It seems that anytime someone finds a strange piece of art out in public the first thing they think is that Banksy was the culprit. This seemed to be the case when three strange and mystical wood carvings popped up in the woods of Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, UK. Carved into tree stumps these weren’t amateur carvings by stoned teenagers partying in the woods. With ornate details and precise craftsmanship any wood smith would be proud to call these their own. The Daily Mail caused an uproar stating that the pieces were carved by everyone’s favorite street art mystery man Banksy. However after some investigation by the BBC it was revealed that that the work was done by Tommy Craggs, who was commissioned by the person who owns the land that the sculptures were found on. Not sure why the Daily Mail didn’t start with checking who owned the land before going Bansky crazy but who’s got time to fact check when you could be selling some papers with phony headlines.
Even through a computer screen Tauba Auerbach‘s work is wonderfully confusing. To answer the question that you may likely be asking right now: Yes, these are paintings. Auerbach folds, rolls, crinkles, and otherwise manipulates the canvas prior to stretching it. She then sprays it with various colors of acrylic paint from different angles. The resulting paintings are definitely two-dimensional work. The process, though, produces an extremely realistic three-dimensional effect, as if the painting were indeed folded and wrinkled then lit by colored lights.
British sculptor Thom Puckey creates work that interestingly treads between old aesthetic sensibilities and materials and new content. Not unlike Renaissance sculptors, Puckey’s pieces are large, constructed out of marble, and often involve female nudes. Yet at the same time the objects presented in the sculptures are fiercely contemporary – his nudes are holding AK-47s, or are donning the hoods of Abu Ghraib prisoners (edit: of which likenesses Thom went back into the future to collect as the pieces existed before Abu Ghraib).
The artist Amelia Harnas creates dazzling portraits from spilled wine, using embroidery thread to trace and refine her crimson-faced subjects. Like delicate watercolor, the wine has an ethereal texture; the artist admits a certain unpredictability and instability in her unique process. Using wax resist on soft white cotton fabrics to set the images, she cannot determine how long the delicate images will last, and the transient images float like ghosts across the page while thread guides the eye.
Art historically, wine is associated with the god Bacchus, the god of drink and sexuality who inspired mortals to drink to the point of confusion, a state where the lines of identity and gender are blurred. Here, the spilled wine soaks the fabric in such a way that only the slightest mark provides a hint into the distinctive temperament of the subject. It is the thread that defines personhood, outlining the divisions between eye and flesh, hair and scalp. Without the meticulous embroidery, men and women become murky, drunken figures.
The miraculous tension between accident and purpose heightens the drama of each face. The cotton foundation is seemingly drenched in reds and pinks, the colors chaotically spreading throughout the image and creating serendipitous halos around the portraits; in stark contrast, the embroidery is distinctly rational and deliberate, forming complex geometric shapes like concentric circles, squares and triangles.
As the volatility of wine stains collides with the reason and order of human craft, Harnas presents a startlingly complex vision of the human condition. As illustrated in this work, art, like man, is governed by both passion and sound intellect, doled out in equal measure. Take a look. (via Colossal and Oddity Central)
C. Owen Lavoie’s (better know as C. Owen) series of photographs entitled Trophies captures the emergence of exotic creatures out of darkness. Because they are shrouded in so much darkness, these portraits at first seem to be taken in close proximity to live animals, but Lavoie is able to get so close to these beasts because they are taxidermied. This creates a haunting and mysterious effect that reflects on ideas about preservation, death, and hunting. The lens captures the preserved expressions of the creatures’ vulnerability, creating a sort of double preservation of the dead animal that stares right back at us. Lavoie says that she considers the series “a way of bringing the animals back to life for the public eye. It’s sort of like a third generation; first the animal was born, then hunted and handed over to a taxidermist so it can be displayed and finally in the end, modified by my lens.”
I recently ran into Dan Sabau‘s haunting and ethereal abstract-figurative watercolors at YES Gallery in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I was immediately drawn to the dashing bright colors and the flow of lines that maintained a definitive form despite allusive strokes of paint. Faces and figures are distraught and aloof, some hidden and others morphed into voluptuous loops. There’s a confounding element of ghastly transparency and confrontational forwardness that makes them disturbing and addictive.
Swedish artist Leif Holmstrand’s oeuvre is filled with crocheted and knitted sculptures, terrifying performances, washing line installations and dangling babies. He also writes excellent poetry- an artist and writer who puts Malmo on the Sweden Maps and in the very near future on the world map!