DC artist Bradley Chriss has captured my attention. His current exhibit at Flashpoint titled "Visions from the End of the World" places the viewer in a world immediately after the apocalypse.
The two questions he poses for this range of paintings are: "How can we imagine anything that comes after us? More importantly: Can we imagine anything coming after us as anything but monstrous?" But hear that from the artist himself: http://bradleychriss.com/
The only way I can describe the Chriss' work is wondrously strange. The paintings and the questions the artist asks put the viewer in a state of cognitive dissonance. There is an uncomfortable tension between the ideas he presents and the media through which he presents them. These tiny, "intimate" paintings are done in gouache (think watercolor). The colors range from light and airy to brightly intense, but they are all beautiful pieces. In contrast with these beautiful colors, the artist has placed the viewer in disturbing environments with upsetting images to force them to think about these bigger questions (the world post-humans?). And that perfect mix of medium and image is exactly what makes him and his paintings so successful.
(All of images of these incredible paintings are taken directly from Bradley Chriss's website.)