American artist Phillip K. Smith III found inspiration from the most basic of places in his recent project, Lucid Stead. Taking a small cabin which had been slowly eroded by the harsh environments of the Joshua Tree Desert for seventy years, Smith III modified the existing structure, adding mirrors between aged wood slats and changing LED panels to the door and window frames. By day, the desert scenery is reflected upon the modified mirrored slats, while the piece illuminates the desert landscape by night. The artist explains Lucid Stead, “This project is about tapping into the desert, into the pace of change, and is about responding to the quiet of the place. And ultimately, in that quite, the project begins to unfold.”
While the piece has a decidedly aesthetic-first quality, Smith explains that there are four ideas at play in Lucid Stead – “Light and Shadow” (the interaction with the sun, and changes in the reflections of its light), “Reflected Light” (within the mirrors, using the desert as a medium placed on the shack), “Projected Light” (the LED lights within the shack, pure color illuminating the cracks and openings of the structure), and “Change” (the shifting colors of the lights, which change so slowly as to be almost unnoticed). Smith III continues, “The project really is about slowing down…stopping and being quite so you can truly see and listen.” (via from89 and designboom, additional images via Kevin Smith, archinect)
Body painting is a tedious, but amazing process with stunning results. Incorporating the technique in unique ways, each of these three artists captures beautiful and poetic images after applying paint to skin.
California-based photographer Jean-Paul Bourdier combines the human form with landscape to create a unique visual synchronization. Painting the bodies, posing them just so, and taking the photographs, Bourdier explains that, “arising in each visual event conceived are the geometries generated by the body as a determinant of ‘negative space’—not the background of the figure and the field surrounding it, but the space that makes composition and framing possible in photography.”
Incorporating what is largely traditional painting, Alexa Meade also uses the unique canvas that is the human body. Painting directly onto the skin, Meade creates a trompe l’leil that is wholly unusual. Camouflaging her figures into the background Meade creates optically engaging images that confuse 3D and 2D planes.
Australia-based artist Emma Hack combines painting on canvas, body painting and studio-based photography. Hack’s works incorporates rich visual narrative with magical realism. Also interested in the idea of camouflage, Hack spends approximately 19 hours painting her wallpaper and then anywhere from 8-15 hours painting her subject to throughly explore the subject. The arduous process is time-consuming, but the results are spectacular.
Using both printmaking and embroidery in his work, artist Max Colby explores themes of death and transformation in his series Role Play. He first prints on handmade paper, creating a collograph. This type of printmaking applies materials to a rigid board. Things with a lot of texture like sandpaper, leaves, cardboard are inked and printed. Colby has controlled the shape of the print, manipulating it in a very deliberate way. Once printing is done, he then adorns it with hand-sewn embroidery.
In a short statement about his work, Colby refers to his the imagery in his work as “figures,” which I take to mean as beings. Not necessarily human, but some other living force. Their “body” is made out from printing, while the embroidery acts as embellishment for the figure. Colby writes that Role Play features “sculptural ‘skins’ which showcase fragility and temporality in conjunction with highly embellished and extravagant applications using notions of death and transformation as a catalyst.” I imagine that these could be armor or headdresses, with pieces that have spikes sewn-in or tactile objects like beads and buttons.
There is a stark difference between the delicate collograph printing and the visually-heavy embroidery. At times, it engulfs the figures, which I think is the point. Garments last a lot longer than we do. Items are passed down from generation to generation, and evidence of what a jacket looked like will be surpass our lifetime.
Argentinian artist, Alexandra Kehayoglou creates rugs that look like pastures and meadows. The grassland carpet seeks to mimic the appearance of naturally occurring, but fast disappearing Argentinian landscapes.
Kehayoglou grew up around textile artists, her family followed a textile tradition that was developed thousands of years ago in Asia Minor. After graduating with a degree in visual arts, Kehayoglou returned to her roots making carpets as her ancestors did, but with a twist. As varied as the grasslands and natural scenery of South America, the carpets are beautiful representations of natural and cultural heritage.
Carpet weaving is innate knowledge for me. It makes me feel connected to another time. It is a way of building meanings throughout my life and that of my ancestors.
Her creations carry a strong message of sustainability; these carpets are made from wool often found in mounds of leftover fabrics behind factories. (Via DD.AA.)
“2D Or Not 2D” is the second collaborative project between Russian photographer Alexander Khokhlov and make-up artist Valeriya Kutsan, with the addition of Veronica Ershova who assisted in retouching and post-production of the images. Inspired by two-dimensional posters, the aim of the project was to transform models’ faces into 2D images that re-imagine the work of some well-known sketch, graphic, watercolor, and oil painting artists such as Lichtenstein, Basquiat, and Mondrian. Kutsan’s makeup design and application flattens the faces of the models, while the angles chosen by Khokhlov and enhanced by Ershova contribute to the overall illusion of two-dimensional representation.
The other 2D project (more images shown toward the bottom of this post) Khokhlov and Kutsan collaborated on was a series of monochrome prints titled “Weird Beauty” of painted faces that feature corporate logos, QR codes, and other prominent modern imagery.
Lynda Benglis emerged decades ago as an artist breaking barriers and shifting paradigms. Pouring neon paints in exhibition spaces served not only as an action on the figure of the artist, but while these pieces created installations, the poured paint was also viewed and handled by Benglis as an object, and preserved as such. Years later her poured paint artworks are preserved and installed in their original format- which presents a transformative dynamic that the artist established.
Paint has historically been used to create imagery on a foundation- canvas, wood, paper, etc. In this common format the paint becomes an object of art only after joined with a substrate. Benglis was a forerunner in breaking away from this. Today there are a number of artists pushing forward on this notion, and breaking away further in the development of their bodies of work. Artists Linda Besemer, Margie Livingston, Ryan Peter Miller, Laura Moriarty, David Allan Peters and Leah Rosenberg all create works that demonstrate the vast spectrum with which paint as a medium has been torn from the substrate and presented conceptually and physically as a substance that can be molded.
Margie Livingston recently presented a new body of work in her solo exhibit “Objectified”at Luis De Jesus Gallery in Culver City. Having spent years casting and sculpting paint, Livingston’s portfolio demonstrates an evolved investigation into forms and space, substance and the function of the object. In her newest work she casts and sculpts acrylic paint alone into slabs that appear as wood planks, the patterning of hues reminiscent of wood grain. The wood-like planks, sheets and stumps are then used in the formation of minimalist sculpture.
A seemingly unlikely source of inspiration for contemporary artists, figurative sculpture has a long history. From the classical figure sculpture of Greek antiquity to African Yourba figurines artists have always had an inclination to depict the human form. Meeting the challenges of making such an old tradition new and relevant, these contemporary artists re-imagine the human form.
Contemporary master Jim Dine, often categorized as a pop artist, appropriated from art history. He selects icons, such as the Venus de Milo, to re-contextualize for a modern audience. Nathan Mabry draws from archaeology, Dadaism, surrealism and minimalism. He makes references across the art historical timeline, “crashing,” as he calls it, multiple aesthetics together. Interested in the impact of historical and mythological events on our collective consciousness, Katy Schimert creates sculptures that feel like they might have walked out of history. Fascinated with surface, Schimert uses her mediums to make the forms feel new, evoking a unique kind of introspection. Kevin Francis Gray’s work addresses the complex relationship between abstraction and figuration. He combines Neoclassical sculpture with an urban aesthetic. Fernando Botero is a Colombian artist who creates sculptures depicting people and other figures in large, exaggerated volume. The overstated features are meant to be humorous and generate political criticism.
Photographer Michael Galinsky’s series Malls Across America captures what we simultaneously love and hate about the mall. Stale air, artificial light, and swarms of teenagers are all captured in photographs from 1989. It was in the 1980’s and 1990’s that these places were at the height of popularity and a bastion of consumerism; Galinsky’s photos now is like digging up a time capsule.
Malls Across America began in the winter of 1989 at the Smith Haven Mall in Garden City Long Island. Galinsky travelled from North Carolina to South Dakota, Washington State and beyond photographing malls. We can look at this series as a source of amusement and anthropological study. There are ostentatious 80’s fashions (a lot of big hair) and the beginnings of 90’s grunge.
In many of these photographs, we are the voyeur. I get the feeling that Galinsky took these photographs on the sly, trying to be inconspicuous about it. He captures images through plants, behind people on escalators, and standing outside stores as women are conferring about clothing choices. Because Galinsky makes us both the voyeur and the viewer, I can’t help but feel a little bad for spying. But, considering all the 80’s movies that included mall hijinks, it feels oddly fitting.
These malls still exist, they are just dead. My hometown mall still looks eerily familiar to what’s in these photographs. If this series makes you feel nostalgic for your own mall, you can buy a book of Galinsky’s work. Aptly titled, Malls Across America, it was released this past summer. (Via It’s Nice That and Gizmodo)