Brooklyn artist Monica Cook is a woman of many talents, with multiple personalities and identities. She loves to explore the revolting, disgusting side of being human that we often try to hide. The range of her art practice is broad, and includes grotesque hairy sculptures, to highly detailed bizarre animations, meticulous drawings of naked women in surreal settings and beautifully rich oil paintings of slippery and slimy intimate scenes. Cook says all that she produces is in some way a representation of her, a kind of self portrait, or an attempt to digest the things about her that she doesn’t understand.
“When I’m painting, it’s more about my relationship with the object than it is about me. It’s hard for me to separate myself from the experience. It could be a fish or an octopus. I handle it until it becomes unfamiliar to me so I can see it in a new way. People might want to read into those paintings but for me, it’s just about finding magic in the mundane and exploring further.” (Source)
Her drawings are combinations of miniature versions of herself acting out strange activities on large body/landscapes. Her work usually explores the range of human emotions, including anything from girls on laughing gas in the middle of a doctor’s examination or celebrating some personal triumph while riding a balloon. Cook is able to exaggerate the awkwardness of being human, and how gross and disgusting it can be to live with flesh and bones.
“I can be extremely awkward, yes. I can be really shy, too. I put myself in a position where I am really uncomfortable interacting with something, and work with it until I become comfortable with it, and capture that private moment of surrender or acceptance. It’s all about private performance, and amplifying the absurdity of a situation – and making myself laugh.” (Source) (Via Juxtapoz)
Miami-born but aptly based in both New York City and Venice, artist Judi Harvest creates intricate and fanciful glass sculptures. Ranging from gnarled bears to purple martians, her work varies in both subject matter and style. However, since 2013, Harvest has paid special attention to the natural realm, creating delicate and wispy glass beehives.
Comprised of Murano glass and wire, each hive sculpture is naturalistic in color and realistically rendered. Like the pieces themselves, the process behind the work is extremely intricate and requires a great deal of skill:
Each vessel begins with a hand-rolled cylinder of chicken wire, wire found in Venice and characterized by a finer module than that of the hive sculptures made in New York. Glass is blown into the cylinder, protrudes between the wires, and balloons delicately above the top. Some vessels retain wire embedded in their surfaces. Amber glass is the base color in which Harvest mixes gold or silver leaf and other additives that affect opacity, reflectivity, and hue. Sprinkling the hot surface with powdered glass pigment and reinserting the vessel into the furnace creates a rough yet dainty texture that resembles a dusting of pollen. (Denatured: Honeybees + Murano catalogue, Venice, 2013)
In addition to the exquisite aesthetic of the sculptures, a personal interest in honeybees also contributed to the creation of this series. On top of her artistic career, Harvest is a beekeeper, finding inspiration “in the form and behavior of the honeybee, the hexagonal wax cells of the honeycomb, and the rounded volume of hives in nature”—influences that are undeniably present in the ornate detail and beautiful composition present in her Bee Series. (Via Sweet Station)
Canadian artist Erin Loree crafts luscious abstract paintings that have an incredible sense of light. The vibrant pictures feature incredible blues, magentas, yellows, and many more spread over a canvas. Loree varies her approach to texture, with some areas of smoothly-applied paint and others with short, thick brush strokes. They work together and form alluring artworks that resemble portraits and at times, landscapes.
Considering the scale of Loree’s strokes, the subjects that she’s painted seem to be captured at a close range. Large, sweeping lines form vague outlines of heads and shoulders, and with names like Energy body, it’s hard not to associate them with that. But, instead of giving us the an idea of what this physical body looks like, Loree uses gesture and intense hues to communicate an inner spirit or feeling. Some of her works appear as if they’re glowing from within - the essence of an intrinsic light that exists inside living beings.
Photographer Ines Kozic captures modern fairy tales decorated with bone and hair. The mood is contemplative, with a subtler flavor of body horror as her fair-haired women spin their hair into thick braids and pose with ruby-red lips and a court of insects. There’s also a sense of playfulness: a woman painting with her hair in an Escheresque exercise of physics; a man’s beard woven into a basket.
According to her artist’s statement, Kozic’s work is “a reflection on the body’s ornamentation, post-mortem photography and fairy tales’s world.” Her inspiration from photography of the recently deceased in repose is especially clear in the photos where her subjects wear garlands of delicate bone.
The ever-present sense of solitude in her photography make it seem as though everyone is frozen in time. The result is an unsettling mix of beauty and the kind of disquieting daydreams that one might find in a languishing surburbia. Her subjects perform everyday chores — sewing, weaving — but with surreal objects, bedecking themselves with beetles instead of jewels.
If, as Kozic says, she’s searching for “macabre poetry,” then she’s certainly found it. (via Yatzer)
The visual world of Daniel Gordon is complex, colorful, wondrous, and invigorating. He creates rich modern interpretations of still life and portrait oil paintings. Inspired by Matisse and Fauvism, and using modern day technology, he takes compelling photographs of 2D and 3D objects. His practice involves multiple steps to reach these bizarre final images. First he sources different images from the internet, prints them out, rebuilds the object from 2D sheets of paper, crumpling and shaping them to resemble the original object, then finally photographs them using a 8×10-inch view camera. After the scene has been documented, Gordon dismantles the different images and patterned pieces, to use at a later date. His latest show Shadows, Patterns, Pears shows his familiarity with appropriation, reusing and contextualizing images with ease.
He builds compositions from fragmented patterns, colors, perspectives, histories and narratives, resulting in some strange surreal reality. He layers up repeating shapes and silhouettes, creating some sort of modern take on Cubism. Described as a kind of analog Photoshop, Gordon’s work is as equally confusing as it is delightful. Reworking something familiar such as nectarines, oranges, lemons, he turns them into an optical illusion of light where dark should be, shadows on the wrong side of the object, the fruit half blue and half red. He transforms a mundane apple into one from a Dr Seuss land – crumpled, purple, with two stalks.
Calling his work “Screen Selections”, Gordon is alluding to a time of visual over-stimulation in the age of the Internet. Reveling in working with materials so palpable and tactile, Gordon says:
“I’m interested in showing my hand and letting people see the imperfection. “(Source)
In his beautiful retro/modern gaming systems, Swedish designer and craftsman Love Hultén combines technology with classical artisan techniques. His wood encased computers and classic arcade games are both lovely and functional. Hand-crafted and refined, the technique, ornamentation and finish are traditionally Swedish.
“Hultén wants to resuscitate a fading culture and create curiosity towards the origin of video gaming, pushing gaming into a new context, making the arcade an artistic equivalent to the painting on your wall.
By working with materials that, without regular maintenance and daily care, grows a unique patina, the expiry date of a product is extended. The product will breathe through time, rather than get suffocated by it.”
For the gaming units, vintage arcade favorites such as Pac Man and Asteroids are encased in solid wood. Joystick pads and controllers are made from walnut, and custom leather bags are available for some portable units. Hultén’s works were recently shown in his first US show at the Holy Circuit exhibit at Austere in Los Angeles, California.
Wearing a bright orange dress and armed with scissors, German artist Nezaket Ekici is tethered to the ceiling of a room via her hair. Long ropes act as handcuffs and are tied to the ends of her long brown strands. The only way out? To cut the strings or hair. Her performance, titled Atropos, was first presented in 2006 and again in 2008. It used 100 ropes, 100 hairlines, and 100 pitons (a type of metal spike) and lasted one hour.
We see that during Atropos, strings and hair are cut and dangle over Ekici’s eyes and other pieces of rope. At its core, it’s the act of freeing oneself from the ties (literally) that bind. In a statement about the work, posted on the Celeste Network:
She carries out an act of the self-liberation, while she frees herself with the help of a sissle from long ropes fastened at the roof and to the hair. She cuts off a part of her hair and in this way dissociates herself from a piece of herself. This work can be seen as a vital discussion about the question on the sense of life, that is partly characterised by striving for freedom. Particularly, because hair can be considered as a symbol of life.
This piece’s title comes from the Greek myth of the Moirai who are the goddesses of fate. The statement further explains:
Atropos, who is one of them splits according to the myth the fate threads of the life with a sissle. The artist shows with the radical act of the hair-cut a way out. She takes fate into her own hands and frees herself, like Atropos did. At least the act of the cutting can be seen as an attempt of liberation in itself. (Via Sweet Station)
Sculptor Lauren Fensterstock crafts dark, supernatural worlds of monochromatic nature scenes, often fashioned in all black, that contain a deep sense of tranquility and serenity. Completed with paper and Plexiglass, these intricate scenes show flowers, grass and ponds. With thousands of flowers and blades of grass, all carefully placed, the work is dense and lush, taking over the room it inhabits. Fensterstock’s work breathes life into the space. Showing a landscape that is distilled into a single color illuminates the beauty and the texture of each individual component. Fensterstock’s work was recently published in a beautiful, hardcover book titled Radical Sentimentalism, with analytical essays and an in-depth catalogue of her installation work.
The details of her work as written on a representative gallery’s site:
“Fensterstock’s. site-specific installation work and wall pieces depict nature by incorporating meticulously cut and curled paper, charcoal, and Plexiglass to create floral and garden scenes. Fensterstock’s work and practice references French and English garden design of the 1500s to 1700s, the 18th century practice of ‘quilling’—sculpting paper by wrapping around a quill—along with a nod to, and reflection upon, 20th century American earth art and the work of Robert Smithson.”(Excerpt from Source)