Los Angeles based artist Bovey Lee uses one single sheet of Chinese rice paper to cut and construct her unbelievably intricate urban scenes. The winding compositions she creates with simple positive and negative space forms a topsy-turvy world of concrete jungles, mountains, and wild flora. Even the clouds present in her work are fantastical as they swirl around the buildings like smoke. Bovey Lee’s process begins with rendering the composition digitally on a computer. She then prints these images and hand cuts each little detail into creation. These whimsical, impossible worlds are so complex you can search through the cut paper for hours, noticing small details like a person balancing across a tightrope, or a city floating on a cloud in the distance. Even the trucks passing by have unique patterns on each one.
Bovey Lee explains that her work is full of tension between mankind and our environment; a power struggle between two forces. Her work explores the intensions and actions of humans and the affect it has on our surroundings. Lee’s process can be tedious and time consuming, but at the same time meditative. The artist further explains her relationship with working with cut paper. (via Faith is Torment)
“My work is like drawing with a knife and is rooted in my study of Chinese calligraphy and pencil drawing. Cutting paper is a visceral reaction and natural response to my affection for immediacy, detail, and subtlety. The physical and mental demand from cutting is extreme and thrilling, slows me down and allows me to think clearly and decisively.”
The artist Kim Jae Il is playing a game, using a make-believe print effect to entice the eyes to get lost into the pattern; voluptuous lines of textured round drops running on the canvas. This is the beautiful visual Kim Jae Il is giving us. If watched from far awaythe viewer is mesmerized by the scenery, colored water bubbles creating a spiral, loosing itself within the white background.
The bubbles seen are in fact the opposite of a texture. They are the result of an image incised into a surface, the negative space accentuating the hollow shape. This technique is called intaglio. It’s a print technique where the lines to be printed are cut into the base material. Kim Jae Il is using three dimensional sculptural expressions blended with two dimensional pictorial expressions. The cubic and plane layers are meant to push forward the perspective and fabricate an optical illusion.
Kim Jae Il’s intention is to turn the most ordinary into a dynamic mode. Using the motion as a vanished mirage; leaving a vague trace that can only be remembered. The artist wants to “engrave his own vestige”. He gracefully invites us to dig into his art, not just to admire it from far. Because like this vibrating world that we are living in, there’s more that can be decrypted.
Tip Toland is an artist known for creating hyperrealistic, larger-than-life sculptures that confront the viewer with issues pertaining to identity and the body. We featured her in 2012, focusing on the aspects of her work that explored age, vulnerability, and death—material (and often stigmatized) states that have profound effects on personal psychologies. Characterizing her sculptures are combinations of clay, pastel, paint, and synthetic hair that create beautifully and uncomfortably real simulations of human anatomy.
In the years since then, Toland has continued to push the boundaries and create sculptures driven by important social messages. Featured here are various works: “Echo” (2014-15), “Africa,” and the “Africa Child” series (2014). “Echo” recalls many of Toland’s previous works: a nude, elderly woman appears to breathe deeply while her clouded eyes gaze skyward. What is most moving about this sculpture is the peace that emanates from her expression and figure; death and age are not feared, but rather accepted as states of near-transcendence.
“Africa” and “Africa Child” delve into more political territory, provoking questions pertaining to race, prejudice, and systems of objectification and “otherness.” “Africa” depicts a black woman awakening to an unseen problem, concern visible in her eyes. The “Africa Child” series involves five portraits of children with albinism, portraying—with astounding intricacy and realism—their expressions of fear and sadness. Explaining her motivations for “Africa Child,” Toland describes the extreme prejudice and violence enacted against those with this genetic condition in Tanzania:
“In Tanzania, horrific acts of mutilation have been taking place due to prejudice, ignorance, and superstition. According to lore, people with albinism are viewed as ghosts or bad omens. Despite this delusion, indigenous shamans have conjured up magical potions from body parts to bring wealth and good luck. Potions have been used in a variety of contexts: gold miners have poured them on the ground and fishermen have poured them on their nets or in their canoes. Living people are attacked and mutilated for their arms, legs, hair, genitalia, and blood. Ultimately the bottom line from these superstitions and prejudices is economic—in a country in which the average annual income is less than $450, a limb from a person with albinism can bring anywhere from $500 to $2,000.” (Source)
Certainly, Toland’s work challenges its audience, asking that the viewers acknowledge and examine systems of oppression and the violence occurring in Africa. But, as Kaiya Gordon astutely asks for the Pioneer Log, “What authority does Toland have to ‘inform’ viewers about a practice happening in Tanzania?” (Source) And how can we ensure that the viewer’s engagement is not one based in misinformation and unintentional, internalized systems of objectification? The pamphlet accompanying Toland’s 2014 exhibition at the Portland Art Museum states a progressive objective, deeming the works “portraits of horror that serve to inform Toland’s audience and, potentially, motivate them to take action” (Source). Trust, then, is left in the viewer to recognize—through the process of their own seeing—practices of “othering” and, by deconstructing these practices, foster a form of empathy and action that is not rooted in cultural assumptions.
Artist Nate Stewart has been using his medical background as an intensive care nurse to apply intense precision to sheets of paper. The result is a series of stunning paper sculptures full of intricate details, shapes, and angles. Stewart states that his process includes blade, which he uses to “carve, fold, and sculpt the paper.” This combined with his medical precision make for beautiful and original sculptures that each tell stories of their own.
The angular details of these paper sculptures are fascinating in their architectural structure and the use of paper as a medium, not to paint or draw on, but as the material being sculpted adds to their magic. Stewart explains that his work reflects the different aspects of life approaching elements like growth, disease processes, and decay. He cuts into the paper with a surgical precision that merges art and science in a most fascinating way. Stewart has managed to take his knowledge of the various processes and steps of life, death, and disease and has applied them to blank sheets of paper. By doing so, he has given new life to the paper and has extended its use beyond that of being a platform for other types of art. With these sculptures, paper is the medium and the message.
Stewart’s art has recently been in an exhibition with artist Li Hongbo’s work, he has also shown his work at SCOPE with Rush Arts and the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series. His work will be making its way to AQUA and Art Basel later this year.
Something strange is happening in the food chain in Josh Keyes’ new paintings. He renders powerful animals dominating the land; living among other species that they would otherwise never see in current times. A polar bear and a deer swim with the sharks in this artist’s surreal world where creatures run wild. His previous body of work featured the same majestic beasts, but in a sort of diorama display that has you feeling like you are a bystander looking in. Keyes’ new paintings immerse you right into the scene, creating a whole new atmosphere. The environments created are surreal, yet they seem familiar due to the common iconography included in the compositions. Although there are no humans present in any of Keyes’ paintings, we do see remnants of human life. Abandoned traces of civilization remain in the artist’s dystopian world. Street signs exist, but the roads are no longer there, now covered in plant life. Broken down, rusty cars are now trampled by wild fauna and vacant building’s are now part of their playground.
Josh Keyes’ work leaves us asking, what has happened to this world? More importantly, it asks, is this world better or worse than our own? There is a strong sense of environmental politics in the paintings, as the images could possibly be a warning sign for our not so distant future. The natural environment has been changing for some time at the hand of humans. Could this bizarre world be where this path is leading us? Living in Portland, Oregon, Josh Keyes feels a strong affinity with nature and the beautiful, natural environment around him. His incredibly realistic paintings are intriguing as they pull you into both their surreal beauty and their environmental urgency.
When he’s not drawing for commercials and films, Russian artist Uno Moralez disseminates mysterious—and oftentimes erotic and horrific—bit-style illustrations onto the internet. His work is both thought-provoking and unsettling, depicting supernatural events, bizarre social situations à la David Lynch, and sexual scenes uncomfortably twisted with an aroma of absurdity and the grotesque. Demons, deranged gods, devious criminals, and sleeping beauties populate Moralez’s world.
What makes each of Moralez’s images captivating is the amount of narrative they encompass; it may be as eerily simple as a boy waiting for a bus in the dark woods, or as strangely elaborate as a man being asphyxiated by a demon’s tongue while two women look on. Elsewhere, Karl Lagerfeld is voyeur to a woman’s encounter with herself in a mirror held aloft by two teddy bears; in another image, a man vomits mournfully into the ocean. Objectively, none of these scenes make logical sense, serving instead as fuel for the imagination, like symbolic—and somewhat disturbing—images wrenched from a dream. Even where Moralez has drawn several connected images, such as the thief who steals a jewel from a sleeping woman’s forehead, there appears to be a story that supersedes the boundaries of the illustrations.
In an older but fascinating interview with The Comics Journal, Sean T. Collins had the opportunity to chat with Moralez about his art and influences, which draw from traditional Soviet art and Japanese manga. Remaining somewhat ambiguous, Moralez maintained in the interview that his images are aimed at being imaginative, symbolic, and mysterious, rather than directly shocking or horrific. When asked if the erotic energy present in his work was personally sourced, the artist compellingly replied,
Does it mean that erotic nightmares regularly strangle me, and that is reflected in my art? Of course not. In sexual passion I see an irresistible force, in front of which most people, even very strong ones, appear as helpless victims. There is something diabolic in it. Passion is a fire. This symbol seems very suitable for passion, and I use it very often myself. (Source)
Enticing us with mystery, human drives, and drama, Moralez’s dark, pixelated stage is worth wandering onto. Check out his website to view more, and click here to read the full interview The Comics Journal. (Via Juxtapoz)
The world of Chu Teppa is magical. She recalls memories from her childhood and from those she creates mythological goddesses. Among the seven dolls forming the family, there’s Cîz, Goddess of light, predictions and hope riding her swan and leading a bottled frog; Dvü, Goddess of inspiration and fertility with her cat nose and Hyê Goddess of maternity, kindness and antics holding two pigs and wearing a pig nose herself.
Each doll is white, a color dear to Chu Teppa which, according to her, brings peace and comfort. Interested in the expression of feelings and emotions, she uses white as a mask, a layer that helps forget worries. In opposition, the touch of vivid colors symbolizes life as joy and pain. Wanting to design tender sculptures, the artist nevertheless claims that imperfection is part of being human and that it shouldn’t be forgotten. If color has a strong meaning in the art of Chu Teppa, the 3 lettered names of the goddesses are even more relevant. The number three, according to the artist, is an expression of artistic expression, vital optimism and abundance.
The artist is sensible to the duality between clarity and darkness. Two concepts that are identified by almost everyone and part of their mission “to transcend into eternal light as we evolve”. Through her fantasy universe, her goddesses and her symbols, Chu Teppa suggests an introspection of the combination of agony and its polar opposite, pleasure.
Artist Megan Straeder’s most recent work is a hanging installation, a display of brilliant light work in intricately woven nets placed descending a staircase. Appropriately on display at the Brisbane Powerhouse, her work breathes modernity and is reminiscent of 3D blueprints and 1980s computer technology. She cites Portal and the 2002 film Teknolust as visual inspirations for her work, she works with a lot of neon lights and futuristic elements. She plays with light and dark in this project, and makes use of a necessary darkness to be able to create such a stunning display of lights.
Straeder describes her piece as a “space age environment” inspired by “visions of the future”. Her work does reflect heavy inspiration from such decors and it might even remind you of Tron. Straeder describes this installation as a “vortex of light and color” and, the fact that the piece is hanging in a staircase reinforces its ethereal aspects. Enrichment Center constitutes the perfect décor for a houseparty featuring a futuristic techno soundtrack and probably lots of drugs.
The power of this pieces lies both within its sources of inspiration and the fact that, through these sources and her own creativity, Straeder has created a transmedia art piece and a reflection on what we perceive as futuristic imagery.