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Plant Life at Western Exhibitions

Western Exhibitions in Chicago, IL recently opened an exhibition entitled Plant Life. The show was curated by Geoffrey Todd Smith and is on view through March 9th. The show brings together a group of artists with a wide variety of techniques as they approach the subject of plants, flowers, and weeds. From traditional still lifes to experimental assemblage the show injects life into age old motifs. From the press release: “Plant Life is a group exhibition of artists who take flowers, plants or weeds as their subject. Each artist transforms and manipulates, formally and conceptually, their leafy content through a variety of materials and manners of expression, asserting their idiosyncratic visions by obsessing over materials, offering the plants new context while broadening the relationship to their human neighbors.” The show features Jonathan GardenerChinatsu IkedaHeidi NortonTyson ReederMindy Rose SchwartzEric Wert, and Scott Wolniak.

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Yoo Young Wun

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Young Young Wun transforms newspapers, advertisements, handbills, and other media paper goods into these monstrously distorted caricatures. (Above, in case you can’t tell, is Lady Gaga) They remind me of pinatas in the way they take pop cultural stars, Spiderman, Homer, Elvis or other mass-produced icons and turn them to cheap tzotschkes, frightening and hilarious in their new forms.

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Matt Nichols: Objectified

Artist Matt Nichols takes craftsmanship to a new level by pairing bold symbols with an acute sensibility for surface material.  While stunning as photos, the work is best experienced in person.  Physically interacting with these sculptures definitely forced me to reevaluate the relationship I had to the familiar iconography he often uses as a point of entry for the viewer.  Nichols comes from a serious design back ground, being largely responsible for much of the visual branding associated with the clothing company Neff.  While most would remain comfortable in that roll – he needed to push things further by shifting his focus towards a more physical realm.  With the closing of an exhibition at Hungryman Gallery just behind him, new work is already on the way.  Having recently returned to the Los Angeles area you can expect to see his name popping up in galleries across the SoCal area in the very near future.

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Jaz Harold’s Sexual And Grotesque Pastel-Hued Sculptures

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The candy-colored works by New York-based artist Jaz Harold have a subversive nature about them. Although they use pastel colors have soft features, you can’t avoid  the sexual undertones and overtones that are prevalent throughout Harold’s sculptures. We see grotesque displays of rotting skin, nippled pom poms, and sensual lips with just a hint of tongue. She writes about her charged works, stating:

Using an aesthetic that consciously appeals to child-like naïveté, Jaz’s work softens the emphasis on the ego, ritual, intimacy, and stigma that society generally attaches to sex.

 

Cherry blossoms (sakura) are a perfect balance of sexual innuendo, beauty, and innocence. The cherry blossom, symbolizing love in many cultures, adds an additional element in a body of work that covers both areas- an innocent love, and a simple uninhibited lust.

Harold makes the pure not so pure, perhaps in an attempt to scramble the visual culture that we’re used to, or as a way to offer a confusing reflection onto being young and learning about sex/being sexual. (Via Asylum Art)

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Mark Licari

Mark Licari
Betlejuice must be hiding inside LA based artist Mark Licari, becuase his work is creepy-cool with lots of charisma. I’m seriously digging his sculptural pieces, especially the medicine cabinet. Go see his show up through February 14th at the Montery Museum of Art, or check him out at Honor Fraser Gallery.

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Kent Rogowski’s Book Alterations

Love these book alterations and rearrangements by New York based artist Kent Rogowski. Make sure to also check out his puzzle manipulations and inverted stuffed animals also featured on his site. (via)

“Everything that I wish I could be is an exploration of language, emotions and the desire to change and improve one’s self. There is a self-help book for almost every moment and problem in life; from relationship advice to dealing with the inevitability of death. Each large format photograph, pictures an arrangement of title pages and spines, from up to 100 self-help books that are based around a central theme. Together, the titles create larger narratives, which become portraits of emotions, people and events in life.

Because of the ubiquity of the books, an entire lifetime of events can be outlined and made to unfold using the books that were written to sooth those transitions and moments. Since advice often differs, the narratives in the images can change depending on which direction the viewer’s eye moves through the image. Some images have linear narratives (e.g.: From Birth to Death or Side by Side) while others look at patterns in language and resemble the random connections inherent in the thought process (e.g.: You and Me and Am I the only one?).

I am interested in the larger questions of how we communicate and deal with moments of pain and change and the commonalities of those experiences, as well as, the patterns and contradictions that are often inherent in language, advice and differing philosophies.”

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Faig Ahmed Reimagines Traditional Azerbaijani Carpets

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With a serious understanding of classic carpet-making techniques, Azerbaijani sculptor Faig Ahmed is able to stretch, distort and reinvent an iconic symbol steeped in tradition and cultural significance. “The carpet is a symbol of invincible tradition of the East, it’s a visualization of an undestroyable icon,” Ahmed states, noting that the manipulation of the woven medium gives visual form to ideas he has relating to “destroying the stereotypes of tradition to create new modern boundaries.” The rug, as a medium, works well for Ahmed, helping to deploy a deeper message about the stretching, bending and restructuring of physical and political boundaries in the Middle East. His technical mastery is evident in the movements of each thread, and his generous use of color gives the work an overall vibrancy—perhaps hinting at the artist’s sense of optimism in a time of great uncertainty and turmoil.

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Thierry Cohen’s Incredible Images Of Darkened Cities

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Thierry Cohen is seen as one of the pioneers of digital photography. Since 2010 he has devoted himself to a single project – “Villes Eteintes” (Darkened Cities) – which depicts
the major cities of the world as they would appear at night without light pollution,
or in more poetic terms: how they would look if we could see the stars.

Cohen’s method is original and precise and harkens back to the methodologies employed by early 19th century photographers like Gustave Le Grey. He photographs the world’s major cities, seeking out views that resonate for him and noting the precise time, angle, and latitude and longitude of his exposure. As the world rotates around its axis the stars that would have been visible above a particular city move to deserts, plains, and other places free of light pollution. By noting the precise latitude and angle of his cityscape, Cohen is able to track the earth’s rotation to places of atmospheric clarity like the Mojave, the Sahara, and the Atacama Desert. There he sets up his camera to record what is lost to modern urban dwellers.

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