Artist Juan Fontanive creates hypnotizing flip books by assembling old mechanic bits from bike parts and clocks together with images of birds and butterflies. He hand draws, paints and screen prints the images onto paper and uses them to create his magical pieces. Fontanive is able to inject life into these static images with the help of stainless steel, a few cogs, a motor or two and some electronics. These half-film, half-sculptures he is able to build are beautiful delicate mechanisms – and are a dream to watch. Combined with the sound of the pages actually turning; the whirring and humming of the bits working, it seems as if the insects are literally flying off the page.
Fontanive calls his creations “films without light” and has developed his passion of making 16mm experimental films combined with a love of drawing machines. Art writer Gilda Williams says of his pieces:
“The artist’s flapping hummingbirds and rushing fish are sculptural animations, or perhaps automata: machine-powered facsimiles of life…In many ways, Fontanive’s artworks seem strangely possessed, producing curiously moving animals that are neither living nor dead, or creating ghostly systems which seem to float mid-air and follow a pace and logic of their own.”
In the past Fontanive has created a machine that breathed life into Victorian clocks. You can see this and many other fascinating projects of his here. (Via thisiscolossal)
Now that we’re in the dead of winter, Rebecca Louise Law’s installation “Outside In” of 16,000 flowers in the lobby of a Manhattan skyscraper is soundly appropriate. The British artist who grew up in the English countryside says she wanted to create a site-specific work which would give city folk a little breather from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Her installation of 16,000 hanging flowers does the trick. When initially installed the fresh flowers gave the lobby an outdoorsy spring like smell. As the days pass and the flowers dry, the lobby at 1515 Broadway in New York’s Times Square will become a potpourri scent tank.
Some of the specimens used in the installation include roses, chrysanthemums, carnations and baby’s breath. Hung upside down, the different shapes and colors of the flowers resemble paint marks floating in thin air. In some instances, the entire installation looks like a wonderful abstract painting.
Law is known for her flower installations around the world. Some of her more intriguing projects have been “The Hated Flower” UK where she used carnations and chrysanthemums, “Bulbs” UK and “The Grecian Garden” Greece which fused 10,000 plants, herbs and cut flowers of over 27 varieties. She also did a project using 1500 apples methodically placed throughout Fulham Palace Chapel in London. (via the creatorsproject.vice.com)
Canadian brothers and collaborators Carlos and Jason Sanchez‘s dramatic photographs have moved cinematic photography into a new, much darker realm. Staging each piece takes months of production, from constructing sets to casting characters; the result however, is worth the painstaking attention to detail with bold images that explore the underside of society and human desire. Want to see more work from the Sanchez brothers? Why not check out their exclusive article in Beautiful/Decay Issue: N!
Balint Zsako’s drawings work speaks to our contemporary anxieties about sexuality and human intimacy. His works are described as quirky, disturbing, otherworldly, and a little bit dirty. See Balint’s work in a group show at The Proposition in NYC until june 26th.
Tip Toland is an artist known for creating hyperrealistic, larger-than-life sculptures that confront the viewer with issues pertaining to identity and the body. We featured her in 2012, focusing on the aspects of her work that explored age, vulnerability, and death—material (and often stigmatized) states that have profound effects on personal psychologies. Characterizing her sculptures are combinations of clay, pastel, paint, and synthetic hair that create beautifully and uncomfortably real simulations of human anatomy.
In the years since then, Toland has continued to push the boundaries and create sculptures driven by important social messages. Featured here are various works: “Echo” (2014-15), “Africa,” and the “Africa Child” series (2014). “Echo” recalls many of Toland’s previous works: a nude, elderly woman appears to breathe deeply while her clouded eyes gaze skyward. What is most moving about this sculpture is the peace that emanates from her expression and figure; death and age are not feared, but rather accepted as states of near-transcendence.
“Africa” and “Africa Child” delve into more political territory, provoking questions pertaining to race, prejudice, and systems of objectification and “otherness.” “Africa” depicts a black woman awakening to an unseen problem, concern visible in her eyes. The “Africa Child” series involves five portraits of children with albinism, portraying—with astounding intricacy and realism—their expressions of fear and sadness. Explaining her motivations for “Africa Child,” Toland describes the extreme prejudice and violence enacted against those with this genetic condition in Tanzania:
“In Tanzania, horrific acts of mutilation have been taking place due to prejudice, ignorance, and superstition. According to lore, people with albinism are viewed as ghosts or bad omens. Despite this delusion, indigenous shamans have conjured up magical potions from body parts to bring wealth and good luck. Potions have been used in a variety of contexts: gold miners have poured them on the ground and fishermen have poured them on their nets or in their canoes. Living people are attacked and mutilated for their arms, legs, hair, genitalia, and blood. Ultimately the bottom line from these superstitions and prejudices is economic—in a country in which the average annual income is less than $450, a limb from a person with albinism can bring anywhere from $500 to $2,000.” (Source)
Certainly, Toland’s work challenges its audience, asking that the viewers acknowledge and examine systems of oppression and the violence occurring in Africa. But, as Kaiya Gordon astutely asks for the Pioneer Log, “What authority does Toland have to ‘inform’ viewers about a practice happening in Tanzania?” (Source) And how can we ensure that the viewer’s engagement is not one based in misinformation and unintentional, internalized systems of objectification? The pamphlet accompanying Toland’s 2014 exhibition at the Portland Art Museum states a progressive objective, deeming the works “portraits of horror that serve to inform Toland’s audience and, potentially, motivate them to take action” (Source). Trust, then, is left in the viewer to recognize—through the process of their own seeing—practices of “othering” and, by deconstructing these practices, foster a form of empathy and action that is not rooted in cultural assumptions.
Painter Jen Garrido’s work is bold, simple, yet elegant. Her work reminds me of papercuts, but I love seeing the slight paint texture in each piece. Her work is a combo of small textural paintings, and small minimal works that seem to fit together just right. Her two styles compliment one another instead of challenging. I’d be curious to see what she can do with much larger works in the future.
Ludovic Florent‘s new photoseries Poussières d’étoiles (which translating as Stardust) features the natural beauty of the human body in motion, capturing dancer’s poses in moments of ecstasy, distress and grace. Each photograph is highlighted by the staging, a chalk and sand floor which enhances each movement, with dust clouds mirroring the appendage’s motions to create a dramatic physical presence of their own. Florent says, “In our changing society, my photographic work is guided by a humanistic look, willingness to foreground the natural beauty of the body, free to express his grace and personality.”
The Metz, France-based Florent created Poussières d’étoiles for Gallery HEGOA, and in anticipation for the European Festival of Nude Photography in Arles, France in May, 2014. The photographer further explains his work, “‘Behind every carnal envelope hides a soul that is both sensitive and flamboyant as I try to capture in each of my photographs.’ We certainly enjoy his work guided by a humanistic look, finding expression in a series that is both, sensitive and vivid.” (via ignant)