Japanese artist and leader of Harajuku kawaii culture, Sebastian Masuda, celebrated color and texture with his most recent, and first exhibition here in the US, “Colorful Rebellion.”
Last month, Chelsea’s Kianga Ellis Projects provided Masuda with the space to create a wonderfully weird, colorful wonderland that included plastic toys, bundles of fake fur, stuffed animals, and other accoutrements of manufactured cuteness. The installation was to be read as an autobiographical space, one that, through its many layers, compiled universal themes such as delusion and fate. The aesthetics of the piece takes from Masuda’s main passion, Harajuku fashion.
The installation included a “zone” for desire, the future, delusion, fate, wounds, and reality, with the seventh zone (a reference to the seven deadly sins), “entrusted in your hands.” Although there was definitely something a bit dark at play, the space, overall, exuded Masuda’s rebellious but lively ways of seeing.
The installation was up until March 29th, 2014 at the Kianga Ellis Projects in New York.
Anya Gallaccio‘s installation Red on Green may leave elicit a different reaction depending on when you catch the show. Gallaccio plucked the heads of 10,000 roses and arranged them into large neat rectangle. At first the installation may resemble a grand romantic gesture. However, Gallaccio’s interest is piqued by what the installation becomes. In a way Red on Green turns into a type of natural performance as the field of red shifts to brown. She utilizes the loaded symbol of the rose as a starting point for investigating the natural processes of death and decay.
Brian Robertson’s paintings are executed with the precision of a surgeon, but beneath this graphic hard-edged aesthetic is an honest and delicate appraisal of humanity that subtly reveals itself the longer you spend with the work. The human condition could be defined in many ways – our never ending attempts to understand the meaning of life, the ongoing search for gratification, our sense of curiosity, the inevitability of isolation, or the innate knowledge of our eventual demise. Robertson’s practice dives headfirst into this existential quagmire with a level of honesty and playfulness that is rarely executed so well.
Oddly familiar (yet simultaneously foreign) worlds showcase a variety of anthropomorphized structures that seem to exist in a place just outside of reality.Recognizable elements in the paintings serve to ground the otherworldly figures as they traverse unknown environments. These moments of certainty establish a point of reference for the viewer, but the tightly organized chaos surrounding these moments forms a whole new set of questions. What are these strange objects? Do they serve a purpose? Where are they? In each case, there is no definitive answer, but the carefully constructed scenes lend themselves toward metaphorical interpretation. Certain paintings evoke a quiet solitude while others maintain a sort of liveliness, as the structures attempt to understand their current environments.
Robertson’s paintings all seem to function as a metaphor of humanity’s ongoing quest to navigate our way through an uncertain world. In that respect, we are very much like the futuristic amalgamations depicted in these works.
Nicolas Deshayes lives and works in France. He utilizes vacuum-formed plastic, anodized aluminum, and polystyrene to create textured abstractions. His compositions remain static until an area is covered in the formed plastic, the work then resembles flowing color fields. Like glimpses into another dimension his sculptures ebb and flow as colors swirl around the viewer.
Everyone loves a miniature. That’s why we all love Bill Burns’ Safety Gear for Small Animals. These tiny guys are on display at the MoMA in New York along with guides on how to assist small animals. Burns’ work consists mainly of sculpture, photographs and books. All of his work acts as a commentary on human stewardship of the environment.
Documentary photographer Nina Berman’s recent “Eat To Win” series is not for the faint hearted. Through her observation of eating competitions across the United States, she documents what she calls “the ferocity of consumption” and delves into the notions of frenzy and excess while depicting food as more than a necessary part of human survival. In these competitions, food becomes a source of competition, not in a necessary sense, but for entertainment. The series is comprised of close up of contestants, with their faces covered in food and savage expressions on their faces.
The competitions themselves unfold within 2 to 6 minutes, which underlines the way in which time is the most vital element of the competition. Berman’s photographs are interesting in the sense that she has chosen not to document the end result of the competition but the competition process in itself. This has resulted in a series full of intense facial expressions, a loss of manners and a visceral illustration of unbridled humanity.
Berman’s high definition close up allow you to step inside the world of eating competitions in an almost tangible manner, that brings you quite literally, face to face with the more disgusting side of being a human. She brings you into a high contrast world of overconsumption and excess and does not stray away from the greasy details. She places eating competitions at the junction of pleasure and pain, and by doing so establishes a subtle and somewhat humoristic critique of consumer society at its peak.