Johann Bouche-Billon’s photo-series Photos of my Grandfather Dying is daring in its intimacy and complete honesty. When his grandfather was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Johann used his artwork in an attempt to wrap his head around what was going on. Of all his grandparents, he was closest with this grandfather, and had never experienced a death so close in his family. Although death is a reality of life, many if not all of us have difficulty accepting it, and Johann experienced anxiety attacks and confusion at the fact of his grandfather passing. The series provides an opportunity for healing and understanding, not only for Johann, but presumably anyone experience the death of a loved one. Originally, Johann was nervous that people would take offence at such a personal subject, but has said that the series has been received well.
His photo-series is extremely revealing, and it requires a great deal of bravery to show it to an audience. The photos show his grandfather at various stages of his deterioration, with loved ones or alone, but there are also a great deal of what you could call b-roll interspersed in between. The b-roll – consisting of photos of a food spread, a television, a painting of jesus, etc. – allows moments of contemplation or rest, for the viewer and probably for Johann himself. It makes the process seem more natural, instead of only presenting chronological photos of his grandfather, he lets you breath and wander through traces of his family and the scenes surrounding the events. The series itself is 107 photographs, and so the selection of images I’ve curated for this article is disproportionately weighted towards photographs of Johann’s grandfather. In the end, he is the subject of greatest importance, but I highly recommend checking out the entire series here, it’s extremely moving. (Via Vice)
I never was too good at crafts. The little “easy loom” knit-a-kitten sets always came out looking surprisingly like Liz Craft’s sculpture, above…a mess of plaster-cast, jumbo yarn, pea-pod plastic dishes forming some sort of goofy-grin. Or at least, I wished they came out like her work. In her recent fifth solo exhibition, “Death of a Clown” that just finished up at Patrick Painter, Liz Craft examines, in part, the culture of Regretsy…(Etsy + Regret). Macrame-mishaps and craft-catastrophes are elevated to objects d’art. At once humorous and fresh, Craft’s odd string-beards, tears, and thrift store nick-nacks don’t disappoint.
Bobo is an art collective that emerged out of the Providence scene post-Fort Thunder. I really love Bobo’s poster “The Global Order of the Youngbloods,” it’s an overdose of occult and conspiracy infotainment. Bobo has managed to create a fun scene on their own terms. They ran a space in Philadelphia for a while, but now seem to be arranging/curating shows in New York, and performing as a band. Annie Pearlman brought them to my attention when I was doing a studio visit with Brian Belott.
After having spent the last five years as an art director, graphic designer and illustrator at the creative collective Acne (multimedia mogul that also owns the denim brand), Daniel Carlsten recently launched his own business. His main interest and expertise lie in visual identities and graphic design of printed matter such as books, catalogues, stationaries, posters, invitations and packaging. David’s marriage of product and photography based design is sleek and beautiful.
For his first solo exhibition in the United States, Belgian artist Jan De Vliegher creates a series of monumental paintings which reference the artist’s obsessive hunt for otherwise overlooked porcelain plates. United in their ritualistic and repetitive compositions the series of circular abstractions reveal De Vliegher’s fascination with the painting experience while also speaking to broader themes of contemporary collecting.
Like a cultural anthropologist, De Vliegher meticulously documents his varied sources of inspiration in their traditional museum context. The lush colors, dramatic brushstrokes and overpowering scale of his work, however, starkly diverge from the otherwise controlled subject matter. The subsequent rush-infused paintings transcend their representational qualities and assume the commanding presence of contemporary abstractions. In the same way Baselitz’s act of turning his paintings upside down avoided a literal and linear interpretation, De Vliegher ignores the differences within the distinct plate genres—from French Rococo to Qing dynasty—and imbues the work with a palpable essence that is reflective of the artist’s unique, energetic input.
At first glance, this series by photographer Stacey Tyrell seems to portray nothing out of the ordinary, just portraits of white women living their lives. At closer inspection, however, you realize all of the women look the same; they share uncanny similarities with just a few differences in hair, eye, and skin color. In reality, Stacey Tyrell has staged these scenes representing depictions of Caucasian women using herself as a model. Interestingly enough, the artist herself is black. The title of Tyrell’s deeply memorable series is BackraBluid. Backra, originating from West Africa, means white master or person. Bluid is a Scotch word for the blood of men or kin. These two words combined represent two different points of origin in the artist’s family heritage. Tyrell explores her ancestry in this series, which includes English, Scottish, and Irish.
Most everyone in post-colonial societies, especially in the Western world, is the descendant of a diverse range of ancestry, producing many individuals with what may appear to be ambiguous ethnicities. These individuals may identify with one, multiple, or even none of their racial or cultural identities. However, by nature, humans want to make sense of their surrounding and tend to place others in categories. Stacey Tyrell has experienced this first hand. She explains the significance of this experience in relation to Backra Bluid.
Upon viewing my physical features I am automatically assigned a racial identity by whoever is looking at me. Skin color often obscures and over-rides the features and markers of other races that may be present in my genetic make-up. By simply changing my skin color and making subtle tweaks to my features I wish to show that if someone were to take a closer look at my face they would see that it might not be that much different from their own.
NYC based artist Norman Mooney makes works that are at once physical and metaphysical. His works explore the elemental and cyclical synergies of nature. Materiality, pattern, scale and experience are key concerns within his practice. Although he works in a wide array of materials his massive burst sculptures are completely jaw dropping. Radiating from every angle these incredible explosions shimmer and shine like a star far off in the galaxy. (via)