Improvised Making is and was an interactive installation by artist Dominic Wilcox. Created for the Making Together exhibit in Milan, Wilcox began the installation/sculpture with a single chair. He invited the public to donate sticks for the project and sticks of all sorts were brought to the gallery. Over the course of six days, Wilcox taped all of the sticks as they were brought to him to the chair. Carefully balancing and taping each piece to the structure, he only allowed the four legs of the chair to touch the ground and support the structure. Prior to moving the completed sculpture into another gallery, the structure’s shadow was documented in red on the wall and floor.
This is your brain on drugs + Electronic music. Music by Dibiase
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.”
The artwork created by the Japanese art collective known as Three creates work with a political subtext as powerful as it is subtle. Three often uses common food objects such as fish shaped soy sauce packets or candy. For example, the installation Eat Me uses 7,000 wrapped candy pieces hung from the gallery ceiling in the shape of a house. Visitors are encouraged to pluck candy from the installation and toss the wrapper in a corner set aside in the gallery. Slowly throughout the day the ‘house’ of candy is transformed into a pile of trash – a symbolic recreation of the overwhelming destruction of homes by Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
We are big fans of artist Jake Fried here at Beautiful/Decay (original post here), and yet he continues to impress us. He is a prolific drawer/painter/animator, creating epically complicated short clips that he calls “hand drawn experimental animations”. Watching these pieces is quite the experience. His style is so complex, and each frame packed with so many textures and details, you must be careful to blink at the right time, so as not to miss anything!
Even more impressively, he creates such hypnotizing animations from the simplest materials – coffee, water, ink, gouache, and white-out. With titles like Brain Lapse, Head Space, Down Into Nothing, The Deep End, Fried is inviting us into his own mind, and we soon see just how dense it is inside there. Layers of mathematical lines build into a background scene and reveal a head peering out from behind them. This then transforms into some other domestic space, or rather a non-space, where objects appear and disappear into the jungle of lines and cross hatching. Eyes, hands, heads, plants, moons, triangles, and landscapes feature heavily in Fried’s work. He says of his own work:
‘Raw Data’ took about four months from the first drawing to the final film. My work is not truly narrative – the medium is the message – but for this piece I knew I wanted to experiment with metallic-gouache, technological imagery and sustained head-on portraiture. I would say it’s generally about man vs. tech and a sense that the animation watches you as you watch it. My work is not really pre-planned; it becomes itself through the process of making. I fundamentally believe that art making should be a “discovery” process; otherwise I’d have no interest. Rather than just executing a plan, I want to learn something new or follow some unknown path. (Source)
And we are enjoying following him on that path.
We have all been haunted by something worrying or had nightmares we just can´t forget. And so has German photographer Elena Helfrecht. She uses her camera as a therapeutic device to overcome her worries, fears and nightmares. After shooting many dark and dramatic photographs exploring the depths of human emotions, Helbrecht has quite the oeuvre of dramatic images. She works with many different narratives, creating a mini story in each frame. Last week we featured her past series Little Stories, this time are focusing on her collection called Nightmares. A bunch of disturbing snapshots, each photograph represents something that has been frightening to Helbrecht at some point.
Scenes of long creepy fingers reaching out of cupboards and from around doors, bodies smeared in blood or wrapped in plastic have such an impact, they will haunt you nearly as much as an actual nightmare. Helbrecht tells us a bit more about her inspiration:
“Nightmares developed from my very beginnings as a photographer and continues to grow. The series shows exactly what it describes: my very own nightmares. The series is a mix of early visions which I used to have as a child (a great fear were creatures coming from my closet and taking me with them for example) and abstract dark emotions and anxieties. By visualizing these thoughts, feelings and visions I get rid of them. Whenever I am inspired and have a picture in my mind I get my camera and pull it out of my head. By visualizing your inner demons you somehow remove their power. It gets less terryfing; you somehow disclose the darkness you previously feared.”
You would think from someone who spends a lot of time expressing horrific and challenging thoughts, that her work would have a heavy severity to it, but the end result is quite different – they are something of a melancholic, sentimental memory, albeit ones often filled with blood.
Sculptor John Bisbee has been working exclusively with nails for the last 30 years. He finds seemingly endless ways to bend, weld, hammer and manipulate the nails into large, striking, elegant sculptures. His installations include large wall murals of geometric patterns, three dimensional flower shapes, robust seed pods, intricate star bursts, and delicately twisted spirals. Most of his forms are based off ideas of flora or fauna, on either a magnified or minute scale. He proves that even an industrial material can be coerced into something graceful, and even flimsy.
Bisbee’s mantra is “only nails, always different”, and he uses it as a guideline or reminder that you don’t need much to push the boundaries and to be creative. Narrowing his materials down even further, he has for the last decade limited himself to 12 inch steel nails known as ‘bright common’. Treating the nails as lines, Bisbee says there is not much he can’t do with this wonder material.
Bisbee discovered the potential for nails completely by chance. While rummaging through an abandoned house during his years as a college student, looking for raw materials, he came across a lump of nails, fused together in the shape of the bucket that had held them. He then proceeded to explore just how far he could corrupt the nature of nails and used them as a drawing tool and as an inspiration in and of themselves.
You think that you would sort of choke off your options and potential, the more you keep excavating a single item, but I find it’s the opposite – it explodes. There are so many amazing tangents that I haven’t had the time to take; so many great insights that are buried years back, so it’s ever expanding, this mundane object. I’m quite happy saying now that I will only work with nails. (Source)
Dan Colen’s trash-to-treasure mixed media installations remind us of the potential of beauty in the discarded. In his exhibition, Blowin’ In the Wind, Colen repurposes the painting tools which he uses to create his Trash series. These objects are placed or hung in the gallery, absent of the painted canvases that resulted from their use. Painting tools include objects such as a flip-flop, a paint can, rags, string, bottles, a tire, a yellow mop bucket, a McDonald’s food bag, and an umbrella handle. In Out of the Blue and Into the Black, Colen tars and feathers an entire gallery wall with one small and bright painted canvas among this image of morbidity. Also part of this installation is a cluster of suspended beat-up and forgotten blue bicycles. Representing the more literal approach of trash-to-treasure are canvases onto which Colen has pasted painted trash or gum and gum wrappers. Colen’s background is in painting and a series of his oil paintings, entitled The Spirits That I Called, will be on view at Oko Gallery in New York from May 15 – June 15.