Yoshitomo Nara’s “Life Is Only One” Opens at Asia Society Hong Kong

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Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara, famous for his paintings of small children and animals, has a new solo exhibition in Hong Kong called Life is Only One. It recently opened at the Asia Society, and the title of the show comes from Nara’s artwork of the same name. This painting features a child holding a skull and contemplating existence. Conceptually, this isn’t foreign territory for Nara. In an interview with Asia Society, he explains, “When I was a child, the word “life” itself, of course, was a foreign concept. After turning 50, however, and with the deaths of people close to me and with the recent earthquake, I started to think about life more realistically — the limits of life, and the importance of what one can accomplish during that time.

The children seen in Nara’s works represent what’s inside his head. He describes to Asia Society:

The children were not something I had sought or thought out, but in trying to capture what was in front of my eyes, they appeared as I tried to capture what was formless in my mind. I think, therefore, that my world expands upon my past experiences and memories, and the speaker for my own mind appears as a child. But really, if anything, those children appeared very naturally on the picture plane.

Life is Only One is on view until July 26 of this year. (Via Hi Fructose)

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Ryan Salge’s Drawings Conjure Dark Dreams And Eerie Realities

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Artist Ryan Salge’s monochromatic drawings are of surreal scenes that feel like dreamscapes. The tightly-rendered compositions feature expansive outdoor worlds and figures that traverse through them. Often times, the men and women in them are as curious as we are. Their backs are turned towards us, and it’s as if we’re on the journey right along with them.

There’s always something a little strange or alluring in each of Salge’s drawings. A woman looks up to dark, swirling sky as a small patch of light shines through. Another work features bodies rising upwards into the atmosphere. And, in an especially eerie piece, a barefooted man peers down as a spotlight shines onto a desolate field. (Via Lustik)

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TALWST’s Miniaturized Scenes In Ring Boxes Reflect Contemporary Events

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Toronto-based artist TALWST creates works in a miniaturized scale. The tiny sculptures are constructed in reclaimed ring boxes and feature landscapes that are inspired by current events, dreams, and icons in pop culture. TALWST’s details are incredible, and it’s only after careful inspection that you see every fleck of paint, particle of moss, and patterns drawn on clothing. The artist also paints the top inside of the boxes and creates a small yet all-encompassing world.

While the attention to detail is one reason to intensify your gaze, the other is the subject matter. TALWST is timely, and although some scenes might conjure the past (their backdrops, especially, look like old paintings) the artist portrays contemporary issues such as Michael Brown and Eric Garner’s deaths. These miniatures his prototypes for creating responsive, diversified and inclusive history, unlike we have now. “The work’s small scale allows me the opportunity for a very particular kind of meditation,” TALWST explains. (Via Skumar’s and Junk Culture)

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Andréanne Lupien’s Amusingly Surreal Series Of Crazy Cat Lovers

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When you think of a someone who’s a “crazy cat person” you might imagine them to live in shambles overrun by felines. In Andréanne Lupien’s series Crazy Cat Lovers, however, that’s not the case. Her amusing photos feature people in their otherwise tidy homes, yet surrounded by their cats duplicated many, many times.

These images celebrate her love of felines, and the initial inspiration was her own cat. Lupien tells us, “I had fun taking pictures of myself with my cat, putting it around me in the room so that the final picture would result in my cat being multiple times in the photography doing multiple actions. That was it!

Crazy Cat Lovers makes light of the cat phenomena. With their Internet presence like videos, GIFs, and photos, felines become more and more popular. This was  my opportunity to fully talk about it.” Lupien says. “To create the photos, I would take my photography kit, put it in my bag and leave to explore the world of some crazy cat lovers. It was a great adventure! I would visit unknown people or I would go to a friends house. It was always a new universe to discover. Every picture had its own essence and energy, its own universe. It was like visiting a person’s unique world.” (Via Yahoo News Tumblr)

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Mario Zanaria’s Fractured Photographs Pay Homage To The Contact Sheet

Mario-Zanaria-9 Mario-Zanaria-2 Mario-Zanaria-6 Mario-Zanaria-11 New York-based photographer Mario Zanaria started taking pictures when he was 12 years old and hasn’t stopped since. His work focuses on people, and his series Pianosequenza “a[n] homage to the contact sheet.” In it, one single image is composed over the course of one of these sheets. It’s fractured but coherent, and each assemblage reveals an alluring scene. Pianosequenza is an Italian word in cinema that translates to “long take” in English. “The idea,” Zanaria writes, “is to turn a part of a movie in one only single take, without cuts or re-plays of a scene. If everything is good in the scene than it can be taken, otherwise it will have to be taken again from the beginning.” He’s fascinated by the contact sheet, and says:

I like how they can tell stories that most often only the photographer knows. They have a very interesting double identity: an intimate relationship with the photographer, in which they are fundamental in the process of choosing the pictures that will survive the editing process, and a nearly non existent one with the public who will see the photographer work mostly only after the selection has taken place.

Zanaria’s series allow the contact sheets to be “the main and essential actor.” Without them, the image is not complete. (Via Blu)

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Julie Green Paints The Final Meals Of Death Row Inmates Onto Porcelain Plates

Maryland 17 July 2004:  Had the regular prison fare of a chicken patty , potatoes and gravy, green beans, marble cake, milk and fruit punch.

Maryland 17 July 2004: Had the regular prison fare of a chicken patty , potatoes and gravy, green beans, marble cake, milk and fruit punch.

Missouri 30 August 2000: 12 ounce T-bone steak (medium rare), Caesar salad, double order onion rings, 20 ounces of Diet Coke.

Missouri 30 August 2000:
12 ounce T-bone steak (medium rare), Caesar salad, double order onion rings, 20 ounces of Diet Coke.

Washington 27 May 1994: Salmon, scalloped potatoes, peas, tossed salad, cake.

Washington 27 May 1994: Salmon, scalloped potatoes, peas, tossed salad, cake.

Oklahoma 22 January 2009: Barbecue ribs, chopped beef, hot links, baked beans, plain potato chips, coconut doughnuts and chocolate milk.

Oklahoma 22 January 2009: Barbecue ribs, chopped beef, hot links, baked beans, plain potato chips, coconut doughnuts and chocolate milk.

Since the year 2000, artist Julie Green has immortalized the final meal requests of US death row inmates. It’s an on-going project aptly-titled The Last Supper, and she paints cobalt-blue pictures of the meals onto second-hand porcelain plates.

Green’s initial inspiration for the series came when she was working at the University of Oklahoma and noticed this menu printed in her morning paper: “three fried chicken thighs, 10 or 15 shrimp, tater tots with ketchup, two slices of pecan pie, strawberry ice cream, honey and biscuits, and a Coke.” It was included in the death notice of an inmate’s execution. This tradition of a final meal startled her, and she clipped the menu, as well as others that she saw.

Not long after seeing that clipping did she start The Last Supper. Along with painting the plates, she also details what the inmate ordered. Green writes:

In states with options, most selections are modest. This is not surprising, as many are limited to what is in the prison kitchen. Others provide meals from local venues. California allows restaurant take-out, up to fifty-dollars. Pizza Hut, Wendy’s, and Long John Silver’s are frequently selected in Oklahoma, where their fifteen-dollar allowance is down from twenty in the late 1990’s. Requests provide clues on region, race, and economic background. A family history becomes apparent when Indiana Department of Corrections adds “he told us he never had a birthday cake so we ordered a birthday cake for him.”

 

Over time, she’s completed 600 plates – 50 a year. Green spends six months of every year working on this project, and she plans to continue it until capital punishment is abolished.

The Last Supper will be on display this spring at the Dayton Art Institute in Dayton, Ohio in an exhibition titled The Last Supper: 600 Plates Illustrating Final Meals of U.S. Death Row Inmates. (Via PBS Art Beat)

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Tec’s Street Art Playfully Interacts With Brazil’s Roads

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The Brazilian artist known as Tec creates artwork whose scale is large enough for the open road. Kites, characters, and other symbols occupy the middle of the car-lined thoroughfares. Sometimes, Tec will add cast shadows that gives the illusion that his subjects are hovering above the streets. It’s additions like this that foster a sense of playfulness.

On the ground, you don’t get the full effect of Tec’s creations. They don’t translate as well and look distorted. It’s only when you’re at a bird’s eye view do you see the kite’s fluttering tail or the man clinging to the double-yellow line in the middle of the road. Although this is consequence of working at such a large size, it also changes who Tec’s audience is. Up in the air or on the roof of a tall building, it’s like he’s created a concealed messages for only certain people to see. (Via Lustik)

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Saddo’s Darkly Surreal Paintings Of Tattooed Human/Bird Hybrid Creatures

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Artist, illustrator, and muralist Saddo creates paintings that are a fusion of birds, humans, armor, and more. In stately-looking portraits, these hybrid creatures look as though they’re ready to enter battle or to try and cheat death. Sometimes, act as the grim reaper themselves. The dark-colored images match the somber subject matter, and many of Saddo’s surreal works are meant to echo that sentiment.

The catalyst for Saddo’s subject mater comes from a move to Lisbon with the artist Aitch. Some imagery is influenced by Spanish and Portuguese explorers and conquistadors from the 15th to 18th century, as well as illustrations of birds, Islamic miniatures depicting battle scenes, and science fiction movies. Other paintings are inspired by the cold. “…the winter caught us by surprise, we didn’t expect it to be so rainy, gloomy, and depressing.” Saddo explains.“It deeply affected our mood and even our physical state, we often felt trapped inside our dark, moist house, inside slow moving, joint aching bodies.” Every once and a while, a coffin would appear in their illustrations and paintings.

The culmination of these disparate influences facilitate morbid, strange, and fascinating works that have intriguing small details hidden within each composition.

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