Berlin-based artist Ivan Prieto sculpts colorful figures whose very existence seems to be burdened by their own body. In his 2014 exhibition titled Icarus, a cast of characters pepper the gallery, each with their own affliction. One lean figure has an intrusive rock growing from its skull. Another is armless and has its torso wrapped in large red coils. As a whole, the group is beautiful yet tragic.
The name of the exhibition could give us some clue about these character. It refers to the Greek mythological story about Icarus, the son of Daedalus who dared to fly too near to the sun on wings of feathers and wax. Before takeoff, his father warns of him of having hubris and requested that he not fly too low or high because the sea’s dampness would clog his wings while the sun’s heat would melt them. Since he flew too near, his wings melted and he fell into the sea.
Like their namesake, there’s a sense of these characters suffering physical consequences for their choices, be them foolish or misguided. You feel for Prietro’s sculptures, because they could be any of us.
Louis Jacinto‘s series “Floating Away” is at once alien and familiar, like Norman Rockwell from space. His photographs are of the most mundane objects we see every day in our lives: signs, usually connected to buildings and rooftops, drifting away. One photograph features a water tower, suspended in mid-air like a Midwestern siren call. Unmoored from their surroundings, the objects seem to contain some kind of portent, like a surreal rapture of modern design.
Jacinto’s photographs of big company logos are particularly evocative; devoid of branding, advertisements and the adoring gaze of consumers, they seem almost lonely. There’s a nostalgia to Jacinto’s photographs. They’re haunted by ghosts of icons from the past.
According to a statement by the artist,
“I expected so much growing up in the 1960s. My home always included discussions of the day’s events and politics. I saw how people struggled, fought and died for what was right. I thought by the time I was grown, the world was going to be beautiful and wonderful. I see we are still getting it backwards. I do everything I can so that my own ideals don’t float away.”
“Lilith v akcii / Lilith in Action” (2009). Soft sculpture, textile.
Vlasta Žáková is a Slovakian artist who uses fabric to create pictures and soft sculptures that quite literally “explode at the seams” with human emotion, experience, and desire. Her technique involves hand and machine sewing, and various materials are layered and embroidered into her works until they take on a painterly, three-dimensional effect. In addition to her textile “paintings,” Žáková also creates life-size human figures, which are realistic, surreal, humorous, and saddening all at once. Her sculptures include a woman crying alone in the corner, with red threads to indicate her tear-stained face; a man straddled by a nearly naked woman in a hallway, while a dog looks bizarrely on; and a headless body slumped against a wall, its knees split open and arms frayed off.
In both her pictures and sculptures, Žáková’s main inspiring influence is the party scene, and the types of intimacy and shattered states these events often result in — hence why her work consistently depicts despair, eroticism, and/or debauchery. In one particularly striking sculpture, Žáková took the image of a crowd of people, fused it together, and created a horrifyingly exuberant and multi-limbed creature. This work was presented at the Red Gallery (London) in a performance titled Ultraviolet Movement (2013). Combined with physical animation and UV lights, the soft sculpture embodies the darkness, hedonism, and semi-lucidity of a late-night party. The video Nocturne (embedded above), which Žáková made in collaboration with Jakub Gulyás (video) and Martina Vyskupová (performer) as part of an exhibition project in the Bunker of the Nitra Gallery, features this grotesque “puppet” as it takes on an eerie life of its own.
What is beautiful and provocative about Žáková’s work is that she has brilliantly infused her textile creations with their own emotional and erotic lives; many of us can probably relate to the states of disrepair and desire she expressively depicts. Visit Žáková’s website to see more of her work. You can read about her time at the Red Gallery here and here.
A final resting place for you and your loved ones just got a little cooler. Instead of a tomb you could now become part of a tree. An innovative project called Capsula Mundifrom the minds of Italian designers Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel have developed a concept that would combine the deceased with a young tree that would eventually grow into a living memorial. It will change the way we visit loved ones who have gone on to the great beyond. Instead of cemeteries we could now visit the deceased in beautiful forests as an alternative, a more civilized, celebratory, and positive way to remember. Presently, we reflect on thoughts and artifacts when a person dies. Perhaps soon we will be able to watch them grow and become part of a living organism again.
The body would be placed in a pod-like sack underneath a seed or sapling in a fetal position. As it transforms it will provide nutrients which will allow the tree to grow and in a sense become one with it. The project has not been officially approved in Italy yet since legislation prohibits cemeteries without proper burial case. The people at Capsula Mundi are looking to change this and make their concept a reality. Once they do it will start a new and wonderful way we can continue to love those we’ve lost with a little help from mother nature. (via boredpanda)
The work of artist Alessandro Boezio is somewhere between a cross of beautiful, anatomic sculptures and a science experiment gone wrong. Created from clay and fiberglass, Boezio’s sculptures take on a strange life form all of their own. The mutated anatomy included in his work display hands with misplaced digits, spidery entities with fingers used for legs, and limbs with mismatched body parts. The artist has an amazing talent in sculpture as his hands and feet, which he mainly focuses on, are incredibly life-like. At first glance, you may not see the odd mutation of the individual hand. However, the uncanny feeling soon forces you to reckon with its disturbing deformation.
The sight of unattached body parts formed into stand-alone creatures can be quite unnerving. As some of Boezio’s hands are missing many vital fingers, many have a plethora of digits that give them a new life. The fingers become spider-like legs that allow the sculptures to become creepy-crawly creatures that can spin a golden web. They become centipedes made up of our own body parts that inch across the floor. The larger the limb, the more peculiar and abnormal each piece becomes. Boezio’s most life-like sculpture includes a fleshy, peach color to resemble skin, and displays legs and feet in place of fingers. The hand’s tone is incredibly similar to life, which makes the mutation all the more bizarre. Unbelievably, you can even see the veins and hair on the hand. Boezio’s detailed artistic skill is just as incredible and shocking as the misplaced anatomy in his work.
“My Black Heart” (2014.) 100 x 71cm, watercolor and pencil on cotton paper.
“Speak The Truth” (2014). 50 x 71 cm, watercolor and pencil on cotton paper.
“L’offerta” (2014). 80 x 60 cm, acrylic on canvas.
“The Catcher” (2014). 60 x 70 cm, acrylic on canvas.
El Gato Chimney is an Milan-based artist who paints imaginative and symbolic scenes that explore the dualisms and crossovers between good and evil, life and death. Populated with anthropomorphized animals, fire-breathing demons, and masked religious-type figures, Chimney’s work resembles the kind of metaphorical, fantastical visions you might imagine on a medieval tapestry, where every detail is interwoven with a hidden significance. Intensifying the scope of his art is the fact that his paintings syncretize spiritual traditions and practices from around world and throughout history, including alchemy, occultism, and folklore. Brimming with wit, insight, and imagination, Chimney’s work is a modern interpretation of ancient art and ongoing philosophic themes.
One of the most compelling aspects of Chimney’s symbol-filled imagery is the apparent moral ambiguity. The creatures inhabiting the vast, melancholic landscapes are unclear in their intentions, with their strange, chimerical bodies appearing both gentle and wicked. Many of them are preparing for abstract duals with one another, the reasons for which remain unknown. In a statement provided on Chimney’s Bio page, this confounding of good and evil, darkness and light is eloquently described:
“The universe he portrays is dual and deceptive, like a good nightmare: a world constantly split between a daytime Arcadia and an inhabited and unquiet night, where the dividing line is clearly visible and easy to cross, both a danger signal and an invitation to disobedience” (Source).
If you look throughout the landscapes, the backdrops are frequently divided by bold demarcations of light and dark, with no apparent barriers between them; one can “switch sides” with a surprising ease. What Chimney seems to be depicting here is a pervasive ambiguity, a hybridic reading of morality and spirituality that reveals there is no singular conception of good and evil; instead, we are all just navigating the joys and misfortunes of existence. As the above statement continues, “the artist wants to assert that celebrating life and escaping death is what joins all beings” (Source).
Visit Chimney’s website and Facebook page and immerse yourself in his dualistic, symbolic visions, the interpretations of which are quite literally endless. His work will be exhibited at the Stephen Romano Gallery in Brooklyn from March 5 – April 30. (Via designboom)
We all love a good boombox – but probably not as much as Tom Sachs. He has dedicated a whole exhibition to speakers, cables, and different sound system configurations. Tom Sachs: Boombox Retrospective 1999–2015 is exactly what it sounds like – a display of functional boomboxes made by Sachs and play 60 minute playlist created by the artist, friends and fans created throughout the show (Kanye West being one contributor). A fan of 1980’s street culture combined with his D.I.Y and punk ethos, Sachs has been fashioning different sound systems for a long time – he has even crafted functional ceramic boomboxes in the past.
With his love for raw materials, assemblage and with his homemade aesthetic, Sachs has created many unstated feats of engineering. His past projects include recreating Knoll office furniture out of only telephone books and duct tape, building a whole McDonalds store out of plywood and glue, and making numerous Hello Kitty sculptures out of anything from foam core to bronze. But this show is the first time we see just how many time Scahs can rebuild one theme over and over again.
Louis Grachos from The Contemporary Austin explains how impressed they are with Sach’s work, and how his ideologies and attitude match the city his pieces are shown in:
I have worked with Tom Sachs on several projects in the past, and I am very excited to introduce his work to Austin [Texas]. Like Austin, Tom takes his eccentricities seriously. The maverick spirit of self-reliance and attention to hand-crafted precision that come through in his work will keenly resonate with our audiences in Central Texas and beyond. (Source)
Alva Bernadine is a British photographer known for his color-saturated, surrealist style and subversive content. Contained within his oeuvre are several series of unconventional nude photographs; from conjoined torsos to uncanny perspectives to disembodied legs and fetishized footwear, his works are story-filled portraits that engage and entice as often as they confound (or even repulse). Inspired by surrealist artists such as Rene Magritte and photographers Cheyco Leidmann and Guy Bourdin, Bernadine’s works contain elements of absurdity mixed with eroticism, glamour, mystery, and oftentimes humor.
This particular series incorporates mirrors to attain Bernadine’s signature stylistic effect. He was inspired to create these images when he bought six small mirrors in a £1 shop. “I have used mirrors before in my work but never in multiples,” Bernadine explained in a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay. “After initially trying to get as many into an image as possible, I then started thinking up different permutations, finally working my way back down to one mirror […]. As the mirrors were so small, you can only reflect a small portion of the body with one, which led me to try to reconstitute a woman with several.”
The results are provocative, to say the least. From playful self-examinations to fragments of orgasmic bliss, the images entice us with a unique — but not wholly transparent — form of voyeurism. We can see the nude models engaged in acts that hover between private intimacy and exhibitionism, but we are not given the whole picture; we are never truly certain of what is occurring in the room behind the camera. This ambiguity heightens the erotic effect by taking some control away from the viewer/voyeur in their engagement with the photos. Speaking of his work generally, Bernadine expresses how he is consistently trying to “produce a sort of unresolved picture, an inconclusive narrative, that the viewer has to finish for [him]” (Source). Thus, instead of passive consumption, Bernadine’s images stimulate the imagination, engaging us on both cognitive and erotic levels.
Bernadine’s work has become deservedly well-recognized over the years. He worked his way up as a self-taught artist and collaborated with magazines. He eventually won the Vogue Sotheby’s Cecil Beaton Award for young photographers for The Fetish, a series of photographs showing a high-heel shoe in a variety of strange contexts. In 2001, Bernadine published Bernadinism: How to Dominate Men and Subjugate Women, which won him the Erotic Photographer of the Year in Britain (2002). Another book, titled Twisted, recently came out in 2014. Visit Bernadine’s website and Facebook page to follow his fascinating, creative, and unconventional work.