Maya Brym makes some gorgeously layered paintings. I just wish there were more of them on her site.
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.
Kathryn Andrews explores issues relating to performance, presentation and material. Juxtaposing the legacies of pop art and minimalism, Andrews’ works direct a viewer to consider the way subjectivity is constructed in contemporary culture. In the process, Andrews’ works manage to subvert the very art historical categories they reference. Using fabricated forms alongside readymade objects sourced from the likes of prop shops, memorabilia stores or party supply outlets Andrews’ pieces become a powerful contrast between high art and pseudo-kitsch—shiny, serious mirrored surfaces reflect colorful, strange yet common objects. In the reflection the viewer sees himself, thus becoming part of the narrative and generation of information and understanding.
Entertaining similar interests in her two-person exhibition with fellow Los Angeles artist, Alex Israel, at Gagosian in Rome, Andrews and Israel present works that explore a dialogue about specifically the readymade. The show is up through March 14 and you can see images here.
Straight from Scotland we bring you the gorgeously drawn illustrations by the talented Lucy MacLeod.
Looking into Rogan Brown’s artwork is like diving into a microcosm of ultra-detailed organisms. The artist creates a myriad of tiny sculptures made out of paper, arranged into one piece which he calls a ‘Magic Circle’.
The sets of paper sculptures are hand and laser-cut. With a scalpel or a knife, Rogan Brown cuts out patterns and motifs inspired from cell structures, tree moss, bacteria, coral, diatoms and radiolaria. The work is laborious and meticulous, taking up to several months for the artist to complete. The choice of paper is deliberate. This mean represents within a same concept, both the fragility and durability of nature. By looking at the infinite details comprised within the final piece, we understand the slow process of growth and decay, life and death which characterizes the cycle of nature.
The artist wishes to mix science and art to metaphorically suggest that a vast range of observations is subconsciously modified by individual imagination. The complexity of nature attracts human curiosity and its need to observe, analyze and classify. A process endeavored by science which is often stopped by too much existing data. Rogan Brown says his “work similarly attempts to frustrate categorization”.
The artist reveals in the profusion of his artistic microorganisms his main belief. Nature can be the source of infinite imagination. (via This Is Colossal)
Artist Alice Smeets re-imagines 20th century tarot cards through contemporary photography. Having always been interested in spiritual themes and fascinated by tarot cards, Smeet recreates the many different faces of tarot cards using the streets of Haiti as her subject. Her goal was not just to interpret the deck of tarot cards through her lens, but to also have them hold a deep, personal element. Cards like “Justice” and “The Hanged Man” become more intimate by collaborating with each of her subjects represented in this series.
Each Haitian shown in her Ghetto Tarot cards are actually artists themselves. Smeet, aiming to keep authenticity in her work, collaborated with an artist corporation in Haiti called Atiz Rezistans, or “resistant artists”. The photographer worked with these fellow artists to construct her tableaus to capture the captivating imagery in each card. In fact, Smeet includes the work of each “resistant artist” as props in the series. Working in partnership with these artists, she was able to form a relationship and learn what the word “ghetto” means to them. Smeet states that by titling the series Ghetto Tarot, she is giving the word new meaning, a more positive connotation. By exploring this theme of reappropriation, she discovers new ways of changing ideas and implications about certain imagery and words. Smeet explains,
“If we realize that its a choice whether we look at destruction and see despair or to regard it as the start of something new, we can change the meaning of every word, action and sentiment.”
(via The Creators Project)
Australian artist Meredith Woolnough uses embroidery to create her delicate and intricate depictions of different plants. With some thread and a sewing machine, she forms different complex patterns found in nature, such as the veins of a leaf, patterns found in coral, and even lines and shapes found in red cabbage. Each fragile piece displays the small beauty found in the fine details of nature. What would be small, fragile beauty that the average person may overlook, Woolnough finds inspiration. Patterns from shells, petals, and lily pads are given new life in each breathtaking piece. The artist treats her artwork like specimens, as she carefully pins them under glass in shadow boxes for display.
Using vibrant colored thread, she builds up a density of embroidered patterns that become almost three-dimensional. In some cases, like in her embroidered bowls, the work really does have volume as it holds the shape of a bowl. Because of the method in which the artist creates her work, it demands an intense patience that can be seen as meditative. The repetitive patterns and natural quality of Woolnough’s work is like that of a Mandala, holding sacred qualities.
The work maps the frameworks of the various veining systems found in nature to create work that explores the balance, harmony and connectivity of life on Earth. Inspired by the patterns, structures and shapes found in plants, coral, cells and shells Meredith’s embroideries represent both the robust beauty and elegant fragility of life.
Japanese artist Fuco Ueda paints colorfully morbid pictures, full of sad and mysterious girls, glowing fauna and beautifully detailed flora. Ueda’s world is a quiet and magical one; a place where fireflies, bees and butterflies buzz and whirr past girls with long green hair and skeleton hands. Her characters are mischievous yet appear innocent; they are deceptive and deceitful, yet charming and magnetic. They seem like they are in a state of limbo – like they are making the transition from life to death, and are losing bodyparts along the way. The girls are usually surrounded by hitodama: balls of fire thought to be a spirit of the dead.
Ueda’s work is a dreamy look at the scope of human emotions. She shows great sympathy toward the human condition and wears her heart on her sleeve. The gallery that curated her latest show sums it up:
[She] portrays the feeling of loneliness that exists within dreams and reality through paintings of floating illusions. In her depiction of innocent female characters surrounded by natures bounty you get a glimpse of the “deep psyche of the human mind.” Despite bursting with intimacy, there are sounds you can almost hear but can’t and things you can almost grasp but are out of reach. (Source)
The exhibition that features Ueda’s latest work is curated by Gallery Kogure in Tokyo and is called Japanese Human Sensors. Showcasing four talented Japanese artists, the show is on at Jonathan Levine Gallery from April 4th until May 2nd. (Via Spoon Tamago)