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.
Street Artist Joe Boruchow is an expert at manipulating positive and negative space. His work intertwines stark black and white graphic cut outs, often cleverly playing each off the other. Boruchow’s street art compositions are made up of simple but powerful images, wheat paste posters in public spaces. He interacts with his work, much like a stencil or etching, indeed, frequently creating corresponding cut paper pieces of his posters. While adeptly balancing positive and negative space in each poster, Boruchow also give careful attention to the postivie and negative space of the city. His posters can be found filling empty areas of doorways, windows, and walls.
I’m not going to pretend like I know half of whatever or whoever Llyn Foulkes is about, I’m just going to take a minute to honor his incredible presence in the art world for over 50 years.
What makes Foulkes so special is that he creates art at his own pace, and he creates it how he wants to, whether it’s music or painting. This “early master of Pop” is revered not necessarily because he’s a household name like Andy Warhol– but because of his journey in the art world and his ability to stay strong in his own truth and sense of character, despite social or monetary pressures.
This last decade in art has turned out a ton of larger than life sculptural work, specifically in the realm of inflatable sculpture. As adults, we never seem to get over the pure bliss of bouncy houses from our childhood, and as art lovers we are drawn to these works, made from thin plastic that are able to tower over us once filled with air. Artists have used this medium to make shocking and conceptually multilayered statements, such as Paul McCarthy’s “Complex System,” a building-sized pile of poo that made international headlines when it deflated in Hong Kong this past spring, leaving behind quite the brown mess. Other artists have merged inflatable sculpture with architecture and infused it with an interactive element that takes the classic “bouncy house” into a sophisticated architectural wonderland, such as Alan Parkinson (also known as “Architects of Air”) has done with his Luminaria. Other artists included below are: David Byrne, Eder Castillo, FriendsWithYou, Florentijn Hoffman, Chad Person, Tam Wai Ping and Geraldo Zamproni.
This Labor Day Weekend, enjoy the following parade of images that reviews some of the most exciting and celebrated inflatable sculptures that have emerged within the past ten years.
Erin Hanson’s Reminders series captures everyday thoughts and places these reminder-thoughts near an appropriate domestic location. These colorful reminder text designs inject daily mundane tasks, like washing dishes, brushing teeth, reading, and watching television with fun, humor, and whimsy. Hanson’s appropriately titled blog, Recovering Lazyholic, began as an attempt to combat laziness and mainly feature two things she loves: photography and graphic design, both of which comprise this particular series. These multi-colored letters remind me of the colorful alphabet magnets commonly found on refrigerators, and my first encounters with them as a child. Whatever the task at hand, Hanson’s designs and photography remind us that we need to accomplish these tasks, but also to live these tasks a little more colorfully and playfully. Hanson lives and works in Austin, Texas.
Artist Stevie Gee seems to be as laid back as his art work. Skateboards, surfboards, fins, and posters all bear his unique styling. Gee’s illustration work feels as if it’s pulled from an endless sunset in the middle of an endless summer. At once retro and fresh, the images seem to be culled from a collective memory of skateboarding/surf culture and its heritage. His endearing style has won him high-profile clients such as Vans, Nike, and Lacoste.
Edinburgh-based artist Polly Verity creates detailed and intricate sculptures out of paper and wire. Most of her subjects are animals or mythological creatures and the size of her sculptures range from palm to life sized. The wire for the sculptures is built up into a 3D frame and this becomes the contour and outline of the creature. The wires are joined together through wrapping and pinching; no heat is applied to forge the wire. She then applies wet fine paper that she first sizes with glue onto the structure. The paper dries and tightens up while formed on the frame. Her creations are usually kept encased in a glass dome or box for protection and display.
In addition to these incredible sculptures, Verity also creates geometric origami paper art and wearable paper art. Her ability to meticulously create such delicate and intricate designs out of basic and simple tools like paper and wire is impressive. Be sure to check out her Flickr page for more photos, including some of a project she worked on with her brother involving the sculpting of crumpled tissue paper organs.