Butt Johnson’s ornate, ultra-detailed ballpoint pen drawings are the perfect mix of OCD patterning, social commentary, and comic relief.
There is a romantic sense of longing, dreaming, and pondering the world in all of the works of Beth Hoeckel. Her handmade collages feature retro figures staring into the sky, sometimes gazing into the face of the moon and sometimes looking towards the big blue planet that we all call home.
In Sergei Isupov’s hands figurative ceramics are both instantly recognizable and strangely surreal. Heads are tattooed, the art integrated into the facial features. The backs of the heads often add a separate contrasting element. Lift the head to find a third, hidden design on the base. The images create a narrative, but what does it mean?
“My work portrays characters placed in situations that are drawn from my imagination but based on my life experiences. My art works capture a composite of fleeting moments, hand gestures, eye movements that follow and reveal the sentiments expressed. These details are all derived from actual observations but are gathered or collected over my lifetime. Through the drawn images and sculpted forms, I capture faces, body types and use symbolic elements to compose, in the same way as you might create a collage.” Source
Contrast is inherent to the nature of ceramics. The sculpting that goes into creating the work is meticulous and controlled but once the piece is lowered into the kiln the firing is random and unrestrained. In Isupov’s work the form and content are also contradictory. The figures and heads are realistic, even somewhat minimal, yet the paintings on them are surreal, highly detailed, often adding a skewed dimensionality. There are demons and distortions, surplus limbs and conjoined bodies. Isupov’s works create a world that is visually stunning and conceptually disturbing.
“I am a student of the universe and a participant in the harmonic chaos of contrasts and opposites: dark — light; male — female; good — evil. Working instinctually and using my observations, I create a new, intimate universe that reveals the relationships, connections and contradictions as I perceive them. … When I think of myself and my works, I’m not sure I create them, perhaps they create me.”
Ackroyd and Harvey
If you’re the type to stop and smell the roses you probably have some appreciation for the natural world. Unfortunately, in this age of technology, less and less people take time to connect with our natural surroundings, which makes the works we’re featuring here so important. The works of Jeff Koons, Ackroyd and Harvey, Binh Danh and Portia Munson all take plant-life and re-contextualize it; the viewer is faced with something familiar cast in a new light. In the cases of Koons and Ackroyd and Harvey, the scale of their works looms over the viewer to remind them that the nature of all things are continually evolving, even that of human civilization. With Portia Munson’s Garden installations, we literally walk into a new world that is groomed yet overgrown, familiar yet psychedelic. Binh Danh’s plant-based portraits balance the fragile surface of the leaves with the powerful imagery of the victims of the 1970’s Cambodian unrest. Though the works are largely different, one thing binds them together, the power of nature to communicate a feeling and a message without words.
I’ve been an avid documentary film watcher for many years now. My favorite documentaries are obscure stories about everyday people doing extraordinary things. I always get excited to share these documentaries with friends but before I know it I forget the title. So in the spirit of archiving my findings I am creating a new category dedicated strictly to documentaries. Below is one of my most recent finds.
A Man Named Pearl tells the inspiring story of self-taught topiary artist Pearl Fryar, whose unlikely journey to national prominence began with a bigoted remark.
Michal Chelbin’s photographs of prisoners in the Ukraine and Russia makes me think who is this person? Chelbin chose to not discuss the prisoners crimes until after the photo shoot was over. The result is a haunting series of images that make the viewer ask who is this person? Why is he dressed like this? What does it mean to be locked up? And can we guess what a person’s crime is just by looking at his portrait?
Jaw-dropping installations made from cardboard and tape, colorful and geometric paintings on discarded wood or subway car interiors, highly-patterned murals on the streets — Clemens Behr creates a little bit of everything. Or, rather, the Berlin-based artist makes A LOT of everything, much to the delight of his followers. Full disclosure: Yes, I am one such enthusiast.
Artist Juan Fontanive creates hypnotizing flip books by assembling old mechanic bits from bike parts and clocks together with images of birds and butterflies. He hand draws, paints and screen prints the images onto paper and uses them to create his magical pieces. Fontanive is able to inject life into these static images with the help of stainless steel, a few cogs, a motor or two and some electronics. These half-film, half-sculptures he is able to build are beautiful delicate mechanisms – and are a dream to watch. Combined with the sound of the pages actually turning; the whirring and humming of the bits working, it seems as if the insects are literally flying off the page.
Fontanive calls his creations “films without light” and has developed his passion of making 16mm experimental films combined with a love of drawing machines. Art writer Gilda Williams says of his pieces:
“The artist’s flapping hummingbirds and rushing fish are sculptural animations, or perhaps automata: machine-powered facsimiles of life…In many ways, Fontanive’s artworks seem strangely possessed, producing curiously moving animals that are neither living nor dead, or creating ghostly systems which seem to float mid-air and follow a pace and logic of their own.”