Australian artist Paul Yore uses colorful applique, sequins, weaving, and more to depict a world that seems cheerful, but is the opposite of sunshine and rainbows. Instead, Yore’s materials tell us that things are much worse. In one work, he welcomes us to hell. Vibrant hearts and yellow smiley faces still opposite to skulls and erect penises in these tapestry wall hangings.
Upon initial glance, your eyes are drawn to all the colors under the rainbows. It feels jubilant and even innocent. But, as soon as you start to study Yore’s work, you see that these choices are his form of biting commentary on political and social issues. Often, leaders will try and sugarcoat serious issues, to be dismissive of victims or even blame them. The artist exposes this type of hypocrisy (and more) by putting it all out in the open so that you can’t look away.
The dazzling satire is at times overwhelming, as if the artist has so much to say that he wants to fit it within one dizzying piece. Here, it’s akin to the epic paintings Hieronymous Bosch in terms of of a compositional frenzy. Where you look for a long time, finding new small moments every time that you look. (Via Collection Department)
Artist Sheida Soleimani has translated her frustration with her home country Iran and it’s politics into a captivating and symbolically complex photographic series called National Anthem. Her parents fled the country in 1979 after the revolution that overthrew the pro-western Pahlavi dynasty took place. (Both parents were targeted for actively opposing the regime – her mother tortured, and her father escaping across the border.) As a political refugee in America, Soleimani observed her country transition through several fundamental changes and decided to express her disdain visually. Each photographic scene is an exploration of cultural themes and symbols all representing different aspects of the last 35 years in Iran, and the many different dictators and leaders the country has seen. Soleimani says:
In my photographic scenarios, cultural symbols and signifiers are appropriated to create a narrative in regards to my position as an Iranian-American viewing the Middle East from an outside lens. The usage of specific colors and political figures form a symbolic lexicon that runs throughout the series, while party supplies hint at the doctrines of ‘political parties’. Each of the photographs addresses a specific time in Iranian history, while alluding to how both the East and West have responded to societal occurrences. Through incorporating multiple layers, the lexicon can be read and refashioned by the viewers’ ideologies, creating images that remain coeval, while acknowledging former origins. (Source)
Combining collage, installation, performance and object assemblage, Soleimani creates powerful, emotional art-as-activism. The fierce mark making, scrunched up images, burnt candles, and mutilated cultural objects all have the hand of an aggrieved survivor. Managing to turn her deeply personal history into a series of clever, sarcastic visual puns, Soleimani’s artistic therapy is beneficial to us all.
Photographer Kenji Shibata‘s latest exhibit, “Locked in the ether,” is full of contradictions. The flowers he photographs are dead but their last breaths are immortalized in ice. They’re floating in limbo, lost somewhere ineffable, blushing still with color and life.
Shibata arranges them carefully within their icy tombs, with as much care as any botanist would. Choreographed by an expert hand, the flowers become more than themselves: alien landscapes, abstract smears of color, stunning centerpieces veiled by frost.
Yet as tenderly as he gave them new life, Shibata also lets the ice thaw. He photographs the blossoms’ descent, depicting them as vulnerable, exposed, dying once more. It’s elegant but also a little tragic. It’s gorgeous maybe because it’s ephemeral — the transition from vibrant summer to autumn to a long, quiet winter.
What exactly is happening in this photo? This clever “trick mat,” designed by A.P. Works, utilizes a simple tweak with a standard grid pattern to alter an otherwise ordinary placemat with the illustion that the items on it are causing the lines to sink into some sort of “mat world vortex”. What you see here is a protoype of the product, and it hasn’t yet been released on the markets but would make an excellent holiday present or housewarming gift. Or you can just leave it on your table at a dinner party and freak out your friends.
For 3 months of the year, Corey Arnold is a commercial fisherman. For the rest of the time he travels around Portland, Oregon and the surrounding areas photographing the wildlife in a very sincere and earnest way. Beginning his life at sea, he first worked as a deckhand on a crabbing vessel in Alaska in 1997, and from then started documenting his experiences in an on-going series called Fish-Work. In it, Arnold captures the lifestyle of the commercial fishing world, filled with images of men in neon colored rain jackets, bundles of ropes, dead bait, enormous waves, monstrous fish and hoards of birds.
In his new series though, he has concentrated just on animals and their personalities. The exhibition Wildlife is as unpretentious as it sounds. Arnold has been able to become quite intimate with his subjects, capturing bears, birds, seals, sharks, and moose all in a relaxed, natural state. Spliced with images, once again, from the fishing world, we get a good idea of how seamlessly Arnold fits into his environment. It seems the animals caught on camera don’t notice the presence of this human one bit. The artist reflects on his obsession with the wilderness and also his ability to go unnoticed within it:
I harbored a deep desire to be an animal living in nature and I didn’t have far to travel. The lush gully in my backyard, just out of sight beyond a thicket of poison oak, was home to coyotes, raccoons, possums, stray pets, snakes, lizards, rats and crawdads. Any bustling in the bushes was a potential mystery to unravel or a prey to stalk. I was a particularly curious child, an amateur wildlife tracker, behaviorist and hunter who often pressed the boundaries of human/wild animal proximity. (Source) (Via Super Sonic)
Romanian illustrator Aitch creates colorful images that are ripe with magentas, turquoises, electric yellows, and more. But, don’t let those bright pigments confuse you. While cheerful, there are some macabre moments that add an intriguing element to her detailed paintings.
Aitch is inspired by her travels, naturalistic illustrations, naive art, and folklore from around the world. You definitely get the sense of this through her series like The Garden of Good and Evil and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Both, as you might guess, are the retelling of stories – original sin and the C.S. Lewis tale, respectively – but through her own imagery and voice. Here, full-sized women with an array of unusual tattoos interact with the psychedelic landscape and a cast of fantastical creatures.
The same women appear throughout Aitch’s work in other series like Coffins. Here, it’s much like it sounds – we see decorative coffins, people buried underground, and a meditation on what happens after we’re gone. Her style lends itself to a more lighthearted, beautiful depiction of death and a return to nature where we’re wrapped up in gorgeous vines and flowers.
Brooklyn artist Monica Cook is a woman of many talents, with multiple personalities and identities. She loves to explore the revolting, disgusting side of being human that we often try to hide. The range of her art practice is broad, and includes grotesque hairy sculptures, to highly detailed bizarre animations, meticulous drawings of naked women in surreal settings and beautifully rich oil paintings of slippery and slimy intimate scenes. Cook says all that she produces is in some way a representation of her, a kind of self portrait, or an attempt to digest the things about her that she doesn’t understand.
“When I’m painting, it’s more about my relationship with the object than it is about me. It’s hard for me to separate myself from the experience. It could be a fish or an octopus. I handle it until it becomes unfamiliar to me so I can see it in a new way. People might want to read into those paintings but for me, it’s just about finding magic in the mundane and exploring further.” (Source)
Her drawings are combinations of miniature versions of herself acting out strange activities on large body/landscapes. Her work usually explores the range of human emotions, including anything from girls on laughing gas in the middle of a doctor’s examination or celebrating some personal triumph while riding a balloon. Cook is able to exaggerate the awkwardness of being human, and how gross and disgusting it can be to live with flesh and bones.
“I can be extremely awkward, yes. I can be really shy, too. I put myself in a position where I am really uncomfortable interacting with something, and work with it until I become comfortable with it, and capture that private moment of surrender or acceptance. It’s all about private performance, and amplifying the absurdity of a situation – and making myself laugh.” (Source) (Via Juxtapoz)
Miami-born but aptly based in both New York City and Venice, artist Judi Harvest creates intricate and fanciful glass sculptures. Ranging from gnarled bears to purple martians, her work varies in both subject matter and style. However, since 2013, Harvest has paid special attention to the natural realm, creating delicate and wispy glass beehives.
Comprised of Murano glass and wire, each hive sculpture is naturalistic in color and realistically rendered. Like the pieces themselves, the process behind the work is extremely intricate and requires a great deal of skill:
Each vessel begins with a hand-rolled cylinder of chicken wire, wire found in Venice and characterized by a finer module than that of the hive sculptures made in New York. Glass is blown into the cylinder, protrudes between the wires, and balloons delicately above the top. Some vessels retain wire embedded in their surfaces. Amber glass is the base color in which Harvest mixes gold or silver leaf and other additives that affect opacity, reflectivity, and hue. Sprinkling the hot surface with powdered glass pigment and reinserting the vessel into the furnace creates a rough yet dainty texture that resembles a dusting of pollen. (Denatured: Honeybees + Murano catalogue, Venice, 2013)
In addition to the exquisite aesthetic of the sculptures, a personal interest in honeybees also contributed to the creation of this series. On top of her artistic career, Harvest is a beekeeper, finding inspiration “in the form and behavior of the honeybee, the hexagonal wax cells of the honeycomb, and the rounded volume of hives in nature”—influences that are undeniably present in the ornate detail and beautiful composition present in her Bee Series. (Via Sweet Station)