Tokyo-based designer Yusuke Seki has constructed a stunning, walkable platform made from 25,000 pieces of scrapped pottery and porcelain. The structure is part of the Maruhiro Ceramics gallery, located in Hasami, Nagasaki prefecture, a region known for its production and distribution of tableware dating back to the 17th century. Each fragment was collected from local factories that had disposed the ceramics prior to the glazing process, deeming them defective. After restoring the pieces and assembling them like bricks mixed with poured concrete, Seki infuses them with a renewed creative purpose. A statement from Seki’s website further explains the history and the design approach that drives the platform:
“A renovation of the pre-existing flagship shop, Yusuke Seki’s design marries an architectural knowledge to the artisanal know-how of the region, and in so doing, creates an entirely location- and situation-specific experience. Seki’s vision is to posit the designer as interpreter. His methods seek to amplify Hasami’s heritage by drawing out and translating the potential of the complete local environment, unifying its people. A minimal design interference, a modification in the level of the floor, not only utilizes the pre-existing space to alter the perspective and experiences held by the users until the present, but also gives birth to an entirely new sense of flow within.” (Source)
In a fascinating exploration of space, Seki has designed the stacked ceramics so that they enhance the customer’s interaction with the displayed tableware. Low shelves placed on the surface allow visitors to peruse from below, and if they so wish, they can climb up the stairs to the top of the platform for a closer look. The very act of walking on the ceramics creates an embodied experience of tradition and history; delicate materials, once discarded, are made strong, creative, and participatory, signifying the endurance of and respect for a time-honored cultural art form.
Jose Romussi’s latest series #Anti-Serie is a visual depiction of beauty being in the eye of the beholder. The series is made up of a collection of fashion photographs which he has modified through the application of colorful embroidery. The colors in the photographs are clustered and tightly knit in order to create a textured layer which adds an aesthetically intriguing aspect to the primarily black and white photographs. The embroidery in this series is made up of abstract blocks of color and zig zags which give the series a more tribal touch.
The colors of the threads clash perfectly with the black and whites present in the photographs and give them a different meaning and even a sort of second life. His use of lines and geometrical shapes is somewhat reminiscent of the naïve art movement. Romussi aims to “give the image a new emotion, a new life, a new interpretation through embroidering”, and he does just that. He has taken a series of beautiful photographs and given them a new sort of meaning through embroidery. The original faces of the subjects in the photographs are entirely covered, which gives the thread a sort of mask-like property.
Romussi’s project is not only interesting from the visual perspective but also on a conceptual level in the sense that the ideas at the root of the project are connected to deeper debates about beauty and the personal aspects of defining such a concept. The idea that applying another layer to an otherwise finished product is interesting to examine from the perspectives of multimedia art and making meaning on a more personal level.
Artist Jake Fried is at it again, creating mind-blowing drawings, paintings, and animations full of intense, psychedelic imagery. We are huge fans of the artist, as we have covered him previously, and now he has created even more amazing works in his new animation titled Night Vision. Made from hand drawn animation with ink and white out, Fried constructs complex worlds of intricate shapes transforming into landscapes, turning into an endless see of mind-bending imagery. Each section of his animations is one masterpiece turning into another, compiling onto one another until you are overwhelmed with imagery, sucked into a world of the artist’s endless imagination. We are held in a trance-like state, mesmerized by the impressive illustrations unfolding and collapsing right before our eyes like a strange and wonderful hallucination.
These animations unfurl and develop like a story, transporting us to different worlds full fantastical transitions. His morphing man in the animation Raw Data, takes us through a journey of this being as he grows different arms and his body transforms completely. In Jake Fried’s piece titled The Deep End, made from ink, whiteout, and coffee, another being is present and is pulled from the underground and flooded with different colors until, by the end of the animation, there is nothing left. Jake Fried’s work transformative and original, leaving us in awe at the intricate layering and alterations that take place in his monumental work.
João Ruas is a Brazilian visual artist who paints esoteric scenes of ghostly bodies and mysterious symbols. Each image appears to be filled with a chiaroscuro-like fog that dissolves form into shadow. Recurring motifs include animal skulls, red tattoos, and medieval weapons that drift amongst hooded figures and undead dogs. There is a sense of arcane mythology mixed with everyday banality, for intermingling with strange and ancient-looking objects are scissors, helmets, and electrical cords.
By unfolding layers of time and myth, Ruas’ paintings emit a deep emotional timbre, unsettling the soul with their dark scenes. A boy with what appears to be animal ears growing down his face evokes something akin to despair and alienation, while a blindfolded woman on the back of a red horse (a reference to Lady Godiva) emanates with vulnerability, fear, and strength. With mystifying combinations of symbols, Ruas’ paintings function like open tomes that can be inscribed with the viewer’s own imagination and spiritual significance.
Shamus Clisset (aka, Fake Shamus) is a digital artist who uses 3D modeling software to construct bizarre and often humorous scenes that multiply reality and critique consumer culture. His work is featured in Beautiful/Decay’sBook 8: Strange Daze, a curated collection of talented artists who explore the realms of the uncanny: parallel universes, psychedelic dream states, supernatural activity, and more. Also included in the book is the work of Neil Krug, a photographer who drenches his shots in hallucinatory colors, bending time and reality to invoke the nostalgia and liberatory zeal of the 1960s. Andrea Wan, a Berlin-based artist, also brings her own flavor of absurdity to the book in the form of surreal illustrations of masked and multiple-headed beings. Strange Daze is ideal for those art lovers and dreamers who wish to challenge everyday banality by exploring alternative visions of the world.
We featured Clisset’s work in 2011, when he was making insane (and often violent) mashed-up universes of trash and cultural signifiers. Since then, Clisset has rebirthed his artistic identity as “Fake Shamus,” a “digital golem” formed out of 3D-rendered objects (Source). The shapes this humanoid beast can take are limitless; in one image he is a mystical being upholstered in grass who summons a collection of empty beer cans; in another he is an industrious builder, his muscular body made out of what appears to be lumps of brightly-colored Plasticine. And while Clisset’s works may appear to have photographic elements, do not be deceived; everything in his images is created in a digital, 3D space. By mimicking reality, Clisset brings up fascinating questions of “authenticity” versus “fakery,” unveiling in the process that the entire world is a strange construction subject to our perception.
To see our feature on Clisset and similar artists, check out Book 8: Strange Daze. Copies are available at a limited quantity in our shop, so grab yours today.
Ash Thayer photographs are the reflection of her life. Portraits, landscapes and places that represent the beginning of her life as a young woman braving the intense city of New York. ‘Kill City’ is her memoir through those years. It’s a compact diary comprised of photographs taken when she was living in the See Skwat squat after she got evicted from her first apartment in the city. The pictures are raw and incredibly emotional. It’s not a wish to uncover a way of living, it’s a desire to extract the beauty that lies inside the characters and scenes she witnessed.
At 19 years old, Ash Thayer found herself evicted. With no resources and no family, she found in a Lower East Side building a shelter, a roof to call home. She surrounded herself with a new family, punks surviving just liked her. Soon realizing that she was deeply touched by social activism and protest movements she took part in defending and documenting the subculture she was living in.
The subjects of her photographs are simple and honest. People from her daily life posing naturally under the dim lighting of the squat. There’s no intention in claiming a harsh living situation or showing off extreme conditions. In her pictures, the artist depicts vulnerable sincere souls supporting each other. “On the street [people saw us as] street hustlers, trouble makers, vandals—that just wasn’t really the case. We were hanging out, drinking and watching 90210 around one TV, like 15 of us”.
Ash Thayer’s photographs will be exhibited at Superchief Gallery in Los Angeles starting September 19th 2015. The ‘Kill City’ book is available for purchase here.
In a collection called Inner Child, Hong Kong-based artist Johnson Tsang has sculpted bulbous, porcelain-skinned babies with a surrealist twist. With their enlarged heads, bright eyes, and wrinkled faces, they are painstakingly detailed to capture their emotions. From teary-eyed angst to pouting petulance, they seem to behave like normal infants, but each one is infused with elements of the absurd; one baby laughs manically while sitting on a gilded throne inside a birdcage, and another, dressed in a suit, looks pensive while a fish leaps into his head. Whereas babies are ordinarily known for their heart-melting cuteness, Tsang’s sculptural offspring almost repel us with their bizarre conflations of infancy and adulthood.
Inner Child was displayed last month at K+ Curatorial Space in Singapore. In the press release for the show, Tsang explains the playful motivations behind his sculptures:
“Every adult has an inner child deep inside our soul. It is what keeps us curious, urges us to pursue happiness . . . and above all, gives us courage to embrace our truest selves.” (Source)
Tsang’s work, then, is an observation of the youthful drives that persist within all of us. Because age is often viewed as a linear process—from innocence and emotional expression to maturity and stoic intellect—“childish” traits or behaviors in an adult context may seem odd or even off-putting. Tsang wants us to enjoy his sculptures, however, and to reflect on our own inner children—then maybe we can accept and explore those feelings of unbridled glee, frustration, need, and discontent. After all, these are feelings we will experience again to that “unsophisticated,” childlike degree; as Tsang states humorously, “some day, we will all be old enough to start acting like kids again.” (Source)
Black models dressed up in traditional Flemish costumes. Maxine Helfman takes photographs the way Old Masters would have portrayed high society in the 17th century. In this series called “Historical Correction”, the artist offers the option of a reverse history. She wants to create a past that never existed. Her purpose is to create a dialogue with the viewers.
Using the same white collars, hats and black tunics. Even the poses are similar, mostly directly looking into the camera, only portraits and a use of lighting which features the faces. She doesn’t use a frame in order to keep the focus on the portraits. Maxine Helfman confirms that she was very careful on how approaching this project. Being a white women herself, she didn’t want to create confusion around a sensible subject.
By creating fictional narratives, she gives another outlook on history and culture. She directs the issues of race by looking at a different society in another time. The photographs are an indirect testimony that race and class are nowhere to be parted. Using art as a mean to express an idea, to make a statement; her series is not to be looked at as a final fact. She opens the door to a discussion about race, equality and how these issues are dealt within their country, wherever the viewers are. “All of my projects begin with that concept….it is the conversation that is generated that is fascinating…..positive and negative”.