Australian sculptor Paul Kaptein handcrafts laminated wood into exquisitely seamless sculptures. Interested in materialism and inspired by both nature and the concept of time, Kaptein creates works that are realistic yet surreal, rooted simultaneously in real life and in fantasy.
To Kaptein, the use of laminated wood is central to his practice. Representative of the dialogue between expansion and contraction and the relationship between interconnection and incompleteness, “the panels slip and slide, creating their own holes which exasperate the gaps in the fabric of the universe.”
While his wooden works vary in subject matter—a common motif being hooded, faceless busts—they all convey Kaptein’s innate interest in portraying of “the immaterial as an expression of the overt reliance (and ignorance of the composition) of materialism as a somewhat naive description of reality.” In one of his most recent works, And in the endless sounds there came a pause, the artist tackles reality through illusion: while the meditative figure is clearly distorted by the river-like grooves of his robe’s drapery when observed from the front or back, he appears perfectly normal when viewed from either side.
Ultimately, with its deceptive composition and well-crafted aesthetic, And in the endless sounds there came a pause merges two qualities characteristic of the artist: his interest in fabricating new realities and, of course, his undeniably superb woodworking skills.
Wildlife and Wildlives make up the world of artist Sage Vaughn. Swarming brightly colored butterflies along with strangely dressed kids makes for some interesting subject matter, and there is definitely a feeling of tension between the natural and unnatural elements in these paintings. Born in Jackson, Oregon and now working in Los Angeles, Sage also helped illustrate a killer music video for N.A.S.A. that you can see here.
Paul McCarthy creates provocatively whimsical sculptures. Perhaps his most recently well-known sculpture is Balloon Dog, literally a giant inflatable red balloon animal. His other work seeks to assault the viewer’s senses in a variety of ways, either with sexual or violent imagery. McCarthy combines elements from pop culture and images rife with symbolism into erotic or abject displays that are at once captivating and, at times, charming. McCarthy also conflates elements of high and low culture, creating an aesthetic that seeks to challenge fundamental beliefs. His most recent work, WS, is an 8800 square foot installation depicting Snow White’s tale in typical McCarthyesque abject fashion, and on view at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City until August 4th. You can also read more about McCarthy and this work in this New York Times article, published in May.
Marc McAndrews’ simple and relaxed style lends a sense of familiarity to his portraits. It’s almost as if you could look in your family photo albums at home and find these people staring back at you. The motel owners, waitresses, and every day folk he makes his subjects are often haunting. At the same time, their gazes even more piercing than trained models.
The photographer Sarah Anne Johnson snaps shots of the most intimate kind, asking friends and acquaintances to sit for her while engaging in sexual activity: intercourse, foreplay, kissing, masturbation. Later, the artist enters into a new kind of dialogue with the erotic photos, covering her portraits in glitter and gold plate or scratching away their emulsion in strategic places.
The form of Johnson’s series, titled Wanderlust, brilliantly echoes its content. In penetrating the materiality of the photographic medium by altering its surface, Johnson makes as much of a statement about artistic or creative lust than she does about human sexuality. The gently cracked, ashy layer of a burnt chromogenic print mirrors a lover’s tender caress; similarly, a halo of scratches parallels a couple’s orgiastic pleasure.
Despite Johnson’s unconventional process—perhaps even because of it—Wanderlust seems a powerfully honest rendering of sexual intimacy. At times, human closeness becomes cosmically infinite, a moment of love solidified in gold plate or starry glitter. But many of the photographs complicate the notion of what it means to be truly vulnerable; often, her collage work obscures and flattens one lover, leaving his or her partner alone, isolated in the frame and utterly naked.
Johnson’s work relies on this tension between connection and isolation, a theme which serves to imbue the series with a palpable sense of sexual tension; for instance, two bodies are deconstructed in Puzzle Pieces, formatted to appear unified under one complex and paradoxically disjointed aesthetic. Simultaneously penetrating the viewer and and leaving us to gasp for air, the body of work is a must-see. It is currently on view at Toronto’s Stephen Bulger Gallery. (via Art in America and Feature Shoot)
Artistic duo Sandrine Dulermo and Michael Labica turn a strange eye to photography, as they create worlds filled with plastic-like women with color palettes to die for. Having done many photo shoots for celebrities and fashion clients, their photography style is a mix of high-fashion shoots and Hitchcock movie scenes. Their use of dramatic lighting and cinematic sets create an eerie, yet playful, sense of mystery. In the series How to Spend It, a woman that seems to be frozen in an artificial stance like a mannequin, lounges around in extreme luxury. Her all-too-perfect house matches her synthetic and impossibly perfect look. Still, the scene seems too flawless, causing a sense of secrecy.
In the Dolls House, a more playful yet dark series of the dynamic duo, contains a palpable sense of madness. With the intense lighting and absurd make up, this series contains a girl who looks shockingly like a doll. Her limbs are limp and motionless, as if she has been placed like a child’s play thing in her dollhouse. Dulermo and Labica’s sense of color is absolutely breathtaking, as their photography, specifically this series, holds brilliant, bursting hues. However, these seemingly bright and cheery scenes have disturbing and dark undertones. The doll-like girl seems to have no life in her body. She is pale, expressionless, and without emotion. She is trapped in her perfect world, similar to the woman in the previously mentioned series. Both women hold a hollow sense of plasticity that renders them lifeless.
Sandrine Dulermo and Micahel Labica are masters at creating cinematic, compelling photography with an irresistible palette. They construct uncanny, eerie scenes that are both undeniably appealing and unsettling. (via Behance)