Kehinde Wiley‘s impressive painting career is being celebrated at the Brooklyn Museum in a grand exhibition that is open right now. For fourteen years, he has been painting bold, decorative oil paintings that are reconfiguring the way African American culture is portrayed in art. He takes the techniques from the old European portraiture masters and turns them into modern and fresh images, relevant to a post-colonial culture. Old stuffy aristocrats and patrons wearing flouncy blouses and ridiculous wigs from centuries gone by, are replaced by black subjects with a certain street style to them.
Wiley asks different people – most of whom are regular passer-bys on the streets in Harlem, to sit for his portraits. They are given different art history books full of ornate backgrounds to choose from to complement their portrait. Wiley then paints them reenacting certain poses, imitating the European subjects and places the chosen embellishments behind and over their image. His style is a fusion of many different elements – French Rococo and the High Renaissance, Islamic architecture, West African textile design and urban hip hop, and is a result of his own mixed heritage.
Wiley later went on to create a series called The World Stage, where he traveled to Mumbai, Senegal, Dakar and Rio de Janeiro to portray different cultures and traditions in his work. He explains more:
One of the reasons I chose Brazil, Nigeria, India and China is that these are all the points of anxiety and curiosity and production that are going on in the world that are changing the way we see empire. As I’ve been traveling, I started to notice that the way many people in other parts of the world interact with American culture is through black American expression. It’s an interesting phenomenon. (Source)
At the best of times, embroidery can be impressive and time consuming, but this project shows us just how much of an art form it can be. Flickr user NanaAkua has been uploading pictures of her grandmother’s embroidered balls for a while now, educating us all about an ancient art form popular in Japan. Called Temari balls, they are folk art that originated in China, but were quickly adopted by Japan. And this very talented Japanese grandmother in particular has been embroidering Temari balls for over 30 years – building a collection of over 500 balls. Made from the threads from old kimono, the Temari balls are intricate, full of imaginative patterns and as diverse as they are colorful.
They are traditionally cherished as objects of friendship and loyalty. The bright colors symbolize luck and happiness for the recipient of the gift. And it isn’t only considered an honor to receive a Temari ball, but also to produce them. To qualify as a Temari ball artist, the individual has to display a high level of skill and technique.
Here’s a little bit of more information on the amazing art form that are Temari balls:
Traditionally, temari were often given to children from their parents on New Year’s Day. Inside the tightly wrapped layers of each ball, the mother would have placed a small piece of paper with a goodwill wish for her child. The child would never be told what wish his or her mother had made while making the ball. (Source)
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The Over Time series by Jonathan Zawada depicts landscape topographies in bright colours, evoking other fantastical worlds. However, the work was actually derived from graph data of earthly landscapes, which Zawada modelled in 3D to create this beautiful work. Each piece was displayed with the graph data nearby, as seen in the last image showcased here. Absolutely stunning.
In her exhibition “Black Fairy Egg Nest,” Julia Sinelnikova asks us if fairies are good or bad. Experienced as a ritual site with candles and stones, “Black Fairy Egg Nest” feels like a secret den where winged creatures could emerge at any moment. The primary piece hovering overhead is a nest of hand cut resin light sculptures dripping into the exhibition space. A pregnant mass leaks thin glowing strands and dark stones dangle towards the ground below.
But while there is a medieval and religious feel to the work, Sinelnikova is more broadly concerned with the distinction between who we are and how we present ourselves to the world. Her use of a fairy as the icon of the work symbolizes the contradictions inherent in our identities. As Sinelnikova points out in her artist statement, fairies are represented as both benevolent creatures who grant wishes and tricksters who can thwart even the most noble of plans. In this way fairies seem to be like us, flying between the light and the dark.
“Black Fairy Nest Egg” is part of Sinelnikova’s larger “Fairy Organs” work and includes sculpture, video and performance. “Conjuring Rebirth,” performed by Sinelnikova aka The Oracle and Xenolith Yolita aka Culttastic uses the glowing, dangling sculptures as a location for mystical curiosity, acquiescence and frustration. “Meditation on Suffering” centers around a glowing square where multiple women decked in shimmering foil move in concert with whispering voices in a neon lit disco. “Sentinel Seraphim” moves the multiplied women out of the geometric world of “Meditation” and into nature where the foil then takes on the likeness of wings.
Julia Sinelnikova is an artist and curator working in New York City. She has had solo exhibitions in Brooklyn, Austin, Houston, Barcelona, and Oulu (Finland). She recently curated “LEMNIVERSE: Vector Gallery at Art Basel” at SELECT Fair, Miami Beach and “Seeking Space 2014” at the Active Space, Brooklyn.
Through a series of provocative self-portraits rendered as paintings, photographs, and film, Andrea Mary Marshall examines the intersection of identity, female sexuality, and consumer culture in the context of the “ideal woman.”
“A Woman is a beast. She is as lovely as she is repulsive. She is one part demon and one part goddess…one part slave, one part muse…one part child and one part mother…these contradictions are what make a woman so intoxicating.” – Andrea Mary Marshall
Toxic Women is a narrative collection of work that looks at the implications of trying to live up to the cultural figment of the “ideal woman”. Through identity play that borders on performance, Marshall reinvents herself as highly developed characters meticulously crafted through the art of fashion, makeup, wigs, and props. For her series of “Vague Covers”, Marshall depicts the “toxic woman” as a dichotomy, born out of a pursuit of the ideal, simultaneously adored and rejected by society. There is the addict, the temptress, the woman with no boundaries, the self-saboteur, the perfectionist and the fame whore—archetypical toxic women Marshall has both encountered and embodied. Beginning with the “Vague Covers”, and carried out through the entire collection, the work explores the space where feelings for this toxic woman turn from infatuation to disgust, from attraction to repulsion. “We all have our demons. We can’t move into the light unless we’re willing to look at our darkness.” – Andrea Mary Marshall
Food artist Tisha Cherry takes iconic masterpieces of incredible artists and makes them even sweeter. By using just different colored icing and black or white Oreo cookies, Cherry replicates the work of such artists as Henry Matisse and Frida Kahlo on the inside of the treat. Creating art on a small scale is a difficult task in itself, but to use icing as your medium adds a whole different level of complexity. Cherry even forms a little painting palette out of delicious dessert elements to go along with her cookie creations. Her Oreo art emulates a wide range of different artistic styles. One cookie has a clouded eye from the work of surrealist artist Rene Magritte, while another contains a post-expressionist landscape by Van Gogh. There is even some recognizable contemporary icing art, including the happy faces of artist Takashi Murakami.