Like melting wax drips and forms new shapes, so does Januz Miralles’ digital manipulations mold his once recognizable subject. The artist digitally applies paint and illustration to change photographs of faces and bodies into otherworldly beings. The figures in his work are left partially untouched, some with only a mouth or an eye peaking through, while the rest is covered by stunning, organic strokes of paint traveling up and across the composition. Although the women in his work look conventionally beautiful, they look even more alluring with globs of thick, digitally applied paint covering most of their faces. Miralles’ highly textural technique alters each figure’s state of being, as if they are ascending to another world or perhaps disintegrating completely.
His captivating, multilayered work shapes form, personality, and identity with his amazing techniques, created mostly digitally on a laptop. His art is quietly beautiful, as you can get lost in the many swirls of color and texture that he integrates into his work, completely transforming the mood. As the artist digitally breaks down his figures, the structure and details seem to break down as well, as if chemicals have been poured over each face. There is a sense of torment and melancholy that surrounds his subjects, like something is being extracted from them, leaving their bodies through the seeping paint. The deep, psychological effect that Miralles’ work holds draws you in to further examine what it is you are looking at, leaving you in mystery.
Portia Munson turns one thousand garages worth of plastic kitsch and junk into surprisingly beautiful mounds of stuff that both uplift and mock our contemporary consumer culture. Portia will have a new installation at the PPOW exhibition “Debris” opening March 20th- if you are in NYC be sure to check it out.
In Warner Bro. Pictures and Legendary Pictures new movie Pacific Rim, Director Guillermo del Toro, takes us to a future where mankind is on the brink of extinction at the hands of a race of monstrous creatures called the Kaiju. Millions of humans have lost their lives to these monsters and humandkind is embroiled in a mounting apocalypse. Legions of monstrous kaiju came from the sea, starting a war that would consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju.The fate of the world rests on two unlikely heroes who will man a super-robot weapon and try to tip the scale back into humankind’s favor.
The Pacific Rim trailer is chock full of enough giant man-made weaponized robots and Godzilla-inspired monsters to thrill any action adventure science-fiction fan.
Our obsession with cats has a long and multi-cultured history. Long before Grumpy, Garfield and Felix, the Japanese were depicting cats in their artwork. A new exhibit set to open at New York’s Japan Society entitled “Life of Cats” studies the feline’s depiction during the Japanese Edo period. The period comprises a little over 250 years between 1615-1867, that saw a prolific use of cats (hi harmony), particularly in pieces made from Ukiyo-e woodblock prints. The printing technique was initially introduced to distribute texts of Buddhist scriptures. In 1765 a new technology made it possible to produce a single sheet using up to 20 colors. This allowed artists to take full advantage of palette and soon cats were appearing in a multitude of roles.
The first cat surfaced in Japan around the sixth century. They were brought over from China on ships transporting sacred scrolls written by monks. The Buddhists believed cats were mindful creatures and when an enlightened person died they would first come back as a cat before reaching nirvana. The exhibit at Japan Society is divided up into 5 categories: Cats and people, Cats as people, Cats vs. people, Cats transformed and Cats and play. Since the woodblock prints mainly depicted courtesans and Kabuki actors we see these figures in numerous works interacting with cats. The colors are exquisite and most of the scenes between human and feline is endearing. Some of the weirder prints are hybrid looking cat people and as mentioned earlier stems from the Buddhist belief of an enlightened being transforming into a cat before reaching nirvana. A popular motif was the common leisurely activities of a village, in these we see cats role playing as people relaxing at spas and playing in parks. (via hyperallergic)
Elaine Cameron-Weir latest work, titled Venus Anadyomene, 2014,consists of five similar pieces, each made a giant clam shell edged with neon tubing, and high-fire ceramic vessel each filled with olive oil, wick, flame, sand, mica, frankincense, benzoin, myrrh, brass. Each piece, suspended from the gallery by a brass rod, while the incense slowly burns.
Varying ideas of birth and bringing to life are present in the works, from the title (meaning ‘Venus Rising from the Sea’, a story of the Greek Goddess Aphrodite’s birth (and a famous work by Titian). The title of the work references both art history and god creation, as do the shells, which bring to mind Botticelli’s masterpiece of the Roman Goddess Venus (and one of the most recognizable and imitated paintings ever created). Meanwhile, the scent element in the gallery space of burning frankincense and myrrh recall the Christian nativity story and the birth of Jesus Christ, echoing the gifts brought by the Three Wisemen. Present throughout Cameron-Weir’s work are ideas of how symbolism is omnipresent to ideas of myth-making.
Elaine Cameron-Weir’s Venus Anadyomene, 2014 is currnetly on view now through April 6th at Ramiken Crucible in New York City.
“Para-para Dancing (Great Empire of Japan) vs. Break-dancing (America)”
Tenmyouya Hisashi is a Saitama-based artist who infuses traditional Japanese art with non-traditional media (mostly acrylic paint) and images from modern life. Calling his work “Neo Nihonga,” Tenmyouya seeks to renew the relevance of Japanese-style painting by portraying old motifs through a modern lens, thereby celebrating a long history of Japanese culture and artistic tradition. Among his images are samurai playing soccer, armor-clad animals, and a Japanese/American street “dance-off.” His work is also informed by contemporary cultural theories and critical thinking; for example, in “Japanese Spirit #3,” a man wearing a traditional tsuna rides a motorized skateboard. This painting “draws upon and amplifies the stereotypes foreigners hold of Japan and was intended to be viewed by a foreign audience” — hence the odd mix of traditional Japanese imagery with high-tech apparatuses (Source).
In 2010, Tenmyouya proposed a new art concept called Basara, referring to an aestheticization of defiance, extending from the “outlaw samurais” of the Nanboku dynasty era to the youth subcultures of present-day Japan. Exploring this trend through neo-traditional Japanese art unravels assumptions about a conservative and subdued cultural history (Source). Basara is also a response to enculturation from the West — the inflow of Western culture and media that immensely influenced Japanese life. As written on his website, Tenmyouya seeks through his art to bring back the vibrant “sun” in Japanese art, where before it was relegated as the passive “moon”:
“Basara aims to reverse traditional values in order to restore the fertile light of the sun that originally characterized Japanese art. It is at once an attempt to claim back through relativization within Japanese art—rather than by comparison with the outside—the diversity that it is supposed to abound in so much more.” (Source)