Carlos Donjuan’s paintings combine his years of painting graffiti with the knowledge that he has gained in academia. By interweaving art history references with graffiti art’s history, Carlos creates a hybrid way of thinking made from art jargon and slang from the streets. His paintings work as narratives that are greatly influenced by everyone from Michelangelo to Alice Neel to Twist to Revok. There are elements in these works that deal with personal influences such as Catholicism, Mexico, Oak Cliff, illegal immigration, politics and family. The portraits not only tell stories, but also document several cultures and movements that these individuals are a part of. Movements and cultures such as skateboarding, fixies, turntablelism, street wear, sneaker heads, graffiti and Hip Hop.
I’m sure you recognize the reference here. In case you were in doubt, the Belgian artist Jan Fabre is reinterpreting the most iconic work of the renaissance, Michelangelo’s Pietà.
Michelangelo’s famous work of art depicts the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion.
Fabre’s interpretation gets personal, a little macabre, and a bit controversial…
In his rendition, Fabre places himself as Jesus with a butterfly perched on the side of his mouth. The heavy, dead-looking body wears a crisp, classy but torn suite. A closer look reveals a scarab at the edge of his cuff that is slowly drifting off towards the artist’s lifeless hand, which is tenuously holding on to a human brain.
The Virgin Mary’s face is replaced by a skull, which many would say is a reference to the Vanitas, the universal symbol of death.
The work was shown in Venice in 2011. This was in close relation to, but not a part of the 54th edition of the Venice Biennale. Given the place and the country (a very religious one) in which it was shown, you can image the controversy it created. The artist commented on the matter:
“is not to convey a blasphemous or even merely or provocative message. This work represents a “performance sculpture” that illustrates a mother’s real feelings when she yearns to take the place of her dead son.”
NYC artist Susanna Starr is known for her sculptures and hybrids of sculpture and painting that employ a range of material. From sponges saturated with gallons of paint, to painted, cut and layered mylar, to delicate wall works of wood veneer with designs meticulously cut out, Starr’s practice employs a talent for translating materials in unexpected ways. Hallmarks of her works are an exploration of formal issues of medium and process, a witty sense of play, and a carefully balanced tension resulting from the contradictory use of material.
Her upcoming exhibition at Marcia Wood Gallery (April26-june 9th), “Psychedelicate”, is an explosion of pattern and color in the neon colored works that suspend ceiling to floor as well as hang in multiple layers on the wall. In an NYFA Magazine article on Starr, Stacey Gottleib describes “Mylar offered a way of working with pigment in its purest form, each sheet like a single brushstroke of paint, layers of which, when hung together in her trademark, cunningly calculated tones, also opened up a previously unseen, inner dimension to the work. In addition, transferring the lacy pattern of porous sponge to the new material necessitated a cutting device to hollow out the holes and so the pen-knife and meticulous handwork the cutouts required became a vital part of the process as well.”
I’ve walked past this mural on 2nd Street just east of Bowery on my way home a bunch of times, but for whatever reason, it finally caught my eye last week. And wouldn’t you know it, the guy who made it has a super sweet website full of amazing artwork! Sebastian Wahl is originally from Stockholm, but now works out of a studio in the South Bronx. Using a resin based technique, he creates psychedelically super-charged mandalic inspired collages.
Installation view Irreducible Complexity/ You and I and Irreducible Complexity/heart
The sculptural work of Andrea Haslerhas always created a dichotomous dynamic – push and pull, revulsion and attraction. The Zurich, Switzerland-born artist (previously featured here) has used her trademark visual medium of sculpted fiber-glass covered with wax to insinuate the human body, with equal parts inference to our insides as well as outsides.
Her newest work is title Embrace the Base, a commission for Greenham Common in Berkshire, England by New Greenham Arts. The site, which held the longest women’s protest against a site storing nuclear weapons in the early 1980’s, is rich with history and emotion. The larger pieces in Hasler’s commission recall the tents that these women protesters erected in their camp outside of the military base which now serves as a cultural meeting place.
“For the New Greenham Arts Exhibition, I have created a new sculptural body of work that takes Greenham Common’s history as a starting point, particularly with the Women’s Peace Camp with its tents situated on the site during this time. This new work also takes into account the historical perspective. as well as entwines with the recreational aspect of how Greenham Common as a site, is being used now, as well as the New Greenham Art gallery being located in the former American Army’s entertainment quarter. Metaphorically I am taking the notion of the tents which were on site during the Women’s Peace Camp, as the container for emotions, and “humanise” these elements to create emotional surfaces.
Hasler mentions that with Embrace the Base she is taking a political element as a starting point and then involving body politics. In Matriarch and Next of Kin, two tent forms, cloaked in skin-like covering, recall the tents that these protesters erected in the Women’s Peace Camp. While one tent is a full-sized replica, the other scaled down, and as the artist hints, most likely represents a mother and child relationship. Often working with skin as a loaded (and typically, simultaneously literal) metaphor, Hasler says, “It’s almost like I am taking the fabric of the tent, the sort of the nylon element of the tent, and I make the fabric, this skin layer as sort of the container for emotion, or sort of the container to hold emotion, as in the skin holding emotion.”
Maxime Ballesteros is Berlin-based photographer who captures the strange, incidental, and oft-intense encounters that punctuate our late-night sojourns into debauchery, pleasure, and excess. The openness and playfulness of his subjects (many of whom are his friends) denotes a party that has reached a fevered, dissociative pitch. Not unlike the fragmentary memories flickering through the brain after a night of indulgence, his photos always suggest there is a much greater narrative going on: from cars abandoned along a dark roadside, to entangled legs, to people kissing and groping in the company of others, we are privy to only one piece from such nighttime revelry, making us curious voyeurs into a fleeting moment from a stranger’s erotic and/or emotional life.
Something happens to us human creatures after nightfall – our energy changes, an “edge” develops that wasn’t there while the sun was still shining. We become desiring, sensate, and slightly odd night-dwellers. Given the recurring images of heels and garter belts and glimpses into the world of BDSM, it is not surprising that Ballesteros’ repertoire is commonly identified as “provocative” and “sexual.” However, it is important not to reduce his photography to such; Ballesteros expresses that his “work is [only] as provocative and sexual as the world is,” and that we interpret sex in everything because — of course — it’s what “driv[es] us most” (Source). What he also explores is the humor, beauty, pain, and gracelessness that motivate and underwrite these late-night experiences.
The way Ballesteros manages to capture the honesty and frankness of these experiences lies in his photographic techniques. His core tactic, in his own words? To “get lost” (Source), to become invisible in his surroundings while remaining receptive to the energy of the people around him, so that he can decipher people’s facades and understand the true dynamics of an encounter. With his camera, he tries to get in close; he avoids re-cropping so that the image is a true representation of that moment; and he uses a high flash, centering the object or body of interest. The result is raw, stark images that confront you with their candor and intensity. And even when his work dips into the surreal — the latex-clad woman screaming while being pushed down a hallway in a wheelchair, for example — the photos still bear a realist, honest aesthetic, as if they truly could be moments from a strange, semi-lucid night.
Following Ballesteros’ wisdom, I encourage all readers to “get lost” in his website, where he has organized his collections under such intriguing titles as “entre chien et loup” and “love me – i’m trying.” You can read an interview with Sang Blue here. The Corner Berlin also features a fascinating video of Ballesteros comparing the nightlife in Paris to that in Berlin. More of Ballesteros’ work after the jump.
I LOVE PAINTING! Maybe this is not so much of a secret if you’ve been following Beautiful/Decay for a while– but every time I see a Dana Schutz painting I just want to scream out…..”I LOVE PAINTING!” Dana’s a painter’s painter. A painter whose techincal chops rivals only her bizarre imagination and quirky themes. A painter who’s willing to take risks and use bold color with no fear. Unfortunately for me, Dana doesn’t currently show her work in LA. So, it was a great treat to get a copy of her fantastic new monograph today, released by art publishing hereos Rizzoli.
Rizzoli has to be one of my favorite art publishers to date. They always release monographs on the best artists of our generation. And Dana Schutz’s book is no exception: it’s filled with over 200 pages of work and essays documenting her artistic evolution. If you’re a fan of Dana, or of painting in general, you need to add this book to your collection. I guarantee it won’t disappoint!
Erin M. Riley takes the images that usually live on Snapchat, Tumblr, or the privacy of your own phone and translates them into tapestries. They are pictures you wouldn’t want your parents to see. They feature naked and half naked women, drug paraphernalia, used condoms, and more. In an interview with Arrested Motion, Riley states, “I try to take pictures of the condoms after I have sex, the pictures I send to people, pictures of tables at parties, substances & liquids that change the course of events.”
If broadcasted the world, these are the type of photos that would really embarrass someone. Riley takes time to translate these experiences into large, detailed, and colorful weavings completed on a loom. In the same interview, she goes on to say, “I am taking the time to recreate these images as physical tapestries, because these are the events and objects that are significant to me. Tapestry allows images to be given more time, for hookups to gel, for mistakes to be thought over, its a way to over analyze every detail.” This is a cathartic activity for the artist, who says that there is an ebb and a flow in her images over time. Sometimes, they will be more aggressive or explicit, then scale back. Riley says that it’s a reflection in her own life, and she’s open to sharing this with her viewers. Doing so gives the opportunity to start a dialogue with people who admire, question, and collect her work. She’s happy to have conversation with people who might not broach the subject without the help of her tapestries.
Part of the success of Riley’s work is the way it is produced. She combines two different worlds; weaving, an old art form that requires a lot of skill, and the digital age, one that is very focused on instant gratification and accessible by nearly everyone.