Ubu Gallery is pleased to present GEORGES HUGNET: THE LOVE LIFE OF THE SPUMIFERS, an exhibition of hand-painted photographic postcards by the eminent Surrealist artist, poet, bookbinding designer and critic. These bizarre, lusciously painted images illustrate Hugnet’s work, The Love Life of the Spumifers, where each accompanying text poetically and humorously catalogues the mating habits of a fantastical creature or Spumifer.
The Love Life of the Spumifers, or La Vie Amoureuse des Spumifères, combines Surrealist poetry’s fascination with l’amour and Dada’s tendency towards deliberate grammatical spontaneity and absurdity. Made-up words, like bowoodling, friskadoodling and alabamaraminating, are concocted to describe the seductive strategies of his imaginary creatures. Each text is dedicated to a different creature, describing how it woos, teases, gropes and molests its intended love conquest. Each Spumifer is illustrated by a gouache “beast,” which is added to an early Twentieth Century vintage “French” photo postcard. The mellifluously painted monsters slyly slither around the bare flesh of the pictured “mademoiselle,” nibbling and tickling, arousing her sexual desire. Hugnet’s illustrations seduce the viewer, parodying the human pursuit of love and lovemaking through these adorable grotesques.
Hugnet realized the series The Love Life of the Spumifers during 1947–48 and wrote the accompanying texts in the early 1960s. The whereabouts of four of the 40 original Spumifers intended to complete the series are at present unknown. Hugnet composed only 33 texts and one of those texts accompanied a missing work. He created a number of additional Spumifers, maybe as many as 20, which were not part of the final 40 which he had intended to publish as a book. The show is on view until January 28th, 2012.
In artist Eleanor Davies’ piece titled Over 200 Beautiful Colors, she crafts a traditional yarn pom pom (like something you’d see on a beanie), but on steroids. Using wool, newspaper, and rope, Davies wraps donut-shaped discs with yarn and stacks them on top of one another. They become a mountain of wound wool, and finally she cuts the edges of every disc. This releases the fibers around the cardboard, and they form a larger-than-life ball of fringe.
The result of this tedious effort is something that you want to touch and maybe even hug. And, that’s Davies’ intention. She wants the viewer to desire an interaction with it. But, at the same time, she also wants to you to feel some sort of repulsion to it. Even though it’s a magnificent and incredible piece, you compare it to what other smaller, more perky-looking pom poms look like. This, in all its glory, droops as gravity has got the best of it. “The oscillation between attraction and repulsion is experienced through the disruption of taste values,” Davies writes in an artist statement. “Sculptures seek attention and flaunt themselves in such a way that they ask for it.”
The slow and meticulous construction of Over 200 Beautiful Colors is akin to a beautiful regime. Davies goes on to say:
In appropriating the sculpting techniques of hairdressing; extensions and highlights are added to slowly modify and enhance a sculpture’s look. The compulsive desire to reconfigure, reinvent, re-cut and re-colour is due to the satisfaction gained through succumbing to the lure of the surface. The process of overworking the sculptural surface is self indulgent and my practice embraces and revels in this.
Ibon Mainar uses visual multimedia to create whimsical and colorful work. Whether he is creating gifs, torn cardboard designs, Instagram videos, video projections onto foil and tinsel, or sculpting gum and popcorn, Mainar’s aesthetic is contemporary and playful. His interjections into Edward Hopper’s paintings create a curious juxtaposition of modern and contemporary aesthetics. With simplicity and humor, Mainar develops a visual language across various media that feels novel and universal. Mainar lives in San Sebastian, Spain.
Karin Waskiewicz‘s paintings directly address the physical properties of painting utilizing both conventional and unconventional methods. Waskiewicz’s process beings with acrylic paint applied in thick layers creating a collection of colors to later be unveiled. After the layers are applied, one mark is made. Every mark is a reaction to the shape, placement, and color of the previous marks made. The painting emerges from dry paint as she carves away, excavating the thick surface, intuitively revealing and investigating the depth of the paint, creating a world in paint alone. These paintings reflect formations found in the natural world and the shapes created are both organic and formulated. The repetition of marks connects visually and gives the paintings a vibrational quality and mimic movement. See Karins work in a group show opening April 26th in NYC at Schroeder Romero & Shredder.
I first got into Zach Johnsen’s work a few years ago when he lived in New York. But for a while now, he’s been in Portland, and it looks like he’s making his raddest stuff yet. He always incorporated fantastic characters into his mixed media work, and he’s continued to do so, creating more wooden cut-out installations and a series of graphite drawings infused with explosive watercolor elements. Johnsen’s always done a great job of rendering the darker side of life. His characters are full of dark eyes and yellowing teeth. Seriously awesome stuff from this dude, always.
Carlie Armstrong’s Work Place site is a fantastic ongoing documentary project documenting the work places of Portland creatives. Whether it’s a painter, a musician, or designer, Carlie aims to not just understand the creative process but to also document the spaces that contain them.
Speaking of art and sand…here’s an awesome video of the day. Kseniya Simonova is a 24 year old sand animator from Ukraine who began her rise to Ukraine’s Got Talent fame when her business collapsed. She’d been drawing for only less than a year when she entered the contest with her piece (animated portrayal of life during the USSR’s Great Patriotic War against the Third Reich in World War II) and won earlier this year. I guess we at B/D will just leave the granulated stone masterpieces to the pros.