Illustrator, craftswoman, and designer Helen Ahpornsiri has incredibly steady hands considering the scale she works on. She assembles tiny dried, pressed ferns into shapes based on natural history collections, sometimes no bigger than a coin or a pencil stub. Managing to place flakes of foliage into beautiful patterns, she creates weevils, butterflies, seahorses, owl skulls, dragonflies and moths.
Ahpornsiri initially studied illustration at the Falmouth University and then went on to work successfully for commercial projects including greetings cards for Marks and Spencer, paper flowers for Harrods Knightsbridge and bespoke menus for Coach. Interested in paper cutting and collage, she decided to branch out and try something a bit different. She says in an email:
When drawing a Fern Weevil in ink one day, just for a personal project, I wondered if I could create one with real fern. I already had some beautiful fronds from a Japanese Painted Fern pressed and waiting to be used for something. I have been collecting, pressing and making ever since! (Source)
The pressed fern collection is not the only thing Ahpornsiri has used to show off her precise cutting abilities. She has also created intricately crafted birds from stamp collections. You can also see just how Ahpornsiri puts her work together (the Tiny Robin in this case) in the video after the jump. (Via This Is Colossal)
Argentinian artist Lorena Guzman brings beautiful and twisted fairy tales to life on a daily basis. Using polyester resins and hobby materials she creates haunting scenarios complete with intricate details that continue to be uncovered the closer you look. She uses popular folk lore, bed time stories and myths as a base to her work. Guzman makes work about over-sized alligators who help monkeys cross rivers; genies who are spinning animals around on their fingers as a hypnotic trick; a surreal alpine landscape that is actually a coiled snake; an octopus who eats rabbits; and a crow who is building a cosy nest in the back of a skull.
Guzman chooses subjects that are curious, disturbing or grotesque in some way or another. Her Chihuahua Toy sculpture comments on the bizarre subculture of dog breeding and the type of monsters people choose to create. She asks if a two headed dog is really that much worse than Bull Terriers or Boxers that have been specifically chosen for features that, to some, are ugly.
Another piece is about a hunting mission that focused around catching the illusive albino hare in the Spanish town of Santa María de los Llanos. Pointing out our strange behaviors and traditions is what Guzman excels at. She has been prolifically creating work for over ten years. Be sure to check out her many other incredible sculptures.
Full of expressive, wild colorful brushstrokes and heavy layering and textures, Philip Hinge puts on a show of his playful sense of humor and confidence. Intentionally flirting with the line between ‘good art’ and ‘bad art’ in his exhibition Don’t Look Now, he approaches his subjects with a unique sensibility. Hinge paints anything from blow up dog balloons, to rock stars dressed in bridal gowns, to mermen sunbathing and boys greedily stuffing their faces with spaghetti. Choosing banal subjects and turning them into something special and surprising is his talent.
Contextual ambiguity abounds in Hinge’s work, allowing his paintings to express a subtle anxiety that is felt rather than seen. At the same time, by ironically appropriating sources as diverse as everyday kitsch, science fiction, and the canons of art history, Hinge lampoons widely-accepted tropes of high art. (Source)
Hinge manages to break down some of the traditional and existing boundaries within the painting (and greater art) world. And while his technique and style may seem primitive, his subject matter adds a subtle layer of complexity to his work. His past series include I Am The Black Wizards – an amusing look at the death metal community and the stereotypes that go with it. He has rockers stabbed with knives, swords and clubs, gripping their legs in pain, and tough guys wearing witches hats and capes, pinned to a wire fence. His light-hearted approach to certain social taboos is a refreshing thing to see.
Pulp Drunk is an exhibition of strange book cover art and a fascinating display of the wildly weird side of pop culture. Designed to attract new readers to read the words inside the books, the covers of post-war American literature were attention grabbing and bizarre at the best of times. But not only was it the American market who was trying out these tactics – illustrators were having a good time in Mexico as well. There, the cover art tended to be even stranger. Still aimed at selling books, but they tended to be less about in-your-face-sex, and instead included violence, crime, mystery, psychedelia and sci-fi details.
They featured characters having hallucinations and apparitions; super-strength robots throwing cars on a destructive rampage; jealous gorillas who are furious they didn’t end up with the girl; a thieving woman stealing a piglet under the cover of nighttime; and circus murder mysteries. These delightfully weird scenarios could be seen to mirror the supernatural side of Mexican culture and their attitudes toward life, death and mysticism. The press release from the exhibition explains further:
These sensationalized images from the sixties and seventies often feature surreal and lurid images of extraterrestrials, robots, dinosaurs, killers, Zorro and many other icons involving suspense, mystery, romance, and the supernatural. The central characters in the narratives tend to be ordinary people facing the common challenges of day-to-day life. They are not gallant martyrs but commoners who have found themselves confronting outlandish and startling predicaments as a result of poor decisions or risky behavior. (Source)
The Pulp Drunk exhibition may be over, but you can see more bizarre covers after the jump.
The current Le Bestiaire exhibition on display at the Biennale internationale design de Saint Etienne 2015 in France is an adorable collection of grizzly monsters, creatures, critters, beasts and fiends. 14 different creatures of all shapes, sizes, colors and textures were dreamed up by a diverse bunch of artists including Studio Brichet Ziegler, Perrine Vigneron and Gilles Belley, Louise de Saint Angel, Anne Lutz, Joachim Jirou-Najou, Felipe Ribon, Les Graphiquants, Twice, Helkarava, Bonnefrite, Malika Favre, Amélie Fontaine, Leslie David and Ionna Vautrin.
In a workshop inspired by the animals in the exhibition, kids are asked to imagine themselves as a make-believe beast. A project created by Amélie Doistau and Tomöe Sugiura, the different monsters have forms, colors and patterns from actual, real life animals.
The exhibition asks us to think what it means to wear a costume, to don a disguise and to have the opportunity to act out of character.
When we dress up, regardless of whether we become beautiful or ugly, good or bad, marvelous or monstrous, everyone gets into character and is excused of all odd behavior, without being subject to ridicule. The animal kingdom is amazing and rouses the imaginations of young and old alike. Many designers have explored the world of childhood through this unifying theme. They transform everyday objects referencing zoological world. Could it be the desire to tame wild animals that propels designers to represent fierce creatures as docile pets? (Source)
If you get the chance, be sure to check it out for yourself, and you can ponder these questions further. Le Bestiaire runs from March 12 until April 12, 2015.
(Via Pattern Pulp)
These beautiful hand crafted ceramic bowls are the handiwork of artist Hella Jongerius. A designer who specializes in fusing traditional practices with contemporary ones; industrial techniques with craft skills, Jongerius is no stranger to trying out new things. Commissioned by German porcelain company Nymphenburg, the animal bowls are a homage to the different animals found in the companies archives. Since the 18th century, Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg (based in Bavaria) have produced high quality, fine, artisanal ceramics. Over the last 266 years, that has included countless tea sets, vases, decorative and utilitarian plates, and now limited edition bowls. Jongerius now joins the long list of artists and craftsmen who have collaborated with Nymphenburg.
From the treasure of historic shapes containing around 700 animal figures at the manufactory, Jongerius selected eight designs and placed them in simple bowls. She then supplemented the naturalistic painting of the snail, bird, rhinoceros, deer, hare, frog, fox and dog with a different pattern from Nymphenburg’s painting archives – from designs originally intended for a soup tureen right up to a drawing of the plumage of a guinea fowl. (Source)
Her playful style and eye for color and design, all work beautifully with the cleanliness of the bowls. Jongerius has her own design company which has produced many products for clients in New York, Basel, Sweden, and the Netherlands. Her work has also been shown in galleries around the world, including the Copper Hewitt National Design Museum, MoMA, and the Galerie KREO in Paris. (Via This Is Colossal)
In a daring undertaking, MoMA’s curator Klaus Biesenbach has pulled together an immersive exhibition concentrating on the last twenty years of Björk’s musical career, her eight full length albums and also features the launch of her new video Black Lake. Taken from her new album Vulnicura (2015), and filmed in Iceland in the summer of 2014, the 11 minute long video uncharacteristically explores the personal life of Björk and her break up with long time romantic partner Matthew Barney. The video was commissioned by the gallery and gave Björk another chance to work creatively with director Andrew Thomas Huang, whom she teamed up with on her previous video Mutual Core. For Black Lake, she also worked with the talented Erna Ómarsdóttir – a choreographer who gave life to Björk’s emotional journey through the break up. The video moves through the different stages of separation, including grieving, processing, and reincarnation.
The exhibition also features a retrospective of her music videos, from Debut (1993) to Biophilia (2011) across from the screening of Black Lake. In the lobby of the gallery, there is a showcase of the instruments used on Biophilia: a gameleste, a pipe organ, gravity harp and a Tesla coil. And to compete the experience,
…Songlines presents an interactive, location-based audio experience through Björk’s albums, with a biographical narrative that is both personal and poetic, written by the acclaimed Icelandic writer Sjón, along with many visuals, objects, and costumes, including the robots designed by Chris Cunningham for the “All Is Full of Love” music video, Marjan Pejoski’s Swan Dress (2001), and Iris van Herpen’s Biophilia tour dress (2013), among many others. (Source)
Montreal based mural artist Jason Botkin loves to paint large, strikingly colorful abstractions of faces doing weird things. And bodies doing weird things. He likes to paint hands out of scale, eye brows quivering, bird faces animated, alien shapes in bright bold shades and cartoon characters who are larger than life. Recently returning from the Festival Internacional de Arte Público in Mexico where he collaborated with Jeremy Shantz on a series of weird masks and faces, he is no stranger to combining his distinctive pop style with other artists’, to create unforgettable imagery.
Botkin is not only a master of street painting and graffiti-style work, but also of installations and drawings – all which have a surrealistic twist. His work in Cancun is a natural progression on from his more figurative work which is aptly described here after the success of his second solo show in 2008:
Figures turn inside out, dressed in their emperor’s finest; bodies unwrapped to explore inner worlds, emotions, and ideas; vapors and clouds permeate architectural structures of unknown purpose; buildings chart impossible perspectives, cities in chaos; geometric forms emerge from and are swallowed by the imagined inner workings of internal landscapes. These various elements form a tapestry of self divined utopias and personal myths. These offerings are made with the belief that change is possible, when we reinterpret social identities and then test deeply entrenched, and often flawed social realities. (Source)
Leading on from that, Botkin leaned toward painting more cartoon-like heads complete with their own personalities. He adds a healthy sense of humor to his work and enlarges it, places in it a public sphere and allows people to enjoy it at their own leisure. See more of his paintings after the jump. (Via Hi Fructose)