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Courtney Woodliff

Courtney Woodliff, Painting

Courtney Woodliff‘s paintings combine ideas of industrialism and the rigorous daily lives of the women in them. As mechanical and organic forms intertwine, they metaphorically and physically become one. They struggle one another to define who is in control, the cold machine or the human that wields it.

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Borondo’s Classically Inspired Street Art Haystack Portraits

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In addition to creating public work in cities, Spanish street artist Borondo has recently used spray paint to recreate monochromatic portraits using a hay stack as as a canvas. Although he’s using this unconventional material (even for a public artist), his classically-inspired style and flawless technique are sustained. No matter the materials used, each piece of Borondo’s is blended artfully into its surroundings, creating a subtle, ghostly effect. While touring Italy this summer, Borondo painted a few large public pieces, including this haystack work in Cotignola, but his work can seen around the globe. (via from89)

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New Mark Warren Jacques Print

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Mark Warren Jacques just released this doozy of a geometric-nostalgic silkscreen. Mark’s directions for use? “Order; get excited for mail; tell the mail man thanks; open & hang on wall (near plants and sunshine if possible); stare at often until you become tired and ready for sleep; fall asleep.” Available for a mere $35 (along with some other nice prints) here.

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Cassandra Simon

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Stumbled onto some delightfully curious paintings by Cassandra Simon last night that have the smoothly detailed qualities of a perfectly executed relief print. Robust with color, these images seem to be a mix of mystery and folklore.

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Xue Jiye’s Intense Paintings of Contorted Human Figures in Barren Wastelands

High level of intensity from Chinese artist Xue Jiye. No additives or preservatives.

Working mostly in earthy/flesh tones, Xue just goes for all-out anguish in his work. Contorting and mutilating his subjects, he reduces us all to our most animalistic, base tendencies. I never mind when an artist chooses to bring the pain when the work is as good as these are.

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Clare Rojas At Gallery Nicolai Wallner

Gallery Nicolai Wallner in Copenhagen recently opened a new solo exhibition by SF based Clare Rojas. From the press release: “Known for her illustrative paintings full of folk art imagery and rich storytelling, this latest body of work is contrastingly minimalist, geometric and abstract.” The show is on view through May 18th 2013.(via)

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Berndnaut Smilde’s Indoor Cloud Collection

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Berndnaut Smilde

Berndnaut Smilde – Making Clouds from The Avant/Garde Diaries on Vimeo.

When viewing (usually photographic) evidence of Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde‘s  fantastical cloud works, the first question is usually: “Is it real?”

Yes, it’s actually a small, perfect indoor cloud.

The next question you might have is “How?” The answer is shrouded in Smilde’s process, which requires deftly precise observations of humidity, temperature, air movement and lighting. Existing for just one perfect moment, then slipping away, his clouds are carefully documented via photograph, but in the video above—the viewer gets a glimpse at the cloud-making event, narrated by the artist. The strange, beautiful creations appear and fades, serving as both a physical phenomena and a lilting metaphor for grasping at the ephemeral.

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Ah Xian Sculpts Dreamlike Busts Flowing With Chinese Porcelain Designs

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Ah Xian is a Chinese-Australian artist whose beautiful porcelain busts explore the intersections between artistic tradition, cultural identity, and the body. Sculpting each statue in the likeness of his family members, Ah Xian paints over their dreaming faces with a cobalt blue glaze; tree branches grow across temples, flowers bloom over silent mouths, and necks and shoulders become geographies for mountains and lakes.

Drawing on an enduring fascination for the human form, Ah Xian’s creations exude a sense of mystery and otherworldliness, transcending history as embodiments of a living past: their very “skin” is made of materials used in traditional Chinese craft methods. Ah Xian’s intent, however, is not to show the disjunction between past and present, but rather how such heritages have ongoing relevance and meaning in the present-day world. As he states in an interview with Craft Australia:

When I think about human history and civilization, it always appears to be like a string: one extreme is old time and tradition; current and contemporary is the other. Interestingly, when we turn and join the two extremes together, it forms a perfect circle and creates a new language of art.

This is why I choose traditional materials and hand craft those materials; our ancestors have created and handed down to us such wealthy and brilliant art and culture heritage. Why don’t we use such a rich and meaningful deposit as our resources to develop and create our new art and culture? (Source)

When viewing Ah Xian’s work through a contemporary lens, there lies the potential criticism that his busts — like the porcelain vases that preceded them in the nineteenth century — evoke an imperialist form of exoticism; that is, just because they are objects of beauty, they speak to a tradition of cultural appropriation. Ah Xian, however, maintains that no matter what context in which porcelain is crafted, it is always a valuable and admired art form:

“Porcelain is beautiful and meaningful, not necessary just for meeting the exotic appreciation among some of the western people only, but for the whole human society, for every single human being, I believe.” (Source)

Ah Xian is based in Sydney, where he has lived and worked for over two decades. Check out Craft Australia’s fascinating interview with the artist to learn more about his work. (Via Lost at E Minor)

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