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Crystal Wagner’s Paper Sculptures Explore The Realm Between Familiar And Strange

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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.”

If you’re a fan of Wagner’s work, check out her large-scale, site specific installations.

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Christopher McKenney’s Surreal Photographs Are Disturbingly Beautiful

Christopher McKenney - Photography

Christopher McKenney - Photography

Christopher McKenney - Photography

Christopher McKenney - Photography

 

 

The surreal photographs by Christopher McKenney are haunting, as a (mostly) faceless figure interacts with a deserted environment. The desaturated images are shot in the middle of the woods, a corn field, a lake, and back country roads. Sometimes, we see a ghost. Other times, a man is lit on fire. Whatever the situation, McKenney crafts a quietly desperate image.

The photographer recently told art blog iGNANT that he one day found himself in the woods with nothing but a sheet, chair, and frame. He placed the sheet over his head and photoshopped his body out. He tells iGnant, I like taking away identity when photographing and to leave people thinking. “I only make the photos I do to express myself and what other people see or think is up to them, as long as I make them feel anything I’m ok with that.”

Personally, I experience cognitive dissonance when looking at McKenney’s work. I find a lot of these images disturbing yet beautifully composed.. For instance, the photo Fragile Perspective (above) features someone with a burning box over their head. Formally, the colors are rich and the orange of the fire is stunning against the blues, browns, and grays. But, then I study the content of the photograph and realize that it depicts someone who is essentially set on fire.

Not all of McKenney’s photographs are like that. Other times, they are simply whimsical and nonsensical. In Let Go, a suitcase with a balloon tied to the handle stays on the ground as its owner floats away. Another photograph has a chair in an empty field with a pair of hands (only hands, no body), infinitely holding a mirror. It’s these photographs I enjoy more – ones that are odd, but don’t communicate utter despair. (Via iGNANT)

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Francis Upritchard’s Technicolor Mystical Figures

Francis Upritchard - modelling material, foil, wire, paint, wood,Francis Upritchard - modelling material, foil, wire, paintFrancis Upritchard - modelling material, foil, wire, paintFrancis Upritchard - modelling material, foil, wire, paint, wood,

Artist Francis Upritchard sculpts, paints, and conjures up different figures and artifacts. Alluding to different ancient tribes and cultures (Native American, Maori) Upritchard creates objects soaked in sentimentality. From wrapped mummies and robed shamans, to shrunken heads and mysteriously worn down relics, her objects belong to a time of tranquility, of sensitivity and purity.

Her effigies have painted faces, triangles woven into silken robes, draped scarves hang off their fragile frames. They often have strange markings and are accompanied by personal artifacts or offerings. These not-quite-humans hold up their hands, not in protest but in some sort of ritual. We seem to have stumbled in half way through a sacred process. Lunge, Archer, Sneaky – all these titles suggest a movement that is half way through completion. She says of her new figures:

I wanted them to be really close to Dungeons and Dragons figures. Fantasy alongside the sentimental, nostalgic and idealized – or perhaps I mean stylized. Almost like dolls.

Upritchard scours flea markets and second hand stores looking for vases, hockey sticks, cookie jars, anything that can be turned into some sort of relic. Using real teeth, human hair, silks, wood, and natural rubber from Brazil, boiled with different pigments, her work is immensely tactile, and immediately old.

Her work is a glimpse of a time that either has happened, is happening, or will be happening. It is an idea of a modern day Utopia, one of subtlety, and quiet power. This is the new Voodoo.

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Hong Chun Zhang

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I have always enjoyed Kansas-based Chinese artist Hong Chun Zhang’s work, as I am also obsessed with hair. But her recent series of non-representational portraiture between Hong Chun Zhang and her twin sister is what I believe to be her best work so far. Charcoal drawings on long paper scrolls to accentuate the length and feel of their most noticeable characteristic.

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Jean-Michel Basquiat Three-Part Documentary Presented By Christies

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Before his untimely death, even before he was taken under the wing of Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat was something of legend.  He’s since become an enduring art icon.  His street art sensibility, youthful energy, and handling of themes of racism, class, psychology, and popular culture keep his art relevant from year to year.  However, Basquiat’s popularity is enjoying a special renewal over the course of 2013.  The hugely popular Basquiat retrospective at Manhattan’s Gagosian Gallery will be followed by another at Gagosian’s Hong Kong gallery later this month.  Additionally this month, Basquiat’s painting Dustheads is expected to fetch up to $35 million dollars in auction at Christie’s.  In conjunction with the auction, Christie’s has released a three-part video series on Jean-Michel Basquiat.  The first video features Basquiat’s early partner in graffiti, Al Diaz.  The second in the series speaks with fellow contemporary artist Toxic on Basquiat’s transformation into an art-star. The third installment (featured after the jump speaks with Macklemore, one of many contemporary rappers to express inspiration from the late artist.   [via]

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Walter Schels’ Haunting Photographs of People Before and After Death

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At the end of life: a camera lens, desperately recording and archiving the fears of the dying. For the series Life Before Death, the photographer Walter Schels captures the terminally ill in anticipation of the unknown and again in the moment after death. These intimate portraits are the last of a lifetime, documenting the body after some ineffable human essence has vanished. Informed by the words gathered in interview with the subjects by Schels’s partner Beate Lakotta, the haunting shots imagine the invisible, giving form to the most unconquerable human fear.

Schels’s portraits, in their silvery black and white tones, are reminiscent of Victorian post-mortem photography, presenting the dead as if sleeping, their eyes closed and brows gone slack in seeming comfort. These images are poignantly juxtaposed with the interviews, conversations in which even the most mundane, peripheral things of daily life are assigned significance; beside wizened and terrified eyes and coupled with existential wonderings are thoughts on fridge-freezers and local football teams. The banal works against and in service of the tragic; when confronted with death, a burial site and a cup of coffee are equally potent reminders of our mortality.

At the turn of the 20th century, it was believed that the eye recorded the last sight seen by the dead, that with careful study of the ocular nerves, we might reconstruct the moment of death. Schels’s subjects, pictured with gleaming eyes and contained within unrelentingly tight frames, seem to stare into the viewer as they confront inevitable passing, as if to implicate us or to say, “You are the last thing I saw.” (via The Guardian)

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Scott Dalton Photographs Of Mexican Faith Healers

Scott Dalton

faith healers

Scott Dalton

Scott Dalton, an award-winning photographer and filmmaker based in Houston, Texas documents the pilgrimage devoted to Mexican faith healer, Niño Fidencio, in Espinazo, Mexico.

Through the years in Mexican cultural history, Curanderos (Faith Healers) have served an important role in peoples’ medical and spiritual lives. In fact, many of these healers become celebrities, as their miraculous healing creates huge followings. In the early 20th century, El Niño Fidencio became one of the country’s most celebrated healers; today he is regarded as a folk saint by thousands of his devotees, or, as they call them, fidencistas.

In 2009, Dalton traveled to Espinazo to document the festivities devoted to El Niño Fidencio.

“What interested me in the project was just the idea of faith, and how it takes a variety of forms in peoples’ lives. This project just looks at one part of that, but I think it serves a reminder of how important faith is for so many people throughout the world, and how we all come to terms with our own belief system within the context of our own society and environment.”

Fidencistas believe that modern-day curanderos can channel the spirit of Fidencio; these photographs show many of the rituals provided by these modern day healers. To us this looks unusual, cinematic and surreal, but to them these ritualistic activities only mean their salvation. Dalton said he witnessed transformations, in which the eyes of curanderos would roll back and they’d assume a high-pitched voice- taking Fidencio’s spirit in order to heal. (via Slate)

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Bradley Hart Injects Bubbles In Bubble Wrap With Paint To ReCreate Iconic Paintings

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Bradley Hart has a unique way in which he crafts reinterpretations of classic paintings. Instead of the conventional canvas, the artist uses syringes to individually inject each bubble in a bubble wrap sheet with acrylic paint. This tedious technique requires that he pay close attention to the amount of paint and air that’s within each bubble, because one element can easily disturb the equilibrium of the two.

Hart’s paintings use the principle of pointillism. Every bubble has a slightly different color in it, and by placing the separately-colored dots next to one another, an overall images is realized when it’s viewed from a distance.

But, that’s is just one aspect of the artist’s work. The other part is an experimental process where excess paint from the injections drips down the back of the piece; it’s later removed to reveal an imprint of the painting and composes an impression of what was left behind. The separate processes are meant to be seen together. Hart explains, “Viewed together, the pieces each seem to engage the other and the viewer becomes an observer of a relationship created between the two.

These paintings are included in Hart’s solo exhibition entitled, The Masters Reinterpreted: Injections and Impressions. It’s available to view at Cavalier Galleries Inc. in New York City from May 6th through May 31st of this year.  (Via designboom)

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