Michael Leon was born in 1974 in Tampa, Florida, graduated from CalArts in 1997, and is currently based in Los Angeles. He was a co-creator of Commonwealth Stacks, Rasa Libre, and Nike’s Tech Pack. He has contributed design and art direction to Fourstar Clothing, Girl Skateboards, Stussy, DC, Arkitip, and most recently, Nike SB. Throughout the past 20 years, Michael Leon has been influential to the worlds of both design and skateboarding, his style is in a class of its own.
Extremely detailed machines made out of cardboard. Australian artist Daniel Agdag creates directly with his hands and scalpel. The industrial machineries he imagines and makes are a mean to raise consciousness on how human beings are powerless and ignorant over the machines they use daily.
In the ‘Principles of Aerodynamics’ series, Daniel Agdag demonstrates his ability to produce an intricate sculpture using just his imagination and memories he collects from details on architectural elements like buildings or monuments. He doesn’t sketch anything before diving for hours into his work. His process is described as ‘Sketching with Cardboard’. He conceives a hot air balloon, reel-to-reel recorder and a radar-dish without planning. The purpose remains the same : to entice the viewer’s curiosity and to generate a reaction.
The artist’s subject matter places individuals in a position of uncertainty. The machines that we use daily are complex and we tend to forget it. Furthermore, we might forget in the process that we are being helped by those machines, and that without them we could no longer pursue our effortless life. Daniel Agdad’s examination of the effect machines have on us is reminiscent of artist Jean Tinguely’s purpose. By building creative machines from garbage and found objects he ‘aimed to satirize the fallibility and unpredictability of machines and our reliance on them’. Daniel Adgad, by manipulating a simple material like a cardboard attempts to freeze time and the world we are living in. And reconnect the viewer with what he is actually capable of achieving thanks to the use of complicated machines.
New Levels, the title of John Chae‘s new series of work, captures its dual nature succinctly. While the phrase New Levels may partly refer to higher levels of perception or consciousness, you may likely have had the same first impression as I did: video games. Chae’s paintings use both elements of fine art history and throw-away pop culture imagery – he visually cites Magritte and Escher alongside manga artists. Chae moves beyond the highbrow/lowbrow juxtaposition of our pop-art grandparents. Rather, his paintings are for and from a generation that doesn’t consume images as much as it puts them to use as a recyclable tool of self-expression.
While killing some time online I stumbled across the work of Dana Dart-McLean on Small A Projects website. Small A Projects works with a wide array of young up and coming artists like Dana who work in every medium from sculpture to photography to painting. I haven’t had a chance to stop by the gallery and see the space in person but it looks like a worthwhile destination on your next trip to NYC.