With a toxic mix of oil-based paint, the surfaces of artist Claire Falkenberg‘s large-scale photos are transformed into mysterious and eerie clouds. The ominous, milky clouds obscure the space directly in front of the photographer, delaying the viewer’s ability to understand what lies just under the surface of each picture plane. This inclusion is generous, because it offers another layer of surface detail to the viewer who is willing to inspect the ghostly swirls of oil paint. The slick, snapshot-style images of trash slowly begin to reveal themselves—vanishing almost entirely at the center, and bringing into question just exactly what Falkenberg has chosen to cover up in her series.
Walking the line between fine art and craft, Brent Owens has a characteristic style of woodworking that he incorporates with a somewhat irreverent sense of humor and applies to a myriad of subjects. Conspicuously hand-carved, embracing the flaws and all, Owens enhances his imperfect look by selecting wood with notable imperfections. The casual woodwork is not a comment on Owens’ talents. Rather it is done to emphasize the fact that the human hand has influenced the material. Conceptually, Owens works from the notion that humans have a tendency to render nature amenable to their own agenda. Describing this “healthy disrespect for nature” as a “shameless manipulation of a gorgeous natural material,” Owens considers his woodworking to be “imposing his own desires on the material” in the name of progressing culture.
Owens’ exploration of craft takes him in several directions. His “Turkish rugs,” for instance, are carved freehand and modeled after Googled images. These works are juxtaposed with carved paintings of appropriated text of medical queries and responses, which have been translated from Chinese to English. The results are a mix of park signage and conceptual art exhibited as a confused mix of words that have lost the nuance of human translation. The works becomes symbolic of how epically the human desire to understand and control everything so often fails.
Both funny and frightening Owens’ works are ultimately a representation of the fact that craft as fine art becomes a commentary on fine art itself. Thereby becoming commentary on culture, and human nature at large.
Peggy Kouroumalos, a Scorpio from Canada, has a penchant for painting people (mostly women) in quite unique surroundings and circumstances. In her “Animal Head” series, Peggy has oil painted these women with animals for hair. It takes one a second to comprehend what they are looking at, for of course we are all going to look at the woman’s body before we glance at her raccoon-hair. It’s interesting we should post this today, as our stoic intern Harrison has decided to wear his very own raccoon-hat to work today.
Ana Kraš, born in Belgrade and based in NYC, uses basic structures and everyday materials to design “what people would need and like to use.” Her bonbon lamps or lanterns are handmade and no two are exactly alike. Kraš laboriously loops each bit of thread around the metal frames, creating a color-blocked pattern with a folk sensibility reminiscent of the 1970s.
In a recent feature by Avant Garde Interviews, Kraš suggests such careful repetitious attention is meditative, allowing her room to focus on the details or a “shy little gesture you try to add to a very basic thing.”
Living and working in Budapest, Alexander Tinei originally hails from Caushani, Moldova, and his work seems to reflect the historical and current climate of these two places– a certain transition into post communism mainstream. That said, however, I would avoid labeling his work as something political. It feels more personal or social, examining identity as it relates or responds to its fluid environment. The darkness in each image is a certain type of natural blooming that slowly corrodes. Emphasis is not on reckless destruction alone, but the cultivation and freedom to pursue it.
Brooklyn, NY based painter and sculptor Lisa Beck creates reflective, Rorschach like abstractions that function simultaneously as murals, paintings, sculptures, and installations.
“My work has always been driven by certain preoccupations and obsessions, that can be seen as divided between the particular and the universal. The particular is shorthand for the observable aspects of reality, the stuff around us (the landscape, our bodies). The universal is a shorthand for things that are too vast or too tiny for us to grasp completely ( space, atomic physics)— that necessarily become a kind of abstraction. Those are the things that I think about, with an emphasis on the relationship between those things — the place where they meet or interact, rather than the divide. I’m concerned with where I stand, or where anyone stands, in relation to these aspects of existing reality … the act of observation of the place in between; visual awareness and perception as a way of understanding existence, like a filter.
I tend to be attracted to opposing but related visual phenomena like positive and negative, pattern and randomness, color and grayscale, flatness and depth, representational and abstract imagery. I always want to go in both directions a once and much of my work has involved trying to find ways to integrate these opposites. My most prevalent motif has been the circle in all its forms and references. Atoms, dots, spheres, solids, voids, cells, selves, stars, eternity, emptiness- it’s amazing how much can attach to this form.” (via)
The collisions between art and life can create an interesting space for an artist to create work from—and something that Atlanta-based installation artist Gyun Hur seeks out. Even though she works abstractly, Hur chooses to charge her work by using the medium’s significance as a conceptual starting point. Artificial flowers and colorful woven fabrics are hand-shredded into a brightly colored powder, which she disseminates throughout the space.
Hur creates her soft, delicate, vibrantly-colored installations through a carefully choreographed “performance,” in which she works to create perfect arrangements of materials that have been released from their original forms. Tweezers, masking tape, and a ruthlessly meticulous attention to detail all play a part in Hur’s impressive, site-specific works. The simultaneous tangibility and impermanence of the works force the viewer to become startlingly aware of every breath, every step—every movement made while in the space.