Los Angeles-based photographer Alícia Rius captures the beauty of sphynx cats in her dramatic series aptly titled Sphynxes. Placed against a stark black background, the photos highlight the incredible characteristics of the fur-lacking animals. Where their coat would normally cover up folded skin and birth marks, here we see it all. And, we get a sense of just how simultaneously fragile and powerful these small creatures are. If they sit a certain way, it shows every bone in their spine. Muscle definition, prominent cheekbones, and their impressive claws are all visible in ways you wouldn’t see from other breeds of cats.
Sphynxes were developed through selective breeding in the 1960s, and it’s not everyday that you see one. Especially on the Internet, it seems that fluffy cats are shared over and over again. But, through Ruis’ stunning photographs, she proves that these felines have their own type of ominous-yet-regal beauty.
Ruis’ Disturbing Beauty Of Sphynx Cats is an ongoing project. If you have a Sphynx and live in Los Angeles, please contact her at [email protected] and include a photo of your cat to be considered. Find out more on her Facebook and follow along on Instagram.
Sybille Paulsen is a fiber artisan and designer who crafts beautiful and symbolic artifacts from human hair. As she writes on her website, “Hair is a unique and enchanting material that evokes a lot of sentiment” (Source) — as part of our physical identities, it is integral to the way we see and understand ourselves, and as it grows it signifies both personal change and transformation.
The loss of one’s hair as a result of chemotherapy is a devastating change, representative of the emotional and physical trauma of the disease. To try and help people understand this loss, Sybille has embarked on a project to turn the hair of cancer patients into beautiful necklaces. The project is called Tangible Truths, plural because it refers to the diverse experiences of each woman enduring illness and treatment, “tangible” as it transforms abstract pain — the loss of hair — into a touchable, wearable art piece imbued with sentiment and hope. As Sybille writes:
“The loss creates something new and the helplessness is juxtaposed against a tangible artefact. This object can be the introduction to an exchange of difficult feelings that are otherwise hard to communicate.” (Source)
For over 4 years, Indian artist Valay Shende put together his politically-loaded sculpture, now on show as a part of the group exhibition Migrating Histories of Molecular Identities at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai. Transit is a life size truck with 22 people standing on the back of it and has intensity to it, with a very moving back story. The structure is an intricate piece, made up out of thousands of metal disks all soldered together, and printed with the faces of the farmers who committed suicide from the Vidharba region and their families on them. The wing mirrors on either side of the cab have video footage of London, Mumbai and Dubai playing, to give the impression the truck is literally in transit. Shende says:
It gives a feeling that the truck is moving, but the people are actually not going anywhere, just like in real life. (Source)
Aimed at raising awareness of the increase in farmer suicide and starting a conversation about the larger political issues in India, Shende has created a powerful visual statement. This social awareness is the backbone of his practice.
Valay’s works are in subtle ways, his attempts to question the maladies afflicting urban societies and humans today. He is a keen and sensitive observer of his surroundings and is concerned about the common’s mans trials and tribulations of day-to-day life. He feels an artists owes a responsibility to the society and firmly believes an ideal world can be re-created. He wishes the audience to reflect upon the social issues plaguing man today. (Source)
Evan Penny is a Toronto-based (South African-born) artist who makes human sculptures out of silicone, resin, hair, and pigment. In many ways, his works — especially those he produced in the 1980s (see “Jim”) — are hyperrealistic, with detailed skin textures and lifelike body postures and facial expressions. However, throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, Penny began to experiment with abstraction, manipulating human proportions and forms to create flattened, stretched, and warped bodies that resemble optical illusions, troubling the perceptual line between digital manipulation and animated flesh. In his more recent works, Penny has implemented computer technologies to scan, distort, and re-scale the figure, which he then recreates by hand.
Two interrelated themes that Penny interrogates in his work include the passage of time and the ever-changing nature of self-perception. As he explores in his works “Young Self” and “Old Self,” for example, self-representation — indeed, identity — is a construction that is never stable; “time, memory, and desire” influence the way we appear and project ourselves to others (and ourselves) (Source). Penny’s work also explores the implications of image manipulation in the digital age, when photo editing and digital reality give us new means of constructing our self-representations, and indeed, evading the naturally-occurring inconsistencies of our real-life identities. As he stated in an interview with Canadian Art:
“With the digital, how we imagine ourselves in time has changed again. We’re starting to comprehend ourselves quite differently, and I’m not sure we fully understand how that is affecting us” (Source).
Despite the seemingly playful aspects of Penny’s sculptures, some of his artistic investigations are tinged with sadness as they grapple with the passage of time. “Jim Revisited” (2011), for example, is a recreation of his sculpture “Jim,” which was made in 1985, when his figures were still largely realistic. Jim was a friend of Penny’s who had passed away several years ago. What Penny seems to be achieving in the dialogue between these two works is a series of overlapping personal and artistic reassessments: an examination of the way time distorts memory, as well as how his own artistic practice — infused with years of experience and shifting emotions and new perspectives — has changed. You can read more about Penny’s thoughts on “Jim Revisited” here. Visit Penny’s website to see more of his work.
Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara, famous for his paintings of small children and animals, has a new solo exhibition in Hong Kong called Life is Only One. It recently opened at the Asia Society, and the title of the show comes from Nara’s artwork of the same name. This painting features a child holding a skull and contemplating existence. Conceptually, this isn’t foreign territory for Nara. In an interview with Asia Society, he explains, “When I was a child, the word “life” itself, of course, was a foreign concept. After turning 50, however, and with the deaths of people close to me and with the recent earthquake, I started to think about life more realistically — the limits of life, and the importance of what one can accomplish during that time.”
The children seen in Nara’s works represent what’s inside his head. He describes to Asia Society:
The children were not something I had sought or thought out, but in trying to capture what was in front of my eyes, they appeared as I tried to capture what was formless in my mind. I think, therefore, that my world expands upon my past experiences and memories, and the speaker for my own mind appears as a child. But really, if anything, those children appeared very naturally on the picture plane.
Life is Only One is on view until July 26 of this year. (Via Hi Fructose)
Internationally renowned artist Theo Mercier has created an incredible monster of a sculpture made entirely of spaghetti! This textural, monumental piece is around 10 feet tall, and that’s when it is sitting—which is all the time. The spaghetti monster sits upon a small chair that is way too small for him as he stairs sadly down at the ground. Titled Le Solitaire, or, “The Loner,” this creature looks isolated and alone in a world where he is the only spaghetti-creature. Although the colossal sculpture seems very melancholy, Mercier’s work tend to not be without a bit of humor. A monster made of spaghetti is an absurd and silly creation, so why is it so glum? Maybe it is afraid that us humans will eat his spaghetti!
Mercier’s work is often large and textural, as Le Solitaire’s tactile spaghetti-skin begs to be touched. The noodles form an endless series of lines bending and forming across the body of the creature. They imitate scribbles of continuous lines doodled on a piece of paper. A self-taught artist, Mercier is an expert at inducing strong emotions with such a bizarre and surreal sculpture. We cannot help to feel sorry for this dripping, sorrowful beast. Its wide, striking eyes that stare directly at the viewer are also in other works for Mercier’s. His other installations include funny creatures made by adding these same bright eyes onto cars, piles of hay, and even smoke seeping out from a fireplace. This French artist’s unusual and mysterious sculptures give inanimate objects such emotion and personality that steal our hearts and earn our love.
Subtle and steady gestures provide the backbone to Tom Haney’s movable figures. He creates characters using a craft called ‘automata’ which replicates human movement using mechanical devices. Each is constructed out of wooden found objects which eventually turn into characters pulled from novels like Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. Haney’s narrative mostly finds its way through small towns of the 40′s and 50′s back to a time when rebellion meant getting drunk off whiskey on a Friday night or flying a kite made out of an American flag. It stays put in a simpler time when things were mostly done by hand and craft meant something. This also manifests in the facial features of the artist’s figures which are painted with deadpan humor recalling Norman Rockwell. This dynamic paired with slight movement focuses your attention on a specific moment which sets it apart from ordinary puppets. It spawns a type of poetry created from gesture. Haney chooses to slow down time and focus on little things that enhance life through his wooden cast.
The videos explaining Haney’s process are fascinating because the work is highly detailed and irregular. Usually when you think of puppets you envision uniformity and system whereas when you see Haney’s craftsmanship it transforms into a lost art form. He discloses intricate carving methods needed to shape and make the pieces function. All the nuts and bolts making it work take on a Frankenstein sensibility which adds to the appeal. However, the narratives are pure Americana. Some of his more in depth projects have focused on the underbelly of a small town carnival leading to a mysterious underground and a vignette about discovering first love in the forest. Both are set to contemporary music.
A strange new campaign has started in St Pauli, the party district of Hamburg in Germany. In order to deter drunken party goers who have a habit of peeing on walls, doorsteps, playgrounds and in alley ways, local activists have coated the surfaces in a substance that will change where visitors go to the toilet. This wonder substance is a superhydrophobic coating which causes any substance to hit it to rebound and splash back more than it normally would. Some areas are marked with warning signs, some are not. Most importantly they don’t mean to be unfriendly toward tourists, it acts more as a strong message.
Such a simple, novel idea thought up by a community group will have such a wide reaching impact, and will make a whole lot of local businesses happier, cleaner and a lot less stinky.
The group also plans to roll out a program in which people using the restroom at bars can get a stamp on a special card that can be redeemed for a shot on the house after the sixth restroom trip. One thing is for certain: if you pee in public in St. Pauli, “urine” trouble. (Source)
The campaign is a tongue-in-cheek approach to a serious issue for the area. And proves that St Pauli can defend itself. So far the idea has made waves around the internet and perhaps will encourage other areas to do the same. (Via Bored Panda)