Australian sculptor Paul Kaptein handcrafts laminated wood into exquisitely seamless sculptures. Interested in materialism and inspired by both nature and the concept of time, Kaptein creates works that are realistic yet surreal, rooted simultaneously in real life and in fantasy.
To Kaptein, the use of laminated wood is central to his practice. Representative of the dialogue between expansion and contraction and the relationship between interconnection and incompleteness, “the panels slip and slide, creating their own holes which exasperate the gaps in the fabric of the universe.”
While his wooden works vary in subject matter—a common motif being hooded, faceless busts—they all convey Kaptein’s innate interest in portraying of “the immaterial as an expression of the overt reliance (and ignorance of the composition) of materialism as a somewhat naive description of reality.” In one of his most recent works, And in the endless sounds there came a pause, the artist tackles reality through illusion: while the meditative figure is clearly distorted by the river-like grooves of his robe’s drapery when observed from the front or back, he appears perfectly normal when viewed from either side.
Ultimately, with its deceptive composition and well-crafted aesthetic, And in the endless sounds there came a pause merges two qualities characteristic of the artist: his interest in fabricating new realities and, of course, his undeniably superb woodworking skills.
Over the weekend I had the pleasure of dropping by my neighborhood museum, the Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA), to check out new work by Guillermo Bert. The digital age has managed to find its way into places the mechanical age was never quite able to get to. In the exhibition’s accompanying essay, Peter Frank claims that this phenomenon has resulted in the poor becoming “confident operators” of this advanced technology. Of course accessibility is a good thing, but one can also argue that the arrival of this kind of technology can also put indigenous culture and tradition at risk. By combining QR Code technology with the very traditional art of textile weaving, Bert is bringing this infiltration of culture to the surface. The codes, when scanned with your mobile device, play one of a series of documentary films that contain several engaging protagonists who help unfold the story of the Mapuche people. Throughout history, textiles have been used by indigenous cultures to pass on the story of a culture from generation to generation. Perhaps Bert’s “encoded textiles” are a strange evolution of that tradition.
I’ve always been interested in the creative energy that comes out of Australia and Nick Thompson’s work is just another reason to love the land down under. His work is clean, bold, and full of impact. Watch the video for the image above and see a fantastic selection of his creative output after the jump!
Kara Walker’s new sculpture “A Subtlety” is pure white, coated in 160,000 pounds of bleached sugar; with this modern take on the ancient sphinx, the legendary artist crafts a towering black face in honor of the slave laborers who worked in sugar cane fields. The powerful work is meant to address racial and sexual exploitation; like the sugar that coats her polystyrene core, this black female figure has been pressured, against nature, into succumbing to whiteness.
The work is now on display at the old Williamsburg, Brooklyn Domino sugar factory shed, where it reaches to the ceiling and extends for a magnificent 75 feet. The mythical creature is a powerful assertion of the black female self; the face quite resembles the artists’ own, and a carefully wrought bandana subtly references the stereotypical (and often offensive) symbol of the mammy, a slave woman who nurtured and brought up white children. Walker has been the subject of debate in the past for her use of contested imagery, and despite the controversy surrounding the “mammy” figure, she is presented here as powerful and divine.
Like the ancient sphinxes of Egypt and Greece, Walker’s monolithic creation is godly, simultaneously fearsome and comforting. The sphinx, known for protecting the tombs of royalty, becomes the guardian of history, interrupting a white-washed historical narrative to make visible the labor of the men and women who were kept enslaved. Her face is serene, assured, and unyielding. The sphinx character, in addition to being a protector, is also dangerous, renowned for devouring those who cannot answer her riddle; Walker’s sphinx is similarly confrontational in her overwhelming size, forcing viewers to confront the complex and painful history of American industry. (via The New York Times)
The atmosphere of Michael Alvarez’s artwork ranges from casual to epic in an insane sorta way. This guy for example looks like its about 10 feet tall. (Theres a photo on his website of someone standing next to it and he looks tiny!) But the intimacy of this work makes me feel like I might know him. Maybe its the subtle truths his work touches on. The glamour shot, The awesome kiss that turned out different on film. Are these culture specific? Alvarez’s work is very culturally charged, but I kinda feel like I share these ideas as well, and Im a frail, westside jew! So whats next for Michael Alvarez? Well, hes participating in a Street Fighter tribute show starting April 25th. Crazy world.
French artist JR, previously covered by Beautiful Decay, has recently created a series of posters and floor-bound installations for the New York City Ballet’s Art Series. The NYCB Art Series commissions contemporary artists to create original works of art inspired by the ballet’s unique energy, spectacular dancers, and one-of-a-kind repertory of ballets. Having worked with artists such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Julian Schnabel in the past the tradition has a high standard and is a special example of collaboration between dance and contemporary art.
JR’s installation involved coordinating dancers’ bodies in complicated, intricate arrangements. Interested in the unique qualities of dancers’ bodies juxtaposed with the texture of paper JR sought to explore the “interaction” one experiences when viewing the ballet, or in his case when actually creating his work. Both experiences are ephemeral, not something that can be wholly captured by a singular work of art. Yet JR’s temporary installation does capture beauty, grace, and the sense of a fleeting moment by portraying many dancers arranged in the shape of an eye. Encouraging a viewer to look at both his piece and the performance JR’s installation acts as a reminder to keep our eyes open so as not to miss a thing.
JR will share his Art Series installation during three special performance evenings — January 23, February 7, 13 — when every seat in the house is available for just $29. On these evenings, every audience member will receive a takeaway created specifically for this event. More information about public viewing hours here. (via designboom, hahamag)