A portrait tries to capture the essence of a subject. By honing in on a solitary figure usually from the chest up, we’re able to delve into the eyes and see beneath the surface. There’s some seriousness involved because the traditional portrait is used to capture a visual record which can act as a long standing account of that subject. Taking this and flipping it, painter Austin Lee creates cartoon-like portraits of re-imagined people and animals. Bursting with neon color and loose line, his subjects have nothing to hide and let it all hang out. His work associates with characterture and gestural expression mostly ending up as vignette laden pictures.
With titles like Dunno, Mr. Worry, Facepalm, and Taboo the idea of community and friends surface as the subject for many of his pictures. In one, two figures appear in the front windshield of a car, the anticipation in their faces is that of a destination thay are unfamiliar with. In another, “Crush” a Mona Lisa type portrait peers out from a cabinet frame portraying someone the artist has a crush on?
Using a similar approach Lee creates heads out of 3D prints and acrylic paint. These look like self-portraits and capture certain aspects of his personality with the least amount of rendering. To some degree both his painting and prints reference minimalism in their quest to strip away and find the core of its subject.
Alexandra Levasseur’s complex paintings are filled with emotion and beauty. With heavy brushstrokes dripping with color, she creates scenes of tormented women in a strange world filled with golden halos, burning asteroids, and melting faces. These faces depict a deathly pale beauty that is often transformed and altered by thick globs of color or all encompassing flora. Levasseur explores themes of love and fear, anguish and unsatisfied desire in her body of work.
I am interested in depicting both the solitude and the bipolarity of the existence of the human being, through the representation of memories. I question the relationship between physical comfort and peace of mind, and how the environment around us can affect this state of mind.
Her women are set in scenes of rolling hills of flowers and palpable paint amongst other wilderness. However picturesque the setting may seem, there is a sense of distress and loss. Some of the women lie in a lush, colorful sea of flowers, but still have a look of distress on their face. There is repeatedly a flaming asteroid in the background, implying an impending doom. Levasseur beautifully portrays these women full of emotion, with an inevitable tragedy behind their eyes, if they even have eyes at all. Many of the faces have eyes hiding behind strokes of color, or holes where their eyes used to be. Each woman, beautiful in their own right, is lost and being engulfed in her equally as beautiful surroundings. All of the seeping colors, crushing flora, and heartbreaking women become meshed together in Levaseur’s paintings. She represents this world as a single organism, blending color and form.
Alexandra Levasseur’s solo exhibition Body of Land is on view now at Mirus Gallery in San Francisco.
The Analog Watch Co. got into the spirit of April Fool’s Day with their absurd Ant Watch. Reminiscent of an ant farm, this accessory was purported to hold three to five live harvester ants that move within the tiny face. Each watch kit would come with shake-resistant sand, a food/water dropper/tweezers, a case-opening tool, and a care guide.
At first read, Analog’s watch listing sounds believable. They provide detailed instructions on how to add your ants to the small farm: (place their shipping tube in the fridge for 10 minutes to put them to sleep) and when to fed them liquid sugar (one to two times a month).
The longer you read the listing the more bizarre it sounds. Ants are only expected to live four to six months and all orders come with a one year supply of real ants. New ants ship every four months. Analog Watch Co. also adds that if your old ants are still alive to just set the other ones free. Luckily, the company stipulates afterwards that it, “ships never because April fools.” Whew. (Via Design You Trust)
Imagine using your wildest imagination to create your dream fortress. What would it have inside? Scott Hove has taken a fairy-tale, dream-world created entirely out of what appears to be pastel sweets and turned it into an reality. His sickening sweet installation, titled Cakeland, uses sculpture, installation, and paint to construct a dramatic scene of cake-like decoration with a rococo flair, only instead of stucco molding, this sugary paradise is composed of delicately placed oranges, strawberries, and swirling, white icing. His elaborate work completely fills the building that holds it, which is labeled with an appropriate bright, neon sign displaying the word “Cakeland.” I cannot decide if Hove’s work is so alluring because of its fluffy, pastel details or the fact that it looks exactly like it is made up entirely of delicious, edible cake!
Hove explains that his process involves taking dark undertones and transforming them into something inviting and beautiful…and what is more pleasant than a place that surrounds and engulfs you in this never-ending, candy-colored comfort food? Hove’s artistic process uses endless imagination and creativity to allow his ideas of Cakeland to come to fruition.
I walk around my house, and see imaginary pieces on my wall, and then pick out the ones that I would most like to actually see hanging on the wall. Then I use every and any type of material to scratch the piece into existence. So much about making a piece of art is creating problems and solving them.
Shia LaBeouf has our attention once again, but this time he is only a placeholder in an enormous and masterful creative production. While the video is a parody of sorts of Labeouf’s celebrity status, the real focus is on just how incredible all of the different elements come together. A mixture of music, comedy, dance, narrative and performance, the stage piece is definitely a spectacle. You just need to look at the credits on the Youtube page to see how many people were actually involved in making this strange idea come to life.
The actual song, and score was written by Rob Cantor, and was made a reality with the help of The Gay Men’s Choir of Los Angeles, The West Los Angeles Children’s Choir and The Argus Quartet. Not only did he write the song, and draw up a complex and riveting narrative of what happens to our star character, but Cantor also oversaw the construction of Shia LaBeouf heads for the dancers to wear; he stood in on the choreographed dance rehearsals, and co-ordinated a behind-the-scenes video log.
You can see just how intensive this project was, and the lengthy process it took to get the musical to the final stages. If you are still left wanting more Shia LeBeouf after watching the musical number, visit Cantor’s Facebook page for many more interesting videos on how exactly this bizarre masterpiece came to fruition.
Artist Gabriel Schama demonstrates that lasers aren’t just for starships: He uses them to carve out incredibly intricate designs and patterns from materials such as wood, paper, and even leather. His works come alive with “surreal textures” that create a kinetic feeling, the kind you might get from studying a Magic Eye poster. There’s also the structural element, which lends his artwork literal depth as they seem almost excavated, blooming into mandalas and swirls.
The cool thing about Schama’s work is that it’s clearly informed by the natural world, some sporting the same frills as aquatic flowers and others looking like any garden-worthy blossom. There’s also a very rigid manmade feel to his work, though, not just in the precision with which he carves them but in some elements of his designs that look almost retro-futuristic chic.
Schama’s art is evolving, growing from his early hands-on approach that used mixed-media materials. In the description of his second Kickstarter project, he says:
“I have long been possessed with a desire to make my work bigger and more intricate at the same time. A modestly sized cut paper piece could take me weeks of nonstop work to execute. This project is not only the next step forward stylistically, but a means to achieve far more daring and exciting projects.”
Karen Ann Myers’ latest series of paintings study the vulnerability of women. Through a series of motifs showing women lying down on beds or in different sexual acts disguised within a pattern, she examines the feminine form in its most naked form. What she offers is a voyeuristic look at womanhood. By taking the girl next door and putting her in subjective, fetal-like positions we see how the packaging of the fairer sex becomes more about mood and positioning than the actual model. The atmosphere and attire become the most important elements in her psychological study. It cleverly examines women’s submissive behavior in advertising and brings forth what society is shown as desirable.
In large sized paintings, Myers purposely places vibrantly colored rugs and sheets next to her subjects commenting on the fact that women are seen as beautiful pieces of furniture used to adorn a room. They become objectified and meld into the foreground. Her message is subtle disguised through a series of striking images that recall Alex Katz and David Hockney.
Her wallpaper drawings of various sexual positions disclose the powerful nature of women’s sexuality. Hidden from direct view in the design’s make up her project speaks to the meaning of subliminal messages. As the pattern dictates, the true nature of women’s sexuality should remain secret as media and advertising suggests. Her prowess as a painter and designer is only matched by her strong desire to speak about these important issues.
A Japanese collective of technologists and artists known as teamLab recently used projection mapping technology to transform Paris’ Grand Palais into a virtual waterfall. In a stunning play of shadows and light, “water” cascaded down the columns and across the bodies of the silent, guarding statues. The simulation gave the historic building a haunting, subaquatic appearance, like a structure from the lost city of Atlantis. On their website, teamLab explains how they integrated 3D models of the Grand Palais — effectively turning it into a digital “rock” — with the natural movement of water particles:
“The simulation of the waterfall was created by calculating the movement of water as it was allowed to fall on a 3D model of the Grand Palais in a virtual computer environment. […] [T]he waterfall simulation is [then] projected onto the real Grand Palais.
The water is expressed as continuum of hundreds of thousand of water particles that flow in accordance with how the computer calculates the interaction of the particles. Once an accurate water flow simulation has been constructed, 0.1% of the water particles are selected and lines drawn in relation to them. The waterfall is expressed as the combination of these lines. […].” (Source)
Connecting their artwork to a cultural tradition and spirit, teamLab adds: “The waterfall video art work is created in 3D space and uses what we consider to be the logic structure of spatial recognition of our Japanese Ancestors.”
The Water Particles on the Grand Palais was part of the Art Paris Art Fair 2015, and was shown until March 29th. Two other video projections by Dominic Harris and Mounir Fatmir also used the Grand Palais as a digital canvas, and you can watch these artworks in action here. Check out teamLab’s website for more immersive and technology-infused works, including a floating flower garden and a room of orbs that change color and emit sounds when touched. (Via The Creators Project)