About Nathaniel Smith

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Elaine Cameron-Weir’s Glowing, Symbolic ‘Venus Anadyomene’

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Elaine Cameron-Weir latest work, titled Venus Anadyomene, 2014,consists of five similar pieces, each made a giant clam shell edged with neon tubing, and high-fire ceramic vessel each filled with olive oil, wick, flame, sand, mica, frankincense, benzoin, myrrh, brass. Each piece, suspended from the gallery by a brass rod, while the incense slowly burns.

Varying ideas of birth and bringing to life are present in the works, from the title (meaning ‘Venus Rising from the Sea’, a story of the Greek Goddess Aphrodite’s birth (and a famous work by Titian). The title of the work references both art history and god creation, as do the shells, which bring to minBotticelli’s masterpiece of the Roman Goddess Venus (and one of the most recognizable and imitated paintings ever created). Meanwhile, the scent element in the gallery space of burning frankincense and myrrh recall the Christian nativity story and the birth of Jesus Christ, echoing the gifts brought by the Three Wisemen. Present throughout Cameron-Weir’s work are ideas of how symbolism is omnipresent to ideas of myth-making.

Elaine Cameron-Weir’s Venus Anadyomene, 2014 is currnetly on view now through April 6th at Ramiken Crucible in New York City.

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Lauren Roche’s Visceral, Evocative, And Singular Paintings

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lauren-2 figures and an animal_4_770In Lauren Roche‘s paintings, like the best portraiture, there exists a story found in discrepant details. Amidst heavily applied broad stroke of paint and drips, black dots appear to be lactating from human and animals, insinuating teets as opposed to breasts. Teeth are bared in grinless maws not typically associated with people or their pets. And yet there exists an honest and humble beauty in Roche’s rendering of her subjects. Explaining that many subjects are taken from faces of friends and pets, as well as old photographs used for reference, the Minneapolis-based artist adds,

“The figures in my images are facets of my subconscious and take action in a pictorial language and don’t transfer into names for me. I like to leave the interpretation of personality up to the viewer, because that’s what I do.”

Roche’s paintings possess a rawness that cannot be denied, balanced in equal measure by a deft rendering of facial expressions. Perhaps the beauty of these paintings comes from their singular nature, and their anachronistic charm, evocative of a different era of capturing images. When asked the purpose of a focus on portraiture, particularly in an uploadable Digital Age, Roche responds,

“The purpose of portraiture is to give the maker and viewer the space for an interpretation of the subject that is private and flexible, fluid and idiosyncratic. Its difficult to compare portraiture to a cell phone picture because the process is so different. Drawing portraits is like a form of meditation and reflection for me and taking a cell phone picture feels more like a superficial gesture to prove that I’m enjoying myself.”

Roche’s work will be featured in the upcoming Two Dark Horses at Bockley Gallery in Minneapolis, MN, alongside Andrew Mazorol and Tynan Kerr (who when painting collectively go by AMTKpreviously featured here) and Lindsay Rhyner. The exhibition, named after one of Roche’s paintings (top of page) opens this Friday, March 21st and runs through April 26th, 2014.

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Andrea Mastrovito’s Installations Are A Plethora Of Animal Life

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Though an artist who truly utilizes a wide-range of materials and media, perhaps Andrea Mastrovito‘s most eye-catching and memorable works are those he creates by collaging thousands of images from books which are installed to create swarming, jungle-like visual configurations. The images are sources from thousands of book, precisely cut-out and arranged, giving the whimsical and unusual feeling that the interior of a house could be covered by swarming bats, or butterflied would cover an entire gallery while sunning themselves.

Inspired partly by H. G. Wells’ famous science fiction novel The Island of Doctor Moreau, Mastrovito’s The Island of Dr. Mastrovito and The Island of Dr. Mastrovito II were installed at Governors Island in New York in 2010. Says the Bergamo, Italy-born artist about his work, “His starting points for this site-specific work are the two most common forms of home recreation—books and television. The title of his installation refers to H. G. Wells’ famous novel The Island of Doctor Moreau, in which the archetypal “mad” scientist experiments upon animals in order to give them human traits. In this “Island,” the artist substitutes himself for the doctor, trying to instill a new life into that which was once alive in a different way (books from paper, paper from wood, and wood from trees). Mastrovito imagines that the outside fauna take control of the abandoned house and become its proper inhabitants. Approximately 700 books were brought under the artist’s knife to cut out real-size images of animals. This trompe-l’oeil, or paper diorama, also suggests the strength of images, the infinite possibilities that knowledge—through books—can give us in order to create and re-create the world that we can only imagine.” (via colossal)

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Junya Ishigami’s Enormous Helium-Filled Monolith

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Junya Ishigami (also identified by Junya Ishigami + Associates) has long been known as someone averse to the labeling or differentiating between art, design and architecture. Case in point, one of Ishigami’s most famous works which straddled various disciplines, and even played with ideas of weigh and weightlessness. Titled Cuboid Balloon, the helium-filled reflective vessel filled the hall with it’s five-story presence when it was installed at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. Although it appears massive, and therefore massively heavy, it is actually weightless (as seen in the video link below, when a museum staff member pulls it down with one hand). The reflective material responds both to its environment and surrounding architecture, but also to the people around it, an important creative rule for Ishigami’s work.

In a review of the architect by Magali Elali for All Items Loaded, they described the artist-slash-architect-slash-designer as such.

“Junya Ishigami is one of the most controversial architects, for his artistic approach to his practice has helped to redefine the ever closer boundaries between art and architecture. He draws inspiration from the way nature appears to man and aspires to an architecture that floats, is infinite, transparent and has hardly any substance. It is not the logic of the design of a building that should stand out. Ishigami wants his buildings to appeal through their new spatiality and environmental richness. His work is a quest for the pure and essential in architecture.” (via 2headedsnake and allitemsloaded)

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Zacharie Gaudrillot-Roy’s Haunting Photoseries Erases Buildings, Leaving Only Their Facades

Zacharie Gaudrillot-Roy

Zacharie Gaudrillot-Roy

Zacharie Gaudrillot-Roy

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Zacharie Gaudrillot-Roy is a French photographer whose Facades series is a personal exercise in land and city-scape photography, with one major difference. In each photo, the Lyon-based Gaudrillot-Roy digitally edits each image so that building itself is erased, leaving only the structure’s front, or facade, present. Now on his third iteration of the series, each village or city building carries ominous, almost surreal connotations of civilizations being abandoned, wrecked by recession, or left to slowly disintegrate. However, the images retain a still, quiet beauty, and are haunting in their simplicity.

Says the photographer, “The façade is the first thing we see, it’s the surface of a building. It can be impressive, superficial or safe. Just like during a wandering through a foreign city, I walk through the streets with these questions: what will happen if we stick to that first vision? If the daily life of “The Other” was only a scenery? This series thus offers a vision of an unknown world that would only be a picture, without intimate space, with looks as the only refuge.” (via skumar’s)

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Seinfeld’s ‘Nothing’ Supercut Takes Nothingness To It’s Natural Conclusion With The Removal Of All People

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Seinfeld was the award-winning, best-ever show on television that broke the traditionatl situation comedy mold with producer Larry David’s emphasis on it being “the show about nothing”. Of course, it was about something, four friends and their misadventures in New York City. But a recently prominent super-edit of the series takes the program’s motto to its natural conclusion, by piecing together every cut-scene and still-shots which gave the audience scene establishing, and oddly, never showed any people. The results are disorienting, a bit existential, and completely nostalgic for fans of the show.

(A fair warning, the sound of slap bass might be a bit much at first, but if you are a fan of the show, you heard that familiar 90′s-tinge sound enough times to make finishing the video worth it).

The video is a product of LJ Frezza, whose other video edits often investigate unusual or rarely noticed characteristics or subplots of other familiar popular culture touchstones. For example, in Boldy Going, Frezza focuses on the Star Trek’s Captain Kirk bravely reading the American constitution and the Fleet’s policy of non-involvement, followed by endless, violent and direct physical confrontations with alien planets and lifeforms. Frezza points out that the show’s writers were making commentary on the then escalation of American involvement in the Vietnam war.  (via vice)

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Jiang Pengyi’s Arresting Glow-In-The Dark Works

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Jiang Pengyi‘s latest series, Everything Illuminates, sees the artist mixing fluorescent powders with liquid wax, and applying it to various, commonly-found objects. Pengyi then documents these applications, capturing in a time a brief moments where the objects were not just illuminated, but focused on for consideration through art. According to the Hunan-Province-born artist’s statement, these images “suggest the artist’s changing focus back to original form and shape, at the same time reflect his current state of mind.” 

Pengyi was recently selected to participate in Artshare.com’s group showing of note-worthy Chinese artists born between 1977 and 1987, called Another Light. The show’s catalogue references the artist’s past works, which focused on the rapidly-evolving city and industrial spaces in China, and a slowing down in focus for his newer works, where each object becomes precious and unique. “In Jiang’s Everything Illuminates series, the mystique of autonomous objects is revealed in delicate depiction…Through the passage of time, these objects slowly take on their new forms on film and emit individual signals from their uncommon glow, as they emerge in a bewitching existence.” (via skumar and mymodernmet)

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Norway’ Unveils Poetic Memorial For Tragic Mass Shooting

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A memorial to the victims of the worst mass shootings in modern history was recently announced, as the country revealed the selection of a design by Jonas Dahlberg. Almost three years ago on the island of Utøya, Norway, a gunman set off several bombs and killed 77 people. Rather than erecting a building or edifice in remberence, Dahlberg’s submission chose to focus on nature itself, separating the end of the island with a man-made fjord where the shooting took place. Across the channel, the names of the victims will be etched in stone, which will be seen by visitor’s in the viewing area. Separated from them physically, Dahlberg explained, “The concept for the Memorial Sørbråten proposes a wound or a cut within nature itself. It reproduces the physical experience of taking away, reflecting the abrupt and permanent loss of those who died.”

The Swedish designer’s submission was unanimously selected (his project description can be read in full here) Dahlberg explained the presence and loaded feelings upon visiting the future building site, “An emotional observation informs my overall concept. During the initial site visit to Utøya, I noticed how different the feeling was of walking outside in nature, compared to the feeling of walking through the rooms of the main building. The experience of seeing the vacant rooms and the traces of extreme violence brought me — and others around me — to a state of profound sadness. In its current state, the building kept close within it the memory of the terror acts of July 22, 2011. Like an open wound.” (via gizmodo)

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