Andrew Laumann utilizes multiple media and presents the viewer with tongue-in-cheek installations that are witty and often irreverent. He seems to revel in destruction and humor. In one piece we see The Wipers logo combined with that of The Wu-Tang Clan. I find it interesting that elements from both emblems appear on albums released in 1993 (Silver Sails and Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers).The resulting composite of 90’s punk and rap iconography speaks of his youthful energy and disregard for the conventional. It takes an astute artist to simultaneously mock and enlighten.
Photographer Florencia Durante’s series uses light to wrap her seated subject in a brilliant spectacle of energy. It appears as fractured, gestural drawings that dances on the floor, up the bald man’s (named Ruso) legs and sometimes around his head or out the door. The white-yellow spirit is erratic and is chaotic.
In addition to having a drawn quality to them, these photographs are sculptural. Durante builds up form and by layering line upon line, taking into consideration the contour of the knees and the head. She creates a halo and a veil around her subject.
The light seems simultaneously helpful and terrifying. Ruso sometimes sits idly as it moves around and throughout him. Other times, he has his head in his hands waiting for impending doom.
I’ll be the first to admit that I know absolutely nothing about dance, especially when it comes to ballet. I am, however, a huge Fall fan, which led me to these videos of choreography by Michael Clark, a British dancer who famously shook up the modern dance world by staging avant-garde productions often set to experimental or post-punk music. These clips come from a 1988 ballet called “I Am Curious, Orange” which was scored entirely by The Fall. As far as I can tell, there hasn’t been much proper documentation done of this work, but these YouTube clips, taken from Charles Atlas’ long out of print film Hail the New Puritan will have to suffice.
Even in his commercial work French photographer Laurent Chehere clearly has a creative and curious eye for his surroundings. An avid traveler, Chehere enjoys exploring the cities he visits. This becomes especially evident in his series Flying Houses. The series contains a number of photographs of floating buildings. The buildings seem otherwise ordinary, perhaps tethered by power lines, quietly floating in the sky. Chehere achieved the effect by taking photographs of buildings throughout the suburbs of Paris and digitally manipulating them. A gallery statement (translated from French) from a recent solo exhibit explains Chehere’s inspiration for the series:
“The artist isolates buildings from their urban context and frees them from their stifling environment. Houses fly in the clouds, like kites. Inspired by a poetic vision of old Paris and the famous short film The Red Balloon by Albert Lamorisse, Laurent Chéhère walked the districts of Belleville and Ménilmontant gazing at their typical houses. The images of the artist seize an unexpected levitation: held to the ground by unseen hands, like so many balloons used by the boy, these old buildings floating in the sky, sliding on the surface, they reveal to us their hidden beauty. Some houses are adorned with drying laundry or flower pots, outweigh other brands and shops fleeing the flames of a fire … All seem to find a second life. Uprooted from their hometown, they go to new heights. It’s a true invitation to travel and metaphor for the transience of the world, Flying Houses Laurent Chéhère’s series plunges us into a dreamlike and changing world full of gaiety and humor.”
Gil Batle is an American artist who spent over 20 years in Californian prisons for fraud and forgery. He endured some of the state’s most infamous facilities, including San Quentin, Chuckawalla, and Jamestown, living in racially segregated conditions under the constant threat of gang violence. During that time, Gil’s astounding ability to draw and tattoo with extreme precision gave him an esteemed reputation among the inmates, thus protecting him from harm and intimidation.
In an exhibition titled “Hatched in Prison,” which will be featured at the Ricco/Maresca gallery in New York from November 5th–January 9th, 2016, Batle presents viewers with a fascinating, sensitive, and detailed glimpse into the hardship and abuse endured in prison by carving these experiences onto the surfaces of ostrich eggs. Brutal images of isolation, beatings from security guards, and chain gangs cover the delicate, ivory-colored surfaces. Barbed wire, gang symbols, and shivs create an ominous symmetry.
In this unique medium, Batle reveals scenes that are usually hidden away from the public eye. There is a special significance to carving trauma onto an egg—an object which Ricco/Maresca’s press release describes as “nature’s most perfect creation and manifestation of life and birth” (Source); Batle’s creations seem to convey vulnerability as well as a sense of hope, renewal, and redemption.
Visit Ricco/Maresca to learn more.
The histories of geometric abstraction and quilting collide in these hard edged fabric paintings by Linling Lu.
Mark Harless (also known as “Bleeblu”) is a conceptual photographer who creates worlds of magic and astounding beauty. Death, mystery, and ritual seem to be recurring motifs in his work; from bodies in bags deserted in the forest, to flowers sprouting from a young woman’s shadowy skin, to hands placed ceremoniously on a bare, narrow chest, each image is an emotional event. Like the calm before and after a storm, there is a sense that something powerful has happened, or is about to happen.
What intrigues me most about his work is the brave and neutral portrayal of death, loss, and transformation. In his Fertilizer series, for example — the images depicting the bagged, naked bodies — Harless explores the erratic cycle of life and death, and how we, and our material forms, are an inevitable part of it. As Harless explained in an interview with Phlearn:
“[D]eath isn’t just the end. It’s not the beginning either. It’s just part of the life cycle. Show me the beginning and end of a circle. After we die our bodies will decompose and the plants and animals will feed off of us in the same fashion a bag of fertilizer would.” (Source)
While the above statement refers specifically to Fertilizer, this theme of death, decomposition, and renewal reverberates throughout Harless’ other works. In La Faune et la Flore, for example — a collaboration between Harless and the French illustrator Moon — a woman (Molly Strohl) wanders naked around the dark shoreline of a secluded lake. Like a wayward revenant, there is something sad, powerful, and lonely about her, but the illustrated flowers sprouting from her face, arms, and torso offer a glimmer of life and rebirth. The image of the dead bird also connects with this theme, for while lying on its flowery funeral bed, the small creature seems on the verge of resurrection as it returns to the earth. In short, Harless’ photographs have an uncanny ability to confront us with the beauty, sadness, and magic that permeates our earthly lives.
Ron Ulicny is a Portland-based artist who creates “viscurrealistic fabrications”, sculptural works that draw their impact from surreal change-ups in material selection. A vintage bowling pin is sliced open, and a nocturnal forest is inserted into its midsection. A hand saw’s blade is replaced by multiple paintbrushes. I wasn’t necessarily surprised, when going through the artist’s portfolio site, to find quotes from Jasper Johns, Magritte, Duchamp, and Rauschenberg, each of whom are pretty clear influences on Ulicny. But, even in emulation, Ulicny’s work is completely singular. He knows his materials so well (where does he find some of these things?), and his execution might be a little cleaner than some of his heroes. You’re gonna want to check out more of the artist’s works, so find a selection below, but hit up his website and tumblr to get the full picture.