German artist Claudia Rogge digitally transforms her photography to create patterned and rapturous images of masses of people. Often the subject matter of her work appears bleak or apocalyptic, but ultimately portrays the vulnerable beauty of these deliberately arranged human figures. Even in the photographs that are a bit more chaotic, you can sense Rogge’s careful attention to the patterns she creates, and the order contained within them. Her meticulously composed photographs evoke both a sense of euphoria and foreboding while demonstrating the fractal-like beauty of people en masse. One of Rogge’s biggest challenges in her work is creating a scene that looks genuine and believable with digital effects.
Of her work, Cluadia Rogge says, “The fascination the theme “mass” exerts on me lies both in the content as well as in the formal and aesthetic aspect. As regards content, it is indeed exciting to live in a time that on the one hand trains people for absolute individuality, but an individuality that is defined by mass media, mass consumption, mass tourism etc. Aesthetically, the patterns and rhythms developed from masses are unique. You can find them in shoals and flocking birds as well as in major gatherings like military parades, processions, concerts etc. Regarding this, I do not resort to already existing masses in my works, but simulate my own.”
Jessica Dunegan’s surreal paintings and portraits are beautifully complex both in content and technique. Using a mixture of epoxy resin, acrylic paint, and archival prints, Dunegan creates organic work with physical depth. After squeezing paint into a layer of liquid resin and creating opaque, delineating strands of paint, she repeats this process many times. Much of her paintings mediate between a sense of tense turmoil or unrest and peaceful tranquility. There is something both romantic and disorienting about her subjects and composition, and her formal process speaks eloquently to this particular aesthetic.
“My subjects are more than superficial objects. They may look realistic from afar, but upon further inspection, they are comprised of suspended, chaotic lines. I want to capture each animated form in time and celebrate its imperfections.” (via)
Dunegan currently lives in Boston. You can watch a video of her process here.
The Argentinian street artist known simply as Elian works with a clean and seemingly effortless style rare in street art. While his large abstract murals would be at home on a magazine page, they work to a powerful effect inhabiting entire sides of buildings. Often using colors reminiscent of a graphic designers CMYK color palette, Elian maximizes the simplicity of each mural. A buildings bland blank wall becomes a space for an exercise in composition and color.
The performances of Zhu Ming are filled with almost a lonely kind of pensiveness. Covered in paint, he enters the bubble often floating on water. The bubble is specially created for the piece and specifically designed to slowly fill with water. Soon the paint is washed off Zhu Ming’s body as he floats quietly alone. The bubble emphasizes the solitary nature of his performance, and underscores ideas of existential isolation. Zhu Ming’s work unfolds silent and strange sort of dignity that is difficult to not project onto life as a whole.
In a world where there are fanatic fans of all things it should be no surprise that somewhere there is a large group of adults that are fanatical My Little Pony fans who convene once a year to celebrate all things “Brony” (a term used to describe themselves). Amy Lombard recently visited the yearly celebration called Bronycon to document the festivities for New York Magazine. You might think that Bronies are primarily females who are reliving their teenage years but much to our surprise most Bronies are adult males. I have to say that this takes the creep factor up a notch knowing that at least once a year hundreds of grown men cover themselves in glitter and fake horns and gallop around in a convention hall for several days straight. Is this an innocent geeky infatuation or a bunch of covert furries masquerading as My Little Pony fans? (via)
Dietmar Busse is a German photographer who lives and works in New York City. It’s rare to encounter a body of work as wholly original as his extraordinary series, Fauna and Flora. An amalgamation of photography and painting, the pieces in the series manifest a beauty that occasionally veers into dark, dreamlike realms. Busse began painting (with photographic developer) on his prints. The resulting images so artfully meld the otherwise quite distinct media that they appear to coalesce — creating, in a sense, a new medium.
With no formal art training, Busse was long intimidated by the idea of painting. But in the last few years he began extending his experimentation even further, applying photographic retouching colors and inks to his prints.“Having a strong foundation in photography,” he says, “somehow gives me the courage to explore. The photograph serves as the foundation for the painting, capturing something about a person’s energy and spirit the way only photography can. The painting starts where photography can not go.” It is these co-mingled pieces that comprise Fauna and Flora.
“I did not set out to [focus on those concepts]. These were just the images I found myself making — and it made sense, for fauna and flora are what I grew up with, and what I relate to.” (via)
The art of Ala Ebtekar is as simple as it is effective. Ebtekar was born in the United States and raised in California but retained a strong connection to the land of his heritage, Iran. You can nearly see in Ebtekar’s work a gazing at home from far away, a sort of portal. Ebtekar is definitely referencing the cosmic with this work. He says of the Sufi influence behind his work, “Sufis believe that existence is of two natures – both earthly and divine – and it’s that transition between these two states that’s represented by an arch. The arch could be in architecture, but it could also be a beloved’s eyebrow, and how that’s an entrance to that other space.” Ebtekar also subtly uses Western imagery in addressing this “other space” – you’ll notice some of these pieces printed on the back of science fiction movie posters.
The work of South African artist Mary Sibande is complex much like the identities it addresses. Sibande creates life size sculptures, primarily of black women. The sculptures are arrayed in large ornate dresses which, rather than shed light on the subject’s identity, complicate it. The dresses seem to be a perfect blend of Victorian upper class and a maid’s uniform. Sibande’s grand installations efficiently comment on gender, class, colonialism, and beauty. To further underscore these issues, Sibande arranged for huge photographic murals of the installations to be displayed throughout Johannesburg.