Borondo’s Classically Inspired Street Art Haystack Portraits

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In addition to creating public work in cities, Spanish street artist Borondo has recently used spray paint to recreate monochromatic portraits using a hay stack as as a canvas. Although he’s using this unconventional material (even for a public artist), his classically-inspired style and flawless technique are sustained. No matter the materials used, each piece of Borondo’s is blended artfully into its surroundings, creating a subtle, ghostly effect. While touring Italy this summer, Borondo painted a few large public pieces, including this haystack work in Cotignola, but his work can seen around the globe. (via from89)

Prison Art: The Story Of An Incredibly Detailed Monkey Bar Diorama Made From Scraps And Gifted To Henry Ford

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Henry Ford’s Digital Collections Initiatives Manager Ellice Engdahl recently wrote about one of his favorite artifacts of the 18,000 published online: The Monkey Bar diorama. This diorama was created by a man known as Patrick J. Culhane (various spellings) in 1914-15 during his time at the Massachusetts State Prison at Charlestown where he’d been sent after a conviction of “larceny from a conveyance.” Culhane carved and assembled this incredibly detailed piece of prison art by hand from a variety of materials, including peach pits, and scraps of wood, fabric, metal, cellulose, and plastic, all fitting into a base measuring only 16″ x 20″.

Engdahl notes that Monkey Bars were created by other prisoners in the early 20th century, and that “Culhane intended the diorama to depict many of the worldly pitfalls that had put him and his fellow inmates on a path to prison. The Bar is chock full of monkeys engaged in all kinds of rambunctious activities—drinking alcohol, gluttonous eating, smoking (cigarettes, cigars, and opium), gambling and gaming in many forms (craps, roulette, checkers, shell game, and cards), playing music, monitoring the stock market via a ticker, and even paying off a policemonkey. Clearly some of the monkeys are ready to check into (or out of) the associated hotel, as they have their suitcases with them and keys and mail are visible behind the desk.”

After Culhane finished his piece, he arranged to have it sent to Henry Ford, with a hand-written note, “Presented to Mr. Henry Ford / As a token of appreciation and esteem for his many benevolent and magnanimous acts toward, and keen interest in, prisoners / By A Prisoner.”

Engdahl surmises that Ford became interested in Culhane, and may have a hand in his release from prison, as Culhane was hired to work at the Ford Motor Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1916 and Ford’s secretary corresponded with Culhane regularly.

All photos courtesy of The Henry Ford. (via Slate)

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Japanese Artist Ishibashi Yui’s Unsettling Figures

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Japenese artist Ishibashi Yui’s sculptures are both unsettling and serene. Using a variety of materials, such as wood, resin, cloth, clay, steel wire, and stone powder, she often depicts figures whose roots extend and project outward in many directions. These figures appear passive and complacent to these protruding branches, aware of the lack of control they have over this organic process. Some of these protrusions seem painful or unexpected, but ultimately inevitable. Often her figures are off-white, while their protrusions are green or red-hued. These figures are human-like, but their soft, round and white bodies give the viewer a sense they are also of the earth, resembling a plant’s bulb. Yui’s work makes us deeply aware of how we are intertwined with the natural world, and the balance and cycle of nourish and depletion that living and dying requires. (via hound eye)

Michael Ward’s Hyperrealistic Paintings Depict Southern California Nostalgia

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Michael Ward’s hyperrealistic paintings remind me of the type of photographs I take when I travel to new cities. I am always drawn to graphic elements and the juxtapositions of buildings, signs, and their locations. And, indeed, most of Ward’s paintings are based off of photographs he’s taken over the years, primarily of Southern California. Though his work was not intended to address the nostalgia of these places, most of the images’ places he’s recreated have been altered or have entirely disappeared, his work becoming an archive of transitional places. Ward’s influences include Edward Hopper, Charles Scheeler, RIchard Estes, and Vermeer. A self-taught painter, Ward began his artistic career drawing pen and ink renditions of historical architecture, before experimenting first in gouache, then in acrylics. Of his work, Ward says,”I am most interested in depicting what Alan Watts called the mystery of the ordinary; the workaday world we live in without seeing until we are forced to focus upon it, as in a painting.”

Phyliss Lutjeans, a museum educator and curator observes,“Although Michael Ward may be called a neo-realist painter his work can ultimately be described as abstract realism. The picture image is photographically realistic, but within the context of the painting his compositions are complex and almost abstract. Deciphering the work section by section one sees how a multitiude of individual complete compositions are put together to form the entire work. For me the viewer is confronted by a realistic image that puzzles us and clearly tells the story simultaneously.” (via the paris review)

French Artist Julien Spianti’s Deconstructed Spaces

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French artist Julien Spianti‘s oil paintings almost look like watercolors. The way he blends and creates depth, color, and texture creates a dreamy and familiar aesthetic. His work often features human figures in various environments that seem to bleed into the canvas. Spatial relationships are deconstructed and appear fluid, a sense of disappearing space and the blurring of boundaries. Landscapes and interiors blend into each other, and the effect created is mythical and resonant.  Each painting’s evocation depends on what element of the composition he chooses to blend or blur into cloudy ambiguity. Spianti’s paintings remind me of dream images that are familiar, but hard to place, an image that lingers after you wake, knowing for certain that particular people were present, though their faces are unclear. Spianti’s work is largely influenced by his immersion in aesthetic philosophy, a field of study in which he holds a Master’s. Spianti lives and works between Brussels and Paris as a painter and filmmaker. (via two headed snake)

Magazine Alteration Creates Haunting And Abstract Images

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Guim Tió Zarraluki is a Spanish mixed media artist who creates work that transforms magazines into haunting and abstract images. Much of his work features portraits sourced from magazine advertisements. He alters the page with chemicals and oil pastels, transforming these “picture perfect” models into abstract, and sometimes unsettling, figures. His work maintains a photorealistic sensibility while containing something haunting and foreboding. If you look carefully, you’ll notice that the artist has left a small part of the magazine untouched or barely altered, leaving a trace of the original during his process. Tió also has a photography series of human figures with faces painted in a similar aesthetic, turning his form back in on itself to create abstracted figurative images. (via)

“The artist stages a controversial issue for contemporary society and his work becomes an exploration of the collective unconscious, which governs the aesthetic valences on all types of human monstrosities in the sign of narcissistic beauty emulation as the key to success; a parody of stereotypes that today govern the new conceptions of the meaning “human being”. (via)

You can watch him at work on a magazine page alteration here.

Surreal Animated Gifs Created By Reassembling Images

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BillDomonkos is a visual artist and filmmaker who we previously featured in May 2011. Most recently, he has begun posting gifs he’s made to his Tumblr page. If you’re familiar with any of his film work, then the animated gifs should resonate with you as they similarly reflect Domonkos’ aesthetic. In both forms, he collides and combine ideas and images using digital effects, editing, and manipulation to assemble a new experience of form. His work is largely informed by the elusive part of cinema, the ineffability of an expression that can only be sensed by evoking particular images, sounds, and feelings. The endless loops of the animated gif form brings something new to Domonkos’ aesthetic, allowing for the endless contrast of an animated image with a static image. His work reminds me of the last gif artist I posted, Tony Kinglux, who uses a similar process and method when creating his gifs, though there are obvious differences in their overall aesthetics. Domonkos lives and works in San Francisco.

Mother And Daughter Collaborate On Surreal Illustrations

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It’s hard not to be absolutely delighted with this story and these illustrations. Mica Angela Hendricks is an illustrator and graphic artist who used to keep her art projects separate from her daughter’s as a way to maintain control of artistic direction. One day, that changed when her 4-year-old insisted that Hendricks share her new sketchbook with her, finally berating her with, “we might have to take it away if you can’t share,” something Hendricks told her daughter often. So Hendricks let her finish the bodies of many faces she’d started (informed by old black and white movie stills), and was surprised and delighted with the results. Hendricks claims her daughter often has a focused direction when finishing a piece, and that her imagination is unpredictable.

After her daughter finishes drawing, Hendricks adds color and highlights, texture and painting to complete them. Her daughter critques most of them a bit harshly, but ultimately enjoys their collaboration. As for Hendricks, the collaboration means more to her than the creation of interesting and unique illustrations:

“…From it all, here are the lessons I learned: to try not to be so rigid. Yes, some things (like my new sketchbook) are sacred, but if you let go of those chains, new and wonderful things can happen. Those things you hold so dear cannot change and grow and expand unless you loosen your grip on them a little. In sharing my artwork and allowing our daughter to be an equal in our collaborations, I helped solidify her confidence, which is way more precious than any doodle I could have done. In her mind, her contributions were as valid as mine (and in truth, they really were). Most importantly, I learned that if you have a preconceived notion of how something should be, YOU WILL ALWAYS BE DISAPPOINTED. Instead, just go with it, just ACCEPT it, because usually something even more wonderful will come out of it.”

You can purchase prints of these delightful illustrations here. (via)