Katharina Fritsch is a German-born artist who transforms quotidian objects or mundane figures into something new. Using manipulation of scale and color along with repetition, Fritsch’s sculptures are usually hand-molded, cast in plaster, reworked, and then cast again in polyester. Her time consuming process creates results that are uncanny and strange.
Interested in psychology and the expectations of visitors to a museum, Fritsch’s work both appeals to the popular imagination, and a more conceptual thought process. One of Fritsch’s most popular works, Rattenkönig/Rat King (1993), a circle of black polyester rats that stand 12 feet tall, was included in the 1999 Venice Biennale. Both funny and frightening at the same time, works such as Rattenkönig/Rat King border on reality and illusion. Much of Fritsch’s work has an unsettling, often religious, association that is deeply psychological. Fritch’s sculptures tug at our deepest fears or most vivid dreams.
Usually pulling imagery from her world, subjects are often otherworldly in appearance, seemingly fantastical, like something out of a dream or a distorted memory. Her more recent installation, Hahn / Cock installed in Trafalgar Square in London is located across from Nelson’s Column. The Column is a monument built to commemorate Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Fritsch’s giant blue rooster is meant to comment on the masculinity and public pomp of the square. Again, funny with its double entendres and absurd appearance, Fritsch’s sculpture is also deeply unnerving. Installed this past July for 18 months there is plenty of opportunity to check out Fritsch’s installation.
I came across Ken Reid‘s work through various internet wanderings, and his humor and technical skills still blow me away every moment I look at them. His work bears resemblance to Basil Wolverton‘s, and both mastered the art of the humorously grotesque image which dominated 70’s comic magazines. It’s easy to see how work like this went on to influence ZAP Comix and WEIRDO, and these in turn went on to influence a large portion of contemporary independent and underground comix. Below is Reid’s WORLD WIDE WEIRDIES series, an extensive collection of visual puns inspired by different locations in the world, which originally appeared in WHOOPEE! and Shiver and Shake. Some of these fly right over my head, but its makes no difference when the imagery is as compelling as it is. ‘Nuff said.
The artist Alicia Martin Lopez gives form to her emotional demons through her darkly seen paintings; imagining the shapes and tones of oft-repressed memories and desires, her work dares to plunge into the depths of human fear. With their infinitely cavernous black eyes, Lopez’s disquietingly amorphous characters invite viewers into the nightmarish dreamscape of our own psychological narratives.
Lopez’s frightful beings inhabit a space outside the confines of time; day and night blur together as light pours in and leaks out of the scene without cause. The monsters are wildly unbound, floating in midair, drifting on water, or holding desperately to rock formations, toes clinched with uncertainty. Like thoughts that flood the darkest corners of the human psyche, the beasts may appear at any time in any place, haunting the mind’s eye without warning.
As soon as they rear their heads, however, the creatures are woefully repressed; one octopus-like animal sits confined in a cell, his crooked neck craning to accommodate a sickly grey face. Like our own private demons, Lopez’s creatures are starved of attention and psychic nourishment, kept bottled in the murky depths of subconscious memory. They each stare downward as if collapsed by the space above them, their bodies bracing against the weight of repression. A flying squid’s wings appear as if crushed by exhaustion; sea creatures’ bearded faces droop into impossibly still water, their sorrowful expressions reflected back at them.
These animals are a tangible reminder of memories and sufferings that refuse to stay buried; collapsing in upon themselves, they beg for our recognition. In granting form to formless worries, the artist suggests that our psychological demons are perhaps less fearful than they are beautifully, mournfully sympathetic. Take a look. (via Hi Fructose and Juxtapoz)
Photographer David Chancellor‘s series Hunter documents South African big game Hunting. Chancellor explains that while hunting safari’s were once particularly fashionable among the leisure class, the activity has since undergone some changes. Land that had once been dedicated to farming and livestock now serve as big game ranches – a place professional hunters can once again kill for sport. Chancellor captures the complex relationship between hunter and hunted, which is rendered even more complex by modernization. He says that the series is “a long term project documenting human/wildlife conflict in all it’s forms, Hunters explores the complex relationship that exists between man and animal, the hunter and the hunted, as both struggle to adapt to our changing environments.”
For the Turkish artist Hasan Kale, the tiniest morsel of food inspires visions of sweeping landscapes. Using his finger as a palate, he adorns almonds, M&Ms, and the most translucent layers of an onion with astonishing renderings of his native Istanbul. Where most landscapes take up entire museum walls, commanding attention with their sheer immensity, Kale’s work does the opposite. In these miraculous works of macro painting, the infinite nature of the earth, sea, and sky collides with the impossibly minuscule, heightening the preciousness of the Turkish terrain.
Here, snack foods become as wondrous as great feats of nature and man. On thin slice of banana, a storm rages, its brushstrokes transforming the very texture of the fruit into that of a saturated canvas. On the inner flesh of an almond, he imagines the legendary baroque architecture of the Nusretiye Mosque. The iconic building becomes vertically stretched as in a romantic masterpiece, extending upwards to conform to the natural shape of the almond. On these tiny surfaces, the grandiosity of the city’s architecture is expressed through the vibrancy of color and the dreamy, sweeping whims of the artist’s brush.
Perhaps the most poignant aspect of Kale’s work is its impermanence. Unlike the great canvases entombed in museums, these paintings will decay, perish, or be lost. The banana will rot into mush; the fragile quail egg might crumble. A stunning mosque might accidentally be eaten. But in the meantime, these imagined landmarks exist for the sake of our wonderment. Take a look. (via Colossal)
Argentinian artist and architect Tomás Saraceno is internationally known for his visionary and surprising installations accessible to the public and able to modify the perception of architectural spaces. His oeuvre, inspired by the tradition of 20th-century utopian architecture, stems from the desire to create aerial structures that can be inhabited by people, are self-sufficient and have a low environmental impact.
At Hangar Bicocca Saraceno creates On Space Time Foam, an incredible floating structure composed of three levels of clear film that can be accessed by the public, inspired by the cubical configuration of the exhibition space. Functioning as the ultimate moon bounce, Saraceno’s piece floats participants high above the ground creating a surreal (and frightening) experience that gives the feel of weightlessness and flight without the hassle of going off into space. The work, whose development took months of planning and experimentation with a multidisciplinary team of architects and engineers, will then continue as an important project during a residency of the artist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – MIT in Cambridge (MA). (via)
This October, Scion launched the fifth installment of its Installation Art Tour. The program is designed to give exposure to both established and emerging artists. Installation 5: Self Portraits highlights a diverse array of artists from around the world.
Etienne Bardelli, also known as Akroe, was a graffiti artist before he became a well respected graphic designer. Twenty years later, on his own time, he can still be found painting empty walls in the less populated parts of France. (Although he admits: “Actually, I don’t really know why I’m still doing it!”) Graffiti may be illegal, but surely this counts as beautification?