As part of our ongoing partnership with In The Make, Beautiful/Decay is sharing a studio visit with artist Annie Vought. See the full studio visit and interview with Annie and other West Coast artists at www.inthemake.com.
Often on our way to studio visits or coming back from them, Klea and I will get into big, questioning conversations about life. I know that sounds a little cheesy, but it’s true. In part, I think it’s because we are either warming up for or winding down from encounters that frequently take on a philosophical, ruminative tone. It’s also just how we like to talk to each other. As we drove across the bridge to Annie’s North Oakland home and studio (where she lives with her lover, performance artist Scott V.) we were having one of these conversations— specifically about secrets and how everyone has them. Our car-ride conversation wasn’t about Annie’s art, but about halfway through our visit with her it dawned on me that unintentionally it was a very apt preface to her work. Annie takes fragments of written correspondence – from handwritten letters to text messages – that she has found, received, or written, enlarges and reworks the text on large paper, and then meticulously goes about removing the negative spaces with an X-acto knife. Because of the precision involved, Annie changes her X-acto blade after every five or six cuts, so she can easily go through close to 500 blades just to finish one piece. When I asked Annie how she goes about choosing her source material, she said she’s most interested in text that reveals “those in between moments” of humanity and language in which she can identify subtext — typical and commonplace communications at first glance, but that somehow express a human frailty and an underlying element of truth. We talked about how personal many of these correspondences are, and her willingness to expose herself and others through them. So much is revealed inadvertently— in hesitant language, in the pauses and empty silences between words, in muddled expressions, and overwrought sentences, and it’s these details that Annie seems to be after in her work. As we sat out in Annie’s lovely garden talking, with her big dog Moses lazing nearby in the sun, I kept thinking about how full of secrets we all are and what rich and complex inner lives we lead. And yet we can’t help but lay ourselves bare through language, in everything we say and everything we leave unsaid.
Colombian painter Jesus Leguizamo combines realistic elements of portraiture with abstract, creating surreal pieces that sing with emotion. His paintings look almost like oil-on-canvas renditions of glitch art, his subjets interrupted with splotches of colors and smears of paint.
Leguizamo’s paintings feel like intimate peeks into someone’s emotional state of mind, and his expressive brushstrokes seem to convey a raw sense of confusion or mental tumult. There’s a dynamism to his paintings, as though they’re a motion capture camera snapping just one frame of his subject. According to Saatchi Art, Leguizamo explores human fragility with “his depictions of people [that] erases and blurs that which defines the human being – the face. ” (via I Need a Guide)
Stripping is pretty cool, but stripping to songs takes it that much further. Imagine, if you will, the H.M.S. Pinafore with g-strings. Or just imagine burlesque, which combines showmanship, rump shaking, and a generous pinch of snark to create one saucy form of theater. But performers are more than the sum of their tassels, and photographer Nicky Devine has been smart enough to document the burlesque community from behind the scenes, giving us a candid look at those who spend their lives in service of this bawdy entertainment.
Fountain is a sculpture made by Letha Wilson using drywall and wood reclaimed from art gallery walls, and an artist’s studio walls. In this piece the form of a classical water fountain is invoked, typically present in a garden or entryway as a symbol of the utopian ideal. Walls and building materials previously used to house artworks, complete with paint stains and remnants of their past life, are re-newed into this functional water fountain. The drywall materials will gradually deteriorate away over the course of the exhibition as the paper and rock-based materials are worn down by constantly moving water.
Apak is a husband and wife duo who live and work in Portland, Oregon. Aaron and Ayumi Piland produce vibrant scenes where tiny explorers seek out and cultivate miniature landscapes. These floating microcosms exist in an endless galaxy and depict an intersection of nature and technology in harmony. The paintings come across as hopeful reflections on our interaction with the world around us as well as the unexplored universe.
Special Problems is a multi-disciplinary creative studio composed of Campbell Hooper, Darron Lilley and Joel Kefali. Their work fuses hand drawn, painted, video, animation and illustration–often recontextualized in new and surprising ways. They recently interviewed with Beautiful/Decay to discuss their design collective, their approach, and thought processes behind their videos.
How do you get what money can’t buy? The good folks at Johnny Walker Blue Label and Jude Law show us how. This epic tale starts deep at sea on an Italian boat built in 1928. Jude Law and Giancarlo Gianni are cruising through what seems to be a perfect paradise complete with tropical islands, lot of sun, and a cool breeze. As a man that has everything, Jude confesses that he must have the luxurious and rare boat. When Giancarlo alerts Jude that no amount of money can purchase the boat Jude comes up with a challenge. Since the boat is priceless and no amount of wealth can obtain it, he challenges Giancarlo to a gentlemen’s wager, a dance off of sorts set in a memorable restored nightclub complete with a live jazz band and backup singers. With a delicious Johnny Walker Blue Label Whisky in hand and a few taps of their feet, the two men battle it out on the dance floor as only two stylish gentlemen could. Watch the video until the end and see how this epic tale between two sea loving gentlemen ends.
This post is sponsored by Johnny Walker Blue Label.