Dean Sullivan is like that doodling space-obsessed boy who sat behind you in kindergarten and claimed he really, honestly, for real had an alien abduction experience once and monsters living in his closet.
For SWAMP’s piece Supermajor (a term used in the Gulf Coast referring to the six biggest publicly owned oil companies) the artist collective has created an ingenious and perplexing sculpture that will surely make you take a double take. In the gallery a wire rack of (vintage) oil cans sits. One oilcan has a visible fissure out of which oil slowly flows cascading onto the pedestal and gallery floor… The only thing is, the oil isn’t exactly flowing out of the can. Instead, oil appears to slow slowly drop by drop back into the can. At times the drops of oil hover unsupported in midair. Other times the drops are in the process of a slow motion splash onto the pedestal. This is a piece that can only be fully appreciated in person or on video as the oil literally looks like it is moving backwards in time back into the can.
SWAMP (Studies of Work Atmosphere and Mass Production) was founded in 1999 by artists Douglas Easterly and Matt Kenyon. Focusing on critical themes addressing the effects of global corporate operations, mass media and communication, military-industrial complexes, and general meditations on the liminal area between life and artificial life.
Watch the video above and after the jump to see the piece in action! (via)
Paraglider Gill Schneider had thought a while about arranging an unusual pair: his love of flying and the circus. After the jump a video captures the combination. At first Schneider incorporates his parachute into various circus acts. Before long, though, he takes a performer into the air, juggling gliding over the beaches. The highlight of the video, however, is trapeze artist Roxanne Gilliand. Hanging below Shcneider, Gilliand gracefully performs high over a small lakeside town. The pairing, though unlikely, is a fascinating one.
Sometimes the lines between work and play blur at Beautiful/Decay. Such was the case last week when I joined premiere art supply manufacturers Royal Talens and Canson for a ten day excursion through Paris and Amsterdam to explore the sites, see the museums, and get a vip tour of the various factories that make the paints, pastels, and watercolors that the Royal Talens brand is known for. If you were keeping tabs of our Instagram (beautifuldecayofficial) and Facebook page last week you may have seen a picture or two from our trip but we thought it would be nice to give you an expanded glimpse into our travels through a three part blog post. Follow us as we start in Paris and make our way over to Amsterdam through out this week!
Jim Houser is an American artist who combines lifestyle, experiences, and visual art into the creation of a personal iconography. Comprised of acrylic paintings on canvas and wood, his works are bold and symbolic: in blood reds and cool blues, images of severed heads and pill cases radiate anxiety, while elsewhere a drummer sits meditatively on the edge of a black pond. By arranging the paintings into installations, Houser narrates an inner dialogue that explores the interrelated joys and challenges of living, speaking to us through his art in poetic and metaphoric ways.
The images featured here are from his current exhibition called HUSH, featured at Andenken/Battalion in Amsterdam starting June 5th. In a recent interview with Hyland Mather, the owner of Andenken/Battalion, Houser explains his personal motivations in the creation of his art, beginning when he was a child:
I like that my art making is therapeutic for me. What is inspiring to me is that it contains a problem that never completely solves itself: me. From childhood on, I’ve used art to escape my reality, to help me define or explain my reality, and to meditate on my reality. […] I sort of lucked into it, making art. I was just as happy drawing as a kid as I was throwing rocks at cars. Anything to get out of my own head for a bit, skateboarding, taking drugs, all that stuff does the same thing to varying degrees of success, but luckily for me I was wired to have art making be the thing that quieted me down the most on the inside. (Source)
Scattered throughout Houser’s eye-catching colors, geometric forms, and clever assemblages are artifacts suggestive of personal means of “escape” — the pill cases and skateboard, for example. The simplicity and fearlessness of these images speaks to Houser’s brilliant distillation of life into one symbolic plane; in a holistic, meditative practice, he has arranged his personal story in a way that is courageously honest. As viewers, Houser’s works inspire us to imagine how we would visually narrate our lives, using pictorial language to explore emotions and unique personal histories.
Katsuyo Aoki creates stunningly intricate porcelain skulls. Her work is almost like a three-dimensional expansion on the tradition of calavera, decorated skulls made of sugar or clay to commemorate the Day of the Dead. She touches on this in her explanation of work, commenting that elevating the skull, which could be considered macabre, can make the viewer feel, “tranquility and awe that can almost be described as religious, as well as an image as an object of worship.”
The patterns on her skulls range from elegant swirls to jagged spikes that look like prehistoric teeth. Others unfurl like deep sea creatures from another plane of existence, stretching their frills out like anemones from beyond. The name of the exhibit, “Predictive Dreams,” further emphasizes the mystical qualities of the artwork, recalling a time when prophets and seers would study bones and entrails to gaze into the future.
Aoki says of the work:
“The decorative styles and forms I allude to and incorporate in my works each contain a story based on historical backgrounds and ideas, myths, and allegories. Their existence in the present age makes us feel many things; adoration, some sort of romantic emotions, a sense of unfruitfulness and languor from their excessiveness and vulgarity.”
(via Deadman’s Reach)
Artist Wen Fang has a way turning an eye toward the often overlooked. In a way, some of her work memorializes the unfortunately common. This first installation – a room filled with hanging knives printed with images of garbage – is titled Rain and illustrates this well. She explains the personal story and Chinese idiom behind the installation:
“One day I was on a public bus, heading to a suburban enclave not far from my home on the outskirts of Beijing. The road was lined on both sides by filthy, stagnant drainage ditches. The disgusting smell of the water wafted into the bus, immediately wiping out the hunger I was feeling a moment before. The water was blue-grey, and looked quite thick. The surface was covered in floating instant noodle packages, popsicle sticks, rotting vegetables and other garbage that couldn’t be sold as scrap. Suddenly I saw a stray dog at the edge of the ditch, trying to drink the water. Several times he would approach the water with his snout, only to be repulsed by the powerful stench. In the end, I guess he was just too thirsty, and he hesitantly stuck his snout in the water, taking a few gulps. It sent pangs through my heart. Lots of migrants live by the drainage ditches. Their kids run around like wild dogs, and are just about as dirty. About half of their toys were picked up along the side of this road. None of the adults control their actions, as these migrant workers are too busy trying to eke out a living, and the old people just sit there by the side of the road. The Chinese refer to these situations as knives raining down from the heavens…that is to say; this is the worst it can get…I don’t know if this is the worst possible situation, but these knives often cut right into my heart. That’s why I make them, so that everyone can see these knives. Economic development is a sound idea, but how much money does it take to be truly wealthy? I spent my childhood playing in the wilderness around here, while these kids are spending their childhoods playing on the trash heaps. I really wish these kids could grow up in gardens, just as we promised. But what I really don’t know is, when we finally have enough money, whether or not the garden will be anything more than a bunch of sharp knives.…”
Romanian artist Felix Deac creates hyper-realistic sculptures…sort of. His pieces covered in human-like skin are replete with moles, veins, blemishes, and hair. However, their form is anything but familiar. His sculptures are intentionally amorphic and anthropomorphic at the same time. In a way Deac encourages the viewer to contemplate the irrational situation in which a creature like this would be a possibility and how it came into existence.