Maria Rubinke‘s porcelain sculptures are part Precious Moments, part Chucky — these are not your grandmother’s figurines. They instead embody all the terrors of the dark forest at night, the kind that Hansel and Gretel might have walked. Like fairy tales of yore, mishap after mishap seem to happen to these children. They wander the woods and lose an eye, or they sit in a bloody bathtub with a shark for a playmate. The calamities that befall Rubinke’s chubby cheeked cherubs seem endless.
One piece, “In between, with a fading dream,” depicts a young girl in a grove of inky black poisonous mushrooms, a frog — perhaps also poisonous — perched on her head. Though described as a dream, the scene is nothing short of nightmarish.
In the days leading up to Halloween, leave a little room in your nightmares for Rubinke’s vacant-eyed children. (via Cross Connect Magazine)
Carol Milne fires up small structural sculptures of knitting made entirely of glass. Though there’s no mistake that this is no ordinary yarn — unless it’s the crystalline yarn of some mystical other plane — it’s still incredible to see the amount of detail and the illusion of malleability.
The technique Milne uses involves wax, refractory molds, molten glass (at a startling 1,400 to 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit), and a steady hand; once the initial process is done, Milne has to carefully free her work of art from its mold, piece by piece.
The sculptures are at once whimsical and delicate, poised as though mid-conversation during a most magical knitting club session. Her sculptures, on average never exceeding 12 inches, are also flavored heavily with surrealism; one sculpture pays homage to M.C. Escher who, no doubt, would have appreciated her clean, understated lines.
There are, too, some sociological undertones; Milne says in an artist’s statement:
“I see my knitted work as metaphor for social structure. Individual strands are weak and brittle on their own, but deceptively strong when bound together.” (via This Is Colossal)
Dutch photographer Paul Kooiker‘s latest exhibition, “Sunday,” takes erotic portraiture out for a new spin. His subject, an anonymous pale woman, stretches and contorts herself in the nude against a lush background, at once reminiscent of classical cherubs as well as modern pin-ups. The result is suggestive and sexually charged, yet also awkward and voyeuristic. Without a glimpse of her face or expression, viewers are left wondering what emotional state she’s in. Is this a peepshow for one? Or is she showing off for a paramour?
Kooiker describes the series of erotic nudes as “robustly built women with flesh so palpably rendered that their bodies attain an artless poetic grandeur.” Duality is ever-present in the series. The words “flesh” and “grandeur”; the contrast of “artless” and “poetic”; and the fact that the series seems to be many women yet one woman at once. The bright colors and sumptuous shades of burnt autumn reds and oranges in the background only serves to highlight the dreaminess of the photos, as though the woman is being viewed at a distance, various emotions roused but suppressed at once.
Damien Hirst is often known for his menagerie of carefully curated animals. You may have seen his cow, somewhat deconstructed, or his 14-foot tiger shark preserved in a tank of formaldehyde. In his new exhibit, “Schizophrenogenesis,” Hirst turns to a different kind of preservative: the kind that humans use to maintain a delicate mental balance or for the good of our health — or so we have been told.
“Schizophrenogenesis” is a tongue-in-cheek homage (or opposite thereof) to the sleek contemporary design of pharmacology. These IKEA-worthy pills are shown in neon prints or as sculptures, much larger than life. “Pills are a brilliant little form, better than any minimalist art,” Hirst says. “They’re all designed to make you buy them… they come out of flowers, plants, things from the ground, and they make you feel good, you know, to just have a pill, to feel beauty.”
Though out of the ground indeed did they come, the modern-day herbs and remedies Hirst depicts are anything but natural. Viewers are asked to contemplate their artificial curves and edges and the distant bold-faced type of a prescription (“Take SIX capsules FOUR TIMES DAILY,” one says urgently). One bubblegum pink capsule declares, “PFIZER.”
Milan-born artist El Gato Chimney combines illustration, painting, and street art in a blend of whimsy and surrealism. In his bio, he lists his studies as: “alchemy, ancient and modern art, magic, mirabilia, occultism, popular folklore, primitive art and spiritualism.” Though it might seem like too broad a net, all these influences can indeed be seen in his work.
His illustration is dualistic: brightly colored, they look like pages from some charming, nonsense tale meant for children. Simultaneously, there’s something darker simmering underneath, like the fairy tales of old where women danced in burning shoes and decapitation was nothing more unusual than a particularly large yawn. Occult symbols are sprinkled throughout, and figures are occasionally found in ritualistic poses, like small animals mid-pagan festival.
El Gato Chimney’s bio ruminates on this undertow: “When in front of these works it is impossible not to wonder what hides in the woods, where that road will lead up to, why these beings trust in such a blind way this primitive religion, partly attributable to preexisting cults, partly made up.”
Conceptual artist Can Pedekmir creates digital portraits of imaginary creatures. According to the bio on his website, he works on the “deformation of human and animal body using various methodologies,” one of which he lists as applying “mathematical equations.” Other methodologies seem to include using hair. Lots of hair.
Pekdemir’s portraits are in stark black and white and appear like artifacts from an alternate dimension. His subjects are creatures with no distinguishable features; instead, their faces and entire heads are coiffed, tangled masses of hair and other biomatter. The result looks something like Where the Wild Things Are by way of Edward Gorey. Alternatively, it’s as though an entire forest undergrowth developed sentience and decided to pose for some erstwhile photographer.
Pekdemir’s work was featured most recently at the Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam, which ended late last month. He’s listed as a photographer, which only serves to highlight the eerie surreal quality of his art. Part photography and part elaborate fiction, his work blurs the lines between what is and what could be. (via Hi-Fructose)
Living on a Dollar a Day is a collection of photographs dedicated to taking a closer, personal look at the shocking poverty and hunger that millions go through every day. The book is a collaboration between author Thomas A. Nazario, founder of The Forgotten International, and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Renée C. Byer.
In an interview with Mother Jones, Nazario explains the impetus for the book: “I was tired of spending time with people on the street all over the world who had simply been forgotten—by their families, by their village, and by whatever communities they might be associated with.”
The photographs in “Living on a Dollar a Day” aren’t just snapshots; they are part of a continuing story. Nazario and Byer are careful to include a snippet of their subjects’ lives, closing the distance in a personal and intimate way.
“Why does it take a typhoon or an earthquake to wake up people to the truth that far more people die of poverty every day?” Nazario asks.
Ikeda Manabu creates visual labyrinths with only pen and ink. His illustrations are so elaborate that they can take up to three years to craft. Not only are they incredibly detailed, but they’re enormous as well: His latest project, which he began in 2013, will be 10 x 13 feet.
This size of Manabu’s work is necessary to capture the scope of what he depicts. His work is often kinetic, with waves crashing and giant spires of land rising up like towers from the abyss. He often explores the tension between nature and technology, and the result contains immense power and a sense of raw inevitability.
In an interview with Hi-Fructose, Manabu addresses one of his artworks in particular: an incredible roiling picture of a tsunami called “Foretoken.” After recent natural disasters in Japan, “Foretoken” has been called “prophetic.” Manabu tells Hi-Fructose: “The correlation with the tsunami was surely just a coincidence, but I feel prophetic as one aspect of this work is a warning that civilization is about to be swallowed by the vast power of nature.” (via Hi-Fructose)