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Audrey Kawasaki Paints Women With A Warm Glow, Inviting You Closer Into Their Strange Worlds

Aubrey Kawasaki - Ink, Oil Paint, Graphite on WoodAubrey Kawasaki - Ink, Oil Paint, Graphite on WoodAubrey Kawasaki - Ink, Oil Paint, Graphite on Wood

The artwork of Audrey Kawasaki is completely irresistible in its portrayal of stunning technique and beautiful women. Her skilled illustration using ink, oil paint, and graphite is a sharp contrast to the natural grain of the wood panel in which she paints on. The warmth of the wood combined with the reds and oranges found in her work create a soft glow that radiates from her work. Each of her women contains an iridescent aura that invites you in, pulling you closer into the frame. There is an unmistakable seductiveness in their eyes, or in one case, the third eye, that is both intriguing and mysterious. As you examine Kawasaki’s work, something begins to feel peculiar. The beauty of her women blinds us before a strange, bizarre element creeps up on us. We slowly realize something is off, when we see things like pink, glowing rabbits circling around the figures or even a snake skeleton sprouting out of the roots of a woman’s hair.

Kawasaki flawlessly offers us women of quiet beauty that leaves us questioning each situation. She pulls her inspiration for her gorgeous paintings from both the distinct style of Manga comics and the swirling, elegance of Art Noveau. The enormously talented artist will have work up at a group show starting this June on the 26th at the Long Beach Museum of Art. Her work is included in the exhibition, Vitality and Verve: Transforming the Urban Landscape.

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Claudio De Luca’s Sculptures Of Heads Merge The Physical And The Digital

Claudio De Luca - sculptureClaudio De Luca - sculptureClaudio De Luca - sculpture Claudio De Luca - sculpture

Recent university graduate Claudio De Luca has been experimenting with merging traditional sculptural methods with new technologies and coming up with some exciting results. He works with ceramics, bronze casting, wax and wood for the base of her artworks, and builds on them using modern, digital-based techniques. His final year’s work at the Cardiff School of Art and Design featured a series of ceramic skulls and heads that were filled with different material, and had cubic shapes bursting out from their fronts.

De Luca has been trying his hand at laser cutting, 3D printing, 3D scanning, 3D modelling, and CNC machining. The combination of these different methods are a nice metaphor for the subject of De Luca’s work. He explores the ideas of identity and representation in a modern world, and especially how we present ourselves in the digital world. He says:

Ones portrayal of themselves in an online ecosystem is largely skewed, this is a feature of who they should be, never are the insecurities shown or the flaws revealed. Vulnerabilities such as these are how we define our best attributes and ultimately forge long lasting relationships.

I look at how the facets of ones self are greatly lessened when choosing what information to construct in the digital space, through 3D scanning a person, I digitally ‘decimate’ the facets their faces are made of thus abstracting there true self. This I feel is what would best visually represent ones online identity in a digital setting. The less facets to be seen, the less a person is truly showing of themselves.

He uses the shapes in her work as a metaphor for the two realities merging – the physical and the digital. The effect of these ‘hollow faces’ are a scary reflection of what type of people we are becoming in this digital age. It makes you want to check your own reflection in the mirror, doesn’t it?

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Igor KKK Uses Logarithmic Spirals To Twist Celebrity Faces Into “Perfect” Versions Of Themselves

Igor KKK , Fibonacci Celebrities - Design Igor KKK , Fibonacci Celebrities - Design Igor KKK , Fibonacci Celebrities - Design Igor KKK , Fibonacci Celebrities - Design

Some studies have suggested that attractiveness can be quantified by symmetry; just as in nature, where bees have been found to favor symmetrical flowers, the evenness of one’s features is thought to be an alluring factor. But what if beauty was measured by other geometric forms of order and “perfection” — such as the Fibonacci number sequences, and the closely related “golden ratio,” which comprises rectangles of mathematically and aesthetically flawless proportions?

Igor KKK, a Moscow-based designer, used these algorithms to warp celebrity photos into mathematically “ideal” images of themselves; overlaying each photo with logarithmic spirals, Igor applied the resulting proportions to their faces — and the results are both hilarious and absurd. Nicolas Cage has been rendered into a square-faced cyclops, Bryan Cranston has the jaws of a bulldog, and Sylvester Stallone’s mutant-like, lopsided eyes peer at us creepily.

Igor’s project is a satirical one that pokes fun at the idealism we give our celebrities.  “Arrange your face features to match the Fibonacci sequence,” he writes, as if it were an ad for a plastic surgery clinic. And despite the fact Fibonacci numbers can be traced throughout the known world — in leaf patterns, flower petals, and pinecones, for example — this does not mean it is the formula for an ideal type of beauty; as Igor shows us, the results are unsettling, disfiguring, and rather amusing. In a cultural context obsessed with beauty and self-improvement, Igor’s images humorously remind us that “perfection” is a construction. All perspectives of beauty are deeply varied and subjective, and cannot be fully encompassed by a single standard, represented here by a mathematical equation. (Via designboom)

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Bogdan Rata’s Grotesque, Mutated Sculptures Explore Body Politics And Self-Identity

Bogdan Rata - Polyester, Synthetic Resin,  Paint, Metal

Bogdan Rata - Polyester, Synthetic Resin,  Paint, Metal

Bogdan Rata - Polyester, Synthetic Resin,  Paint, Metal

Bogdan Rata - Polyester, Synthetic Resin,  Paint, Metal

Romanian artist Bogdan Rata’s highly psychological sculptures contort and mold the human body. Using polyester, synthetic resin, paint, and metal, he forms hybrid realism in his mutated versions of our anatomy. Where skin usually holds a warm glow, his work exhibits a pale, lifeless aura. Limbs sit detached from the body, or even more disturbing, emerge from an unnatural place, like the face. Both unsettling and intriguing, Rata’s sculptures twist and contort, making us feel uncomfortable and suddenly very aware of our own bodies.

The sculptor’s deformed misfits reflect on the imperfection felt about our own bodies and appearances. Our own insecurities are met and reflected in Rata’s psychologically surreal artwork. His work is not only hard to look at due to their grotesque qualities, but the positions many of the sculptures are in appear painful and awkward. Each piece seems to be uncomfortable in its own skin, uncertain of its own body and what to do with it. This is a feeling we can often relate to, as becoming confident in our bodies is often a difficult part of life. Rata hints at the confusion and difficulties brought on by self-identity issues in such works as his bust of a man with no face. His distorted figures are lost, looking for acceptance. Although they at first seem misshapen and horrifying, a strange beauty and compassion can be found in Rata’s fascinating work.

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The Taliban Destroyed The Buddhas Of Bamyan, Two Artists Brought Them Back To Life Using Holograms

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On the weekend of June 6th and 7th, two giant Buddha statues destroyed by Taliban forces in 2001 were resurrected using 3D projection technology. Known as the Buddhas of Bamyan, the two structures, towering over 100 feet, were carved into the sandstone cliffs of Bamyan Valley, Afghanistan, and had watched over the area since the sixth century. They once served as an important site of pilgrimage for Buddhists. When the Taliban deemed the Buddhas false idols, they obliterated them using tanks and artillery shells. The damage was extensive, and in the years since there has been much debate on how — or even if — they could be repaired. UNESCO named the ruins a site of World Heritage in Danger in 2003.

Documentarians Janson Yu and Liyan Hu, however, offered the Afghan people a temporary (but inspiring) solution: to project beautiful, realistic holograms of the Buddhas inside the blasted caverns where they once stood. As The Atlantic explains, “the couple fine-tuned the projections on a mountainside in China and then, after receiving approval from UNESCO and the Afghan government, brought the system to Afghanistan” (Source). Only 150 people attended the event as it was not well publicized, but you can still witness the Buddhas’ resurrection in the images and video above. While the temporariness of the projections may reemphasize the devastating loss of the ancient statues — and how their future remains uncertain — the video sums up the symbolic effect quite nicely, deeming the holographic reconstructions a “beacon of light after a decade of war.” (Via artnet News)

 

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Anish Kapoor Creates Controversy By Setting Up A Playground Of Vagina, Vortex, Mirrors and Cannon At The Palace Of Versailles

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Once again, the prestigious palace of Versailles has been invaded. After Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami and Joana Vasconcelos it’s Anish Kapoor’s turn to impress the crowd. And he did.
The artist designed six spectacular installations all meant to impact the history and architecture left by Le Notre, the official Sun King’s gardener.
Anish Kapoor wants to create an opposition: the perfect and rigid site of Versailles versus the idea of chaos and death.

The first two pieces are reflecting the sky and deforming the crowd onto gigantic mirrors. What follows is a little more outstanding: an orifice, like a giant vagina comes out from the ground and faces the palace. A metaphor highly suggesting the cause of the downfall of Marie Antoinette, the King’s guillotined wife. As the viewers randomly walk down onto the next pieces they cannot ignore the phallus shaped organ and the red stones exploding from the grass. Red is Anish Kapoor’s color of choice, it’s the color of the flesh and he is using it repeatedly; he says by using this color he makes the body celestial.
The next two pieces are a dramatic liquid vortex and an informal gelatinous bood-red colored shape. Both installations play with the viewers and their nerves. The whirlpool is intimidating as the sound of the blackened swirl is frightening, the ground shakes under the feet and the strange red organ absorbs the viewer’s bodies as they can penetrate inside.

The provocation goes on with the last piece built inside the Jeu de Paume (at a 5 min walk  from the castle). Clearly Anish Kapoor criticizes the French revolution, and condemns the violence of the state against its own citizens. A cannon projects against a white wall red wax and the sexual interpretation which the artist approaches is inevitable: “I am conscious of the controversy this piece could imply. The phallic shape of the cannon and the sexual tension coming from it. Remember that this room was filled with males representing a male dominant State”.

Anish Kapoor’s one of a kind playground is currently showing at the palace of Versailles in France until November 2015.

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The Gigantic Balloon Sculptures Of Jason Hackenwerth Are Straight Out Of A Scientists Labratory

Jason Hackenwerth - balloon sculptures Jason Hackenwerth - balloon sculptures Jason Hackenwerth - balloon sculptures Jason Hackenwerth - balloon sculptures

It may be hard to believe, but these colorful creations of Jason Hackenwerth‘s are made from hundreds of balloons. He twists and sculpts latex balloons around each other to resemble different kinds of organic and biological forms. Hackenwerth creates all sorts of creepy shapes and forms that look like you are seeing something in a scientist’s laboratory magnified. Super colorful amoeba, cells, or rhizopods hang from the ceiling. Bacteria-shaped sculptures are grouped together, sprouting weird sorts of growths in every direction.

The artist is not only inspired by science – last year, Hackenwerth unveiled a large piece in Scotland at the Edinburgh International Science Festival. Titled Pisces, it is an interpretation of the Greek myth about Aphrodite and Eros. Made from over 10,000 balloons, it was a massive twisting spiral of two fish and took three staff members almost 6 days to blow up. Hackenwerth says more about it:

I see this as a metaphor for the evolution for life and the unexpected ways we can transcend our greatest threats. My plan for Pisces is to create a complex spiral that will open into a huge seashell like form. This spiral will correspond with the dynamic with the motion of the universe – the double helix. It is the spiral from which all life is derived. (Source)

Hackenwerth starts his process with drawings and sketches to help visualize how his pieces will work on a large scale. He then inflates balloons and arranges them in various structures to see what will work for the final piece. He talks about the importance of his medium:

Using balloons as a medium for expression came from a desire to connect with a wider audience. Balloons are accessible and they seem to have a magic ability for people to feel joy. Perhaps it is a regression to childhood. (Source)

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Ruud Van Empel’s Modern Surrealistic Digital Collages Awaken The Spirit Of His Flemish Ancestors

Ruud Van Empel - digital collage Ruud Van Empel - digital collage Ruud Van Empel - digital collage Ruud Van Empel - digital collage

Dutch artist Ruud Van Empel is following in the footsteps of his Flemish ancestors and is creating some pretty confronting portraits. He digitally collages images of innocent, wide eyed children into environments of lush, hyper-colored, tropical forests, ponds and gardens. While his pictures are in no doubt beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, there is definitely something unsettling about them. The children seem a bit out of place – staring a bit too intensely at the camera as if they were possessed or hypnotized. Everything seems a bit too perfect, a bit too beautiful.

Van Empel sometimes spends weeks collating images from multiple sources to build one digital portrait. The reason his portraits seem so weird is because they are pictures of people that don’t really exist. This is a bit of an insight into his process:

First he collects all the features he needs by shooting a variety of young models in his studio and by subsequently wandering through Dutch forests, in search of fine leaves, perfect branches and the right waters. Only to tear it apart and spend weeks reconstructing it all until both the person and the setting match his desired standard of photo-realism. (Source)

It can also not go unnoticed that a majority of the kids in Van Empel’s photography are black. The artist himself grew up in a small Dutch village with a large white population. He speaks more about this influencing his work:

I grew up in a small Catholic town in the south of the Netherlands. There was only one black boy in my primary school class. In the portrait Generation 1 I expressed this situation. It shows a white class with just one black pupil. With World#1 I decided to work with more black children. It set off a whole new series of work. First I thought of portraying a girl in a dirty, old and torn-up dress, as if she were very poor. I suppose this idea popped up in my head because of the image we westerners are often given. I didn’t really like that idea though, and decided to give them the clothes my generation wore when we were kids, especially because those clothes looked very innocent to me. (Source)

Van Empel is currently exhibiting at Wagner + Partner Gallery in Berlin, Germany, until June 13th.

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