Peter Bowen, a London based illustrator, creates detailed works that carry a whole lot of raw energy and humor. A wide range of influences put a hand into his work, as he derives inspiration from lowbrow counter-culture to dense Victorian engravings.
Azuma Makoto creates elaborate floral installations, and has now added an impressive new endeavor to his portfolio. The artist’s most recent project sent a bonsai tree and an arrangement of orchids, lilies, hydrangeas, and irises into space! The results are breathtaking. The bouquet is full of colour, and floats free, contrasting against the deep darkness of space and the effervescent blue glow of the earth. It’s an extremely poetic gesture, and somehow it feels like no matter how skilled someone might be in photo editing, they could never build these images synthetically to have the same impact. Maybe this is because the images that document Makoto’s process are of almost equal interest. Seeing the plants from start to finish – as they are bought, assembled, and rise to the sky – reveals the unimaginable procedure to be almost within reach of anyone. It’s still completely awe inspiring, either in spite of or as a direct result of this transparency.
Makoto has a great deal of interesting projects with plants, many of which involving bonsai’s. One is a bonsai tree made of lego, which is an uncharacteristically playful creation, although it still holds much of the seriousness present in his other works. In another sculpture project, Makoto created two containers each with a bonsai inside. In one the tree was completely submerged in water and in the other the tree was burned. As in the space project, Makoto seems interested in the subjections the plants may endure, and experimenting with containment and environment. (Via Fastco Design)
Artist Steven Spazuk really is a master of smoke and mirrors. Well, definitely of smoke. He literally makes his unique images from the burning grey stuff. Using an open flame candle, Spazuk places paper above the heat, collecting deposits of carbon and leaving marks of smoke on his canvas. He then uses feathers, brushes and scraping tools to build his incredibly detailed images of gas masks, dying birds, weapons and soldiers.
His new series of work has just opened at Reed Projects Gallery in Stavanger, Norway (runs until Aug 23rd) Called Smoking Gun and Feathers, the exhibition is a haunting collection of warning images. They are a glimpse into our possible future if we keep abusing the world we inhabit.
Spazuk exposes our collective and institutionalized hubris: the arrogance and entitlement that leads to overconfidence, abuse of power and a distorted vision of success. The plight of birds is contextualized in harsh, yet stunning image compositions, symbolizes the vulnerability of all species in the face of such human egotism. His current work provokes a reflection on the drastic and global impact of our lifestyle on the Earth’s ecosystems. (Source)
We have also previously featured Spazuk’s work here on Beautiful/Decay, so even if you can’t make it to the exhibition, be sure to check out the back catalog of his amazing work.
In Lauren Roche‘s paintings, like the best portraiture, there exists a story found in discrepant details. Amidst heavily applied broad stroke of paint and drips, black dots appear to be lactating from human and animals, insinuating teets as opposed to breasts. Teeth are bared in grinless maws not typically associated with people or their pets. And yet there exists an honest and humble beauty in Roche’s rendering of her subjects. Explaining that many subjects are taken from faces of friends and pets, as well as old photographs used for reference, the Minneapolis-based artist adds,
“The figures in my images are facets of my subconscious and take action in a pictorial language and don’t transfer into names for me. I like to leave the interpretation of personality up to the viewer, because that’s what I do.”
Roche’s paintings possess a rawness that cannot be denied, balanced in equal measure by a deft rendering of facial expressions. Perhaps the beauty of these paintings comes from their singular nature, and their anachronistic charm, evocative of a different era of capturing images. When asked the purpose of a focus on portraiture, particularly in an uploadable Digital Age, Roche responds,
“The purpose of portraiture is to give the maker and viewer the space for an interpretation of the subject that is private and flexible, fluid and idiosyncratic. Its difficult to compare portraiture to a cell phone picture because the process is so different. Drawing portraits is like a form of meditation and reflection for me and taking a cell phone picture feels more like a superficial gesture to prove that I’m enjoying myself.”
Roche’s work will be featured in the upcoming Two Dark Horses at Bockley Gallery in Minneapolis, MN, alongside Andrew Mazorol and Tynan Kerr (who when painting collectively go by AMTK, previously featured here) and Lindsay Rhyner. The exhibition, named after one of Roche’s paintings (top of page) opens this Friday, March 21st and runs through April 26th, 2014.
Artist Josefina Concha, with the aid of a sewing machine in lieu of a brush, weaves her work into being. Full of texture and threaded messy shapes of color, her stitching fascinatingly harkens back to Mark Tobey’s thoughts on abstract expressionism: “A painting should be a textile, a texture. That’s enough! Perhaps I was influenced by my mother. She used to sew and sew. I can still see that needle going. Maybe that’s what I’d rather do than anything with the brush-like stitching over and over and over, laying it in, going over, bringing it up. Bringing it up. That’s what is difficult.”
However, of her own approach, Concha strives not just to simulate, but replace painting with crafting techniques, a medium formerly equated primarily with domestic labor. She explains, “The building of my work is articulated through the investment of a material (the thread) on a piece of cloth, and the time dedicated to sew it. This is made visible in the superimposition of weaves that in short will generate a thickness (body) and a sensation of volume, dominated by the treatment of color and optical mixtures, to which I turn to with the eagerness of creating suggestive images that appeal to the ephemeral.”
Hiding behind his trademark long brimmed hat, Finn Andrews’ pain is evident. Pouring sweat and singing his songs about love and loss, The Veils‘ tortured singer had a very excited and attentive crowd at their recent show at West Hollywood’s Troubadour. I’ve always had a soft spot for the band ever since I heard their debut, “The Runaway Found” back in 2004. With their recently released album, “Time Stays, We Go” the band continues to mature making this another must have gem by the London-based band.
The band played songs off of their new record including my personal favorite, “Birds”, “this is a song about birds, suspicious birds” Finn stated before playing the song. They also played fan favorites like, “Sit Down by the Fire”, “Lavinia” which Finn played solo, “Advice for Young Mothers to Be” and ending with a raucous version of, “Jesus for the Jugular” which had Finn throwing his guitar down at the end of the song.
The Veils recently recorded a session, Live from Abbey Road which you can view above and are set to perform next month on September 7th at the, Into the Great Wide Open Festival in Norway and in Denmark in October.
Nancy Liang‘s GIFs and illustrations are peaceful and full of quiet wonder. Much like the imaginings of Chris Van Allsburg in his book “The Mysteries of Harris Burdick,” Liang’s work captures moments from larger stories. They depict scenes of midnight contemplation as well as magic of a subtler flavor: an upside down house surrounded by snow floating up toward the moon; a boat drifting down an empty street; a small child accompanied by a ghostly spirit animal. These are only ghosts and flights of fancy that evoke the shape and landscape of a wider fantasy world that intersects with ours in the shadows.
According to her artist’s statement, Liang “often explores social and cultural narratives in an ironic, metaphoric and emotive way.” These narratives are especially clear in her illustrations that shine a light on suburban life and escapism. The paper textures and lines of graphite bring a storybook quality to her artwork that makes them seem childlike and gives them a kind of universal accessiblity. (via I Need a Guide)