The paintings of Chase Westfall are pleasantly elusive. His work often toes the line between abstraction and figuration. He seems to often swing from sunny imagary such as flowers or rainbows to that of mutilated animal carcasses. However, he never gives it entirely away. The imagary often is obscured by a diamond grid work or its own abstraction. The viewers eyes constantly shifts between deciphering the images and inspecting the pattern, neither resolving the other. His oil paintings are executed on linen contrasting the soft surface with his hard edged geometric shapes.
Portland artist OBLVN recently closed a show at Guerrero Gallery in San Francisco. The show, entitled “Different Strokes, Different Folks”, was positioned in the project room, while Ryan Travis Christian’s solo exhibition, “The Second Banana” took the main gallery space. OBLVN brings the clean brushwork of vintage animation design with a clean eye for interesting character work honed through a background in graffiti. I was seriously impressed with the artist’s “100 Paintings” show last spring at Klughaus gallery in NYC. It seems like he’s pushed further since then, as this show features some larger works on wood and canvas.
Being in flight is one of the most unnatural, extraordinary, ordinary experiences of modern life. When we climb to 30,000 feet, our perspective looking down at the world becomes that of a deity, and the rules of time and space are altered as we rush over the earth. In flight we are able to view the most remote corners of the natural world and the vast spread of the world we have constructed. It gives us the unique perspective to look at the interaction of the natural and constructed in a truly holistic way. In its totality, the unnatural or extraordinary experience produces great fear and excitement. We confront death a little every time the doors close – and this closeness to death intensifies the extraordinary experience of being in flight. On the other hand, our ‘in flight’ experience is filled with the most unremarkable daily activities: reading a comic book, finishing a crossword puzzle, eating, sleeping. The cabin becomes our shared world, temporally removed from the world that we’ve left back on land. What connects the ordinary and the extraordinary is a powerful trust in the human capacity to take us beyond the mundane. The plane becomes a temple of humanism, where we put faith in all that get us and keeps us up in the air – engineers, pilots, researchers, air traffic controllers – a web of people, underwritten by collective knowledge, keeping us alive, together.- Phillip Kalantzis-Cope
Maltese artist John Paul Azzopardi puts together delicate sculptures and complex structures made from bone. His figures and objects are a combination of being frightening and entrancing. They are gothic and modern. Architecture and organic. Morbid and energetic. The Maltese artist welds bits of bone together, forming ornate ram’s skulls, haunting bats with outstretched wings, axe-welding menacing mythological creatures, and hybrid beasts with intimidating profiles. Azzopardi is very poetic about his approach to his work – describing the metaphysical aspect to his sculptures:
[It] is a collection of fossilized structures that explores the gentle temperance located within the constitution of sound, i.e. it’s very silent center. The architectural relationship that oscillates back and forth from the simple and the complex to the living and the dead connects space and form, creating existential structures of interwoven silence. The death embedded in it’s form, it’s life. This might confront the spectator with a spectre, the simulacrum of itself that stalls, halts being something in it’s tracks. (Source)
He exploits the nature of the material he is working with. Bones are the things that knit our bodies together, and are also one of the last things to decay. They have a lot of symbolism and spiritualism embedded in them – Azzopardi is making that more apparent and immediate with his art works. He goes on:
Facing truth, man often does not look. S/he does not see, for instance as when confronting the world, the transient. The rules of words then is that what one see, is what one is, and (to admit) that facing truth, we often see nothing, hear nothing, and say nothing. (Source)
It seems these sculptures announce to us our impending decay, and for us to embrace it, and yes, to even celebrate it.
Letha Wilson slices, dices, and combines materials to create hybrid images that tether between the the world of reproduction and 3D representation.
If you can’t get to a beach this summer, then you will be thankful for design duo Snarkitecture‘s new installation at the National Building Museum in Washington DC. The space is filled with 1 million translucent polystyrene balls in a massive wading pool, the floor is carpeted and scattered with deck chairs and beach umbrellas, inviting the beach goers to enjoy a day reading, wading, or playing paddle ball. There is even a summery snack bar available selling popcorn, candy, chocolate bars and soda pop. Every Wednesday the Museum offers different events where the snack bar will also offer bar service.
The Beach is a part of the program the Museum likes to offer each year – they dedicate the 10,000 square foot space to a gimmicky exhibition that will draw the crowds. And this year the honor went to Snarkitecture to produce something that would entertain the masses. Established by Alex Mustonen and Daniel Arsham, Snarkitecture is a design studio that focuses on minimal and intelligent design solutions, not only for spaces, but for objects as well. Drawing their name from Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of The Snark, the team like a challenge and enjoy re-imagining existing objects and architecture. The poem describes an “impossible voyage of an improbable crew to find an inconceivable creature”, and Mustonen and Arsham take on this idea quite literally. They state their mission as:
Snarkitecture’s approach focuses on the viewer’s experience and memory, creating moments of wonder and interaction that allow people to engage directly with their surrounding environment. By transforming the familiar into the extraordinary, Snarkitecture makes architecture perform the unexpected. (Source)
The duo have been responsible for some very clever installations in many different spaces. You can check out their back catalog here. Or take your bathing suit and towel and head to their artificial paradise. The Beach is open until September 7. (Via Washingtonian)