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German artist Martin Roller constructs assemblages of objects in hilarious and astonishing ways in his body of work. Taking found object from the streets of Berlin, he photographs interesting mash-ups of everyday objects and remnants of trash, transforming their original function. Setting the scene similar to commercial photography, each newly created object looks as if it is on display in an ad, waiting to be bought. Who knows, maybe Roller’s banana shoes will be the next big thing, although they are not exactly wearable. This colorful and clever series is both aesthetically appealing, with its perfect color blocking, and intriguing, as each item is not altered digitally.
At first glance, you may think that Roller’s images are digitally spliced photographs that together create the finished product. Although this would take some skill, each object is more impressively built by the artist’s own hand, and therefore, actually exists in real life. Roller explains that we live in an age where technology has given us endless possibilities that are accessible to a vast majority of people. Because these digital alterations, as well hand-cut collages, are so common today, these techniques are of no interest to him. He instead aims to assemble his own “collage” from a more realistic source, the objects themselves. Each image displays an amazing combination of real life objects, with an eye on modern design.
“Behind the Curtain”. Oil on canvas, 80 cm x 60 cm.
Martin Eder is German artist who paints atmospheric portraits, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy in a semi-surreal haze. His recent series involves figures of mythological repute, clad in armor and posing on the battlefield while the background boils with fire, smoke, and blood. Elsewhere, in more subdued scenes, his subjects recline in tender contemplation, or transform — with a silent violence — into a swan. Blending Botticelli-esque classicism with contemporary hyperrealism, Eder’s paintings defy categorization, appealing in their ambivalence to our fantasies through passionate stories radiating courage and melancholia.
Eder’s previous works are known for their flickering touches of eroticism blended with absurdity. Those who see his depictions of women as somewhat fetishized are not mistaken; experimenting with desire (and engaged criticisms) as affirmations of life, Eder asks us, in a rhetorical turn, “isn’t arousal, if it’s present at all, a rebellion against death?” (Source). In his bloodied and battle-wearied warrior portraits, however, Eder seems to be metaphorically driving at something else: a connection to the present, as the curator’s statement for Eder’s current exhibition at Galerie Eigen + Art suggests:
Women in armour, torn linen fabrics, armed with swords, traces of acts of war on their faces. The theme seems to be of a historical one, but is omnipresent: women of war in battle, in combat. Amongst the overflow of catastrophes, natural disasters and war images, emerge female figures as warriors that we repeatedly see, as soldiers, in the form of mothers who protect their children or their villages with weapons in the Middle East, or on another front on Maidan Square, equipped with improvised armour of street signs, gaffer tapes and plastic containers. (Source)
Eder’s exhibition, titled “Those Bloody Colours,” is showing at Eigen + Art in Berlin until May 23rd. The title of the exhibition refers to a cry of war uttered in Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part 3: “Let our bloody colours wave!/And either victory, or else a grave!” Offering yet another level of interpretation, Eder’s works remind us of the power of fantasies, as they can cover up (or romanticize) bloody histories and ongoing violences occurring beneath the “colours” of a flag.
Crystal Wagner‘s immersive installations are attractively textured, instantly eye catching, elegantly dramatic, and undeniably wonderful. She carefully arranges pieces of paper bought from office stores into organic explosions of florescent color. She invites visitors to walk through and navigate her neon universe of oceanic waves, throbbing bubbles, and swollen mountains.
Wagner’s work is not only aesthetically organic, bu so is the very nature of her process. She talks about how each complex piece is created:
Each installation, and each drawing is a different conversation I am having. The gesture is the introduction, the first impression, and everything else tumbles out. (Source)
Wagner uses her time spent in the many National Parks of America as a lot of her inspiration. Aspects of Yellowstone and Joshua Tree National Parks find their way into her work. The scale of her installations do make you feel as if you are standing in front of a gigantic cliff – dwarfed and in awe. But she is also a child of the modern world, living in an urban jungle, and is very familiar with plastics, paper, and concrete. Wagner explains the importance of this dichotomy in her work:
My latest installation titled Urban Kudzu explores ideas related to people and their disconnection from the natural world… In my own experience with the world, I have a deep rooted understanding of what the plastic feels like, of what man made materials and spaces feel like, and tend to perceive the natural world through a very exotic lens. (Source)
Her work reminds us that although nature is wonderfully powerful and can annihilate anything at any given time, the modern world can also be just as destructive. In both situations we are reminded of our smallness and how easily we can loose control of that around us. (Via Sweet Station)
Menstrual Designer Jen Lewis and Photographer Rob Lewis are redefining body politics in their series Beauty in Blood. Together, they create breathtaking images with an unlikely, and, more often than not, taboo material; menstrual blood. The idea of using her own bodily fluid as a medium came to Jen Lewis after deciding to use a different kind of feminine care product; reusable collecting cup that she would use and then dump its substance into a toilet. She explains that seeing such a bright, red liquid swirl around stark, white porcelain was absolutely stunning. Believing that menstruation is a beautiful, natural part of life that is all too often avoided, the artist decided to capture it in remarkable photographs to open up a dialogue and shed some much needed light on the subject. Jen Lewis explains that this series is not meant to be shocking or vulgar, but exactly the opposite. Her and her partner Rob create each striking image through a process of design, care, and selection.
This series is a celebration of femininity, a look into a healthy part of every woman’s life that we are often taught to be ashamed or embarrassed of. This dynamic duo aims to change the social norm of menstruation being hidden or taboo in society by allowing the viewer to get up close and personal with a natural part of life, not to mention part of the cycle that creates life. Each image claims the true and honest beauty that this significant and momentous part of life deserves. The aesthetic appeal and allure this series holds breaks down the politics of women’s bodies that contemporary society tends to control. Jen Lewis elaborates on this subject. (via FeatureShoot)
“In my experience, women and men are hungry for an authentic dialogue about menstruation and all that encompasses. It is clear the time is now to stand up and speak out on behalf of menstruation. It is a natural, messy but beautiful part of life.”
Ah Xian is a Chinese-Australian artist whose beautiful porcelain busts explore the intersections between artistic tradition, cultural identity, and the body. Sculpting each statue in the likeness of his family members, Ah Xian paints over their dreaming faces with a cobalt blue glaze; tree branches grow across temples, flowers bloom over silent mouths, and necks and shoulders become geographies for mountains and lakes.
Drawing on an enduring fascination for the human form, Ah Xian’s creations exude a sense of mystery and otherworldliness, transcending history as embodiments of a living past: their very “skin” is made of materials used in traditional Chinese craft methods. Ah Xian’s intent, however, is not to show the disjunction between past and present, but rather how such heritages have ongoing relevance and meaning in the present-day world. As he states in an interview with Craft Australia:
When I think about human history and civilization, it always appears to be like a string: one extreme is old time and tradition; current and contemporary is the other. Interestingly, when we turn and join the two extremes together, it forms a perfect circle and creates a new language of art.
This is why I choose traditional materials and hand craft those materials; our ancestors have created and handed down to us such wealthy and brilliant art and culture heritage. Why don’t we use such a rich and meaningful deposit as our resources to develop and create our new art and culture? (Source)
When viewing Ah Xian’s work through a contemporary lens, there lies the potential criticism that his busts — like the porcelain vases that preceded them in the nineteenth century — evoke an imperialist form of exoticism; that is, just because they are objects of beauty, they speak to a tradition of cultural appropriation. Ah Xian, however, maintains that no matter what context in which porcelain is crafted, it is always a valuable and admired art form:
“Porcelain is beautiful and meaningful, not necessary just for meeting the exotic appreciation among some of the western people only, but for the whole human society, for every single human being, I believe.” (Source)
Photographer Lucia Loiso has a knack for pulling things apart, smashing objects or bending substances in weird ways. He has, in the past, smashed glasses, separated pomegranates, stripped seaweed down, crumpled dead leaves, and squashed petals – all to capture the essence of an object. Her new series Candy is no exception. Loiso has managed to manipulate bits of sweets and candies so that they resemble flowers, leaves and stems. He has twisted, pulled, wrapped and bunched gooey, sticky, shiny candies in numerous ways and placed them on hyper color backgrounds.
Her photographs look like some strange advertisement for the latest Willy Wonka invention from the 50s. Bright orange petals spliced with white ‘veins’ float temptingly on a turquoise backdrop. A trumpet of lilac and cream hover within a blue and pink background. A squiggle of neon blue candy hangs in mid air looking like a 90s computer graphic.
Loiso is managing to pinpoint the thing that makes candy so appealing – the textures, the colors, the viscosity, the sugar. She is effectively capturing his subject in it’s best light, and selling it to us. I for one, want to buy and eat these amazing looking creations – or at least look at them on my wall and enjoy them as eye candy.
No matter what the medium, artist Shanti Grumbine manipulates her work by slicing it into fractals of distorted imagery. In her series titled Looking Awry, she uses front-page images from the New York Times, and prints them in large format. She then cuts and divides the image into hundreds of smaller pieces and rearranges them before mounting the squares onto wooden dowel. Each square resembles a pixel, creating a strange mix of visual information since they are not placed in their original spot. This hodgepodge of colors and shapes are referencing a digital file that is corrupted, in which we can no longer see what is originally intended to visually display. Although altered and skewed, we can still make out some of the original image in Grumbine’s work. If you look closely, you can see a woman’s face or remnants of a human body. Grumbine explains her journey while creating her wall reliefs.
These wall reliefs become monuments to the untold levels of mediation between my creative acts and the rest of the world.
Much like digital files move across digital highways or frequencies, Grumbine’s work seems to travel across the composition in waves. As each cut out “pixel’ is mounted on a wooden dowel, the dowels are all different lengths, creating a wall relief. These varying levels, confronting the viewer, form a new textural and visual element. Further engaging the viewers are small, square mirrors that Grumbine integrates into each piece, replacing some of the “pixels.” Now, each captivating piece is not just reaching out at you in waves of visual complexities, but also include fractals of the viewer and its surroundings. You are now a part of the piece, a part of an endless source of aesthetic, digital information. A master at carving new meaning into different materials, this Brooklyn-based artist also has a series of incredibly detailed newspaper cut-outs titled Zeroing, also utilizes New York Times newspapers. New visuals are sliced into each word, and even a wall relief in the shape of an orb is formed from its text.