Encased in white-framed boxes are Crystal Wagner’s intricate cut paper sculptures. Like specimens meant for studying, parts of textured tentacles and honeycomb-esque patterns wrap around themselves as well as non-representational wavy shapes. Wagner’s work is meticulous, and each scalloped edge has its own slightly-curled edge. It’s reminiscent of a dragon or a reptile, but not one that we’ve ever seen before. The vibrant colors feature jewel-toned gradients that push her sculptures from quasi-reality into full-blown fantasy.
These works first made their appearance at the Hashimoto Contemporary gallery in San Francisco in 2014. Her exhibition was titled Synesthesia, and the intention was to explore the psychological realm between the familiar and strange. The gallery writes, “…combining screen printing, cut paper and various dollar store items, Wagner meticulously assembles her sculptures with a sense of organic growth. Allowing her materials to build upon themselves, layer by layer, each structure swells into a mass of movement, as if grown from the soil of another planet.”
In their series, “Anamorphoses,” French artists Ella and Pitr (Papiers Peintres) transform forgotten, run-down places into colorfully framed spaces that create anamorphic illusions. The duo paints frames onto stairwells, empty rooms, and hallways, giving the normally 2D experience of a frame the depth of 3D. The photographs have to be taken at a particular angle in order to create the desired shot of a figure inside the painted canvas. The outcome is a whimsical portrait that lends playful depth to an otherwise drab and neglected setting. The artists completed these installations and photographs as part of a project for National Dramatic Center of St Etienne. (via my modern met)
This dream-like mural is the result of two long weeks rubbing clay, mud and dirt, day and night into the walls and floor of Rice Gallery in Houston. Since 2008 Japanese artist Yusuke Asai has been creating these earth paintings. His latest one, titled Yamatane (meaning Mountain Seed in Japanese) was created purely with locally sourced natural materials. With the help of volunteers and the staff of the gallery, Asai collected 27 different shades of dirt from around Houston. His palette is surprisingly varied – the fertile soils of Texas provided him with many tones of yellows, reds and even a rare shade of green. Wanting to form a connection between his visual art and the location he is working in, he says digging for the various samples is an important part of the process. Asai speaks of his fascination with dirt:
I choose to use the earth as a medium because I can find dirt anywhere in the world and do not need special materials. Dirt is by nature very different than materials sold in art stores! Seeds grow in it and it is home to many insects and microorganisms. It is a “living” medium. (Source)
Not formally trained, Asai learned his image making skills from sketching animals in zoos and visiting the museums of his native Japan. Observing different mark making techniques from other cultures and folklore, he has been building his own version of the natural world for some time. His subject matter also echoes those that are fundamental to primitive societies – that of the nature that surrounds us. Asai says:
Imagery of figures and creatures comes to me in the moment. Fox, bird, cat, and sunshine – everything has a role; parts disappear and something is added. I begin each work thinking of the countless small things that come together to make a larger world. (Source) (Via Colossal)
Australian photographer Brendan Fitzpatrick’s X-ray photographs expose the inner workings of toys. Fitzpatrick’s photographs are both whimsical and mechanical, evoking the curiosity of childhood and the desire to discover how things look and work from other perspectives. The strategic placement of wires, batteries, and screws are revealed, the complexity of the inside contrasting with the seemingly simplistic design of the outside. Fitzpatrick uses chest X-ray and mammogram machines to photograph flowers, toys, and creatures, then enhances the color in the images in order to more effectively distinguish the various parts that have been exposed. This photographs are part of series he calls “Invisible Light.” (via colossal)
Amidst the violence and chaos ravaging parts of her native Lebanon, the photographer Rania Matar does not aim to make sweeping political statements about the Middle East; with her complimentary bodies of work titled Ordinary Lives and What Remains (now on display at Houston’s Bank of America Center), she hopes to capture the resilience of the human spirit. Fighting the photographic and documentary urge to re-victimize survivors of war, she offers a more nuanced picture of the lives of Lebanese women and children.
Much of Matar’s work explores global representations of femininity—in a recent monograph, she published images of adolescent girls inhabiting a space between freedom and familial responsibility, the childhood bedroom— and in Ordinary Lives, the artist’s powerful sensitivities color the otherwise bleak black and white war-torn landscape. In “Broken Mirror,” a young woman meticulously adjusts her veil before a shattered mirror, her perception of self seen as fractured by her environment but preserved within her emotional core. Similarly, “Dead Mother” captures the veiling process as a ritual connecting female youth to a monolithic photograph of the matriarch, an undercurrent of modern political and social debate serving as a relentless backdrop.
What Remains operates as an arguably less subjective series of architectural photographs, documenting the aftermath of 2006’s war between Israel and Hezbollah. The series separates itself from Ordinary Lives in its deliberate use of color; the bright blues and yellows read like surrogates for the displaced families that once inhabited the violated spaces, offering a powerful tonal continuation of the striking and complexly seen human spirit captured in Ordinary Lives. Where we once viewed children, embracing the walls in rich gray tones, we are offered a Winnie the Pooh wall hanging, daydreaming beside an empty closet. Take a look.
Hailing grom London, artist Neil Morley creates his multi-layered works using college techniques. Morley is influenced by artists like Sigmar Polke, and uses reproductions of nineteenth century reportage etchings from the London Illustrated News and satirical magazines such as Punch. His work is a reflection on his research on travel, tourism, colonialism, and post-colonialism. The paintings create parallels between nineteenth century colonialism and twenty-first century tourism: “Tourism is one of the largest industries in the world and has arguably had the most influence on First World perceptions of utopia such as white, sandy beaches, clear blue sea, simplicity and adventure couched in luxury. Tourism has the propensity to mask realities such as poverty, poor infrastructure, and dictatorship. The all–inclusive resort and the heavily structured guided tour itineraries cherry pick and conceal these realities.” Packing a very heavy/important message makes his work that much more interesting.
Nicholas Hance McElroy takes photographs, but photographs unlike any I could ever take. A) Because I’ll probably never go to such dramatic landscapes as these, and B) They’re so beautiful and hazy… as if part of a far-off dream.