Using discarded inner tubes and a needle and thread, South African artist Hannalie Taute embroiders portraits onto rubber. She takes cuts the abandoned material and cuts them apart to stitch together and form a “canvas.” Often, this means that her subjects have a subtle honeycomb pattern as their backdrop. “Besides the durability and availability of rubber from inner tubes found in car tires, I also decided to embroider on rubber because I find the contrast of working with needle and thread on these inner tubes fascinating,” she says in an artist statement.
As you might imagine, rubber is a tough surface to embroider on. Every stitched line is shown, and Taute isn’t able to seamlessly blend together the different hues. The results are fractured areas of color that abstract her portraits, although not to the point of unrecognition. And, this is partially the idea – to subvert materials. The rubber’s coarse texture is offset by the delicate thread, but at the same time the thread can seem rough with its choppy arrangement.
The artist’s inspiration comes from a number of places, but boil down to identity. She writes:
Titles, words, phrases from books, music, stories, sayings and toys play an integral part in conveying meaning and biographical info about me as a mother, wife and artist in society. Relationships between people and objects are something I prefer to explore using my chosen medium.
Israeli artist Ron Arad has a thing for the Fiat 500 car. Ever since his father was almost struck by a garbage truck while driving a Cinquecento, the Italian automobile played an important part in his life. Arad tells the story of how he came to own his first Fiat to W Magazine. While stopped at a red light in a taxi, a Fiat pulled up next to him, and he
….opened the door of the taxi and shouted to the driver, ‘Are you selling?’ The next day, his car was [his]‘. (Source)
That car was used to cart his family around for a number of years, and even housed a homeless man for a short period. After looking at it every day, he decided he wanted to immortalize the car like the cultural icon it is. Using a metal press at a shipyard in Groningen, in the Netherlands, he managed to squash and squeeze the cars into a 12cm thick plate. After spending a while trialing with smaller cars and a variety of presses, Arad found the perfect way to flatten the frames while still keeping the integrity of the shape and design. It is quite a bizarre sight seeing something which is normally such a full shape being hung on the wall like it is a colored cardboard version of a car. Arad has indeed preserved the idea of the Fiat 500 for all to gush sentimentality over.
His exhibition “Ron Arad: In Reverse” is on view at Paul Kasmin Gallery, 515 West 27th Street in New York City, until March 14, 2015.
Artist Takahiro Iwasaki is a master when it comes to constructing elaborate, miniature landscapes. However, these small-scale scenes are not formed from Lego’s, but from much more unlikely and unstable items such as cloth fiber, dust, and human hair. This Japanese artist takes the most miniscule, seemingly insignificant materials and uses them to create something incredibly complex and enchanting. His newest installations, which are part of the series titled Out of Disorder, contain mini-scenes of recognizable landmarks such as Coney Island, ferris wheel and all. Inspired by painted landscapes on Japanese folding screens, Iwasaki comments on his work in relation to its inspiration.
“Just as the artist of the screens did, I would like to revisit a commonplace everyday scene from today’s Japan, and just as the screens embody a smooth flow from one season to the next, I hope to capture, in my work, the graceful transition of a Japanese landscape from past to present.”
Each tree, building, factory, and rollercoaster in Iwasaki’s work are brightly colored and fragile, as many of them are enclosed in a glass case. This glass reveals one of the most captivating elements of the landscapes; the layers of clothing that make up the earth in many of the installations. Each cloth is filled with diverse colors and clashing patterns, revealing a mishmash of layers that resemble section of sediment in the soil. They form the rolling hills and steep slopes that make up the miniature environments. However, not all of the artist’s creations are constructed from recycled cloth, but from toothbrushes, as well. Telephone towers sprout out of Iwasaki’s toothbrush bristles in this strange yet familiar installation. Out of Disorder is on display now at Takahiro Iwasaki’s first solo show Takahiro Iwasaki: In Focus at the Asian Society Museum in New York. (via Spoon & Tamago)
Sarah Bowman is a photographer based in Nanaimo, Canada, whose passion for portraiture and surrealist imagery has blossomed into this darkly beautiful series, entitled Maiden of Ravens. Made in collaboration with model/visionary Annalise Silverwolf, these images present a romantic, alternative world, wherein an ethereal goddess-figure stalks through the trees and underbrush. With sticks and grasses adorning her head and her forearms covered with what appears to be gauntlets of blood, she melds beautifully with the ominous environment, invoking the spirit of ravens — those beautiful and dark carrion birds that symbolize both life and death. The model’s pale skin and dark red dress add further to the series’ grimly alluring atmosphere. Sarah has done an excellent job accentuating the green and red tones, which highlight the ghostly and rain-wet beauty of Vancouver Island’s forests and swamps.
When I chatted briefly with Sarah about her photography and future projects, she expressed a burgeoning desire to collaborate with designers in the creation of fine art portraiture, as she is inspired by “whimsical, ethereal, and surreal creations.” As an artist, her utmost goal throughout all of her work is to “please [her] viewers and hope to overachieve their expectations,” while also “collaborating with models and […] mak[ing] them feel beautiful and extraordinary about their talent.” Given the depth, intricacy, and evocative power of Maiden of Ravens, there is no doubt that Sarah has indeed achieved and surpassed her creative and professional objectives. Follow her Facebook page and check out her website to keep up with her work as she continues to collaborate with more designers and models in the creation of surrealist, fine art imagery.
Additional credits: Annalise Silverwolf (model), Christine Boulet (hair).
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we have stumbled across this bizarre series of graphic illustrations warning soldiers against the dangers of Venereal Disease. In a nationwide crusade aimed at changing a whole population’s sexual habits and attitudes, the American government enlisted the help of creative professionals. Artists, designers and ad-men teamed up to create these striking and very frank posters.
At a time when discussion of sexual activity was anything but frank, the VD posters of World War II addressed the topic directly using clinical language, ominous symbolic imagery, and jingoistic slogans to help enlisted men steer clear of sexually transmitted infections. While American sex-ed programs have taken many forms over the last hundred years, the military’s VD campaign left a unique trail of ephemera in its wake, featuring imagery that’s both gorgeous and deeply unsettling. (Source)
Found by Ryan Mungia in the National Archives and the National Library of Medicine, this series of posters caught his eye primarily because of their aesthetic, more so than the unusual subject matter. He describes them as
…reminiscent of film noir or B-movie posters from the ’40s, those pulpy-style poster designs, and they also reminded me of the Works Progress Administration artwork, which I love. (Source)
Using bold shapes and colors, the designs were a success in capturing people’s attention. Plastered all over the walls at bases and training facilities, they were sure to get people talking – during a time when sex, and certainly not sexual diseases, were discussed publicly. After a significant drop in VD by 1945, the need for the poster campaign no longer existed. Even though the campaign was a success, the message had quite shocking undertones. Mungia explains more:
Once I was looking at them as a whole, I started to see certain themes arise. Women are often portrayed in a negative light, and it surprised me how they used Nazi imagery or depictions of Hitler and Mussolini to drive their message home. There’s somewhat of a disparity in them because the posters are very attractive, but their messages are very dark. There’s one in particular of a woman who looks like a skeleton and is walking arm in arm with two Axis leaders, Hitler and Hirohito. I think it’s so interesting that they suggest that the Axis powers were behind venereal disease. (Source) (Via Collector’s Weekly)
Dutch artist Hinke Schreuders creates embroidered works that run the gamut from sinister to playful. Stitching directly on photographs and illustrations, Schreuders creates entirely new artworks by shifting the emphasis and adding pops of color or whole new objects and interactions. She transforms a dreary gray tree to a flowering one with little buds raining down like a curtain of beads. In other photographs, she applies her hand to texturing rivers with pale blue and adding spirals of threading forming fluffy white clouds.
Spanish photographer Eugenio Recuenco has taken the timeless and iconic work of the notorious artist Pablo Picasso and translated it into contemporary photography. He models each photograph in this series after a single Picasso painting, recreating it as a seductive, contemporary photograph. Each painterly photograph is taken in such a way that even these real life women seem to be painted onto a canvas. Having had his hand in commercial and fashion photography, the influence from modern high fashion can be seen. Because Picasso’s work contains such vivid colors and a strongly recognized cubist style, the model’s make-up and clothing are a vital part of what allows the photograph to imitate Picasso’s paintings.
Cubism, the artist’s most famous stylistic period, is achieved by dissecting parts of the subject in the painting, and breaking them down into geometric forms. In this case, the subjects in the photos are women covered in geometric patterns imitating Picasso’s paintings. Recuenco brilliantly achieves this reference to Cubism not only by the women’s clothing, but also by the perfectly placed photo fragments. Several of the photos in this series are altered so that there is an abrupt crop in the image, with extra limbs on the other side. This cleverly recreates Picasso’s ever-popular figures with extra legs, arms, or eyes. Some may say that there are just some things you can do in a painting that you cannot do in a photo. Recuenco proves this wrong with his incredible and imaginative use of make-up to mirror Picasso’s fractured portraits and misplaced facial features. In one photo, an entirely new eye is created, while in another, a sharp, black line dissects a woman’s face. Intelligent and original creativity is of no shortage in this photographer’s unbelievably beautiful series paying homage to a fellow Spanish artist.
Make sure to check out Eugenio Recuenco’s new project, a short film titled “A Second Defeat.”