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Art Basel Miami: Day 1

Any attempts to describe the madness that was Art Basel Miami 2010 in a few sentences will undoubtedly fall short. Put succinctly – lots of art, lots of people, lots of sun, lots of fun. People go to Art Basel Miami for many different reasons, but yours truly went in search of the ever-exciting, awe-inspiring, never-before-seen, knock-your-socks-off, kick-ass kind of art that makes me say YES! Did I find what I was looking for? It’s hard to say my friends, so loyal B/D reader you be the judge. Here are some of the highlights from Day 1: Art Basel Miami Beach…

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Eerie Images Of Teeth And Hair Clippings Beautifully Capture A Hoarder’s Longing

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In the creation of Autobiography, the photographer Jacinda Russell was inspired by collectors and hoarders, those compelled by the impulse to save seemingly insignificant objects as markers of meaningful experience. Driven by the photographic impulse to catalog her own life, she turned to what she calls “inconsequential objects are one aspect of [her] identity, easily disposable yet somehow kept:” cut hair, an old toy, fallen teeth.

Each meticulously-shot object serves as a tangible reminder of a particular section of her life; for example, the artist tracks the years from 2000-2007 with hair and swimsuits. The obsessive lens through which she views each cherished object expresses the desperate impulse to fix moments and spans of time within discernible possessions. Like a catalog of carefully pinned butterflies, each object is preserved multiple times over: once they are set aside, they are vacuum-sealed or placed in jars, only to be framed in the center of each shot with unnerving precision. Russell’s high-resolution shots scrupulously reveal and memorialize even the smallest details: the fibers of towels, the stains on clothing, the remarkable tonality of nail clippings.

The narrative of the series is hard to follow, and therein lies its power; the viewer is tasked with the impossible exercise of constructing a life between bookend-like photographs of chopped hair. What emerges from the powerful work is not the objects themselves, or even whatever personal and mysterious experiences they might symbolize, but the artist’s movingly frantic and ultimately futile attempt to immortalize what is already gone. Take a look. (via Lenscratch)

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Rudy Shepherd’s Paintings Make Us Think By Feeling

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On the surface, Rudy Shepherd’s work appears simple, some might even argue amateurish. However, spend a little more time with these pieces and the lines starts to deepen with a raw energized intention, especially when paired next to one another in a specific series such as this one titled “Psychic Death.”

What is a psychic death? It sounds devastating. I look this up on the Internet and discover it’s a term relative to fearing one’s own physical death, a collection of energy manifesting negatively as anxiety in the body. To experience psychic death is to endure a dualistic sense of panic and release– or to embrace a deep personal concept of power and loss. This is what Charlie Sheen, Osama Bin Laden, and Columbine have in common, and these painted images are not just about them, but us as a society. How do we as a nation move beyond headlines and examine our own psychic death? Rudy Shepherd doesn’t just want us to think about it, he wants us to think by feeling, and this is what great art does.

According to his website, Rudy Shepherd’s work “involves investigations into the lives of criminals and victims of crime. He explores the complexity of these stories and the grey areas between innocence and guilt in a series of paintings and drawings of both the criminals and the victims, making no visual distinctions between the two. By presenting the people first and the stories second a space is created for humanity to be reinstilled into the lives of people who have been reduced to mere headlines by the popular press.”

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Robots

Robots is a new London-based artist collective specializing in site specific public art. Their gigantic sculptures are composed of really just trash. Reclaimed and recycled wood, old furniture people throw away – really taking the phrase, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” to heart. The New York Times even wrote an article about them. If you would like to learn more about Robot, check out their short documentary where the film follow this group during their build at the 2010 Secret Garden Party Festival.

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Joram Roukes’ Morphing Figures

Dutch painter Joram Roukes’ large scaled oil paintings of collaged images bring together moments of abstraction, figuration, and pop iconography together to create dynamic mutating and morphing figures. His imagery refers to the moral dilemmas one may find himself in, viewing today’s western society. Through experience by participation Joram Roukes reflects not necessarily on an opinion on society’s flaws in his work, but rather observes and reports on typical western phenomena, leaving judgement up to the viewer, who thereby, establish their own position in these matters. (via)

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Kayan Kwok’s Collages Of Vintage People Hanging Out In Your Organs

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Pastel-hued and delicate, the body part collages in the series “Anatomy” are part of Hong Kong artist Kayan Kwok’s daily art project “A poster per day for 365 days. ” The scope of her project is impressive—one fully realized piece of art every day for a year. Along with “Anatomy” the categories for the one-a-day posters are “Banana”, “Birdman”, “Blow”, “Dot”, “Hand”, “Letter”, “Loner”, and “Lost.Found”. Each grouping has a specific aesthetic and point of view although all are inspired by vintage graphics and American advertisements from 1920–1960.

In “Anatomy”, Kwok combines tinted anatomical drawings with mostly black and white figural images, incorporating other elements including scissors, flowers, and animals. She says:

“Collage has a surrealism background, but other than that, it also act[s] like Alchemy. Because you are putting stuff together from different places and times, the result is clearly unpredictable and this is what makes collage so fascinat[ing].”

One of the things that make this work captivating is the shifts in scale between body part and inhabitant. The small figures are nestled in, reclining on a heart chamber and a brain cavity. The integration of disparate parts into a cohesive whole makes these pieces deceptively simple. In fact, the blending of content and styles is technically accomplished, somewhat subversive, and really quite lovely.

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Judith Schaechter’s Macabre And Dramatic Stained Glass Windows

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Even though Judith Schaechter was immersed in her artistic career as a painter, she was drawn to the traditional practice of stained glass window making. She has managed to lift the centuries-old skill into the world of contemporary art by treating it with a new vision. She turns something that is usually associated with stuffy old churches into something macabre, tragic, yet beautiful. Schaechter says she doodles in front of the TV, and in meetings, to come up with a preliminary design, but still works spontaneously and improvises until she reaches the final stage.It seems she is quite happy to let accidents and mishaps guide her hand. She speaks a bit more the art of turning something gruesome and unpleasant into a thing of wonder:

It seems my work is centered on the idea of transforming the wretched into the beautiful in theme as well as design. For me, this means taking what is typically negative — say, unspeakable grief, unbearable sentimentality, or nerve-wracking ambivalence, and representing it in such a way that it is inviting and safe to contemplate and captivating to observe (to avoid ending with preposition) (Source)

Schaechter says glass is the perfect medium to support the conceptual idea of transforming ugly and difficult subjects into radiant, transparent, glowing figures. Ordinary, ‘earthly’ beings are now ‘supernatural’ and elevated.

They seem to be caught in a transitional moment when despair becomes hope or darkness becomes inspiration. They seem poised between the threshold of everyday reality and epiphany, caught between tragedy and comedy. (Source)

She is a firm believer of the power of stained glass windows – and the effect they can have on somebody’s mood. To be further enlightened, see more of her work after the jump.(Via Hi Fructose)

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Marion Fayolle’s Whimsically Erotic Comic Illustrations

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French illustrator Marion Fayolle‘s illustrations are light-heartedly simple and provocative. Maria Popova appropriately compares Fayolle’s aesthetic to Codex SeraphinianusGregory Blackstock’s illustrated lists, and the vignettes of Blexbolex, but I think there’s also some similar absurdism to be found in Joan Cornellà as well. Fayolle’s illustrations are visually comic poetry, each one representing a surreal and nuanced narrative. Bodies and body parts are often replaced, removed, or erotically recontextualized, something that could be jarring to viewers, but Fayolle’s whimsical aesthetic undermines any potential grotesqueness of this concept. Though her work is playful, the tension between humor, longing, lust, loss, and separation is palpable and creates a space for the viewer to revel in the narrative possibilities in each illustration. It’s the fragmentation of these narratives that connects them, allowing for a cohesion of and engagement with particular themes. Fayolle published a book of her comic illustrations, called “In Pieces,” last September. (via brain pickings)

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