Whether we imagine the world as a futuristic dystopia or a charred wasteland, post-apocalyptic images weigh heavily on our cultural imaginations. In a stunning series of illustrations, Russian artist Yuri Shwedoff has created an intensely atmospheric vision of the “end of days,” one that blends fantasy imagery with science fiction. Among his scenes are sword-wielding warriors, blasted roads, alien architecture, and falling skies; as vestiges of the lost world, animals seem to take on a symbolic significance, communing with the human figures in moments of intensity and reflection. Pulled between oscillating states of violent destruction and quiet despair, Shwedoff’s images are bound together by a powerful atmosphere that emanates from the brooding, ash-filled skies.
While many of Shwedoff’s artworks feature otherworldly phenomena — such as the telekinetic gladiator — what makes them most evocative are their ties to the world we know. The space shuttle, for example, sits dormant on its launch pad, embedded in dust and waste. Perhaps it was prepared to escape the world; now, it becomes aged scenery for the lone horseman who regards it on his journey. Similarly, the alien pods in “Cradle” suggest a landing with no escape plan; now, the structures are merely shelters for those who survive. Instilled with imagination and emotion, Shwedoff confronts us with powerful images of a lost humanity that has surpassed its technological limits and reached an inevitable end.
A million little pieces stitched together shapes a large moving tapestry. The waves of the installation, similar to chainmail, create a voluptuous presence. Artist El Anatsui is mesmerizing our senses and attracting our curiosity. He designs from simple materials complex compositions, using all sorts of tools to merge modest means into powerful and impressive pieces. In between sculpture (for the structure) and painting (for the way colors drop from different angles), the delicate and monumental pieces cannot be categorized.
El Anatsui’s work emphasizes the fact that art is a sixth sense, an add-on and a value that’s indescribable. From liquid bottle caps, iron nails, driftwood or cassava graters the artist creates morphing mosaics that are hung up the walls of monuments and museums in major cities. Seen from far away, the meticulously assembled little pieces become an accumulation of gems. Each installation is non fixed and can be moved from one place to another without ever having the same appearance. Just like fabric, the piece is creased, folded and adjusted to its in-situ set.
The artist’s impact on one hand is for the viewer to reflect on obvious key topics such as consumption, waste and environment. The bottle caps or the tin lids that he uses represent simultaneously garbage and manpower, thinking of that while he creates helps him give a spiritual dimension to his art.
On the other hand, the pieces help make a connection between America, Africa and Europe. The fact that the installations are hung questions the part of a wall as sequestration, protection or deprivation from freedom.
“Artists are not dictators”, El Anatsui claims loud and clear next to his pieces. He doesn’t want to impose an idea because everyone’s point of view is valid.
The artist was awarded in April 2015 at the Venice Biennale with a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. Watch the video below of one of the greatest artistic influencer amongst two generations of artists working in West Africa.
Photographer William Mortensen (1897-1965) was known throughout his life as someone who took pictures of Hollywood Stars. These were during the 1920s and depicted celluloid figures in a pictorialist romantic style. In his spare time, Mortensen would create images featuring semi-nude women engaged in various acts of witchcraft and debauchery. Mortensen’s practice of creating elaborately staged scenes and technical effects were ahead of their time. They set certain standards and became popular trends in fine art photography still valid today.
By using different elements in his pictures, Mortensen also turns these unique creations into storyboards filled with narrative. There’s movement and action in these stills which add to their beauty.
Despite the apparent influence, Mortensen would have great debates with Anselm Adams, the great naturalist who would call him a heretic and the anti-Christ. Funny be known now and probably back then too that the anti-Christ would always be much more interesting a subject to ponder in the realm of ideas.
In a series of eerie, 3D printed dioramas, Canadian artist Guillaume Lachapelle expands miniature scenes into voids of seemingly infinite space. Entitled Visions, this series depicts ordinary spaces we see every day, such as a suburban neighborhood, parking lot, corridor, and library. However, when compressed, cast in shadows, and stretched into infinity, these rooms and urban landscapes take on a different emotional significance; the familiar becomes uncanny, instilling the imagination with both excitement and fear of the unknown. Where does the neighborhood end? And where does the hallway lead? As the exhibition description for Visions intriguingly states, “Lachapelle’s miniatures act as a threshold between what is seen and not seen” (Source).
During their exhibition, each of the tiny scenes were positioned atop solitary pillars. Seeing them from the outside almost lends the viewer a god-like perspective — we can perceive everything the mirrored spaces contain, including their hidden symbolism. The effect is somewhat alienating, as the illusory vastness intensifies an uncomfortable sense of loneliness; the parking lot, for example, becomes a dead zone of concrete and pale light that stretches on forever. However, on this existential plane, the universe is not entirely uncaring: there are signs of life and comfort, such as the lights from within the houses, and the books containing all the marks of human history. Looking past our dread of infinitude and emptiness, there is a greater, warmer, symbolic core in Lachapelle’s dioramas, and with the mirrors providing infinite space, the meaning we can pour into them is limitless.
The geometry of perception is a concept Michael Zelehoski touches on. His work plays tricks with your eye challenging the part of your brain that processes three dimensional forms. What it soon discovers is that Zelehoski is presenting an idea to challenge your notion of a two dimensional object. Not so much an optical illusion as a different way of looking at things, Zelehoski uses common, mostly found structural debris to explore his ideas. Some of the objects he has painted include a twisted police barrier, a pile of wooden planks and the skeletal remains of wooden platforms. He recently created a three dimensional piece depicting a fallen electric tower. The structure was laid out flat on the gallery floor similar to how his paintings look. When shown next to his canvases, it was hard to tell which was real and which was a painting. This further challenges our notion of what is and what should be. It explores ideas which give insight into how perception affects our everyday reality and also tells us we should not take things only at face value.
Artist Malene Hartmann Rasmussen’s new installation “In The Dead Of Night” got her a spot amongst the 5 winners of Jerwood Makers Open, in the UK. It is her biggest work yet, featuring an artificial forest with trees 3,60m trees amongst which rabbits, mushrooms, and other elements of forest scenery can be seen. The end result of this elaborate scenery is a walk through installation where the audience can take in their surroundings in an environment full of sights and sounds.
Hartmann has taken a familiar surrounding and made it just strange enough for you to pick up an underlying mystical tone and soak in the artificial beauty of her creation. However, “In The Dead Of Night” is not a simple depiction of a forest, it reaches beyond this imagery: The forest in this piece also serves as a metaphor for the different corners of the mind and, walking through the installation prompts the audience to take a walk through their own minds.
For this piece, Hartmann has made use of various mediums and materials including ceramics, neon, photography, mixed media, light and sound. This combination of materials has made for a very thoughtful, eclectic piece with many details to spark and capture the viewer’s attention. By allowing the public to walk through the installation, Hartmann has elevated the status of the public to that of a participant, which, in turn reinforces the echos of nature present in her piece.
People trapped in plastics. This is the theme of the 8 oil paintings by Axel Void for his series titled “Sehnsucht”. Forced or consensual wrapping? After examining the paintings for a minute, the debate does not seem so obsolete. Axel Void suggests an alternative explanation on how to consider these people ; they are pleased with their fate. The title of the exhibition translates as nostalgia; a wistful affection for a period in the past; implying the period of time the artist misses and which is called absurdism. Absurdism symbolises the tension humankind has created for himself, wanting to define the value life without ever being able to do so.
The dichotomy between the classic style of the paintings and the psychologic, almost psychiatric representation of the artist’s nostalgia leaves us disturbed. Moreover, the interpretation of the cellophane or plastic bag can evokes protection, eroticism or asphyxiation. Leaving us full of doubts about what will happen next to these people.
Axel Void highlights in a dark way “the confusion and state of wellbeing within our basic necessities and longing for something else”.
This intermission in which those people are caught, some of them suffering, others patiently waiting is the state of mind of absurdism. For there is no explanation to how we all have gotten here and there is no logical reason to how we will get out of this state either.
The art of Axel Void is a picture of the society issues in a social and psychological way. He interprets in his paintings the stigma of what society is experiencing in response to a quest for answers that will have no ending.
After being apart from her own birth mother for more than 22 years, photographer Ashley Comer decided to meet the woman missing from her life and document the very personal and intense journey. While living in Georgia, Ashley decided to contact the adoption agency that facilitated her very own adoption and found that her birth mother Sheila was living in Florida, a mere 4 hour drive away from her at the time.
Using the excuse of the photographic project, Ashley contacted her birth mother and over several weekends and took some intimate and touching photographs. She managed to capture beautiful scenes of the two of them getting to know one another again, and the similarities in their physical appearance. They not only feature in the photographs together, the images are actually a collaboration between the pair.
It is easy to see the natural bond between the two women in Ashley’s snaps. And even though Ashley has now returned to Massachusetts, meaning they are unable to spend weekends together, she doesn’t doubt that they will keep the newly formed relationship going.
You can see the full collection of photographs from Ashley’s project Meeting Sheilahere. (Via Feature Shoot)