Paul McCarthy’s installation in Hong Kong. Photo courtesy of LAURENT FIEVET/AFP/Getty Images
Tam Wai Ping
This last decade in art has turned out a ton of larger than life sculptural work, specifically in the realm of inflatable sculpture. As adults, we never seem to get over the pure bliss of bouncy houses from our childhood, and as art lovers we are drawn to these works, made from thin plastic that are able to tower over us once filled with air. Artists have used this medium to make shocking and conceptually multilayered statements, such as Paul McCarthy’s “Complex System,” a building-sized pile of poo that made international headlines when it deflated in Hong Kong this past spring, leaving behind quite the brown mess. Other artists have merged inflatable sculpture with architecture and infused it with an interactive element that takes the classic “bouncy house” into a sophisticated architectural wonderland, such as Alan Parkinson (also known as “Architects of Air”) has done with his Luminaria. Other artists included below are: David Byrne, Eder Castillo, FriendsWithYou, Florentijn Hoffman, Chad Person, Tam Wai Ping and Geraldo Zamproni.
This Labor Day Weekend, enjoy the following parade of images that reviews some of the most exciting and celebrated inflatable sculptures that have emerged within the past ten years.
Erin Hanson’sReminders series captures everyday thoughts and places these reminder-thoughts near an appropriate domestic location. These colorful reminder text designs inject daily mundane tasks, like washing dishes, brushing teeth, reading, and watching television with fun, humor, and whimsy. Hanson’s appropriately titled blog, Recovering Lazyholic, began as an attempt to combat laziness and mainly feature two things she loves: photography and graphic design, both of which comprise this particular series. These multi-colored letters remind me of the colorful alphabet magnets commonly found on refrigerators, and my first encounters with them as a child. Whatever the task at hand, Hanson’s designs and photography remind us that we need to accomplish these tasks, but also to live these tasks a little more colorfully and playfully. Hanson lives and works in Austin, Texas.
Artist Stevie Gee seems to be as laid back as his art work. Skateboards, surfboards, fins, and posters all bear his unique styling. Gee’s illustration work feels as if it’s pulled from an endless sunset in the middle of an endless summer. At once retro and fresh, the images seem to be culled from a collective memory of skateboarding/surf culture and its heritage. His endearing style has won him high-profile clients such as Vans, Nike, and Lacoste.
Edinburgh-based artist Polly Verity creates detailed and intricate sculptures out of paper and wire. Most of her subjects are animals or mythological creatures and the size of her sculptures range from palm to life sized. The wire for the sculptures is built up into a 3D frame and this becomes the contour and outline of the creature. The wires are joined together through wrapping and pinching; no heat is applied to forge the wire. She then applies wet fine paper that she first sizes with glue onto the structure. The paper dries and tightens up while formed on the frame. Her creations are usually kept encased in a glass dome or box for protection and display.
In addition to these incredible sculptures, Verity also creates geometric origami paper art and wearable paper art. Her ability to meticulously create such delicate and intricate designs out of basic and simple tools like paper and wire is impressive. Be sure to check out her Flickr page for more photos, including some of a project she worked on with her brother involving the sculpting of crumpled tissue paper organs.
There’s nothing better than starting your morning with a nice cup of coffee and a little photograph of Robert Plant in a Speedo, playing soccer, casually, in Encino. I mean, am I right? At least, this is how I feel about Brad Elterman’s vintage paparazzi photography.
Taken when he was a teenager in the 1970s, long before roaming candids overwhelmingly lined our checkout shelves and powered ad revenue for various websites, Elterman brings a wild naivety to these specific shots that are, strangely, almost endearing. This softness might be relative to time + distance, but I don’t know. I also like to think that it’s more so reflective of the person behind the camera: a teenage youth excited to relate and investigate not just icons, but also the heart of his beloved city: Los Angeles.
For instance, the most striking aspect of Elterman’s Joan Jett portraits is not her fame nor her coolness, but instead, it’s an understanding that the photographer has with Jett’s charming desire to dwell at the Tropicana and slum amongst LA’s Rock N’ Roll finest. There’s something very optimistic and lovely about identity and everyday social performance that is examined. Scroll down after the jump to see what I mean, and while you’re there, check out a perfect shot of super casual Rod Stewart mingling after a random soccer match in Coldwater Canyon, dragging a pint of beer and chatting up some pretty dog walker. In each image, we are not wowed by hot nightclubs nor couture culture. No. We’re impressed by Los Angeles and it’s rich variety of eccentric yet absolutely charismatic artists figuring out how to be seen and be in the world as they are, at the same time.
The design studio/street art crew known as Truly Design is truly an expert at creating anamorphic art. The group is playful with both literal and figurative perspective. The Medusa anamorph, for example, does precisely this. According to the myth if a person looked directly at the serpant haired Gorgon they would instantly turn to stone. Perseus was only able to slay the monster by looking at her reflection. Similarly, this Medusa can only be seen from singular perspective.
It may be more accurate to title the post Fine Art as Lawn Chairs. These sculptures from artist Patrick McDonough only resemble the outdoor furniture. They may contain familiar hardware and components such as a hinge or stray armrest. However, they are carefully constructed sculptures. As much as they resemble outdoor furniture, McDonough also seems to be referencing abstract painting. Chair frames mirror canvas frames, and the grid patterns that usually support our weight resemble Hard-edge Painting. The one thing both lawn chairs and fine art seem to hint at is the idea of leisure and a leisure class.
The artwork Andrea Hasler if nothing else is a critique of consumerism. Her Burdens of Excess series resemble the strange blend of designer fashion and a slaughterhouse. Fleshy blobs bulge between straps and buttons nearly turning the high fashion accessories into bizarre creatures. Zippers and stitching even begin to seem like biological features. Still, our “natural” biological sides as human is a jarring contrast to ideas as contrived as fashion, luxury, even money.
The press release from her recent show at Gusford Gallery in Los Angeles states:
“Hasler’s work focuses on constructions of identity and collective desires, and is characterized by a tension between attraction and repulsion. The works in the Desire series, in particular, focus on the obsession of projections of affluence and glamor. Reworking designer bags, shoes, and accessories into organ-resemblant sculptures, Hasler’s works engage with the psychological aspects of consumerism, blurring the lines between what you are and what you must have.
Through the transformation of GUSFORD’s Melrose Avenue gallery space into an indulgent, glamorous shop, Hasler’s installation embodies the epitome of luxurious excess, and looks to a dystopic future, where branded organs may one day be the ultimate fashion accessory.”
Watch a video of her installation at Gusford Gallery as well as a short interview with the artist after the jump.