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Ah Xian Sculpts Dreamlike Busts Flowing With Chinese Porcelain Designs

Ah Xian - Porcelain Ah Xian - Porcelain Ah Xian - Porcelain Ah Xian - Porcelain

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)

Ah Xian is based in Sydney, where he has lived and worked for over two decades. Check out Craft Australia’s fascinating interview with the artist to learn more about his work. (Via Lost at E Minor)

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Lucia Loiso Photographs Candy As Hypercolor Botanical Specimens

Lucia Loiso - photography Lucia Loiso - photography Lucia Loiso - photography Lucia Loiso - photography

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. 

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Shanti Grumbine Manipulates Imagery From The New York Times In Waves Of Textural Pixels

Shanit Grumbine - basswood dowels, anodized die, pigment print, mirrors, wood panel

Shanit Grumbine - basswood dowels, anodized die, pigment print, mirrors, wood panel

Shanit Grumbine - basswood dowels, anodized die, pigment print, mirrors, wood panel

Shanit Grumbine - basswood dowels, anodized die, pigment print, mirrors, wood panel

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.

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Chiharu Shiota’s Mesmerizingly Tangled Installation Of Woven Yarn And Keys Explores Global Forms Of Memory And Connection

Chiharu Shiota - Installation Chiharu Shiota - Installation Chiharu Shiota - Installation Chiharu Shiota - Installation

A mesmerizing, surreal experience awaits anyone entering the Japan Pavilion at this year’s Venice Art Biennale. In a stunning installation called “The Key in the Hand,” artist Chiharu Shiota has filled a room with webs of red yarn. Suspended from the ceiling, the yarn is tied together so densely that it filters out the lights above. Hanging from the mass are over 50,000 keys collected from people all over the world. Like dark, frozen drops of rain, they appear to spill from the stringy red “clouds” into two weathered boats below, creating a dual sense of breathtaking movement and suspended time.

Despite their seemingly simple utility, keys are intimate objects that we all carry to keep ourselves—and the things we love—safe. Invested with our deep trust and passed between hands over time, keys symbolically bind us together. The Curator’s Statement for “The Key in the Hand” eloquently describes this further:

In our daily lives, keys protect valuable things like our houses, assets, and personal safety, and we use them while embracing them in the warmth of our hands. By coming into contact with people’s warmth on a daily basis, the keys accumulate countless, multilayered memories that dwell within us. Then at a certain point we entrust the keys, packed with memories, to others who we trust to look after the things that are important to us. (Source)

The keys represent a collection of human feelings, while the yarn visualizes their immaterial connections across time and space. Furthermore, while far removed from their international owners and original purposes, the keys also embody emotions and memories on a transcultural, transnational scale, as they are webbed together without perceptible distinctions of race, class, gender, or nation. As all the keys fall perpetually into the same ancient boats (which are described as “two hands catching a rain of memories”), Shiota’s installation beautifully visualizes a global form of connection spanning borders and generations. (Source). As the Curator’s Statement movingly concludes:

I look forward to watching as The Key in the Hand, an installation that forges a link between a space made up of keys, yarn, and two boats, and photographs and videos of children, transcends national, cultural, linguistic, and political contexts, and emotionally arouses countless visitors from all over the world. (Source)

Born in Japan, Shiota has been based in Berlin for the last two decades. Visit her website to see more fascinating large-scale installations. (Via Colossal)

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Steven Montgomery’s Hyper-Realistic Ceramics Focus On Society’s Infrastructure

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Taking every day industrial objects as his starting point artist Steven Montgomery turns nuts and bolts into huge sculptural forms. Not only are they built on a scale much larger than their original size but instead of metal he uses ceramic to achieve highly detailed forms. By taking these objects and turning them into art Montgomery is able to record the evolution of society through the physical structures which hold it all together. His forms range from relief painting to monumental sculpture and impact the viewer with both bright and muted hues. His use of an unconventional material such as ceramic to complete his process allows for illusory aspects to filter in. These highlight nuances which might be lost using other materials. The glazed aspects of ceramic give it a beautiful surface which lend an aesthetic which would probably be lost if another was used. His infinitely accurate attention to detail almost make it hard to believe these are made from the porous material and despite the subject matter have the same precious beauty as porcelain Chinese drums and  figures.   
In the purest sense, art should record the present time in which we live, Montgomery follows this path focusing on the internal infrastructure of society to achieve this goal. His work gives credence to the inanimate objects which helped shaped our culture recording the times in which we currently live.

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Matthias Schaller Photographs The Palettes Of Monet And Other Famous Artists

Monet

Monet

Van Gogh

Van Gogh

Renoir

Renoir

Munch

Munch

From the illuminated, impressionistic water lilies of Monet, to the bright and disjointed abstract forms of Kandinsky, to the thick earthy tones of Van Gogh’s landscapes, most of us can recognize an artist’s signature style at a glance. But photographer Matthias Schaller shows us a new side of these things we may not have seen, or even thought about before. Since 2007, Schaller has been compiling a fascinating historical archive of the palettes, the pigments, the chaos (or order), and the thought patterns of some of the world’s most famous creative brains.

He has photographed over 200 palettes from around 70 painters from the 19th and 20th centuries and is displaying a selection for us to enjoy. His exhibition called Das Meisterstück (The Masterpiece) is on display alongside the Venice Biennale. Having blown up several of his photographs to be around six feet tall, Schaller invites other art-loving fans to enter the creative space of the masters with him. We can marvel at the tools that they used in the same way we are impressed by the final product. These photographs of their palettes easily become the new masterpieces.

Schaller started his fascination with looking ‘behind the scenes’ of an artist’s practice and reputation when he visited Cy Twombly’s studio in Gaeta, Italy. Spotting the painter’s palette, and finding it just as absorbing as the paintings themselves, he started a mission to seek out others.

He discovered dusky hues on the palette of John Singer Sargent, the synthetic vibrancy on that of Vincent van Gogh, the mottled splotches left by Paul Gaugin, the dense color field accumulated by Pierre Bonnard, and the overlapping disorder of rich colors left by Frida Kahlo. (Source)

See if you can match up the right artist to the right style and habits. It’s an interesting art history lesson!

Via Hyper Allergic

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The Pop-Surrealist Paintings Of Bill Dambrova Anatomically Explore The Mind And Body

Bill Dambrova - Oil and Acrylic Paint on CanvasBill Dambrova - Oil and Acrylic Paint on CanvasBill Dambrova - Oil and Acrylic Paint on Canvas

Brushing the edges of Pop-Surrealism, Bill Dambrova’s expressive paintings explode with color and anatomical imagery. His work is hard to ignore, as his cartoon-like style hits you in the face with exaggerated facial and bodily features. Each piece is like a louder, more graphic and fun illustration from a medical or anatomical textbook. His technique is both abstract and representational, as he paints unnaturally colored organs and molecules moving through his compositions. Pulling inspiration from physical healing and spiritual growth, Dambrova’s work explores the stories and memories held in each of our biology, exposing humankind internally. The artist’s work uncovers not only human anatomy, but the insides of animals as well, unifying our biology. Each painting beautifully shows us the commonality in the biology in living things, while still exploring the unknown. This Phoenician artist investigates themes in science, animism, and archetypes in his work.

Although Dambrova’s work holds traditional imagery, such as animals and a human heart, they are shown in a different light. In his work, bodies are split open, organs function outside the body, and rays of organic light flow through each being. Each composition Dambrova constructs is as intricate as the human anatomy itself, with each color and shape intertwined with the next. The very talented artist is one of the recipients of the Contemporary Forum award given to emerging artists in Arizona. His work can be seen on view now through May 31st at the Phoenix Art Museum.

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Davis Ayer’s Projections Of Vintage Photographs On Nude Bodies Transcend Time And Memory

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Dreams, memories, and bodies melt together in the hazy, surreal work of Los Angeles-based photographer Davis Ayer. We featured his otherworldly landscape and double exposure shots last year, wherein Lindsey Rae Gjording eloquently describes him as a “true nostalgist” whose timeless work “allows the viewer to insert their own subconscious desires into the narrative” (Source). In regards to Ayer’s ability to compress emotion, time, space, and consciousness into his photography, this stunning series, entitled Time Travel, is no exception. Here, Ayer again pulls on the magic and semi-lucidity of dreamworlds, using nude bodies as a projection screen for vintage images; among them, you will see trees, beaches, rushing street lights, and the moon, all mapped onto the surfaces and contours of the nude body, turning skin into a visual narrative, like the one that plays in our heads as we close our eyes to sleep while remembering the past and visualizing our feelings.

What makes this series even more curious for discussion is the idea that the images and memories projected onto the bodies are not the models’ own. Certainly, our bodies are vessels of our own experience, but how much can we embody or touch the past? When we feel nostalgia for the “old days” and vintage culture, what are we missing or mourning? By projecting foreign memories (“foreign,” in that no one’s inner experience can ever be exactly simulated), Time Travel moves the human body — vulnerable, powerful, and honest in its nudity — through time and space, transcending memory and lived experience, and connecting a present lifetime with a past one in moments of intensity and reverie.

Visit Ayer’s website, Tumblr, Facebook page, and Instagram to follow his work.

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