Robert Larson uses discarded cigarettes packaging, matchbooks, and rolling papers to create his compositions. Somewhat reminiscent of Tom Fruin’s drug baggies, the artist creates abstract patterns from smoking paraphernalia, and turns the ugly and destructive act of smoking into something unexpectedly beautiful.
Larson finds the materials by scavenging neighbourhoods in Santa Cruz, where he lives and works. There’s an interesting play between personal and impersonal in his work. The consistent grid of the items, be it shiny packaging or used matches, gives a sense of the systemic nature of urban life, while their individual treatment – worn by weather or use – sustains a sense of individual experience.
Cigarettes are rarely if ever associated with beauty, at least in our moment. Certainly in the past they were glamourized, but happily, people are beginning to see quite clearly their highly detrimental effect. Still, they maintain a heavy presence, and it’s exciting to see something positive come out of a predominantly negative thing. Larson’s compositions are surprisingly colourful and dynamic. He has a good eye for placement, as in the Marlboro packaging where he distributes the various tones of grey-brown wear to radiate outwards from the middle of the work. His pieces are mostly quite large, reaching over six feet. It makes me wonder how long it would take him to collect his materials, which could give him some understanding of the smoking population of each neighbourhood he collects from.
Restrepo is one of the many stories to come out of our endless war with afghanistan. The movie spends one year in the most dangerous valley in Afghanistan where death is a daily threat. It’s brutally honest, sad, and poignant. Go see it at your local art house theater.
One of the hottest talents to come out of South Africa lately is painter Kurt Pio. His practice includes printmaking, painting and sculptural pieces, exploring many different topics. But the most eye catching of his works, I think, would be his diamond series. A collection of abstract, fragmented, striking paintings of jewels, diamonds, and gems, his canvases are a display of his sensitivity to color.
With a background in interior design, Pio thinks of the designer’s point of view while painting his fine art pieces. He likes to create work that will suit the environment they could be placed in, and is finely tuned to the colors and atmosphere of his surroundings. This may have something to do with growing up in the picturesque Cape Town and appreciating it’s unique aesthetic.
You are constantly told by foreigners that the city is very beautiful. It’s a constant thing that you hear. But until you go traveling and compare your city to other places, that’s when you realize that what they say is true. I wanted to pay patronage to my home, and to celebrate the beautiful place that I’m living in. (Source)
Pio says the things around him are a massive influence on him; they are the things that make him the most excited. So, taking mundane objects, he combines that with a love of colors and contrast to produce some beautiful work. The talented painter is looking forward to the future, and is currently obsessed with the idea of using gold in his work. But as we can see from Pio’s Diamond series, gold is not the only thing that glitters. (Via The Jealous Curator)
Being in flight is one of the most unnatural, extraordinary, ordinary experiences of modern life. When we climb to 30,000 feet, our perspective looking down at the world becomes that of a deity, and the rules of time and space are altered as we rush over the earth. In flight we are able to view the most remote corners of the natural world and the vast spread of the world we have constructed. It gives us the unique perspective to look at the interaction of the natural and constructed in a truly holistic way. In its totality, the unnatural or extraordinary experience produces great fear and excitement. We confront death a little every time the doors close – and this closeness to death intensifies the extraordinary experience of being in flight. On the other hand, our ‘in flight’ experience is filled with the most unremarkable daily activities: reading a comic book, finishing a crossword puzzle, eating, sleeping. The cabin becomes our shared world, temporally removed from the world that we’ve left back on land. What connects the ordinary and the extraordinary is a powerful trust in the human capacity to take us beyond the mundane. The plane becomes a temple of humanism, where we put faith in all that get us and keeps us up in the air – engineers, pilots, researchers, air traffic controllers – a web of people, underwritten by collective knowledge, keeping us alive, together.- Phillip Kalantzis-Cope
Stephen Wilkes‘ “Day to Night” series captures the day-to-night transitions that occur in familiar cityscapes. Each image represents a collection of moments, not just a singular moment in time. About 50 photographs out of around 1,500 shots taken over the course of 12-15 hours comprise each single resulting photograph. During his shoots, Wilkes doesn’t allow himself bathroom breaks and when he eats, he eats meals brought to him in a bucket because it’s imperative that the photographer pay careful attention to the emptiness or potential overlaps of each shot. Wilkes’ composite photographs document movements within the same space from sunrise to sunset, each image capturing the transitions these spaces undergo on a daily basis.
For Time, Wilkes offers a descriptive caption of many images. Of his Wrigley Field photograph he explains, “This photograph was taken during the course of a Day/Night double header, a rare occurrence these days in major league baseball. Wrigley Field is the Grand Temple of baseball parks. It will change dramatically within the next year, as large jumbotrons will be installed into the stadium, forever changing this view. While the morning was sunny and clear, the afternoon made for a real challenge photographically. We had rain showers on and off throughout the day, and into the evening.”
Darren Wardle‘s paintings are bright and dystopian and evoke a sort of futuristic unease. There are disruptions within the formal elements of his pieces, like dripping, smeared, or seeming explosions of bright colored paint that call attention to the instability of form. I am drawn to the technical skill of the buildings’ architectures contrasted with the artificiality captured with the use of the saturated, day-glo color palette. Wardle is from Australia, but it was during his residency in Los Angeles that he became inspired by the city’s landscape, and created these stunning pieces.
According to Art Collector, Wardle says his work is “meant to be both beautiful and terrible…My work is basically what I see, taken to an extreme. I’m always looking at things through a dystopian prism, but I’m hoping it won’t turn out that way.” His artist statement elaborates, “The points where analog and digital technology meet in painting are similar to where the natural and the synthetic meet in our everyday experience of constructed space. The structural disintegration, or renovation, deployed in my work embodies a generalized anxiety about architecture under threat from an unspecified force, be that natural or man-made.” Of his portrait painting series titled “Head Case,” Wardle explains, “There is a connection between the psychological interior and representations of interior space. At a subconscious level the room is a projection of our own skin and is a metaphor for the interior self.”
Inspired by the futuristic animation of Katsuhiro Otomo‘s 1988 film, Akira, Gianmarco Magnani’s latest prints bring a third dimension to an otherwise flat medium. His two part series, “Silence Television”, draws from the linear style of traditional Japanese anime, and maintains a simliar graphic appeal. In his first set of four illustrations, entitled “Riders and Villains”, Magnani hoped to create a tension between good and bad in his riders. (As he pointed out, good without evil is just uninteresting). His second set, “The Forgotten Monarchy” marries a modern aesthetic with vestiges of the styles of 16th century European monarchies.