The work of Stéphane Vigny is often humorous in its subversiveness. Vigny often undermines the purpose of objects to create amusing but thought provoking new ‘purposes’ (like a BMW turned into playground equipment). Other times Vigny alters objects in a way that make them profoundly useless (such as a chair on wheels the size of the room it sits in). Commodities and inanimate objects are typically entirely defined by their purpose, what they do. Vigny’s installations, though, force viewers to set aside their expectations and approach the familiar in a new way.
Korean artist JeongMoon Choi uses surprisingly simple materials to create installations that appear to be pulled off the computer screen. Simply using thread and UV lights JeongMoon illuminates complex geometric patterns. The arranged thread patterns glow against the dark space at times resembling three dimensional plans. Her installations explore the gallery space, both literally and conceptually. Glowing angles bounce off walls and ceilings emphasizing an architectural space that typically tries to not attract notice.
The work of Stefanie Gutheil is a wonderful mess. Her current exhibit at the Mike Weiss gallery has the atmosphere of the precise moment a party becomes a riot. Gutheil’s paintings incorporate fleshy globs of oil and acrylic paint, fabric, glitter, hair, and fur. The seemingly turbid materials match the paintings’ libidinous subject matter. Even some of the paintings frames only seem to exist in order to be defied – cat’s tails, pants, hats all push past gilded frames and off the canvas. In what she portrays and how she portrays it, Gutheil’s work pinpoints a curious place precisely between fun and horror – the moment before the last finger loses its grip.
The story of Meghan Howland‘s oil paintings are quiet like a secret. Her work captures understated dreamy scenes. A confusion of birds, hidden faces, a scarf that may or may not be choking its wearer – her work at once is lighthearted and hints at a darker undercurrent.
Her gallery relates, “Her paintings are often dreamlike, and yet carry a weight of something that is slightly more dissonant. The question of whether something is safe or dangerous, loving or hateful, is often unexplained in her work.”
A snapshot quality to the image, fill flash like lighting, lends the paintings the characteristic of a caught instant. However, her painterly hand stretches the moment. While definitely working a contemporary aesthetic, Howland’s paintings are at times reminiscent of Degas’ style and palette.
Artist Rik Garrett explores physical relationships in his series Symbiosis. By painting directly onto the photograph, Garrett literally fuses two bodies into one. Two writhing bodies seem to become one organism. It’s a nearly a literal interpretation of “two becoming one flesh”.
Garrett says, “Symbiosis is a new series exploring ideas regarding love, relationships, magic, Alchemy and mutually beneficial partnerships in nature.”
While the idea sounds romantic the imagery can appear otherwise. The single masses almost appear to be struggling against itself, perhaps alluding to the complexities of sexuality and relationships.
The series of work from Polish artist Jan Manski is aptly titled Onania – an archaic term for masturbation. The life-sized installations focus on ideas of vanity and hedonism. Dominated by a fleshy shade of pink, Manski seems to ambiguously address a cultural obsession with pleasure while neither condemning nor condoning it. Manski contrasts materials such as fat, leather, bones and fur with surgical steel, enamel, clothing, and cosmetics. Onania manages to repulse and be aesthetically pleasing - mesmerizing like a botched medical procedure.
The work of artist Michael Murphy emphasizes personal perspective. Murphy builds upon several layers to construct a larger image only seen from a precise angle. When stepping away from that angle the image descends back into abstraction. Murphy uses this to express the social and political ideas implied several of his pieces. A portrait of Barack Obama diffuses to reveal very many shades of skin tones which accumulate to form a whole portrait. The simple shape of a Christian Crucifix is dismantled into an iconology of the symbol – a visual conversation of contemporary issues associated with the religion.
Sven Lamme seems to playfully sit on the fence, so to say, between art and design. In collaboration with landscaper Terra Incognita, Lamme constructed these three “seating elements” throughout a nature preserve in the Netherlands. They at once serve as kind of landmark for the natural surroundings as well as a means to passively interact with the environment. Lamme also makes use of visual puns in the design of his seating elements. The first seat a literal interpretation of sitting on the fence, and the third resembling a buoy – a reference to the lands elevation below sea level.