Amidst the overwhelming violence seen in Ukraine’s recent riots, Gizmodo’s Jesus Diaz (an outsider) decides to create visually stunning, but heartbreaking images that explore Ukraine’s reactions to the sudden cultural and political changes.
By taking some of the techniques applied by Sergey Larenkov on his famous series, The Ghosts of World War II, Diaz creates images that merge shots of Kiev from before and after the Ukraine riots using the same vantage points. Through this technique, a masterful trick made possible by the almighty Photoshop, the viewer is able to experience two polar opposites: a happy, peaceful Ukraine, and a chaotic Ukraine.
Looking at the dramatic contrast between happy people enjoying the sun and peace and the anger of people behind in barricades is disheartening.
Seattle painter Jesse Higman is the creator of a world where everything shimmers on an exaggerated scale, either macroscopic or microscopic. With the use of “Illuvium,” Higman creates within his paintings an affect of an unmistakably organic, earthly feel. Using masonite as a canvas, Higman dilutes acrylic paint mixed with mica flakes and pours the paintings onto the canvas, which is weighted to allow a slope which the paint will travel to. Illuvium, a geological term referring to the way particles settle on flood plains, is really about the art of these mica flakes settling along their course. The resulting textures are planetary, cell-like, while the mica flakes grant a shimmering presence that breathes life and density into his work.
Looking at his paintings, which are large, you see that they could be of many things: an aerial view of a retreating tide from a network of grasslands, cells and tissue seen under a microscope, the nearly mythical creatures that live in the deepest, darkest parts of the ocean, the terrain of another planet, a spray of blood, the moon.
What is interesting about this method is the active role that time and chance play in his work. Higman casts a single gesture, pouring the paint in a certain direction on a chosen part of the board, and then, for the most part, the painting is out of his hands. The mica flakes travel and settle on their own accord, an outcome that cannot be calculated or predicted.
Higman sums up the importance of his process:
“As I sit with a cup of paint in my hand, on the edge of a blank board that took days to set up, I try not to lurch forward like a horse into the stream. I promise to take more time to see how the water is flowing before I move. Once I begin, there is no stopping. Pouring over the same place twice creates craters and destroys the quietly settling particles. Investing too much energy into the system creates aberrations like cancers. I find that curiosity, confidence and play leads to beauty.” (source)
If you had a sad childhood and wanted to make art about it look no further. Urusla Sokolowska has already done it for you. Taking child-sized mannequins and projecting images of her young face onto to them she explores the displacement and alienation she felt as a kid immigrating to the US from her native Poland. In her series The Constructed Family her messages are subtly and darkly humorous. By placing the figure in locations which do not hold cheerful memories for Sokolowska, we are reminded that art does indeed have cathartic powers and is a positive way to confront our demons. Her locations speak for themselves; a basement, a lonely street corner, a neighbor’s house, an alleyway, a bed. These domestic scenes which provoke unhappy memories are powerfully done from the perspective of an innocent child. Displacement is a serious feeling and perhaps even worse for a child who doesn’t have much control over their situation.
In moody dim lit photos, Sokolowska projects what she remembers from that time. Titles give hints but to the observer it’s clearly obvious what she’s thinking. We always hear about happy childhoods or outright abusive childhoods. Rarely do we hear about sad childhoods caused by normal occurrences that happen to families every day. Sokolowska brings this new dynamic to life with her powerful thought provoking images.
Chow Martin uses ink and charcoal on mylar to create these magnificent half-animal, half-human, entirely fictional creatures. His intense, expressive linework seems to capture the flesh and muscles lying beneath the subject’s skin…or fur.