Guy Whitby displays winning Ebu-Arts works at Straube Center

on December 28, 2012
Special to the Times

“I want my art to reflect the age I’m living in,” Australian artist Guy Whitby said at the opening of his Straube Center exhibit, which celebrated his winning this year’s Ebu-Arts contest.

His award of $10,000 recognizes a body of work by him that was, according to the contest specifications, “most clearly dedicated to Ebu-Arts techniques and philosophies.”

The term Ebu-Arts reflects its creator Win Straube’s concept — art that is exuberant and enthusiastic. Art that is made from art. It is a composite of small visual components gathered by the artist and laid out in such a manner as to create a universal work of art.

“Visual art is supposed to talk to you, like books and music, to expand your horizon, to make you think and feel good, to elevate your spirit,” Straube said at the debut of his exhibition of this new genre.

This exhibit focuses on a collection of 22 limited edition prints by Whitby that he says reflect the world he is living in today. He speaks of the transition from analog to digital and the nostalgia he feels for analog.

With a degree in fine art, printmaking, he has a broad background in traditional art forms. However, with the dawn of the digital age, he says his venture into digital Ebu-Art has opened to a widely expanded career in magazines, book covers and the internet.

On display in this exhibition is the Ebu-Arts Contest winner, a pixelated portrait, of “Dame Edna,” the popular Australian “gigastar” character, complete with her trademark lavender hair and cat-eye glasses. Standing close to the image your eyes feast on more than 800 miniature “granny-square” patterns of color, and when you stand back and view it from across the room, there she is — Dame Edna in all her funky glory!

The same is true for other well-known personages Whitby portrays, such as a close-up of Salvador Dali, capturing one bulging eye and his famous moustache; Woody Allen wearing his highly-recognizable black-frame glasses and sardonic smile, and Marilyn Monroe looking sultry and alluring. Among many others are James Dean and Steve Jobs.

Most of the portraits are in a black-and-white palette or shades of brown and tan and are created with tiny images of everything from keyboard keys to analog numbers and clock faces, to buttons on devices and real buttons.

Also on display are Whitby’s interpretations of classic works such as “The Great Wave off Kanegawa.” Also, there’s “Monet & Me,” “The Windmill” and “The Dancers.” These are done in clear and vibrant color.

Whitby titled his exhibition “Reflections and Beauty.” He says an artist “should hold a mirror up to the world around him or her and comment upon the reflection.” He goes on to say, “If you can capture true beauty it will live forever, because true beauty is hard to destroy.”

Working often under the pseudonym “WBK — WorksByNight,” Whitby’s international reputation is a solid one. He is well known through his blogs and websites.

Alisandra Wederich, the Straube Center’s gallery manager, says the fact that Whitby works primarily with icons of media is part of the reason his work retains its viral quality. “It’s hard NOT to find a portrait, landscape or even animal portrait by Guy that you won’t like or relate to,” she says.

“In Australia we’re asleep when the rest of the world is awake,” Whitby says. “We have a computer monitor, a mouse and a tablet and work in the tranquility of the night. This gives a freedom from time. And working in the digital realm there are none of the restrictions of a physical medium. You can’t overwork what you’re doing.”

Viewing Whitby’s images, it’s easy to see how he, working alone at night, could have become immersed in re-appropriating the artistic creations of other artists, giving them new life through his own imagination and skills. It’s just as easy, as a viewer, to become immersed in the fascination of his ability to create beauty and truth using the tools of today’s digital world.

Also on exhibit are abstract acrylic paintings by Gabrielle Livingston and works by the two runners-up in the Ebu-Arts Contest. French photographer Alain Bellino’s images are of a sculptural process. “Darth Vader 2” is a highlight of his collection. Natalie Talocci’s “Peacock” sculpture created from pieces of aluminum soft drink cans is a true tour-de-force.


One Straube Center Blvd • Pennington, NJ 08534 • Phone: 609-737-3322 • E-mail:
Straube Center Boulevard surrounded by Route 31, West Franklin Ave., Knowles Ave.-Bixby’s Way, and Broemel Place