Dubai and the United Arab Emirates has seen a recent influx of street art and artists. However, those working beyond preordained areas, outside the law and within a true graffati tradition, still surprisingly few. One of the only such street artists is known Arcadia Blank. Though rare and often illegal, the artist’s work has garnered the support of many locals by forgoing trite tagging for short thought provoking maxims. The short text pieces touch on religion, politics, globalization, media, and a range of other matters with an intriguing mix of sarcasm and sincerity. Further, Arcadia often utilizes temporary structures, which not only minimize private property damage but also is especially appropriate to the artwork’s style.
Holding her Nikon Digital SLR camera up to a spotting scope, Carol E. Richards examines a surprising array of feathery emotions akin to her own.
The use of two surfaces or buffers, sometimes three, if shot through a window, create a fascinating ring around each figure, a soft focused vignette of sorts, comparable to that of a toy camera. The result is an ambient deepening, apparent not only in the composition, but also in the subject matter and the artist’s intrigue with trailing or meditating on each flighty movement.
Salvador Dali once said, “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.” On this note, Richards explores the act of bird watching as a certain mirroring, clearly exposing humanity’s inclination to anthropomorphize animals and as she asserts, “project qualities onto them that can be heartbreaking, sweet, or simply intriguing.”
Thus, in the vein of Dali’s quote, Richards shares with us her most recent collection: Birds Have Wings from Nazraeli Press.
This giant snaking sculpture is the Funnel Tunnel by artist Patrick Renner. The temporary sculpture was commissioned by Art League Houston and sits on the esplanade across from their building. Renner’s Funnel Tunnel stretches for 180 feet, open as a giant funnel at one end and tapering to a sharp point at the other. The structure was created using steel and reclaimed wood. The ALH explains, “the sculpture reflects the creative people and businesses in the Montrose area, and is the first of its kind in Houston.” [via]
Los Carpinteros is an art collective founded in 1991 in Havana, Cuba. They create small and large scale installations that reflect perversions of common, everyday objects. These objects are bent, twisted, de- and re-formed, creating abstract work with recontextualized boundaries. The artists deconstruct these simple forms in order to complicate our experience of them. Stable forms become chaotic, erratic, and fragmented through Los Carpinteros’ manipulation of them, ultimately representing a subversion of structure that transcends the domestic or personal.
Las fall street artists MOMO and El Tono were invited collaborate on a project for the Bien Urbain festival in France. Both artists often work with an abstract painted style. For their collaboration, though, the artists added a third dimension. Using pieces of wood, the artists filled gaps in walls and windows throughout the city. Instead of being unused negative space, the gaps were transformed into a framing device for these abstract compositions. Simple but elegant, the series is illustrative of innovative trends in street on new approaches to interacting with the urban environment.
Swedish artist Johan Andersson creates hyperrealistic oil paintings that depict subjects who are socially vulnerable, be it politically, economically, or physically. These subjects are often largely dismissed or ignored, rendered almost invisible by mainstream society and culture. Andersson’s portraits capture the beauty and strength borne from this vulnerability, asking the viewer to question representations and relationships of identity across a spectrum of marginalization. Andersson currently lives in Los Angeles.
Laura Krifka’s work feels both classical and contemporary– a collection of myths that transcend time, stuck on the spin cycle from one era to the next. There is a soft religious quality in each face as he or she slowly responds to pending doom, lurking out of view. Such off stage suspense, feels exactly this way– theatrical.
The dramatic cliche breathes with familiarity, reminding us of our own cyclical head space in relation to history, story archetypes, life, and to our own animalistic emotions or neurotic human obsessions. It’s why we make art and why we repeat ourselves generationally and artistically.
Of her paintings, Krifka states, “I create a world populated with naive and innocent figures acting out their own legend, blind to the dangers around them or those that exist within themselves. In my work the fantasies and clichés of our own world combine and breed, creating a hyperbolic landscape populated by a society lost in their own myth.”
Europe-Europe is a series of porcelain figurines created by the collective AES+F - a group made up of the artists Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovitch, Evgeny Svyatsky, and Vladimir Fridkes. A first quick glance they may seem like typical decorative figurines. However, it soon becomes clear that something is terribly/wonderfully wrong. The collection, exhibited together in a case, seems like an orgy – people caught in various sexual situations.
Yet, something else makes this series especially interesting: the characters are often thought of disliking or even hating each other in real life situations. A Neo-Nazi strokes the locks of a Hasidic Jewish boy, sweat shop workers pet their capitalist supervisor, a police officer fondles a rioter. While these can easily be read as a playful and optimistic depiction of global unity, a sinister feeling lingers on these figurines. It seems as likely that these hateful feelings are depicted as a sexual tension. Political power struggles are illustrated as sexual power struggles.