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Sculptor Adrian Arleo’s Mystical Hybrids Foretell Change And Resist Loss In The Natural World

Adrian Arleo - Sculpture

“Branched Lives” (2008). Clay, glaze, wax encaustic, 11.5 x 13 x 6″.

Adrian Arleo - Sculpture

“Two Bas, Console and Consort” (2007). Clay, glaze, wax encaustic, approx. 23 x 32 x 9″ each.

Adrian Arleo - Sculpture

“Lion, Awareness Series” (2011). Clay, glaze, gold leaf, 20 x 27 x 12″.

Adrian Arleo - Sculpture

“The Dreamer Awakes” (2007). Clay, glaze, wax encaustic, 12.5 x 18 x 13″.

Adrian Arleo is a sculptor living near Missoula, Montana whose ceramic works hybridize the human figure with animal and environmental imagery. Among her creations are bodies pock-marked with honeycomb formations, people birthed from wasp nests, and animals whose skin ripple with human eyes. While there is a sadness and mystical darkness in some of her sculptures — the “Swallow Bust” hybrid, for example, seems suspended between life and death as birds inhabit her hollowed body — they also exhibit agelessness and awareness. Part of this can be attributed to the classical style of the sculptures, which is reminiscent of ancient Greek and Italian art. As Arleo writes on her About page: “By focussing on older, more mysterious ways of seeing the world, edges of consciousness and deeper levels of awareness suggest themselves” (Source).

Thematically, however, Arleo’s works draw their strength and knowledge from the cycles intrinsic to the natural world. As she explained in a 2012 chat with Ceramic Arts Daily:

“[M]y ideas come mainly through observation and curiosity, taking note of what’s around me: wasp nests, bird tracks in snow, the eyes in aspen tree bark, the limbs of trees, deer grazing in the fields, all these things are analogous to our own experiences with life cycles of birth and growth, reproduction and nurturing impulses, defense mechanisms, aging, death, decay. […] With the changing state of the world, I feel a greater and greater urgency to remember and express how we are all connected, all dependent on the same air, water, soil.” (Source).

As hybrids, the sculptures’ awareness of life, death, and the interconnectedness of all things is fused into their bodies. There is no distinction between what is solely “human” and “animal”; all worlds are represented in one. They remind us of our own material connections to the natural world, and how — through their sad, ancient expressions — the world is changing.

Not all of Arleo’s creations foretell this change passively, however. She expresses how her newer works are quietly unwilling to be reduced to extinction:

“[W]hen I finished this most recent body of work and looked for a feeling that encompassed it as a whole, I was struck by the concept of a harbinger: a dream, sign, or omen foreshadowing things to come. There is a quiet resistance, in this work, to the cultural and biological losses of our time” (Source).

In this way, we can read the sculptures as defiant, with their bodily hybridity signifying a memory of and connection to the natural world that will never be completely wiped away.

Visit Arleo’s website to view more of her work. You can read the rest of the article on Ceramic Arts Daily here. (Via I Need A Guide)

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Michael Massaia’s Melting Ice Cream Portraits Capture Fleeting Childhood Moments

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Photographer Michael Massaia has been lauded for his haunting black and white photographs that catch the shadow life of cities at night. In his photo series, Transmorgify, he turns his eye not to a city caught in limbo, but rather a period of time. Massaia captures childhood treats melting into swirls and psychedelic puddles, creating traces of sugar and cream that look almost like wisps of smoke. 

From the classic Neapolitan ice cream bar to more modern fare such as My Little Pony popsicles with gumball eyes, the series shows a simpler time in a moment of transformation. Set against a stark black background, though, the photos aren’t quite portraits; they seem to take a deeper look, as though putting childhood memories on a microscope slide.
More than just sticky remnants between an 8-year-old’s fingers, Massaia’s work seems to allude to something more precious and ephemeral. Viewed from one perspective, the melting ice cream has the same pastel and neon colors as a sidewalk chalk drawing, smudged by fresh rain. From another perspective, the photos speak of decay and something that can’t be revisited, sweeter maybe in memoriam.
Transmorgify is currently on display at Gallery 270 in New Jersey until May 16th.

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The Surrealist Childlike Narratives Of Amandine Urruty Will Make You Smile

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Imagine a world of fantasy where all your favorite icons are grouped together in old painting motifs and you have a pretty good idea of what French artist Amandine Urruty does. With knifelike precision she draws odd characters from popular culture and places them in dreamlike landscapes that recall Hieronymous Bosch and Leonardo DaVinci. Using satirical nuances Urruty comments on love, learning and family. Her method pokes fun at society and the different masks we wear each day to get through it. Her material of choice is graphite and with it she wields pictures which show great skill. It almost seems the artist could draw anything she wanted which is why it’s even more interesting to see the content which sparks her imagination.

From a formal standpoint hints of surrealism surface as we witness the subconscious mind take over in many of Urruty’s sections. But to draw at her skill level you need to be totally present and the two play off each other nicely. The dominant presence of kiddy characters definitely speaks to the inner child in all of us. Plus from an aesthetic point of view they’re just cute to look at.

Aside from drawings, Urruty has painted colorful murals all over France. The subject matter for those were mostly hybrid animals which recall Maurice Sendak. Her work is currently on view at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York as part of the group Exhibit, “Oh, The Places We’ve Been.” Urruty is based in Paris and holds a Master’s Degree in The Philosophy of Art.      (via faithistorment)

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Wookjae Maeng’s Ghostly Ceramics Express The Relationship Between Man And Animal

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Wookjae Maeng is a Korean artist who works with ceramics, focusing on the relationships between man and animal. The ghostly pieces often resemble commemorative busts or mounted heads reminiscent of big game trophies (the kind you’d seen in a hunter’s den). Sometimes, works are painted to blend in with wall treatments or trendy decor.

I concentrate on art as a vehicle to communicate contemporary social and environmental problems to the viewer by stimulating, not just emotion, but sensibilities and memories,” Maeng writes. Stimulus is an important idea, and it’s used to evoke the viewer’s curiosity and to inspire them to figure the greater meaning of the work.

Maeng also explains why he chose to feature animals in his sculptures:

In our environment, numerous creatures live in harmony. Yet there are other creatures that merely exist without enjoying their natural right due to human classification and negligence. I would like to express the nature of the relationship between human and other creatures-a relationship that, in other to thrive, demands careful coexistence and balance between the urban and the natural, for example, and an awareness and empathy for less visible creatures. In my work I hope to provide an opportunity-however brief-for modern man to consider the realities of the environment in which he exists, even as he continues his daily existence indifferent to it. (Via Optically Addicted)

 

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Photographer Bares All In His Series About Nude Hikers (NSFW)

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Roshan Adhihetty regularly takes off his clothes and photographs other people without theirs on either. Despite what that sounds like, the series he has put together is a tasteful, candid look at a popular past time. Die Nacktwanderer, or The Nude Hikers captures groups of hikers reconnecting with nature and immersing their bodies into their surroundings. Growing up in Lausanne, an area which is quite accustomed to nudity, Adhihetty is no stranger to seeing the human body without clothes on. But after visiting his first nudist beach in Corsica, he decided to take a closer look at the culture of nudity, and in particular, the modern trend of naked hiking. He says:

Nudity and Nature have always been big subjects in art. Inspired by the romantic paintings I was hunting for photographs which feature this tension between romantic nature and disturbing contemporary elements – an opposition between nature and culture. (Source)

His photographs are a brazen look at a subject not often talked about, and sometimes even sneered at. But Adhihetty portrays his subjects with respect and grace, after he had to put himself in their shoes, so to speak. After tracking down a group of willing participants through Craigslist, the photographer had to join them in the buff to be allowed his camera on the hikes. Along with his other observations, Adhihetty realized that many of his subjects were male, and women only make up about a fifth of the hiking population. He notes that this is most likely linked to the social pressures and judgements our current society places on the female figure.

Hopefully with projects like this photographic series, we will stop seeing the naked body as only a sexual thing, but also as a very natural way to exist in the world around us. (Via Feature Shoot)

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Marco Grassi Paints Hyper-Real Portraits Of Women With A Twist

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Marco Grassi - Oil Paint

Marco Grassi - Oil Paint

The works of artist Marco Grassi are so realistic, they appear to be photographs of women. However, his work is not your traditional portraits. If you look again, these portraits have an offbeat element, creating surreal characteristics that cannot possibly exist in real life. Because Grassi’s incredible skill in painting allows him to create such hyper-real images, the out of place component in each painting is our only clue to these being oil paintings and not photography. The artist impeccably renders such a variety of texture; until we believe we can feel the glossy, sleek glass and the soft fabric the women are wearing in Grassi’s work. Even close up, you can see the details of each wrinkle, pore and eyelash of every woman he paints, intensifying the illusion of reality.

The twist is, the women in Grassi’s paintings are not normal, they have a hand covered in intricate patterns or a blue tree stretching across their upper torso, both like glowing tattoos on their bodies. One woman even has a design carved into the skin on her back, revealing not blood and bones, but hollow darkness. However strange these unexpected details may be, the women in these portraits remain just as beautiful and realistic as ever. Despite the unusual, serial quality Grassi’s paintings have, they still appear believable. We are left in awe believing in these striking, mysterious women, not knowing why they look as they do. (via Hi-Fructose)

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Bozka Creates Enchanting Illustrations And Pop-Up Art Of Dream-Like Ecosystems

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Bozena Rydlewska (aka Bozka) is a Polish artist who creates enchanting nature illustrations blooming with life. Her works resemble dream-like visions of a fairytale forest: ornate plants burst and divide across the paper, creating patterns and symmetry; animals from different habitats (frogs, birds, and tropical fish) intermingle harmoniously. Bozka has turned some of her illustrations into mesmerizing 3D pop-ups, intricately layered and rich with illustrated texture. From bright, buzzing jungles to mysterious gardens at dusk, the vibrant color schemes give each ecosystem a unique energy.

For many of us, Bozka’s works may be attached to a sense of nostalgia; they remind us of those children’s books that engrossed our imaginations by springing to life as we turned the pages. Bozka has taken this art a bit further, of course, in the divine complexity of each piece. Some of her pop-ups resemble theater sets, like elaborate stagings celebrating the harmony and geometry of nature; we expect at any moment for the birds and butterflies to explode into a synchronous movement. Check out Bokza’s website and Facebook page for more imaginative creations. (Via Hi-Fructose)

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Laylah Ali Continues To Comment On Society With Her Stick Figures

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The stick figures of Laylah Ali are like no other. In her latest show The Acephalous Series which means “headless” she continues on her path of creating a new population of figures with strange expressions and round heads. Her newest resemble vegetables of the cucumber and celery kind. Whereas her former works have studied race relations, torture and hierarchy her newest seem to comment on the state of farming and the food industry. In a number of pieces there seem to be deformities of sorts which could be alerting to chemicals which are rampant in food that isn’t organic. A hybrid baby figure lurking in some might also symbolize sickness affecting unborn and young things. Its sometimes hard to tell with work of this nature what it all means but that’s what makes it both fun and enjoyable. It’s a challenge the artist gives the viewer by making something entirely original.

Ali has been on the international art radar for sometime. She participated in the Venice Bienniale in 2003 and Whitney Biennial in 2004. Her work as a whole is attributed to various types of art stemming from ancient hieroglyphics to comic book serials. She speaks about social issues affecting men, women and minorities using everyday objects such as gym balls, sneakers and sticks.

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