Put this on your Christmas list pronto.
Ellen Jewett is a Canadian artist who creates flowing sculptural fusions of plants, animals and objects. Among her mystical menagerie is a wild boar with shrubs growing from its mane, foxes with tails sprouting into grass, and a deer whose body resembles a tree-shrouded grove. As singular beasts, Jewett’s creatures are beautiful and dynamic, but look closer and you will see that each one is composed of tinier parts, microcosms of flora, fauna, and objects that weave seamlessly together. These layered components infuse each sculpture with multiple narratives, from celebrations of life and growth, to stories of death, decay, and burden in the form of manmade debris. As Jewett explains:
At first glance my work explores the more modern prosaic concept of nature: a source of serene nostalgia balanced with the more visceral experience of ‘wildness’ as remarkably alien and indifferent. Upon closer inspection of each ‘creature’ the viewer may discover a frieze on which themes as familiar as domestication and as abrasive as domination fall into sharp relief. (Source)
Jewett makes the sculptures from the inside out, layering materials and utilizing negative space to create hollowed works that flow into the air around them: dense frames unravel into breezy foliage and empty space, creating habitats for fluttering, sculpted birds. The results of these disentangled bodies are creatures that speak their strengths via expressions of lightness, vulnerability, and emotion. Jewett describes this effect:
Over time I find my sculptures are evolving to be of greater emotional presence by using less physical substance: I subtract more and more to increase the negative space. The element of weight, which has always seemed so fundamentally tied to the medium of sculpture, is stripped away and the laws of gravity are no longer in full effect. In reading the stories contained in each piece we are forced to acknowledge their emotional gravity cloaked as it is in the light, the feminine, the fragile, and the unknowable. (Source)
As part of her creative and flowing artistic practice, Jewett strives to free her work from materials with toxic properties, such as glazes, paints, and finishes. This greatly limits what she can use, but at the same time, incites her imagination and makes her work even more unique. “Where possible I source the natural, the local, the low impact and, always, the authentic,” she writes (Source). Check out Jewett’s website for more beautiful and holistic creations. (Via Lost at E Minor)
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Russian born and Rotterdam based Masha Krasnova-Shabaeva has a large collection of quirky works on paper on her site. One of my favorites has to be “I Consist of Frogs” which is pictured above.
Gabriel Isak is a Swedish photographer who uses digital techniques to create surreal scenes inspired by the inner worlds of dreams and psychology. Recurring through Isak’s images are people isolated against a backdrop of fog and vast emptiness. With their faces obscured by hair, balloons, mesh, or smoke, they become intangible wanderers who symbolize our own unconscious states. There are also repeating images: “birds, [the] ocean, and the fog” — the three things that symbolically compose Isak’s life, as he writes on his Instagram (Source). In their apparent ambiguity, Isak’s dream-like visions evoke a series of shifting experiences and emotions: serenity and mystery, safety and loneliness, hope and despair. In a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay, Isak described his creative process:
I have always been fascinated by the psychological world and the many places we encounter in our dreams. Whenever I create an image, I mostly start with some sort of brainstorming, whether it is writing down words, listening to music and drawing down the vision that appears, or a place I dreamt about. I also get very inspired by locations and always try to find interesting but simple sceneries that I can use in my imagery.
Working in a stream-of-consciousness fashion and drawing on the vagueness of dreams, Isak manages to create scenes of vast interpretative potential. Like the visions seen through a dream, there is an atmosphere of darkness and melancholia — his faceless characters, after all, are all donned in black — but the longer you look and the more you read the symbols, a sense of peace arises. Isak writes:
In my work I use photography as a metaphor for experiences of the soul. My objective is to bring common human emotions into my photography, where the viewers can interact with the moods of the images and find a piece of themselves within it.
Isak is currently residing in San Francisco, where he is obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography at the Academy of Art University. Check out his website, Facebook, and Instagram and immerse yourself further in his turbulent-but-still, dark-but-uplifting dreamscapes. (Via Juxtapoz)
Korean-born Brooklyn artist Timothy Hyunsoo Lee creates 3D escapades in a 2D format. The paper is both painted upon and sculpted: acted on as a canvas for gouache and watercolor, then the paper is cut into and reformed, creating shapes and 3D sculptures which the paintings move across.
Primarily intending to pursue medical school, Lee changed his mind after graduation and instead found a studio and continued working on his other passion, art. You can see traces of his past ambitions in the technical precision of his paintings. The symmetry is scientific.
Some shapes are forming, some dissolving, some reforming. Matter shifts between sections of his work, created in one area and destroyed in another. Rectangle cut-outs fan inward from the edges of the paper like waves of autumn leaves kicked up from the ground, like a school of fish flickering in unison. He paints with gradients, running in and out of them, some color, some grayscale. Faces and eyes are a prominent feature of his work. The Sabrina Amrani Gallery, where Lee has shown work, summarizes his technique rather aptly:
“Hyunsoo Lee’s works are inspired by themes of social stigma, identity, psychological disorders, and more recently, of spirituality and religion. He explores these themes through a novel vector – paintings and sculptures consisting largely of cell-like marks that vary in size, color, and saturation. His works are seen as ethereal and delicate, but the extremely labor-intensive compositions, marked by intensely obsessive repetitions, quickly betray that initial perception. Exploring his own history of anxiety disorders through his art, Timothy confronts and manipulates his tics and compulsions and channels them into his works. In responding to his anxiety with art, he has developed a novel system of mind-mapping – “a cartography of his psychopathology” – to study a part of himself that initially drew him to study developmental biology and neuroscience in college.” (Excerpt from Source)
Artist Fabian Oefner has a strange way of painting. For this series a rod is covered in various colors of acrylic paint. The rods is connected to an electric drill which in turn is connected to a sensor that activates a camera flash lasting only 1/40,000 of a second. The moment the paint begins to be flung in all directions off the rod (according to Oefner, one millisecond, to be exact, after the rod begins spinning) is caught by the carefully timed flash. An instantaneous hurricane of color is frozen in midair capturing a structure that only exists for a fraction of a second. [via]
Brazilian artist Angelica Dass has an ambitious project, titled Humanæ, that attempts to collect all possible human skin tones using one of the main systems of color classification, Pantone®. The background of the portraits are all dyed with the Pantone® color that matches the same color as an extracted sample of the subject’s photographed skin tone. Dass’ ultimate goal is to provoke the viewer and use the internet as a discussion platform on ethnic identity by creating images that connect us independent from factors such as nationality, origin, economic status, age, or aesthetic standards. Dass lives and works in Madrid.