Patrick Bergsma‘s sculptures aren’t your childhood’s tree houses. Though they embody the whimsical architecture that a child might dream up, they also feature urban decay: rusted cars, broken down buildings, overgrown houses in disrepair. The trees seem to spring forward, like next-generation dwellings that have survived a nuclear apocalypse.
Bergsma’s sculptures also play with physics, sometimes featuring an inverted house underneath the roots of a large, gnarled tree. The barren branches loom over tiny figures that sit beneath them, as though they’re contemplating lives past or lives lost. In a way, the trees almost seem to depict a life that an urban dweller might hope for: a simpler life in the outdoors, free from worrying about busted pipes or rent or the other responsibilities of caring for a permanent dwelling.
There’s a peacefulness to Bergsma’s work. It asks us to imagine ourselves somewhere else and shows us that, even when we’re thinking about watering the lawn or fixing the shingles, we’re still a part of nature.(via I Need a Guide)
French artist Debit de Beau creates gorgeous photo collages that seem to inhabit their own world. With wide skies dwarfing tiny inhabitants, Beau’s artwork seems both expansive and a little lonely.
Beau uses both illustration and textures, such cloth with raw edges, to liven up his collages. His landscapes meet at the intersection of the manmade and the natural world. A boy meets a whale just off a lighthouse’s shore, while a man walks his pet snail and considers a crossroads marked with all of life’s milestones: hope, loss, guilt, and success.
The emotional palette that Beau works with seems quite varied, his subjects by turn leaping joyfully off of a ferris wheel and pause, questioning a ladder that hangs from a lone window. The surreality of his collages aims to capture not a perfectly realistic scene but to cause emotional resonance, placing us in that person’s frame of mind. To climb or not to climb? Should I follow the snail? Or contemplate a quiet fall of rain? (via Optically Addicted)
Cinta Vidal Agulló‘s paintings depict a topsy turvy yet mundane world. There’s a dream-like quality to her work, like Alice falling down the rabbit hole and remarking on the various jars of marmalade. With a background in painting backdrops for the theater, Agullo excels and creating immersive worlds that, though they have an M.C. Escher-esque sense of physics, seem like they are a part of real life.
“With these un-gravity constructions, I want to show that we live in one world, but we live in it in very different ways – playing with everyday objects and spaces, placed in impossible ways to express that many times, the inner dimension of each one of us does not match the mental structures of those around us. The architectural spaces and day-to-day objects are part of a metaphor of how difficult it is to fit everything that shapes our daily space: our relationships, work, ambitions, and dreams.”
Agullo’s paintings are lushly illustrated like one of Graeme Base’s children’s books, almost playful in the way they explore the spatial and emotional connections between the tiny figures that inhabit them. Though they are definitely surreal, we’re invited to imagine how the different parts of each painting might fit together, like the puzzle pieces of our everyday lives.
What are the relationships between the people in her paintings? We can’t tell for certain, but it’s clear that the orbit around each other or, at the very least, they are neighbors in the same world — if not the same reality. (via Hi-Fructose)
Julien Salaud is a French artist who creates incredible thread drawings that light up like constellations under ultraviolet light. His otherworldly installations feel larger than life and look like futuristic cave paintings, brimming with both raw primitive energy as well as evoking the sense of some neon-splattered future.
His latest series of installations, called Stellar Cave, brings to life a mythology of their own. Their pantheon includes scenes from the natural world: birds of prey caught in mid-flight, deer-like creatures, and even a human figure who seems draped in the regalia of some minor forest god.
“There are different kinds of beauty. I suppose the one I am interested in is like a fruit: I am not following a logical analysis, and I am not trying to have some concept. I am rather into contemplation, which implies taking some time.”
Observing Salaud’s work from the darkness enables viewers to reflect and contemplate the world as we know it from a different point of view — one that seems almost extraterrestrial. (via This Is Colossal)
Joanne Leah‘s photographs have a kinetic aura, a dark mysterious crackle of energy that seems to hint at struggle and loss. Even with swathes of jewel tones, Leah’s work is muted, almost like crime scene photos. Some of her subjects are strewn about the floor like fallen souls on a battlefield. Others seem to be entombed — though whether in a sort of grave or a chrysalis, it remains to be seen. Permeating all her photos is a feeling of suffocation, of the inevitability of the inescapable.
In her artist’s statement, Leah says:
“When I was a child, I would explore the woods behind my house. I ventured alone, following a small creek. One winter day, I deviated from my usual path. As I walked, I heard a man shout. A pack of barking dogs ran toward me. I immediately dropped to the snowy ground and pretended to be dead. I held my breath. The dogs surrounded me, sniffed and snorted. I had never felt that kind of fear before, the fear of being eaten alive.”
There is a surreal fairy tale feeling to Leah’s photos. There is also an unmistakable feeling of intimacy. There’s also a sense that this is a cautionary tale, that these everyday people have come to quietly grim fates that could happen anywhere, to anyone. (via Dark Silence in Suburbia)
In an increasingly global world, it seems that more is spreading than just information and culture: pollution, for one. Alejandro Duran creates site-specific art out of this manmade resource, staging hauntingly beautiful installations that draw awareness to what he calls “colonization by consumerism.”
“More than creating a surreal or fantastical landscape, these installations mirror the reality of our current environmental predicament,” Duran says in his artist’s statement. Called Washed Up, the project has seen debris from all over the world and, though the colors can be stunningly lovely, the message is unmistakably grim. Swirls of color and organic-seeming patterns and shapes are shaped out of plastic and artificially neon bottle caps.
Duran’s statement describes the way he has mapped the relationship between the world of man and the world of nature, as well as the toll it’s taken on us all:
“Over the course of this project, I have identified plastic waste from fifty nations on six continents that have washed ashore along the coast of Sian Ka’an. I have used this international debris to create color-based, site-specific sculptures. Conflating the hand of man and nature, at times I distribute the objects the way the waves would; at other times, the plastic takes on the shape of algae, roots, rivers, or fruit, reflecting the infiltration of plastics into the natural environment.”
French art duo spectaculaire Zim & Zou create dazzling paperscapes that are full of lush colors and imagination. With intricate snips and folds and other sorts of wizardry, they bring to life a series of candy-colored dreams populated with a flock of birds of a multitude of hues: sizzlingly bright red, rich bronze and gold, and aquamarine. There are no dull spots in the land of Zim & Zou: theirs is a technicolor wonderland that is fully and brightly realized.
The detail in their work is incredible, making their paper birds almost look like mechanical nightingales. Other denizens include a bright orange and navy lobster that looks like it’s been gift wrapped and a spider fully decked out in metallic splendor. It’s not just the natural world that gets an unnatural makeover: A neon machine, delightfully mysterious, stands in a spot marked by caution tape. Its bright colors pop and it promises all kinds of treats and cotton candy concoctions that are simply out of this world.
It’s amazing that Zim & Zou’s works are all entirely handmade. According to their bio,
“Their favorite material is the paper they’re cutting, folding and gluing to give rise to intricate and colorful sculptures. Paper inspires them for its versatility, infinite range of colors and unique textures. The flat sheets turned into volume are giving an installation the poetry of ephemeral material.”
Guda Koster photo series turns fashion on its head, using prints and patterns to evoke both whimsy and existentialism. Her models’ faces are somehow always hidden, conveying a feeling of both freedom and suffocation. A bright palette with bold patterns are eye-catching but also an eyeful, a bombardment of the senses.
In an interview with Art Cart, Koster says, “In our everyday lives we communicate our identity and social position primarily by means of our clothing. Clothing can be seen as a visual art form that expresses the way we see ourselves and our relationship with the world around us.”
Some of her photos seem to recall the innocent days of playing dress-up as a child: In one, the model is truncated and swathed in black, topped by a bright red bow and set against a playful polka dot background. Others use fabrics that are reminiscent of corporate carpeting. Koster’s photos seem to be both an expression of self as well as the impact our environments can have on us, showing the ties that bind us well nigh literally.
“The clothed human figure becomes an integral part of a space or environment,” Koster says. “I am inspired by daily life, but I exaggerate it or I give it a humorous twist.”