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Dan Colen’s Trashy Treasure

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Dan Colen’s trash-to-treasure mixed media installations remind us of the potential of beauty in the discarded. In his exhibition, Blowin’ In the Wind, Colen repurposes the painting tools which he uses to create his Trash series. These objects are placed or hung in the gallery, absent of the painted canvases that resulted from their use. Painting tools include objects such as a flip-flop, a paint can, rags, string, bottles, a tire, a yellow mop bucket, a McDonald’s food bag, and an umbrella handle. In Out of the Blue and Into the Black,  Colen tars and feathers an entire gallery wall with one small and bright painted canvas among this image of morbidity. Also part of this installation is a cluster of suspended beat-up and forgotten blue bicycles. Representing the more literal approach of trash-to-treasure are canvases onto which Colen has pasted painted trash or gum and gum wrappers. Colen’s background is in painting and a series of his oil paintings, entitled The Spirits That I Called, will be on view at Oko Gallery in New York from May 15 – June 15.

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Daniel Eatock’s Common Object Sculptures

By stacking two otherwise banal objects and calling it art, Daniel Eatock‘s sculptures both make us laugh as well as re-view the objects around us as first and foremost formal objects and secondly as things we can use to, say, move a pile of dirt around. Try it! Look at all those little smooth squares your fingers are pushing. Look around you!

In his words ” […] I propose systems, templates, invitations and opportunities for collaboration, creating social networks where contributers shape the outcome and participate in the building of works. I embrace contradictions, and dilemmas. I like gray areas, oxymorons and the feeling of falling backwards. My favorite colour is the purple found in a soap bubble. I prefer to swap and exchange things rather than use money. I seek alignments, paradoxes, chance circumstance, loops, impossibilities and wit encountered in everyday life. I often change my mind, go full circle, and arrive at the beginning.” – Daniel Eatock

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Queer Artist Wynne Neilly’s Powerful Self-Portraits Document Transition From Female To “Male”

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Toronto based photographer Wynne Neilly‘s self-portrait project, “Female to ‘Male'” documents the artist’s exploration into his gender identity. Neilly documented his journey from female to “male” with weekly photographs, vocal audio recordings, and other objects that represent a particular part or moment of the transition. As a trans identified queer artist who has photographed all types of people within the queer community, Neilly never had intimate access to another person’s physical transition. Once he knew he was going to start taking hormones, he decided to fully document the experience using a cheap instant camera.
With regard to the quotations used around “male”, Neilly maintains that his trans identity is a continual evolution: “I very strongly identify with being trans. My trans identity is not binary in the ways that society probably expects it to be. When heteronormative or mainstream society imagines a female born body transiting to a body that is perceived as masculine, there is an automatic reading of that person being “female to male” or FTM. This FTM experience might be very relatable and true for many trans people, but it is also completely wrong for others. I don’t identify as being male at all. Putting it in quotations challenges what it means to be a trans masculine individual. Having “male” in the title acts to eliminate some of the stigma behind thinking there is only one way to transition, and there is only one type of trans experience.” (via huffington post)

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Anya Gallaccio Creates A Room Made Of Chocolate

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For her new installation “Stroke” at Jupiter Artland, Scottish artist Anya Gallaccio constructs a room made of dark chocolate, inviting visitors to lick the walls if they so dare. The richly aromatic work is designed in part to be a rare feminine space in an art world defined mostly by men. The artist, who has worked with red roses in the past, sees her unusual medium as one normally associated with the female; here, she brings the domestic out of the shadows and boldly into the public realm. The room itself is evocative of female sensual pleasure; painted in thick, gentle layers of sweetness, it is dark and cavernous, a space to be entered into.

Housing only a small bench, the piece maintains ambiguity, relying upon its inhabitants to draw meaning from the slights, smells, and tastes. The work is as much about fantasy and anticipation as it is the actual experience of sitting in a chocolate room, which the artist explains is not what one might expect. As time wears on, she expects that the sweet odor will turn sour; the chocolate, painted onto the walls with brushes, will oxidize. Bugs have already moved into the space.

Galloccio’s title “Stroke” alludes to the dual nature of the work; she explains that a “stroke” can describe a tragic and sudden heart attack as much as it can a soft caress. Ultimately, the impact of the work is in the hands of viewers, who may either choose to abandon social etiquette to indulge in a feast of licking or might simply sit in uncomfortable silence. Either way, it will be a sight to behold. (via Design Boom)

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Incredible Chewing Gum Sculptures By Maurizio Savini

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The first question Maurizio Savini is asked about his work is one he hates to hear: does he chew every piece of gum he uses to make his sculptures? He admits this question is very annoying, but if everybody is still genuinely interested, then no – no he doesn’t chew the gum. Instead he has two full time assistants unwrapping each stick of gum and melting the pink sticky stuff into layers of usable material. Savini begins his lengthy process by layering the sheets of gum around plaster molds which give his sculptures stability and shape.

Working with the gum for over a decade, he has created some amazing pieces. One sculpture  – ‘La Lupa‘ (the figure who nursed the founders of Savini’s birthplace of Rome back to health) is made from 14 kg of chewing gum. He has animals bearing different flags, business men clutching pillows, chandeliers and women’s shoes among many other things. His work is usually loaded with some sort of socially and/or politically focused message.

He says chewing gum has a unique cultural context. It is connected to art history, industry and world history, and is a loaded symbol for Savini. He says after being introduced to Europe when WW2 was ending, the material became a symbol (along with Coca Cola and nylon stockings) of a new era.

When Savini began making his chewing gum sculptures, he has the misfortune of several pieces disintegrating. He now combines the gum with formaldehyde and anti-biotics to preserve it, so the high sugar content doesn’t destroy the pieces. You can see some of his new pieces at the upcoming Art-Southampton, July 9-13, 2015, or find out more about how he makes his creations in the video above.

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Trent Bell’s Photos Of Prisoners Super Imposed With Their Letters Of Remorse And Heartbreak

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Architectural photographer Trent Bell takes a different turn in his career to create ‘Reflect’, a poignant series of photographs that feature long-time prisoners and the handwritten letters they’ve written to their younger selves.

Inspired by a close friend of Bells’ whom was sentenced to 36 years in jail, ‘Reflect’ looks  beyond the prisoner’s stigma of a past life of crime and instead zooms into a rather positive yet heartbreaking side of their story- one that starts with bad decisions but follows with deep regret, hope, and wishful thinking.

By superimposing the prisoners’ portraits on top of their handwritten letters, Bell creates an instant dual portrait, a visual image that portrays both their current physical being, and the state of their inner selves – a side of them that shows us how much they wished they would’ve made the right decision in their younger years.

“Our band choices can contain untold loss, remorse, and regret […] but the positive value of these bad choices might be immeasurable if we can face them, admit to them, learn from them and find the strength to share.”

(via HuffPost)

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Fabian Mérelle Throws You Head First Into Nightmarish Scenes Of Dreamlike Mystery

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French artist Fabian Mérelle creates surreal illustrations that are as nightmarish as they are beautiful. Rendering incredibly detailed scenes with a dark side, his depictions of monsters and strange creatures are reminiscent of Goya’s more sinister illustrations. Fabian Mérelle constructs fantastic and elaborate scenes of dreamlike proportion, stretching the imagination and filling our minds with mystery. Each scene is like a fairytale or fable that may not have a happy ending. The foul creatures that invade Mérelle’s intriguing work seem to have come from mythology or legend.

The drawings are showing an obsession for detail veering on mania and pointing out the precision of a line layed minutely with China ink. If he pays homage to the Little Nemo comics, he projects the spectator in a universe much more complex, mixing evil spirits, watches and childhood fears.                                          -Fabian Mérelle

Many of Fabian Mérelle’s drawings are somewhat simple in nature, but speak volumes to the artist’s skill once we examine the attention to detail made with ink. His muted palette is balanced with a shadowy atmosphere and a hazy mood. What is so amazing about the artist’s work is that even the most bizarre subject is anatomically correct, even with gargoyles picking at the figure’s body, an elephant standing on its back, or when the figures is halfway turning into a fallen tree. Although holding an ominous tone, Mérelle’s illustrations captivate us and throw us head first into childlike imagination.
(via Juxtapoz)

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Beth Livensperger Gets Reflective

Beth Livensperger’s painterly canvases are full of confusingly convincing visual miscues.  Fluorescent lighting, mirrors, and expanses of reflective glass complicate vision by blinding, doubling, and flipping what we see.  Livensperger uses these illusions in ways which prompt the question “what exactly am I looking at?”  She makes us pay attention to places we would normally ignore, like store fronts, wood shops and laundry rooms.  In the process bringing us into a one on one confrontation with our sense of sight.

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