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Life Of Cats: An Exhibition Exploring Japan’s Historical Obsession With Cats

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In the age of the internet, we are used to seeing cats, cat videos, and cat-related memes permeating our social media. But delve into the archives of art history and you’ll see that people have always been a little obsessed with cats (it was no secret in ancient Egypt). In a show held at Manhattan’s Japan Society last spring, over 120 artworks—consisting largely of ukiyo-e prints from the Edo period—were exhibited that explored Japan’s own infatuation with their feline companions. Most of the pieces were on loan from the Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation and the rest were gathered from collections around the US.

The show was divided into five sections: “Cats and People,” “Cats as People,” “Cats versus People,” “Cats Transformed,” and “Cats and Play.” The animals were represented in a variety of ways—sometimes in the cute, domesticated contexts we recognize from the internet, and sometimes in courtly (and even eroticized) scenarios. Many are anthropomorphized to partake in human activities, from argumentative social gatherings to traditional dances. In other prints, they take on a more sinister appearance, conjured as muses for cryptic samurai duals. Coupled with nude or reclining women, cats take on a sensual symbolism.

The exhibition ended last June, but you can learn more about it on the Japan Society website, and there is a video tour available here. (Via Hyperallergic)

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Thomas Brown’s Paper Meteors

In a culture addled with conspiracy theories and apocalyptic prophecies, photographer Thomas Brown thinks a red herring could do us all some good. Exploiting the hyper-paranoia he sees in today’s society, Brown’s “Meteor” series is a collection of clean, tranquil images resembling doom-wreacking meteors at first glance, that upon further inspection manifest as simply crumpled pieces of paper. Just like the overwrought fears that constantly inflict anxiety on our population, these “meteors” too may initially appear violent and threatening, but ultimately both prove to be as inconsequential and harmless as discarded pieces of paper. 

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Vladimir Kato

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Vladimir Kato grew up in the urban environment of Yugoslavia in the 1980’s, influenced by the anarchy, graffiti and punks that inhabited his city and surroundings. Much of his imagery comes from comic and pop artists of the time. After moving to Canada, he gained an education from The Interpretive Illustration and Classical Animation Programs at the Sheridan College of Art and Design . He is now an artist, illustrator, and cartoonist for several recognized magazines and clothing companies. His new show examining wild animals, entitled “Wilderness,” opens June 4th at the Show & Tell Gallery in Toronto, Canada.

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Three Women Get Historical Makeovers That Explore Their Cultural Pasts

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Last week, BuzzFeed published a video featuring three women who were given complete makeovers based on “diverse traditions of beauty,” transforming them into figures from their cultural, historical pasts. Their backgrounds — which were Indian, English-Irish-Scottish, and Chinese-Taiwanese – were researched, and then clothes, accessories, hairstyles, and makeup were selected to recreate the looks. The women are fascinated and excited by the stylists’ creative interpretations of their heritage, and as one participant expresses, “It’s traditional, but at the same time, there’s an edge to it.”

A possible criticism of this video would be that it risks essentializing ethnic identities and notions of beauty; it’s always important to remember that cultural histories and traditions are infinitely diverse and nuanced. However, BuzzFeed’s goal to creatively explore a range of backgrounds is valuable, in that it aims to celebrate cultural difference and disparate histories. The video provides positive representation to alternative-and-equal cultural understandings of traditional beauty, which is important in a world wherein the media is so often dominated — or at least influenced — by Western standards and ways of thinking.

Check out the video above, and share with us your thoughts. What do you think about these depictions of diverse, traditional beauty? (Via designboom)

 

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Shan Hur’s Excavated Sculptures

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Shan Hur‘s sculptures interact with the gallery space in a unique way.  He embeds his sculptural work inside walls and pillars throughout the space.  Each piece almost seems if it is in the middle of being excavated right out of the gallery wall.  In this way the sculpture brings the entire gallery into the work of art, and by extenstion its visitors.  Interestingly, Hur says of his work:

“One of the issues I have focused on is how to reduce the burden of the volume of sculpture.  I then connect this mass to its surroundings, but not just as part of the whole.  I think sculpture should communicate with its circumstances.”

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Reed + Radar

Reed + Radar

Reed + Radar’s photography is both beautiful and haunting. I don’t know too much about this duo, but I do know that they’ve managed to give me the chills with all of these animated clown faces. Check them out, I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the future.

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Anne Wölk

German artist Anne Wölk uses film stills as her main source of inspiration for these surreal paintings that are in a permanent state of flux.

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Louis Cameron

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Very cool show from artist Louis Cameron at I-20 in New York. In my humble opinion, there are few subjects that have as much cultural significance as the American Flag, so it doesn’t surprise me that artists continue to try their hand at reinterpreting the ‘Stars and Stripes’. The paintings in this show depict flags that were created in the 1960’s as a response to the Pan-African Flag (designed by Marcus Garvey), and were meant to symbolically represent the African-American experience. So there, you get some art and a little history lesson on a wonderful sunday afternoon!

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