Capturing monumental beauty in the little things in life, artist Pyanek photographs captivating images of everyday objects up close and personal. In his series Amazing Worlds Within Our Worlds, he photographs ordinary objects like cornflakes, book pages, and soap foam. However, these seemingly mundane objects do not look so ordinary when they are taken in Pyanek’s close-up photography style. What was once a familiar object has now become unrecognizable through the artist’s lens. The images are zoomed up close, and dramatically cropped to the point of abstraction, with Pyanek referring to this technique as macro photography.
The incredible detail shown in this series goes beyond what the naked human eye can see. We are shown tiny worlds where a grain of white sugar appears to be a diamond and a kitchen sponge looks like a strand of DNA. These stunning photos reveal every texture and color in the commonplace objects that we overlook everyday. We are able to examine every fiber of the stalk of an apple or the page of a book. Pyanek reminds us to stop and notice the small things in this remarkably beautiful series. If you are hungry for an even more dramatic, striking photographs of ordinary objects magnified, than you are sure to love the video compilation of the series Amazing Worlds Within Our Worlds, which was edited and scored by the artist himself.
What would a television see if it could look back at us? Artist Donna Stevens reveals images of children hypnotically looking into a television screen in her series titled Idiot Box. Each photographs captures the entranced look on a child’s face as they gaze on with a zombie-like stare, complete with the glow of the screen lighting up their face. Although this series is somewhat comical, as the children have their mouths hanging open or a silly grimace slapped on, there is a heavy darkness to it. Stevens’s aims to question the role of technology in our society and explore the effects it may have as children are exposed to it at such a young age at such a high volume. Although we can benefit from technology, what is lacking in our lives because of it? Although Idiot Box includes fairly simple images, the affect the vacant eyes have on the viewer is enough to make you stop and think.
Stevens’ incredibly memorable photography explores themes of identity and hardship, as she is interested in people’s journey to find their place in the world. Humanity’s struggles can be found as a theme in her work, both in Idiot Box and in her series Thirteen. In the latter series, she poignantly captures the anxiety and uncertainty that comes along with becoming a woman. Stevens’ ability to encompass such strong emotions and themes in a single portrait is apparent in each photograph. Originally hailing from Australia, the photographer is currently based in Brooklyn, where she continues to create her sharp, thought provoking work.
Kissing is an act of intimacy that has been iconically portrayed throughout art history — take the sculptural power of Auguste Rodin’s The Kiss, for example, or Gustav Klimt’s own interpretation of the erotic gesture at the dawn of modernism. Fast forward over a century later, and photographer Maggie West has revisited this tradition with her own contemporary style. Described as “dreamy” and “hallucinatory,” West’s debut book KISS is a sensual photo diary of LA-based artists. Dripping in a haze of neon eroticism, the gentle lovers in West’s photos embrace and engage each other with intense intimacy. In a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay, West explains the concept and creation of KISS:
By placing a common activity in such a dreamlike setting, I wanted the readers to reexamine the energy and intimacy taking place each time a couple embraces each other. Through the color choices and extreme close up angles, I hope that the viewer can appreciate specific aspects of a kiss that they may not have otherwise noticed.
[…] One of the objectives of the book was to examine the dynamic between a variety of relationships — not just established couples. Some couples had been dating for years, some were just friends, some barely knew each other, etc.
Initially everyone, no matter their relationship, was a little nervous. However, kissing is such a physical act that within a few minutes the models were so engrossed in each other that they seemed to forget they were being photographed.
Most of the models were chosen from among West’s friends who she knew in the LA community — “models, musicians, artists, porn stars, dancers” and more make up the group. Portraying the kiss as an act that knows no distinctions of identity or lifestyle preferences, KISS features a variety of ethnicities and sexualities, celebrating diversity and the fluid nature of attraction, desire, and love. “The kiss is a beautiful exchange regardless of the relationship,” West writes. And this is what KISS allows us to focus on: the gentleness of the moment, the tantalizing hesitation, and the oscillation of desiring energy and tenderness that makes kissing one of the most powerful ways to connect both flesh and heart.
KISS features a foreward by artist and journalist Hannah Stouffer. The launch party for the book is taking place on the rooftop of The Ace Hotel in Los Angeles on June 14th at 8pm. Visit West’s website, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to view more of her work. (Via Juxtapoz)
Raqib Shaw was born in Calcultta, India. He now lives in London where he graduated from Central St Martins School of Arts and based his house/studio in the South London neighborhood.
His work is mostly comprised of paintings. He uses a unique technique: he paints with a porcupine quill and car paint. Every motif is outlined in embossed gold, a technique similar to ‘cloisonné’ found in early Asian pottery, which is a source of inspiration.
The artist’s fantastical world is full of intricate details, rich colors, and jewel-like surfaces, masking an intense violent and sexual content. It’s an explosion of Western architecture (arches, columns, wall decorations), vibrant flora and unexpected animals that have human bodies (peacoks, ducks, roosters, reptiles).
The result from far is intoxicating; but as the viewer, you want to come closer and admire the beauty of the details. The paintings, which at first can feel overwhelming become fascinating in terms of color, shapes and harmony. Underneath the bizarre combinations of the figures, there is the celebration of a society free of moral restraint.
Raqib Shaw has added new paintings in this recent parisian exhibition. Three of them are self portraits, showing the artist in his house/studio. Although his own image never clearly appears, he made sure his favorite personal elements were recognizable: his dogs, views from his studio’s window, champagne bottles and his new bronze sculptures.
Raqib Shaw’s second solo exhibition is currently at the Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery in Paris, Marais location, until July 25th 2015.
Flemish photographer Sanne De Wilde enjoys telling a good anti-fairytale. She undertakes photographic journeys to track down and narrate stories that we don’t often hear about, or get to see. Her project Snow White captures a variety of people with Albinism. Characterized as skin, eyes and/or hair lacking in any pigment, Albinism is still quite rare and misunderstood. Many people are unsure how to react to it. De Wilde is aware that most people, when faced with something they don’t understand, they will alienate and shun that ‘abnormal’ thing. She wants to explore these feelings further and explore her own curiosity about this condition.
Like photographic material, people with albinism are light sensitive. Light leaves an irreversible imprint on their body. This whiteness that makes them stand out, when captured in an image, almost makes them dissolve, consumed by the light. Their eyes can hardly bear it. Nevertheless they have the power to look back at us, the viewer, and embody a human-mirror. (Source)
Her photographs are quiet, eerie and haunting. As she says, they act as a mirror for the viewer, and reflect whatever emotions we transfer on to them. It is a visual reminder that when we bully someone, it says more about the bully, rather than the bullied. These photographs say more about our society and our personal attitudes towards the ‘abnormal’ and ‘other’. She goes on to say:
They are a metaphor, a symbol for stereotypes, they magnify the erroneous idea of human weaknesses and physical fragility but also that of an invincible strength. Touched by their breath-taking beauty, in this series, I try to create a powerful impression of this fragile snow white. (Source)
De Wilde has also taken photographs of a tiny village in Southern China which has a high population of ‘little people’. You can see that series – The Dwarf Empirehere. (Via Beautiful Surface)
If you think your jackhammer and motorcycle make you look tough, just take a look at Theresa Honeywell’s knit accessories! What says “macho” better than tools and guns made out of knit fabric? This Washington D.C. native takes traditionally masculine objects, and gives them a feminine edge by creating them with knit and embroidery. By using methods that have previously been labeled a “feminine craft,” she sparks a dialogue on the masculine and feminine and what it means to align objects with these social constructs. Studying sculpture at university, she combines her talents in three-dimensional art with her interest in combining art and craft. The dichotomy between feminine and masculinity paired with art and craft challenges our pre-conceived notions of these themes.
It is interesting that knitting and embroidery have traditionally been perceived as feminine, when masculinity is often associated with labor-intensive tasks. These two techniques are in fact incredibly time consuming and require a lot of labor and skill. You can see the astonishing details includes in Honeywell’s work while examining every stitch and bead in her work. The artist even included the brand name of the jackhammer, and the pink and purple motorcycle is actually life size! Her intricate, delicate sculptures really show us the softer side of these “masculine” objects.
Nicolas Holiber works in the middle of unwanted pieces of wood and thrown away shipping pallets. He also recycles feathers, nails and found objetcs. In his Brooklyn based studio, he creates instinctively from this magical chaos. The result is expressive, colorful mixed media sculptures representing portraits and busts of kings. One of the most emblematic ones, Goliath; from the famous tale David and Goliath is currently installed at Tribeca Park, in the heart of New York.
The sculptures come alive after being assembled, destructed and rebuilt. The process is the same each time, no exceptions. Nicolas Holiber creates from doing; with the intent of building beautiful things from a mess. Give him trash, reclaimed wood and a couple of nails and he will be able to come up with a bold, vibrant and stimulating piece of art. He will only be satisfied when he can look at the piece over and over without feeling the urge to retouch it. But beware, beautiful and finished doesn’t mean perfect. He doesn’t want anything to look too figurative. His work has to feel new and exciting. Otherwise, It just doesn’t work for him.
Until recently, the artist used to create for his own pleasure. He still does but he now shares his work by teaching sculpting classes, attending residencies (the next one is scheduled for Spring 2016 at Governor’s Island) and showing his work to the art scene.
Nicolas Holiber’s Goliath is at Tribeca Park, New York City until July 2015.
Like ghosts working in the still of night the impressions of Simon Schubert appear as faint memories. Appearing as something akin to haunted palaces they linger on the surface like dim shadows under candlelight. Mainly using old architecture as subject matter the nuances Schubert attains have eerie effect. He uses interiors of old European buildings to accomplish this. Hallways, staircases and large rooms make up the narrative. The vague images are created by folding paper to create indentations resulting in stunning pictures which speak to loneliness, isolation and impermanence. At times the pictures look like they were created with light pencil marks. This is the remarkable accuracy by which Schubert folds the leaves which eventually turn into open ended stories.
Schubert has done several installations using the folded paper. These have included large pieces covering walls with the folded Images. These seem to take the viewer into another realm perhaps representative of what came before still lingering in another form.