Wendy White And Five Other Artists Deconstruct Text In Paintings

Wendy White

Wendy White

Feodor Vornov

Feodor Vornov

Glenn Ligon

Glenn Ligon

Jose Parla

Jose Parla

Text phrases, words and letters abound in contemporary art, ranging widely from direct witty phrases to text that has become illegible in its adaptation.  With increased crossover between different fields of art, the craft of editing text in literary arts is a skill and practice that has been incorporated into the visual arts more frequently.  Jenny Holzer is an artist who comes to mind in this regard.

However, in this article I am examining the other polarity of text in art.  As an artist who regularly uses text in my own art work, I am always interested in discovering the ways in which other artists step beyond the all too prevalent witty-one-liner on the wall into an artistic language that is far more expansive and uniquely cultivated.  The artists included here demonstrate the beautiful grey area that emerges between abstract painting, graffiti, constructivist painting and the written word, to name a few.  Here text becomes a vehicle for additional forms of communication, used as a foundation to expand upon with the artist’s particular vision or agenda.

Wendy White, Feodor Voronov, Glenn Ligon, Annie Vought, Jose Parla and Jel Martinez are all artists whose work takes text and language and pushes way outside the box.  Wendy White’s use of the lines and structure of letters themselves is deconstructed and echoed in lines that emerge within her abstracted and color washed work.  In the images of her work shared here, I particularly love the way in which she goes beyond the canvas in architecturally reconstructing the text-like elements along the border.

Andres Serrano And Three Other Artists Make Work About Death

Andres Serrano

Andres Serrano

Tereza Zelenkova

Tereza Zelenkova

Berlinde De Bruyckere

Berlinde De Bruyckere

Death becomes us all eventually, as we are exploring in the works covered in this two part article.  In light of the Halloween season, and the historical implications of death of this season, we are highlighting artists who create work that addresses or is informed by death and dying.  Part 1 included and discussed the works of Damien Hirst, Doris Salcedo, Angelo Filomeno, Konrad Smolenski and Joel Peter Witkin.  Here we examine the work of Andres Serrano, Berlinde De Bruyckere, Tereza Zelenkova and Oskar Dawicki.

Andres Serrano has built a reputation creating imagery that is shocking and confronts the viewer with heavy content, unapologetically.  His series on death takes this to the next level. Each image, a close-up intimate composition of the deceased subject, is titled according to the cause of death.  The Death Series functions as a mirror of our own mortality, delivered rawly and beautifully in rich colors and blank stares.

The work of Berlinde De Bruyckere is rough and organic, abstractly anatomical and animalistic in delivery.  The artist’s sculptural work emanates a quality that lies somewhere between a murder scene and a meat locker.  De Bruyckere’s pieces have a realistic quality of flesh torn apart yet are executed with fairly common artistic materials such as wax, wood, iron, cotton and wool is captivating.

Tereza Zelenkova created a series entitled Supreme Vice during a journey through the deserts of the Southwest.  Captured in the bleakest and most barren of environments, Zelenkova’s photographic works meditate on death through a poetic narrative that seems to address a spiritual continuum that overlaps life and death and creates a bridge between the two polarities.  The black and white series, that spans grey areas of mortality, is bound in a book, also entitled Supreme Vice.

The obituary series by Oskar Dawicki which was first exhibited in 2004 in a show aptly titled “The end of the world by accident” is far more ironic than the previously mentioned works.  The photographic works capture collages Dawicki assembled of actual obituaries he discovered in the newspaper.  The names of the deceased in the images appear to be celebrities and other famous figures at first glance.  The works toy with the spectrum of perception of significance in the value of human life and death.

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Damien Hirst And Four Other Artists Who Make Art About Death

Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst

Joel Peter Witkin

Joel Peter Witkin

Angelo Filomeno

Angelo Filomeno

It’s Halloween season, and campy macabre aesthetic surrounds us, making the general public a little more open to the darker parts of our existence.  Reflecting back on the origin of this holiday, All Hallow’s Eve and Samhain, the pagan celebration, it’s clear that death and the unseen world is the foundation.  Our ancestors believed that the veil to the other side became thin or disappeared completely on this night, allowing the spirit world to comingle with the physical and living world. There are many people and cultures that still hold this belief and practice today.

In light of the season I began searching through aesthetically significant contemporary art that finds its foundations in death and dying.  This is Part 1 of 2 of the scope of art about death, ranging widely in medium and other interwoven themes.  Damien Hirst, Angelo Filomeno, Joel Peter Witkin, Konrad Smolenski and Doris Salcedo all embrace the subject of death and dying in a widely varied manner.  As well, all are highly revered in their own right for their individual continuums of art produced over the years.

Damien Hirst is no stranger to controversy as an artist.  He always delivers shock value well and does not shy away from creating work that makes viewers squirm.  Materials he used to create the pieces featured here range from dead flies, to animal carcasses, formaldehyde and maggots.  Hirst’s works don’t just discuss the business of birth, death and dying- they display it in action right before your eyes, in a way that some of the work nearly becomes about life itself. 

Heavy Metal Art: Banks Violette And Seven Other Artists On The Spectrum Of Dark And Gritty

Banks Violette

Banks Violette

Skinner

Skinner

2

Ben Venom

This weekend on Beautiful Decay we want to welcome you over to the dark side, where a vast amount of artists are churning out contemporary art fueled by the fire of Metal.  A multitude of artists these days are making art inspired by the crushing sounds and dark spirit of Heavy Metal, Death Metal and Doom music, all of which weave in and out of several other genres.

I’ve been a huge fan for a while now of the work made by artists Skinner, Ben Venom and Martin Durazo, which are strongly informed by Heavy Metal.  This past week after chatting with artist and Beautiful Decay owner, Amir H. Fallah and artist Skinner and reaching out on Facebook to learn more about artists tied into this music scene, I was turned onto a breadth of incredible artists.  A lot of artists working with metal as inspiration have strong crossover into design and illustration, album art, posters (especially for the band Mastadon), band merch and murals.  There’s also a strong genre of work that explores dark spiritual matter, mythology and death that is absolutely captivating.  You can expect upcoming coverage of these sub-genres in coming weeks.

Text Based Neon Art From Bruce Nauman And Six Other Artists

Patrick Martinez neon art

Patrick Martinez

Bruce Nauman neon art

Bruce Nauman

Tracey Emin neon art

Tracey Emin

Text art seems to be popping up everywhere these days in a multitude of diverse forms, although the use of text in art is inarguably not a new movement.  However, when it comes to using words in visual art, several artists of different ages and sub-genres have found ways to burn their words into our brains.  The pieces featured here have real stay-power.  Whether the artist employs a blinking pattern between words, such as Bruce Nauman does, or draws rawly from their cultural background and related personal experience, such as Glenn Ligon and Patrick Martinez, these works deliver a very contemporary message. With simple language, and a sometimes poetic-sometimes brash- sense of honesty, these neon text-based works transcend many other works of text based art made today.  Artists featured here include: Bruce Nauman, Patrick Martinez, Tracey Emin, Jill Magid, Glenn Ligon, Robert Montgomery and Jung Lee.  The works speak for themselves- yet we encourage you to read between the lines.

Urs Fischer And Seven Other Artists Create Dynamic Works With Houses

Urs Fischer

Urs Fischer

Rachel Whiteread

Rachel Whiteread

 An Te Liu

An Te Liu

The house is a shape everyone has some form of relationship with.  Whether it symbolizes comfort, global financial crises in housing market, cookie cutter mediocrity or family, the house as a mundane symbol or object has been elevated to captivating experimental art and high art on several occasions.  This weekend we share with you a selection of significant works that adapt houses into art objects.

Urs Fischer‘s Untitled (Bread House), constructed of bread, bread crumbs, wood, polyurethane foam, silicone, acrylic paint, screws, tape and rugs leaves every ingredient exposed.  Stepping inside this large sculptural work recently at MOCA had the effect of walking inside a decaying fairytale, as the work is naturally allowed to crumble and decompose in exhibition.  Stepping over piles of crusts of cinnamon raisin bread amidst dirty rugs and peering up at the bubbled polyeurythane foam that seeps between boards and rows of old bread, the viewer may feel any combination of wonder, amusement and fear- much like Grimms Brothers Fairytales.

An Te Liu‘s Title Deed  evolved from the Leona Drive Project in Toronto where a number of vacant tract houses were offered to artists to be reinvented as artistic installations.  As this project took place in 2009 in the height of the housing market crash, the artist observed that the simple shape of the existing house represented the 20th century iconic Monopoly board game house pieces.  The simple, yet flawless execution of Title Deed situated within a functioning suburban neighborhood carries comical yet heavy implications.

 

Earthworks: Five Artists Sculpt The Landscape

Matthew Moore

Matthew Moore

Lita Albuquerque

Lita Albuquerque

Andy Goldsworthy

Andy Goldsworthy

Our planet is a truly magical work of art; complex, multifaceted and textural.  Perhaps this is why Andy Warhol, a name that is unlikely to be associated with this topic, once said, “Land really is the best art.”  Viewed in this simplistic yet profound light, land, or Earth, serves almost as found object in the implementation of Earthworks.  In other instances land becomes the canvas, or the sculptural negative space for installation, or even a foundation and medium to explore sociocultural patterns.

Lita Albuquerque has used the earth and its materials for decades to create ephemeral and spiritually infused work. Her incorporation of performance, photography and installation creates multiple dimensions and lenses to experience our world, our relationship to earth and the stars, as well as their rhythms and cycles.  The images featured here of her project Stellar Axis document an artistic expedition into Antarctica, which was the first and largest ephemeral work created on the continent. The installation of ninety-nine spheres across the icy landscape mimics the pattern of the ninety-nine Antarctic stars above- visually linking Earth to the cosmos.

Family Values: 5 Artists Draw Inspiration From Family

Zhang Xiaogang

Zhang Xiaogang

Song Dong photography

Song Dong

Seonna Hong

Seonna Hong

The saying “home is where the heart is” very rarely relates to contemporary art.  And though the works featured here are not directly about home, they are informed to some degree by immediate family,relationships and experiences that stem from it.  In a global spectrum of east meets west these five artists come from genres ranging from Chinese Avant Garde to lowbrow painting, from surrealism to contemporary portraiture, to name a few.  The paintings, mixed media works and digital media stills of artists: Song Dong, Brooke Grucella, Seonna Hong, Aaron Holz and Zhang Xiaogang exemplify the diversity with which the artists’ loved ones have become not only the subject for the works, but also at times part of the process, as well as a platform to tell a story that becomes increasingly universal.

I recall visiting the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco a couple of years ago to see Song Dong’s massive solo exhibition of works made with his family members as subjects, as well as a massive installation that incorporated decades worth of of family possessions as material.  His work is deeply personal, with a strong narrative thread, and truly draw you into his world with their reverence and profoundly flawless execution.  Zhang Xiaogang’s works from his series Bloodlines uses other family portraits as a vehicle for conveying the experiences of his immediate family that they experienced as he came of age during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.  Each piece in this series has a thin red line that weaves throughout the composition, symbolizing the connection of heritage and family.