More than a year ago, photographer Ruben Brulat set out on a journey from Europe to Asia by land only, through Iraq, Iran, onto Afghanistan, Tibet until Indonesia, Japan and Mongolia. The map below outlines the route that Brulat carved out for himself, marked with places where he briefly parallelled the paths of other travelers. His new series, “Paths,” is a collection of portraits the artist took of the strangers he met along the way. Brulat makes a concerted effort to capture each subject completely exposed in the natural setting where they crossed paths, prompting them to surrender themselves completely to the landscape.
According to the artist, he envisions the series as “a narrative constructed only by the randomness of the encounter, places and body—meeting with utopia and hope in these only suspended moments. [These are] bodies of people that became friends, performing, not without difficulties, leaving wounds, marks, and souvenirs from a time before heading towards different paths, after sharing one for a while.”
When creating his reinterpretations of Technicolor masterpiece The Wizard Of Oz, German artist Dennis Neuschaefer-Rube didn’t limit himself to a singular medium. Dabbling in video manipulation, installation and printed ephemera, his “experiment” exists as a deep dive into what happens when the artist points the focus away from narrative, and instead zeroes in on visual velocity. He chooses to takes a step back, and re-imagines the film as a series of frames—laid side-by-side in a technique he refers to as “stilling film.”
In this 2-minute preview of Neuschaefer-Rube’s video piece, you can see hundreds of copies of the film, playing simultaneously in a hypnotic wave of color fluctuation. In the exhibited form, this work is accompanied by a printed version of the investigation, a singular film still, and a large (somewhat ominous) black box designed for viewing. Neuschaefer-Rube’s ability to steer the viewer’s attention from piece to piece is masterful, with each element of the experiment hitting just the right notes—perhaps making a slight nod to the Great and Powerful himself.
Finding its forms in a combination of drawing, object-making and installation, the work of artist Maggie Haas investigates the lives of unfinished and discarded objects, with a particular interest in construction materials. She was recently awarded a residency at The Lab, in San Francisco, CA—where she has been working primarily with materials she has found at the space. Working with what she is given, Haas uses her transformational powers to great effect: expanding upon everyday materials with her acute sense of color and composition.
Since beginning her residency, Haas has been creating work both from and in the gallery, she has created a series of ever-shifting structures. Using the gallery as both a medium and a platform to create, Haas has used her most recent body of work to explore flux, transition and our relationship to the idea of impermanence. Hovering between blueprint-style drawing and abstraction, her drawings of imagined structures and patterns explore the materiality of paper and ink—while her propped-up structures and object-based art elegantly underline the thesis that everything is in flux, everything can be moved, shifted, collapsed and/or carried away.
Bay Area-based printmaker Amber Fawn Keig‘s works on paper are a collection of colored pencil, gouache and lithographic prints—pulled together under the cohesive investigation of memory. The likenesses scratched out in her careful, stylistic black-and-white prints have the visually-loaded tinge of early 1990’s Americana. Keig usually works with imagery of her friends and family to create these works, although the narratives expressed are somewhat vague and seemingly fictional.
If anything, the litho prints pull the viewer in for a moment of intense technical examination, to look closely at Keig’s tiny, expert strokes, and to take in her careful thematic twists and turns, often embedded in the layered images she pulls together. While the black-and-white works stand well on their own, they’re complimented perfectly by the fluid, intuitive colorwork of her painted and pencil-drawn works. THe moments where the two mediums intersect are the most interesting, but each part of Keig’s current series seems to feed well into the same conceptual vein. While the scale is small, the subject matter is quite curious, and these works carry a kind of welcome, yet weary hominess in their portrayal of contemporary American experience.
Informed by a mixture of science, geometry & mythology, the intentionality behind artist Dayna Thacker‘s layered landscapes lies in a quest for perfect methodology. She searches through informational systems, ancient patterns and mathematical equations for inspiration, seeking to find a connection between method and an elevated sense of inner peace. “Our inner and outer selves interact, inform and create the other: physical & spiritual, logical & intuitive, intellectual & psychological, conscious & subconscious,” she says.
Translating her research and interests to physical inquiry, Thacker develops intricate repeat patterns that she then hand-cuts into photographic investigations of landscape. The ritual, repeated nature of the cutting echoes aspects of her research process—one has to wonder if this mindful state is achieved in the making, or in the final viewing of these lace-like, multi-layered compositions.
Polish painter Jarek Puczel‘s works are arrestingly simple, yet compelling takes on the everyday. Sketching out fragments, and in-between moments pulled from everyday experiences, these pieces possess an air of the cinematic—key lighting, dramatic angles, arrested motion—all elements that tie into his overall concept of the world being one giant set for quiet, dramatic moments of ennui.
With his compositions, he explores the tension of seemingly empty moments, calling out their bare, bored elements like props on a stage. His color selections tiptoe between the real and the vivid, with punches of color tucked away in the very best places of each piece. By attempting to capture some sort of potential energy or agency within the frames of each scene, he has created a series of charged, silent stills, pulled right from the edges of someone’s daily experience. The result is a pleasing archive of slightly faded half-memories, sketched out in richly-hued oil on canvas.
“Using a set of impossible perspectives, I try to make the perspectives possible again.” – Alika Cooper
Using additive layering techniques, Los Angeles-based artist Alika Cooper builds up fragmented portraits taken by some of the most famous fashion photographers of the last century. She dissects and rebuilds moments where women have been placed on the other end of the camera. The works simultaneously point to and slightly alter or break down the photographic work of Helmut Newton, Lisette Model, Umbo (Otto Umbehr) and Man Ray. Cooper deftly navigates the line between beauty and intrigue, often shifting the original composition’s angles and direction into an abstraction that bears a small imprint of the woman represented. The figures are no longer passive, but become slightly heavier and more foreboding when rendered in textile—with the gentle patterning of the fabric’s natural weft and weave bringing a grounded physicality to these works.
The material itself is an interesting choice for a figurative medium, especially since Cooper is recreating iconic portraits of women. Her reasons for working with the material have conceptual roots in the historically female connection to sewing, quilting, textile work and handicraft. The building up of negative and positive space is a more painterly approach to working with textile, yet the natural push and pull of the fabric when stretched across the visual plane perfectly echoes the tensions found in the dark, unsettling aura of her subject matter.
Playing with the viewer’s sense of spatial perception, artist Leah Wolff‘s works quietly pique curiosity and bend the mind. Wolff explores visual paradox through several small series of medium-specific artistic investigations. By giving her mind-bending drawings, sculptures and relief works the element of visual confusion, Wolff’s creations cause the mind to try to connect the dots over and over again—creating a mental feedback loop that’s hard to ignore. The immediate presence of the artist’s hand in these works is at times the most interesting part of the series, how she chooses expressive movement when most artists would strive for complete, flat, graphic perfection. Her use of each medium is intuitive, yet raw, leaving a curious series of entry points for the viewer to tackle each small, imaginary space.
From the artist: “Discoveries in modern science have lead the individual to a space of intellectual disconnect from their surroundings. I want my practice to resist this, as a new method of research where I find meaning through making. However, If our universe is truly infinite, then how can we possibly understand it? It is important to remember that this is a spatial concern that can be addressed and worked out intuitively through the physical act of creation. For me, this is the point and ultimate goal of my practice.”