If ever a designer could be labeled Cult Couture, Aoi Kotsuhiroi would be it. Kotsuhiroi’s “body objects” blur the line between fashion and fine art, with each handmade, one-of-a-kind piece embodying a sense of primal energy, like relics of an ancient gothic warrior tribe. Through her juxtaposition of precious materials like cherry tree wood, phantom crystals, and pit-fired porcelain with once living, borderline grotesque elements like human and horse hair, lacquered horns, and elephant, buffalo, and crocodile leathers, Kotsuhiroi breathes animalistic life into her wearable sculptures, imbuing the wearer with a spirit of strength, mystery, and a little bit of danger. Her most recent collection, entitled “Exotic Regrets,” is a post-apocalyptic masterpiece, featuring talon-shaped rings that could double as primitive weapons in an end of the world showdown, and a pair of sinewy, scorpion-like shoes which give new meaning to the term “killer heels.”
Tim Sullivan has created a sensory experience at the Steve Turner Contemporary not to be missed if you’re in the LA area this weekend. Large, 4-ft polycarbonate plastic discs will play modified versions of songs like “Hotel California” from the gallery walls in addition to playing from a large record player all created by Sullivan.
The artist’s work “continues to be inspired by various subcultures of California|Hollywood, hippies, death cults, sun worship, surf culture and Heavy Metal|and how they entered pop culture..”
You might remember Kumi Yamashita from one of our October posts featuring her extraordinary collection of works with light and shadow. If you recall, Yamashita subtly manipulated materials such as paper, fabric and wood to strategically use lighting on them in order to create shadow art installations. Her imagination and impressive craft skills lead her to create this new ongoing series entitled Constellation (a title that references the Greek tradition of tracing mythical figures in the sky).
This body of work consists of three materials: a wooden panel painted a solid white, thousands of small galvanized nails, and a single, unbroken, common sewing thread. She creates these stunning portraits by using the single,unbroken thread wrapped around thousands of nails. The task at hand is laborious, but the result is well worth the work.
Elaine Reicheck is a New York-based artist who uses embroidery to explore conceptual and aesthetic ideas in art. Though she has a background in painting, actually receiving an MFA from Yale in the subject, she began to question her training and wonder what kind of statement she wanted to make with her art. Though she experimented with knitting wool, hand-paining found photographs and other techniques, embroidery emerged as Reicheck’s material of choice. She creates beautiful works on linen using needle and thread.
Though she does quite a bit of her work by hand, Reichek also experiments with computerized sewing. She doesn’t feel this is a shortcut in anyway, as her work is as much about the concept as it is the end result.
There is also an undoubtedly feminist aspect to Reicheck’s work. She attributes it to working with so many male painters during her training. Embroidery, a historically feminine pastime, allows Reichek to explore the same ideas as her male painter counterparts, but, as she says, “if I make them that way, of course their meaning changes, since the meaning of an artwork is always bound with its media and processes and their history.”
Usually selecting a theme to base a series around, Reichek’s latest embroiders consider the myth of Ariadne. Ariadne gave Theseus a ball of thread with which to retrace his steps allowing him to escape the Minotaur’s labyrinth. Reichek created art-historical portraits, many of which contain Araidne’s image, and paired them with quotes from literary sources such as Nietzsche or Catullus.
When I think of New York City I imagine rough and tough grandma’s cussing you out and not taking shit from anyone. Other cities just don’t produce in your face, loud mouth senior citizens. This can get annoying in most situations but not when it comes to amazing Sister Helen Travis. In Sister Helen you’ll find one of the most unanimously acclaimed documentaries in recent years and winner of the coveted Sundance Film Festival Directing Award. A recovering alcoholic who lost her husband and sons to substance abuse Sister Helen fights the South Bronx’s drug wars one person at a time with more off-the-top catch phrases than a 1990’s rap song.
Sister Helen is an inspiring documentary filled with an equal dose of comedy and drama. The love/hate relationship between this tough-as-nails nun and the men who both fear her and rely on her to help them battle their own inner demons is unreal. Inspired by Sinatra’s “my-way-or-the-highway” mantra, Sister Helen runs a tight ship in which everyone must obey her rules and the hand that writes them. For the residents who wish to permanently kick the habit, this sobering dose of tough love may be their last and only hope.
Artist Christopher Murphy paints memories, using old family photographs as source material. He paints the Hoover Dam, large family gatherings, his younger self, and more. Murphy’s work is technically very good, and the realistic renderings of his paintings to look like photographs. They also depict quiet moments. While a lot of them involve people, there is very little tension among subjects. Colors are desaturated, which ages the look of them. Murphy spoke to New American Paintings about his work. He describes the overarching theme of his paintings, as well as his decision to use old photographs for reference. He says:
Imagination playfully cavorts with authenticity to fabricate the essence of memory. It is at this intersection, between the poles of fiction and truth, that my current paintings and drawings are situated. Issues of contrast, specifically of finding harmony between dissonant elements, have been a constant theme in my work. I see my paintings as opportunities to explore the conceptual contrasts of reality versus illusory and permanence versus ephemeral as applied to memory.
I choose old family photographs (largely culled from my own family’s albums, but supplemented with a selection of found photos from estate sales and thrift stores) to serve as the basis for my work, because of their unique qualities of semi-permanence, staged semblance, and ostensible candidness. In these photos, skies fade to pale yellows, skin tones sink, and details blur and grow fainter with time. Sometimes, dated technology necessitated blank stares or static poses, caused colors to skew, or impacted the framing of an image. By either exaggerating or minimizing these characteristics, along with re-contextualizing figures and objects or dramatically re-staging the action of a photo, the divisions are obscured between the reality that existed at the moment of the photograph, the memories of that moment, and the possibilities of reality that are presented in my work.
When it comes to fashion, the most groundbreaking and expressive creations aren’t always the most objectively practical. Kermit Tesoro is a designer known for his bizarre high heels, such as one with a backward-arching platform and a skull impaled on the heel. Tesoro’s work caught the attention of Lady Gaga, who commissioned Tesoro to create the iconic (and seemingly gravity-defying) heel-less heels. In addition to covering them with sequins and black “slime,” Tesoro has designed shoes in the likeness of horse hooves and, more recently, a set of writhing tentacles.
For Tesoro, clothing is a physical/mental extension of one’s personality. Instead of using fashion to downplay or conservatize identity, he strives to make it strange and shocking, exaggerating (and thereby celebrating) one’s inner eccentricity. In an interview with StyleBible, Tesoro explains further:
“I want to translate people’s deviations into my own creations. It’s like a fashion interpretation of the biological or psychological deviation of a person. I’ve always been driven to create clothing articles based on inner conflicts or the inability to control one’s inner impulses or failure to structure one’s behavior in an orderly way. These traits are quantified into one as a form of aggression against others due to frustration that ignites nothing but rebellion. If my collections have violated one’s conventional control or if the collection amazed people, either way I’m very grateful with the outcome. There is no agitation without provocation.” (Source)
Earlier in the interview, Tesoro says that when it comes to making original and captivating designs, “one must follow his own instinct, and the trend will follow.” His methodology derives from deeply personal perspectives and inspirations, channeling a variety of emotions — from love and happiness to joy and despair — to create shoes that defy superficial notions of beauty in pursuit of daring forms of self-expression. Follow Tesoro’s work on Facebook and Instagram. (Via Bored Panda)