Wookjae Maeng is a Korean artist who works with ceramics, focusing on the relationships between man and animal. The ghostly pieces often resemble commemorative busts or mounted heads reminiscent of big game trophies (the kind you’d seen in a hunter’s den). Sometimes, works are painted to blend in with wall treatments or trendy decor.
“I concentrate on art as a vehicle to communicate contemporary social and environmental problems to the viewer by stimulating, not just emotion, but sensibilities and memories,” Maeng writes. Stimulus is an important idea, and it’s used to evoke the viewer’s curiosity and to inspire them to figure the greater meaning of the work.
Maeng also explains why he chose to feature animals in his sculptures:
In our environment, numerous creatures live in harmony. Yet there are other creatures that merely exist without enjoying their natural right due to human classification and negligence. I would like to express the nature of the relationship between human and other creatures-a relationship that, in other to thrive, demands careful coexistence and balance between the urban and the natural, for example, and an awareness and empathy for less visible creatures. In my work I hope to provide an opportunity-however brief-for modern man to consider the realities of the environment in which he exists, even as he continues his daily existence indifferent to it. (Via Optically Addicted)
Roshan Adhihetty regularly takes off his clothes and photographs other people without theirs on either. Despite what that sounds like, the series he has put together is a tasteful, candid look at a popular past time. Die Nacktwanderer, or The Nude Hikers captures groups of hikers reconnecting with nature and immersing their bodies into their surroundings. Growing up in Lausanne, an area which is quite accustomed to nudity, Adhihetty is no stranger to seeing the human body without clothes on. But after visiting his first nudist beach in Corsica, he decided to take a closer look at the culture of nudity, and in particular, the modern trend of naked hiking. He says:
Nudity and Nature have always been big subjects in art. Inspired by the romantic paintings I was hunting for photographs which feature this tension between romantic nature and disturbing contemporary elements – an opposition between nature and culture. (Source)
His photographs are a brazen look at a subject not often talked about, and sometimes even sneered at. But Adhihetty portrays his subjects with respect and grace, after he had to put himself in their shoes, so to speak. After tracking down a group of willing participants through Craigslist, the photographer had to join them in the buff to be allowed his camera on the hikes. Along with his other observations, Adhihetty realized that many of his subjects were male, and women only make up about a fifth of the hiking population. He notes that this is most likely linked to the social pressures and judgements our current society places on the female figure.
Hopefully with projects like this photographic series, we will stop seeing the naked body as only a sexual thing, but also as a very natural way to exist in the world around us. (Via Feature Shoot)
The works of artist Marco Grassi are so realistic, they appear to be photographs of women. However, his work is not your traditional portraits. If you look again, these portraits have an offbeat element, creating surreal characteristics that cannot possibly exist in real life. Because Grassi’s incredible skill in painting allows him to create such hyper-real images, the out of place component in each painting is our only clue to these being oil paintings and not photography. The artist impeccably renders such a variety of texture; until we believe we can feel the glossy, sleek glass and the soft fabric the women are wearing in Grassi’s work. Even close up, you can see the details of each wrinkle, pore and eyelash of every woman he paints, intensifying the illusion of reality.
The twist is, the women in Grassi’s paintings are not normal, they have a hand covered in intricate patterns or a blue tree stretching across their upper torso, both like glowing tattoos on their bodies. One woman even has a design carved into the skin on her back, revealing not blood and bones, but hollow darkness. However strange these unexpected details may be, the women in these portraits remain just as beautiful and realistic as ever. Despite the unusual, serial quality Grassi’s paintings have, they still appear believable. We are left in awe believing in these striking, mysterious women, not knowing why they look as they do. (via Hi-Fructose)
Bozena Rydlewska (aka Bozka) is a Polish artist who creates enchanting nature illustrations blooming with life. Her works resemble dream-like visions of a fairytale forest: ornate plants burst and divide across the paper, creating patterns and symmetry; animals from different habitats (frogs, birds, and tropical fish) intermingle harmoniously. Bozka has turned some of her illustrations into mesmerizing 3D pop-ups, intricately layered and rich with illustrated texture. From bright, buzzing jungles to mysterious gardens at dusk, the vibrant color schemes give each ecosystem a unique energy.
For many of us, Bozka’s works may be attached to a sense of nostalgia; they remind us of those children’s books that engrossed our imaginations by springing to life as we turned the pages. Bozka has taken this art a bit further, of course, in the divine complexity of each piece. Some of her pop-ups resemble theater sets, like elaborate stagings celebrating the harmony and geometry of nature; we expect at any moment for the birds and butterflies to explode into a synchronous movement. Check out Bokza’s website and Facebook page for more imaginative creations. (Via Hi-Fructose)
The stick figures of Laylah Ali are like no other. In her latest show The Acephalous Series which means “headless” she continues on her path of creating a new population of figures with strange expressions and round heads. Her newest resemble vegetables of the cucumber and celery kind. Whereas her former works have studied race relations, torture and hierarchy her newest seem to comment on the state of farming and the food industry. In a number of pieces there seem to be deformities of sorts which could be alerting to chemicals which are rampant in food that isn’t organic. A hybrid baby figure lurking in some might also symbolize sickness affecting unborn and young things. Its sometimes hard to tell with work of this nature what it all means but that’s what makes it both fun and enjoyable. It’s a challenge the artist gives the viewer by making something entirely original.
Ali has been on the international art radar for sometime. She participated in the Venice Bienniale in 2003 and Whitney Biennial in 2004. Her work as a whole is attributed to various types of art stemming from ancient hieroglyphics to comic book serials. She speaks about social issues affecting men, women and minorities using everyday objects such as gym balls, sneakers and sticks.
Artist Jennifer Presant is a painter with training in figurative realism and a background in graphic design. Her multifaceted works are a combination of indoor and outdoor spaces. Bedrooms look like they’re in a park, statues are on beaches, and French doors open onto ice. “Thematically, my paintings address the complexity of memory, by blurring the lines between recollection, projection, and reality,” Presant writes in an artist statement. “Each painting becomes a psychological landscape or waking dream, reinforcing the fluid relationships between time, memory and place.”
The contemporary media has a huge impact on the content of Presant’s images. She says:
By merging both real and fictitious images in these painted fictional documentaries, I explore the conflation of our media-saturated lives and our lived reality; we live among images and in many ways as images. Our memories of events have become distorted. With media today, we have grown accustomed to watching ourselves and living from a voyeuristic standpoint. With these paintings, the viewer’s imagination plays an important role in the piece, while also being implicated in the voyeurism depicted. (Via Feather of Me)
Sophia Narrett‘s detailed fictional scenes look like luscious oil paintings, but once you look closer, it’s clear they are a bit more special than that. She uses thread, wool and fibers to build dark and romantic narratives of men and women in group settings. The actions in each embroidery are at first unclear and seem a bit suspicious and foreboding. Her pieces are a bit like an illustration from a murder mystery. Growing up watching reality dating shows and reading books about romantic courtship and Victorian matchmaking practices, Narrett depicts a world that is cheesy, yet sublime and magical. The figures in her scenarios are camp characters in a glamorous story looking for happiness.
After switching from painting almost exclusively with oil paints to experimenting with embroidery and stitching, Narrett soon found the materials and techniques that suited her. She explains more to The Huffington Post:
As I continued working in embroidery I became interested in the repercussions that embroidery holds for the image and story, as well as the way that it dictates the process. As the emotionality of the narratives heightens to that of melodrama, the intense investment in the embroidery process required to create legible images speaks to the overwrought nature of the fantasy. (Source)
Her thread work is so rich and dense, the image seems to dripping of the canvas. Her work of beautiful fiction features women throughout, and Narrett is happy to connect the subject matter to the historical connection of embroidery being ‘women’s work’. She says this about the subject:
Of course, the embroidery connotes the tradition of embroidery as women’s work, as well as the feminist artists who subverted that history, while the paintings carry the weight of or are bolstered by the history of painting. Still I would say that my use of both mediums is primarily as a conduit for visual ideas. (Source)
And she expresses her ideas of fantasy, romance, courtship and magic beautifully. See more of her work after the jump.
Toronto based artist Trevor Wheatley takes common slang to the streets, placing words and lingo in the public sphere where you cannot ignore it. He constructs large-scale sculptures of words like “real talk” and “nah” and installs them amongst trees and in rivers. Can you imagine hiking and seeing the word “squad” as you looked up into the trees? His often boldly colored text becomes so out of place in the wilderness, creating a very surreal site. Each installation displays strong pop-culture references of phrases commonly used. Interested in typography, Wheatley’s text-based work is range in font, color, and materials.
Wheatley takes this common language and makes it static, giving it a more permanent element. Language and slang changes so frequently, a word or phrase could be outdated as soon as Wheatley has completed the installation. Nevertheless, they bring back nostalgia and even add a bit of humor to their environment. Slang and lingo can often bring to mind a certain type of person or stereotype that we associate with the word or phrase. Wheatley’s sculptures take us beyond these preconceived notions of language by taking them out of their usual context and placing them in a new environment. Like taking a word out of its original context can change it’s meaning, the artist gives new meaning and life to the lingo, as they are located in serene nature. (via Juxtapoz)