive EXPO Chicago Art Show I noticed four distinct trends among the art on display.


"Reflection" by Dennis Lee Mitchell/Photo Courtesy of Todd Weiner Gallery

There were tons of black and white works of art, and not just in photography. It made me think about the growing polarization of opinions in our country, particularly among our politicians. There seems to be only black and white, with no compromise in the complicated gray areas of important issues. I don’t know if that’s what artist Dennis Lee Mitchell wanted to say in this dramatic piece he calls “Reflection,” above, but he certainly made me reflect on the state of the world, not to mention his technique of creating art with smoke on paper. Amazing! I’m really drawn to the organic nature of his work and the almost transparent layers of brush strokes.


"Confidant" by Lilliane Tomasko/Photo Courtesy of

Completely opposite from the black and white trend, I saw even more really bold, colorful art, as if the artists are reconnecting with the Crayola crayons of their childhoods. Maybe they want to bring some joy and youthful innocence into our lives to cheer us up as we face the major – and minor - issues of the day. This energetic oil and acrylic piece by Lilliane Tomasko, called “Confidant,” made me smile.  Everyone needs someone safe with whom they can share secrets. For me, the black brush strokes represent that protective barrier – whatever we say here, stays here!


"Tasty Sensation 14" by Darrell Roberts/Photo Courtesy of

Very thick applications of paint, such as this oil on canvas by Darrell Roberts called "Tasty Sensation 14" left me a little puzzled, but inspired a lot of thought.  Are we insulating ourselves? Creating a barrier between who we are and the person we reveal? Or maybe it's about oversharing every "tasty sensation," as on social media? This is the first time I’ve noticed this approach as a trend, but I think we’ll be seeing more of it. The technique is reminiscent of some of Van Gogh’s work.


"Oslo, Midsummer with E," by Jim Dine/Photo Courtesy of

Artist Jim Dine, who created this acrylic and sand painting called “Oslo, Midsummer with E,” is just one of many artists experimenting with paint drips in their work. There’s so much to contemplate in this drippity piece! I see hazy images of somewhat eery people who seem to be melting off the canvas like the Wicked Witch of the West in the “Wizard of Oz.”  Is it a statement on global warming – haha! – or perhaps Dine is trying to symbolize that behind our perfect facades, our confidence and optimism are melting away. There aren’t any right or wrong answers when it comes to interpreting art, so give free rein to your imagination!



Susan Brunstrum
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