Moroccan painter Zakaria Ramhani creates large-scale portraits using Arabic calligraphy as a medium to convey form. Ramhani uses the beautiful painterly forms of Islamic calligraphy to depict and further expound and question political issues, Muslim identity, Islamic piety, text and image in the Muslim culture, amongst other things. Through his technique, the artist defies and contradicts the religious taboo on figuration, which is, to say the least, a very scandalous thing to do. These works are part of a collection called May Allah Forgive you, a name derived from childhood memories of his father, a landscape painter, trying to avoid working on commissioned portraits of the human figure for religious reasons. His father would explain to Zakaria that ‘only god will forgive’ him for the sins he committed whilst painting the commissioned portraits.
Ramhani’s earlier work, precisely a piece called You Were my Only Love (2012), incited much controversy, as the work questioned religious tradition and the prevalent coercion at hand during the last couple of years in Egypt and the Middle East. The piece was banned from last year’s Art Dubai.
Zakaria’s first U.S. exhibition opened November 6th, at the Julie Meneret Contemporary Art (JMCA), a new gallery on the Lower East Side in NYC.
Alice Aycock is mostly known for her important oeuvre of sculptural and installation works, which have spanned decades and include exhibitions at some of the most important cultural institutions around the world. Aycock, however, is also a master draftswoman, creating works on paper that problem-solve her idea of “nonfunctional architecture,” often taking on forms reminiscent of diagrams and blueprints. As Aycock eloquently explains, the medium and its strengths are vastly different in 2 and 3-Dimensions - “Drawings aren’t bound by the physical—the imagination can run freely.”
These sumptuously drawn pieces offer a new realm of possibilities, not simply tied to her sculptural works, but also a visual representation of how the artist’s mind and complex process unfolds. “Viewers are accustomed to seeing Ms. Aycock’s work in its final form, large-scale installations and outdoor sculptures, but her drawings show a mind at work, solving problems and breaking new ground. They also provide further evidence of her ideas and sources, offering clues to their meaning.”
Vicki Ling is an artist that creates graphite drawings of surreal landscapes. Chock full of symbolism and mystery, Ling’s images are cryptic. Part of their appeal is trying to solve the visual puzzle that she’s constructed.
Ling briefly speaks about her work, writing, “…fictional landscapes and constructions shift between two and three dimensions, creating a sensation of movement and evolving forms.” The places depicted are liminal spaces, meaning they are in transition, somewhere between what they began as and what they will become. This is made inherent in the movement and tension created by the textures and forms in the work. They are reminiscent of the ocean. We can imagine the crashing waves, tides, and the inhabitants of the sea. There is tension in Ling’s work, and it is easy to feel like at any moment waves will rush in and fill the rooms that she’s so carefully rendered. But, considering Ling’s intent, perhaps she wants an environment that could suddenly be swept away. This notion is refreshing, but also sad knowing that this environment is fleeting.
I am personally intrigued by Ling’s drawing that features a sinkhole. In this image, it looks like the top of the landscape has been punctured. The surface is fragile and looks like it is going to cave in on itself. What would it become? I imagine it to be a black hole, drawing everything in until nothing is left. Or, it could be a portal to another world. The places in Ling’s drawings could exist anywhere. They are surreal and conjure the feeling of a dream, so this could all exist in someone’s head. As the artist spoke of moving and evolving forms, these drawings are all metaphors; not only a shifting environment, but personally as we grow, change, and confront obstacles. If we are willing, we evolve just as Ling’s landscapes suggestively do.
Amanda McCavour creates delicate and intricate thread illustration-sculptures by sewing into a fabric that dissolves in water. This method allows her to build a threaded structure that stays in place once the fabric dissolves. The result is embroidery that appears fragile, on the verge of unraveling. She recreates domestic scenery, like that of chairs, side tables, electric sockets, in addition to other figures such as hands, a garden, and a steam pump. The effect of this work is ephemeral and whimsical.
From her artist statement, “I am interested in the vulnerability of thread, its ability to unravel, and its strength when it is sewn together. I am interested in the connections between process and materials and the way that they relate to images and spaces. Tracing actions and environments through a process of repetition, translation and dissolving, I hope to trace absence. My work is a process of making as a way of tracing and preserving things that are gone, or slowly falling apart.” (via slow art day)
Aleksandra Domanović deals with sculpture that echoes monuments from the past from her native (former) Yugoslavia. While some sculptures take on more traditional forms of post-Communist leaders, the Berlin-based artist also began experimenting with unique materials in her work. 19:30 Stacks was created by piling size A3 and A4 paper with photos printed on their sides with ink-jet printing. First creating a massive PDF file of a photo, Domanović set the printer to ‘border-less print’ setting, which coated the ends of each paper, and when stacked upon each other, revealed the finished image.
For a time this work was open-sourced so that anyone could make one for themselves by downloading the file (now broken), printing it out, and then placing it between 1500 empty pages on the top and bottom of the printed stack. According to her artist statement, Domanović’s ”work focuses on profound social and media-technological transformations, and their interdependence. Some of her projects give form to the relationships of meaning imposed by archival models. Others suggest alternate models that draw on her observations of shared memory and feelings of community. Domanovic uses material related to her autobiography — the television, music, and monumental art of Yugoslavia — as well as materials that claim transcendence of the personal and national, such as Getty Images’ database of stock photography and (on the blog Vvork, which she co-edits) international contemporary art production.” (via u1u11)
I’ve been following Peekasso‘s (real name: Peter Stemmler) work on his Tumblr page for awhile now, and he is easily one of my favorite internet artists. I’m never bored with any of his creations, but his gif work is especially impressive. Using a combination of clips from film, video games, pornography, commercials, pop culture, and other internet ephemera, Stemmler assembles a curious juxtaposition of images. Some of his gifs have a brainwashing quality to them – a quick succession of disparate images and the loop of the gif medium force the brain to make connections between starkly contrasted imagery. The result is dizzying, and for me, satisfying in its absurdity. Underneath this absurdity and within the juxtapositions there is a critique of some of the imagery that seems to emerge, a perspective that seems to mock much of media in general.
As an internet artist, Stemmler also has an impressive output of static digital images and illustrations that you can check out on his website, blog, or Flickr. He lives in New York.
Have you ever thought about how people will remember you when you are gone? Do you wish to be remembered in a particular way? Perhaps with a specific outfit, or at a specific age? Why would you have someone else choose the picture? You have a choice while you are alive.
Belgian photographer Frieke Janssens is offering her services in order to create the ultimate headshot, the one that you would like on your grave and everyone’s minds once you’ve past away.
The eerie yet beautiful and polished headshots are Janssens’ way to change people’s mindsets when it comes to ideas of death and memory. The series of ‘Your Last Shot’ reflects a combination of the sitter’s wishes and the photographer’s style. With make up assistance, styling and post-production, Jenssen creates master portraits that defy the ugliness that death brings about. In a sense, having a say on what you’ll look like to those alive when you are dead is a way to take control. This will perhaps leave us a bit more at ease about the whole death process.
The ‘last portrait’ will be finished in porcelain so that it can actually be used when the time comes.
“My personal preference goes to static portraits as they were taken at the occasion of weddings at the beginning of the 20th century. My aim is to make an iconic portrait that is beautiful, serene and fearless, preferably with a gentle smile, indicating that the model is clearly aware of the fact that this portrait will be used for a very long time to come.”
You can check the project’s website to find out more on how you can participate- it is a limited time thing,so if you want in, go check it out now!
Art meets commerce in this video directed by the legendary Joe Pytka. Pytka, a cinematographer, director and film maker was so inspired by New York-based artist Nate Lowman’s Just One Eye project with Converse he was inspired to create a short filmed that embodied the spirit of the project.
In the video, the viewer is welcomed into an enigmatic scene with a disembodied eyeball, blood and dimly lit hallways. Something sinister and grim is afoot and then we meet our one-eyed protagonist. It leaves the viewer thinking, just what is going on here? What’s going on is a collaboration between artist Nate Lowman and Converse to make a custom Chuck Taylor shoe. Lowman has cut one of his paintings (depicting a copy of Willem de Kooning’s 1954 portrait of Marilyn Monroe) into as many pairs of unique high-top Chuck Taylors as possible.
The great thing about these collaborations is that it exposes a whole new audience to art and allows them to incorporate it into their every day lives. Lowman’s work has been described by New York Times chief art critic as “down-and-out excursions into collage, graffiti and appropriation.” Lowman’s first critical acclaim came about as a result of a show with P.S.1. He has also collaborated with brands like Supreme to create exclusive products. Each pair of Chuck Taylors from the Just One Eye: Nate Lowman collaboration is a unique piece of art in and of itself, a fragment of a whole. Everyone who owns a pair of this collection will be part of this unique part of Converse history.