In recent years, the rising popularity of pole dance fitness has probably conjured up images of darkened strip clubs rather than a serious workout. Netherlands-based Bart Erkamp thought the former, but during the summer of last year, his attitude changed. He dated a woman involved in the sport and learned about its inner workings. It’s a physically demanding activity that’s much more than just an erotic dance. His series titled Pole Fitness highlights the strength and talent needed to complete the moves, which are often suspended in air.
After learning about the sport, Erkamp attended a championship pole fitness competition in Amsterdam. The power and agility of the athletes impressed him, and this struck him as comparable to “artistic gymnastics,” that highlights physical prowess and self expression.
In addition to their athletics, Erkamp was enthralled by the dedication of the participants. They’ve installed poles in their bedrooms, living rooms, and even next to their kitchen. Location doesn’t matter. He highlights this in his subjects’ clear, neatly-kept homes. Contorted legs, torsos, and arms are wrapped around bright silver poles.
It’s not all women, either. Erkamp explains that in 2014, several men completed at the World Championships in Rio de Janeiro. And, there’s even a possibility that it’ll be an official Olympic sport in 2016. (Via Feature Shoot)
Joris Kuipers‘ installations are meant to be experienced viscerally. Inspired by bodily cross-sections from MRI scans, CT scans, and even botany, Kuipers’ artwork is alien yet immediately familiar. We are intimately familiar with the vascular bends and twists of his pieces, as well as the palette of reds and purples and blues.
Blown up to the size of huge wall reliefs, these biological artforms are also a little unsettling, particularly because they’ve been deconstructed, unmade, and re-formed into startling configurations. Organic deconstruction, after all, is just a hop skip away from decomposition. Of these twin concepts, Kuipers says: “Loveliness and morbidity; both Eros and Thanatos flow through my red lines.”
In some collections, Kuipers steps away from the blatantly macabre. “Letting Go” contains a brightly colored installation that looks like dreamy clouds or floating alien flowers. Other pieces in the collection involve splashes of color amidst a staid black background and plays with light, flashing and blinking at the touch of a switch. This too recalls the cathode ray tubes and autopsy scans of Kuipers’ other work, but from a subtler angle.
Subtler or not, Kuipers work is, as always, intended to be evocative. “I hope that my work will initially be experienced ‘from the abdomen’,” Kuipers says in an artist’s statement, “to gradually make itself felt in the mind of the visitor.”
Eddie Martinez and José Lerma have a two person show up at Halsey Mckay Gallery in East Hampton NY. It’s only up until this Wednesday, August the 29th, I know it’s just two days to get there, but these are two of the best drawing/fabric/paintslingers of our generation. The colors in Martinez’s paintings can’t be replicated in a photograph because the paint is physical, like a thick smear of deep red oil paint that looks like martian roofing slate, or maybe a crack inside an antediluvian sea cliff containing some strange fossil reminding us of how old thinking is, and how we are only here for a little while so we should be kind to each other. Yes, red paint can say all that. Lerma’s pirate-like-figuration feels musical, and reminds me of the Clancy Brothers singing a sea shanty “Way haul away, haul away Jose.” History comes up to us and then recedes like the tide in Lerma’s work, you recognize something and then it is and isn’t what you thought. This is a good summer trip, like the first time you went to a water slide park after noticing girls/boys for the first time, an expanse of wave pools lapping lazily against a big breasted life guard and tower slides of pure unadulterated joy.
Mexican artist Alicia Paz’s paintings are a cornucopia of fun. Each mixed media piece is literally exploding with glitter, fluorescent ribbons, sparkling jewels, and rainbow colored clouds with bright hight lights. Not one to shy away from attention, Paz’s in your face paintings draw you in and demand that you join in the party at least for a little while.
British master jeweler Theo Fennell doesn’t just make your average ring. No, his company goes well beyond the typical diamond jewellery by creating accessories that feature doors and secret compartments engineered into them. They open to reveal tiny painted scenes and small treasures that are inspired by popular novels like The Secret Garden and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Fennell and company’s gold rings have astounding and intricate details. Looking closely at their handiwork, you find things like: individual coins in a pot of gold; a rainbow that’s poking above the clouds; and a ring with a side door that unhinges to reveal a yellow-brick road. Of course, these things don’t come without a price – some of them cost around $30,000.
Fennell’s attitude towards his work is that it should be timeless, and so pairing it with classic literary interpretations makes sense. “Jewellry should be something talismanic and precious, beautifully made to last and not at the ephemeral whim of fashion: it should be truly owned,” he says. “Jewellery has that power – it is a very romantic, sexy and emotional thing.” (Via Demilked)
João Ruas is a Brazilian visual artist who paints esoteric scenes of ghostly bodies and mysterious symbols. Each image appears to be filled with a chiaroscuro-like fog that dissolves form into shadow. Recurring motifs include animal skulls, red tattoos, and medieval weapons that drift amongst hooded figures and undead dogs. There is a sense of arcane mythology mixed with everyday banality, for intermingling with strange and ancient-looking objects are scissors, helmets, and electrical cords.
By unfolding layers of time and myth, Ruas’ paintings emit a deep emotional timbre, unsettling the soul with their dark scenes. A boy with what appears to be animal ears growing down his face evokes something akin to despair and alienation, while a blindfolded woman on the back of a red horse (a reference to Lady Godiva) emanates with vulnerability, fear, and strength. With mystifying combinations of symbols, Ruas’ paintings function like open tomes that can be inscribed with the viewer’s own imagination and spiritual significance.