Misha Hollenbach lives and works in Melbourne, Australia. Using found and created objects he presents the viewer with absurd and alarming “artifacts” in which the eloquent clashes with the primordial. Swiss publishing company Nieves describes his work as “…merging contemporary culture with tribalism. Working across the mediums of collage, screen-printing, painting, sculpture and installation, his work is often driven by carnal desire, and a return to the basics/basis of human existence.” While speaking of his motivations Hollenbach frames his body of work perfectly stating that “Things can always be a bit more insane.”
Keith Lemley is an American artist who builds sculptural, light-based installations that explore the crossroads between nature and technology. Featured here is “The Woods,” comprising a dimly-lit room with illuminated axes lain against chopping logs and cracked cement walls. The scene is eerie yet serene, mixing bright-light modernity with the dark, cobwebbed corners of rustic life. The lights bring a sense of warmth and presence where there is otherwise cold stillness, calling upon our own memories of the forest while also estranging them with urban glamor. In the following statement, Lemley describes his desire to transcend time and environmental boundaries:
“My work is about seeing the unseen—the invisible presence which exists in our minds and surrounds all objects, experiences, and memories. Working in my studio in rural Appalachia, I have developed a keen interest in being part of and observing natural systems, time and the process of life and death, and an aesthetic sensibility synthesizing the organic and the machine.” (Source)
Other works by Lemley similarly explore the beauty of the natural world, manifesting it beyond normative representations; “Arboreal” is a speculation on the geometry inherent in nature, whereas “Past Presence” uses light to enhance the ragged dynamism of driftwood. Lemley’s goal is to shift our perspectives on the environment, and he does so by fulfilling the adventurous spirit and infusing physical images with the resonance of personal experience. Lemley’s installations renew familiar landscapes with meaning and excitement; as he writes, “one [ultimately] walks away more self aware and delighted in everyday visual ephemera and the experience of being a living, breathing being” (Source).
Aron Wiesenfeld’s moody paintings of young women in desolate, unfortunate circumstances are close to being beyond reproach. The figures in these works -usually young and female- are characterized by a certain hardiness. Despite their thin frames, there seemingly isn’t any malevolent force (weather, isolation, disaster, etc.) in the world that can bring them down. Where others might place less significant elements in a corner to fill a canvas, each of Wiesenfeld’s brushstrokes seem to have a purpose. Each mark on canvas contributes to a stronger emotional impression overall. And that’s really what makes these so great. Sure they’re gorgeously rendered, but these paintings’ potential for emotional impact is their greatest strength.
Mobstr is an anonymous artist known for his sneaky, cheeky, and playfully subversive graffiti messages. Some of his past works include dingy walls that brazenly proclaim “REBLOG THIS” and “#Graffiti”; other works include cleverly-placed human silhouettes or sardonic social commentaries (check out this one on biodiversity in the “animal kingdom”).
Recently, Mobstr published a series of images of a progressive graffiti “experiment” that spanned the course of a year, entitled “The Curious Frontier of Red.” On the wall of an electricity substation in Hackney Wick, London, the artist engaged in a strange and amusing battle with a local council worker. Mobstr explains the project’s inspiration:
“I cycled past this wall on the way to work for years. I noticed that graffiti painted within the red area was ‘buffed’ with red paint. However, graffiti outside the red area would be removed via pressure washing. This prompted the start of an experiment. Unlike other works, I was very uncertain as to what results it would yield. Below is what transpired over the course of a year.” (Source)
Over the 30 images included in his documentation (see the full series here), you can see how Mobstr’s game escalated: at first, he writes “red.” This word is painted over and re-marked numerous times as it gradually migrates to the top, where, eventually, the words “pressure wash” appear on the brick. The council cleaner then paints over the words “pressure wash” with red, to which Mobstr teasingly replies: “You went above the line.” In a hilarious effort to defeat the graffiti artist, the entire wall is painted red. “Thanks mate, it’s been fun,” Mobstr concludes.
Light-hearted and witty, Mobstr’s “red frontier” provides a visual dialogue demonstrating the battle against (and social delegitimization of) graffiti art. Luckily, Mobstr seems to be having fun with these cat-and-mouse battles, much to our amusement. Check out Mobstr’s website and Instagram to view more of his work.
Belgian documentary photographer Alice Smeets has traveled the world and covered everything from war to famine. However her series on Witchcraft has blown me away! This series captures the life and practices of the modern witchcraft practitioner by pulling back the veil on this ancient yet taboo tradition. Smeets says about this project:
“Modern Witchcraft is practiced across Europe, the USA and the rest of the Western World. It is extremely diverse; with beliefs that range widely from polytheism to animism, to pantheism and other paradigms. The largest movements of this self-termed Neo-Paganism are Wicca and Druidism; the followers of which call themselves Witches or Druids, sharing beliefs of Magic, Witchcraft and Nature’s Power. They respect their environment and celebrate eight Sabbats in the Wheel of the Year where they praise the divinities of nature. They often hold rituals – called Esbats – on the Full Moon. In part, they return to some of the old Celtic traditions.
While Wicca is a very young religion – formed by Gerald Gardner not more than 50 years ago, its roots are much older than Christianity. It has no relationship to Satanism, which is one of many misconceptions held by the public. Ancient pagan beliefs have begun to make their way into the Neo-Pagan community in many ways, making our spiritual path a very deep one, rooted and grounded in the very earth that supports us. From its origins in England it is now widely spread across Europe, America and the rest of the world. At the present time, Neo-Paganism is a large network of small communities with its own organizations, festivals, magazines, shops, workshops, gatherings and ceremonies. Witches can be found everywhere: in the supermarket, in the streets, as well as in our own neighborhood. And you would not know these Witches unless you were told who they were or were one yourself.”
Artist David Kinsey‘s upcoming solo exhibit, Everything at Once, opens at the Joshua Liner Gallery December 13, 2012. Kinsey’s newest work reflects the intense nature of the show’s title. Severe angles and color hint at a depiction of mounting chaos. Several pieces, seem to be filled with a violent struggle for survival, domination, even attention. These mixed media pieces document a world spinning out of control and a the desperate scramble to document it. On this, Kinsey relates:
“Collectively, the developed world is swimming in modern media; we’re learning to navigate this landscape every day while becoming unwittingly addicted, for better or worse. And that’s simultaneously exhilarating and a little scary. Throw in climate change and you’ve got a scenario worthy of our attention.”
Dave Kinsey was the subject of the first interview in Beautiful/Decay’s now sold-out first issue. Everything at Once will be on exhibit at Manhattan’s Joshua Liner Gallery December 13th through January 12th