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Artists Turn Giant Trees In The Forest Into Humorous Watchful Faces

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Dear Human is the artistic partnership between Jasna Sokolovic and Noel O’Connell.  After meeting at a residency in Denmark the two began collaborating.  Their work is based on common beliefs the two share and each project incorporates their respective strengths.  Noel has material expertise and pays attention to detail where Jasna possesses great improvisational sensibility and an explorative nature.

Together their work draws inspiration from different environments.  They appreciate places and spaces that allow them to experiment with materials, as well as other people, such as designers, architects and artists.  Often their projects offer an alternative perception to overlooked everyday landscapes by revealing the hidden potential of places and objects.  Ultimately they hope to inspire consciousness and curiosity.

The Sentinels were one such project.  In part of the forest the duo regularly visits there used to be a grove of grand Douglas firs.  Over a century ago they were cut down.  At the time the technique to cut such giant trees was to chop wedges into them and embed horizontal planks to stand on, so the lumbar jacks could cut above the root line.  Now the remains resemble empty eye sockets that, as the duo says, “longed for an intervention.”  Inserting porcelain eyes into the slots the Sentinels were born and they silently keep watch over the forest.

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Design Month: Chen Chen

Chen Chen’s products are at once beautiful and repulsive, which is what I love about them. Imagine serving your guests a frosty beverage on his “Cold Cuts” coasters or arranging your Lilies of the Valley in his “Swell” vase.

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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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Delilah Jones’ Collage ‘Portals’

Delilah Jones‘Portal’ collage series forms entrances into other worlds through ripping and layering found photography. The artist, currently residing in Portland, uses traditional techniques in the digital world to seemingly travel through time itself with her fantastical juxtapositions. More after the jump.

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Jesse McManus

Jesse McManus is pure speed. His skills are frightening. His beautiful line work captures demented children, gremlins, goblins, cats, and very often knives, or just pointy tools in general, with an incredibly demented precision. Listen to his interview on Inkstuds, read some comics, tumble alongside him, and/or tweet at him.

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Hong Kong Graffiti Challenges Ai WeiWei’s Arrest

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve heard about the arrest of  prominent Chinese artists and activist Ai WeiWei by the Chinese Government. Ai Wei Wei and dozens of bloggers and artists were arrested earlier in April  for “inciting subversion of state power,” a catch-all term used to jail anyone critical of Communist Party rule. Apparently The government is concerned that activists want to launch a “jasmine revolution” similar to the protests taking place in the Middle East.

Yesterday NPR released a great story about graffiti popping up all over China supporting the artist and demanding for his release. Street art is at its best when used to expose corruption. Taking your cause to the streets is one of the only ways to let your voice be heard In a country where the government won’t give a legitimate platform to its citizens. Lets hope that more people stand up to the government and demand that not just Ai Wei Wei but all political prisoners are released and that an open discussion can begin between the Chinese government and the countries 1.4 Billion residents.

Listen and read the full story on NPR.

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Axel Void’s Disturbing Paintings Of People Wrapped And Suffocating In Plastic

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People trapped in plastics. This is the theme of the 8 oil paintings by Axel Void for his series titled “Sehnsucht”. Forced or consensual wrapping? After examining the paintings for a minute, the debate does not seem so obsolete. Axel Void suggests an alternative explanation on how to consider these people ; they are pleased with their fate. The title of the exhibition translates as nostalgia; a wistful affection for a period in the past; implying the period of time the artist misses and which is called absurdism. Absurdism symbolises the tension humankind has created for himself, wanting to define the value life without ever being able to do so.

The dichotomy between the classic style of the paintings and the psychologic, almost psychiatric representation of the artist’s nostalgia leaves us disturbed. Moreover, the interpretation of the cellophane or plastic bag can evokes protection, eroticism or asphyxiation. Leaving us full of doubts about what will happen next to these people.
Axel Void highlights in a dark way  “the confusion and state of wellbeing within our basic necessities and longing for something else”.

This intermission in which those people are caught, some of them suffering, others patiently waiting is the state of mind of absurdism. For there is no explanation to how we all have gotten here and there is no logical reason to how we will get out of this state either.
The art of Axel Void is a picture of the society issues in a social and psychological way. He interprets in his paintings the stigma of what society is experiencing in response to a quest for answers that will have no ending.

Axel Void’s “Sehnsucht” series is currently showing at BC Gallery in Berlin until August 15th 2015. (via HiFructose)

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Jiyong Lee Carves Fragmented, Geometric Glass Blocks That Represent Cell Division And Growth

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Jiyong Lee is an artist and educator based in Carbondale, Illinois, who works in the medium of glass art. In a series titled Segmentation, Lee has created fascinating, geometric glass blocks that metaphorically examine life science. Mirroring the processes of cell division and growth, each sculpture is divided into fragments that represent “cells, embryos, biological and molecular structures—each symbolizing the building blocks of life, as well as the starting point of life” (Source). As a whole, they are firm structures, much like the proverbial “building blocks”; but internally, they are irregular and segmented, symbolizing the varying growth rates and beautiful asymmetry of organic life.

The glass Lee has chosen to work with varies in its translucency, which is significant to his theme. Sometimes the fragments are see-through; in other places they are dense and clouded. For Lee, these conditions of visibility represent “what is known and unknown about life science” (Source), for although modern science seeks to fully comprehend the workings of life, there will always be an unreachable mystery within. The internal haze also represents an unknown future for cells as they live and continue to change.

Visit Lee’s website to view more.

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