With artwork gracing the covers of books, album covers and magazines and used as conceptual designs for movies, artist Greg Spalenka is certainly an accomplished artist and in the new book THE ART OF GREG SPALENKA: VISIONS FROM THE MIND’S EYE, readers can gaze upon the various pieces of art from Greg’s early years to present day.
The first thing that hit me about THE ART OF GREG SPALENKA is the striking cover. The 9.25″ x 12.5″ book is a weighty hardback but rather than using a dust cover, the art is actually part of the hard cover which is a blessing as sooner or later those dust covers usually get damaged if not torn.
The book is split into chapters: The Early Work; The Sketch; Portraits; Editorial Works; Film Work; Photography. The beginning of the book features an introduction from Arnie Fenner, Director Emeritus/Spectrum Fantastic Art. The back couple of pages of the book feature an index where each page is listed with the name of the piece and publication or the subject as well as the tools which were used to create the pieces of art. Greg Spalenka is unlike most artists I’ve seen as he uses a wide assortment of methods, from graphite to acrylic oil, on paper, board and even digital. The artist also uses items from real life including butterfly wings to craft his pieces.
I’m not an artist myself, nor am I that well up an art as a subject, but I know what interests me and though I’ve never really come across Greg’s art before, the depth of his creations is astounding. Greg’s artwork is printed onto thick, large glossy pages within the book, sometimes overlapping the pages, which really allows his artwork to bounce off the page. I often found myself gazing at the beautiful, dreamlike visages within the book and the more time I spent looking at the art, the more detail revealed itself to me. An example of this is the little faces in the flowers of Art Heart from 2012. Even the portraits capture the imagination as Greg recreates the likeness of Joan Jett, Kurt Cobain and Alfred Hitchock, to name but a few.
Greg Spalenka’s colourful artwork varies from the spiritual to the nightmarish, fantasy landscapes to realistic portraits, fairytale visions to cartoon style illustration. Each piece mesmerises and keeps the reader’s attention, allowing them to appreciate the art and Greg’s vivid imagination in all its glory. Often within the pages, Greg commentates on his approach to the artwork or his thoughts, feelings and techniques at the stage of his life when they were created. I found the bits discussing his early life living with five brothers and sisters really interesting and he shares his inspirations at that point in time which really frame the artwork. Some of the pieces, particularly with the portraits, include photographs of the subject. One in particular is that of Mike Tyson before he was the boxing champion and Greg’s photographs and notes set the tone of the current vibe ahead of the actual artwork of Tyson.
Featuring art that was used by author Neil Gaiman and movies The Ant Bully, The Golden Compass and Escape From Planet Earth among others, this 169 page book is certainly a collection that celebrates the life and work of Greg Spalenka and is a must-buy for anyone who’s a fan of Greg’s work, is a lover of artwork in general or is an art student. I really think that art students would benefit from the imagery produced in this book and the techniques used, to inspire their work and to see what can be achieved using different processes. The added commentary from Greg, be it the typed text or handwritten notes, really gives an insight into what the artist felt and experienced at the time of creating his pieces or studying his subject.
A wonderful piece of art in itself, THE ART OF GREG SPALENKA would make a great coffee table book.