The work of British artist Claire Morgan is alive with natural forces. Birds appear to fly, flail, or fall through lighter-than-air formations of seeds. Using nylon thread Morgan suspends her installations giving the impression of an event caught in time. Peculiarly, she is able to express the idea of passing time and motion by appearing magically to stop it. Morgan’s interest in natural forces is clearly apparent in her work. The installations are nearly a way she can manipulate these otherwise immutable forces.
New Levels, the title of John Chae‘s new series of work, captures its dual nature succinctly. While the phrase New Levels may partly refer to higher levels of perception or consciousness, you may likely have had the same first impression as I did: video games. Chae’s paintings use both elements of fine art history and throw-away pop culture imagery – he visually cites Magritte and Escher alongside manga artists. Chae moves beyond the highbrow/lowbrow juxtaposition of our pop-art grandparents. Rather, his paintings are for and from a generation that doesn’t consume images as much as it puts them to use as a recyclable tool of self-expression.
Icelandic artist Hrafnhildur Arnardottir (also known as Shoplifter) created a playful inanimate entourage. Her series Imaginary Friends is composed of a number of various sculptures which seem to each vaguely resemble a person. The Friends appear to be sparsely constructed and made of familiar materials. It is intriguing for how well they imply human figures considering the little they use. Imagining a unique personality for each piece isn’t difficult. Arnardottir also seems to touching on the way identity is expressed in personal adornment and dress.
Really, much of Arnardottir’s work tip-toes between fashion and art. In fact, her familiarity with style and design has garnered her collaborations with several magazines. Arnardottir’s art, however, has teamed her up with some especially high-profile creatives such as legendary musician Bjork and super-artists Assum Vivid Astro Focus.
Miami based artist Asif Farooq builds highly detailed replicas of guns using only found cardboard, an X-Acto Knife, and glue. The weapons are build to mimic their real life counterparts in both detail and size. Farooq constructed 300 of these cardboard replicas in order to create an entire “gun shop”. The atmosphere of danger that surrounds the weapons is contrasted by the nature of his medium. His sculpture not only encourage viewers to confront a fear of the weapons but to also contemplate that fear. Farooq’s work is especially relevant in the midst of recent gun-control debates.
According to his website, the street artist OakOak “is a French artist who likes to play with urban elements”. Using simple means and materials, OakOak undermines his neighborhood with playful results. He uses a minimal amount of actual original artwork, instead re-purposing signs, facades, cement blocks, chipping paint, and more. OakOak transforms a neighborhood’s imperfections into its own adornments. He says of his interventions:
“The less I intervene on the wall or the road, the better, especially if I can totally change the sense of the urban environment” [via]
The portraits of Marcus Cain fall somewhere between abstract and figurative. His faces appear to be in the process of solidifying, perhaps alluding to the identity they express.
Cain says, “I am currently interested in a particulate view of the human condition, acts of transformation, and shifting identities….My hope is to capture the figure in a transformative, in-between state.”
Cain also uses processes that allude to past styles such as pointillism and abstract expressionism. His nearly eerie portraits often dominated by prominent staring eyes, however, are reminiscent of pulp depictions of phantoms and apparitions.
Hungarian photographer Bence Bakonyi‘s series Dignity is a clearly personal one. The white arctic-like landscape is contrasted against deep black fields. The inky pools seem to be light swallowing and even begin to envelop a figure in some images. Bakonyi’s photographs are intensely lonely. Referring to the series, he speaks about a distinction between the body and mind as expressed in the photos.
Speaking about struggles between the two he relates, ”It’s so alluring, sometimes as if the will of the body would want to swallow me, leaving my thoughts behind, but then comes the soul to pull me back.”
At least in the United States, subways are often thought of as utilitarian spaces quickly passed through during rush hour. Sweden’s Stockholm Metro, however, is filled with bright colors, mosaics, bas relief, even, installations and sculpture created over the past 60 years. Often considered one of the continent’s most beautiful metro systems, the city takes the underground art very seriously. For the price of a ticket, the system offers guided tours with a Metro expert. Further, the Stockholm Metro hosts temporary art exhibits in addition to its six decades worth of permanent art. Next time your in Sweden be sure to schedule some time underground.