Chilean artist Santiago Salvador Ascui paints melodic, colorful arrays of pattern-like assembled people. His careful lines, bright use of color, and charmingly hand painted perfection is reminiscent of work from the Mission School movement, specifically the paintings of Margaret Kilgallen and Chris Johanson. While having the playfulness of the “new folk” work of the 1990s, his work is also informed by a strict systematic structure. His pieces function almost as color studies, guiding the eye through the placement of hue, rather than, as most figurative paintings would, narrative. As he falls in and out of saturation, his work sometimes seems to mimic the cycle of the moon. He arranges his figures in sequences, perhaps forming the aesthetic of Josef Frank meets Josef Albers.
Though the work is aesthetically joyful and decorative, his use of repetition and unification through tonality also speaks to a certain aspect of conformity and monotony. He speaks about the work as a pictorial representation of consumer culture. During the digestion of each piece, the viewer cannot help but to see every figure as the same. The patterned pieces create a true sense of identity-less beings; as if to say that everyone is within the same cycle, drawn into the same pattern (if you will), and unlinked to any sense of individuality. However, Santiago Salvador Ascui’s work also draws an important question; when does the need to be different begin to silence the need to be the same? Despite the burden of a plastic society, perhaps the unification of all figures is actually, in a sense, a positive message. (Via The Jealous Curator and Artishock)
A wall patterned with vibrant colorful real insects. Jennifer Angus is arranging the species she appreciates the most on a hot-pink background. The opening of the Renwick Gallery across from the White House in Washington DC has welcomed artists to use different kind of mediums to surprise their future viewers.
The series of in situ installations is called ‘Wonder’. From room to room the curator wants the viewer to be amazed. The different styles ornating the gallery are brought together in a way that the viewer can’t recognize what he is admiring until he comes closer and immerses himself into the decor.
Jennifer Angus’s room revolves around patterns. From far, the general aspect imitates a wall paper. The artist, a former textile designer, knows how to play with the motifs. She is inspired by patterns ‘to which repetition is inherent’. 5000 insects, weevils and small beetles were handpicked and displayed by the artist mainly in the shape of skulls. This symbol of mortality combined with the insects meet her purpose, which is to highlight the fragile features of human kind. Her installation is called ‘In the Midnight Garden’. A reference to the glow created by the iridescent blues, greens and lilac tones.
The disclaimer on the artist website indicates the insects were all collected from Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand and Malaysia. She does not alter their original colors and she is reusing each one of them for each exhibition, carefully putting them away in boxes.
Keith Lemley is an American artist who builds sculptural, light-based installations that explore the crossroads between nature and technology. Featured here is “The Woods,” comprising a dimly-lit room with illuminated axes lain against chopping logs and cracked cement walls. The scene is eerie yet serene, mixing bright-light modernity with the dark, cobwebbed corners of rustic life. The lights bring a sense of warmth and presence where there is otherwise cold stillness, calling upon our own memories of the forest while also estranging them with urban glamor. In the following statement, Lemley describes his desire to transcend time and environmental boundaries:
“My work is about seeing the unseen—the invisible presence which exists in our minds and surrounds all objects, experiences, and memories. Working in my studio in rural Appalachia, I have developed a keen interest in being part of and observing natural systems, time and the process of life and death, and an aesthetic sensibility synthesizing the organic and the machine.” (Source)
Other works by Lemley similarly explore the beauty of the natural world, manifesting it beyond normative representations; “Arboreal” is a speculation on the geometry inherent in nature, whereas “Past Presence” uses light to enhance the ragged dynamism of driftwood. Lemley’s goal is to shift our perspectives on the environment, and he does so by fulfilling the adventurous spirit and infusing physical images with the resonance of personal experience. Lemley’s installations renew familiar landscapes with meaning and excitement; as he writes, “one [ultimately] walks away more self aware and delighted in everyday visual ephemera and the experience of being a living, breathing being” (Source).
Documentary photographer Cristina de Middel’s striking new series, This is What Hatred Did, displays a collection of beautifully cinematic photographs that bend the boundary between reality and magic. Her photographs are both playful, yet inherently insightful. The series acts as a photographic narrative of Amos Tutuola’s book, “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts,” a novel loosely based on Yoruba folklore. Written in child’s prose, the book follows a 5 year old Nigerian child whose village was attacked by soldiers, leaving him without his mother, and provoking him to flee in order to avoid the chaos. He manages to find his way into a magical bush where no humans are allowed. The novel follows him for 30 years, during which he achieves many states of being. Tutuola’s book, published in 1964, caused him to flee the country due to a violent reaction, leading him to open a new path for African literature. Cristina de Middel explains the series; she states:
“The series “This Is What Hatred Did” (derived from the mysterious last sentence of the book) aims to provide an illustrated contemporary version of the book, adapting the characters, and ambiance to the current situation of the country. The “Bush” is now the Lagosian neighborhood of Makoko, a floating slum with its own rules, commanded by Kings and community leaders, often the subject of popular media coverage. A place where logic does not prevail and forbidden for those who do not belong. With the conviction that contemporary issues should be described in a way that includes the agent’s traditions, perspectives, fears, and hopes, this series documents the enhanced reality of one of the most iconic places in Nigeria.”
Cristina de Middel, a spanish born artist now living on London, is known for her important, self-published photo book, The Afronauts, 2012.
Metal splashes of water twirling around space. Chinese artist Zheng Lu is suspending his favorite element in the air. He is also imprinting calligraphy letters onto the body of the sculptures for an extraordinary result.
The artist uses a plaster base to carve the shape of the spatters. He laser-cuts the thousand letters on the stainless-steel metal and and heats up the whole structure. This process allows the metal to be distorted and the different parts to be assembled. The rendering are 3 dimensional large-scaled water splashes with intricate traditional calligraphy Chinese letters spread out onto the surface.
Zheng Lu has been fascinated with water explosion since little. And he was introduced during his upbringing to the art of calligraphy. He has been nourishing his passions through his art since he was able to make art. The spatters are extremely detailed. From the voluptuous circular shapes to the micro drops of water, the artist depicts water as close to reality as possible. The sculptures can either be suspended or laid on the floor.
The artist’s pieces are esthetically beautiful. They also are telling a story. The letters he is depicting onto the sculptures are texts inspired by literature and poems. The world of art of Zheng Lu is synonym of harmony. It’s a world where movement and stillness are contrasting concepts yet one cannot survive without the other.
If you distilled all the terror and beauty of the psyche into an image, it would look something like the work of LA-based Kavan the Kid (aka, Kavan Cardoza). As a talented photographer and film director, his work is narrative-driven and surreal, blending literature, myth, and dreams into startlingly lucid visions. There is a kind of ritualism that surrounds his work, a dark magic that transforms tortured and rapturous inner worlds into solemn, physical expressions; faces are smothered, eyes caved in, and skin anointed with paint and blood. Everything takes on a visceral, symbolic meaning that contains the vicissitudes of emotion.
Before taking on photography as a means to express himself, Kavan enrolled in psychology at Boise State University. He dropped out to pursue his art, but his work conveys a keen awareness of and passion for the landscapes of the human mind (Source). Anxiety and melancholia are given shape as faces burn and hands reach from the shadows. Self-awareness illuminates itself in images shrouded in darkness. With creativity and sensitivity, each portrait represents Kavan’s relentless desire to understand and visualize our experiences of the world—and ourselves within it.
Reality and fantasy. Two concepts depicted in Shohei Otomo’s ballpoint drawings. Black and white illustrations blending traditions and the punk spirit of Japanese culture. Through the eyes of the artist, we are taken to the center of the effervescence, Tokyo.
Shohei Otomo unfolds the contradictions and the touching face of Tokyo to the rest of the world. He plays the role of a middle man, channeling key information to both parties, highlighting Japan as an isolated and singular country. He claims people have this clean image of Japanese people owning a calm and patient temper at work and in their personal lives. He is proving that reality is otherwise. His work is targeted to a global crowd. Yet the symbols he uses are meant to report the actuality to foreigners and to act as a satire for his Japanese audience.
His drawings consist of simple characters wearing traditional versus pop items. A girl is posing wearing a kimono with men and women gender symbols. She is wearing a wig decorated with a rose, a love sign, condoms and a mask. A policeman is smoking a joint through a bong. The drawings are hyper-realistic, hand drawn with a ball point. This simple method reveals the talent of the young artist who is also the son of Katsuhri Otomo, creator of Akira, the renown animated cyberpunk thriller movie. (via Booooooom).
Brooklyn based artist, Erik Jones, paints vibrant portraits marrying the female nude with abstraction. His new series, In Colour, juxtaposes traditional figure painting with digital-grafitti-esque mark making. His work is simultaneously inviting and confrontational — we enter the picture plan via recognized moments of breasts, hair, and lips, yet, are then pushed away by bold 2-D elements floating through a seemingly 3-D space (or perhaps, is it the other way around?). His paintings are endless fun for the eye, constantly provoking the viewer to make sense of a nonsensical atmosphere. He states:
“The figures are used as an aesthetic anchor, holding the viewer’s attention to a recognizable form, while exploring colorful, nonrepresentational abstractions. In a way, the figures make the chaos palette-able. I wanted the graphic aesthetic to take on digital qualities and appear to be more naive and childlike in the approach. As if an inexperienced, non-artistic person were exploring a digital drawing program for the first time.”
The “digital drawing” effect mimics contemporary approaches to fashion prints and graphic design, giving off an editorial-like feel. While his work is very playful, it also feels precisely calculated and particular. Jones is able to create a hyper specific effect using a plethora of media, including; watercolor, colored pencil, acrylic, water-soluble wax pastel and water-soluble oil, making sure that each mark he makes is rendered the exact way he intends.