Based in the history of Pop Art, but with intentions wholly different, Rachel Hecker’s paintings and sculptures are blown up representations of those everyday items we think of (if we think of them at all) as disposable. Handwritten lists, post-it notes, calendar scribbles, fortune cookie papers, receipts and pricing stickers are just a few of the items Hecker transforms into acrylic on canvas paintings.
Far more personal than the subject matter of the Pop artists, Hecker carefully recreates by hand each piece of ephemera. Of these works she says:
“They contain vestiges of our intentions and our deeds, and are inadvertent diaries and forensic evidence of how we exist in the world. These scraps of paper detritus anticipate or record a range of experience from the mundane to the exalted, from dull repetition to fancy, and from stasis to expectancy.”
Critical Objects is a personal initiative of Berlin-based graphic design firm, HelloMe. The project began as a series of explorations that thrive on not having any particular goal. The project consists of a series of objects that transcend a blurry line between artistic sculpture and functional furniture. The beauty of the project is that it remains unknown to the user if these things should really every be used, touched, sat on, or turned on… We have a small collection featured here, so be sure to check out the full series at Critical Objects.
Los Angeles-based artist Aaron Smith‘s bearded portraiture combines rough brushstrokes and bright colors in this spectacular series. By using photographs of Victorian gentlemen, Smith re-imagines the men in vibrant colors with the thick impasto showing a modern sensibility. More after the jump.
Dirk Staschke is a sculptor who knows how to stimulate the appetite while also turning the stomach. Drawing on the 16th century artistic tradition of vanitas — referring to morbid still life paintings from Northern Europe that depicted arrangements of bones, decaying fruit, and hourglasses — Staschke creates ceramic mountains of pastries and piles of organ meats and root vegetables. Initially, the soft colors and glistening glazes make the cornucopias seem innocent or even beautiful. However, like vanitas (“vanity” in Latin) — which symbolize the futility of life and the temporary nature of all earthly materials — Staschke’s works critique the fleeting and destructive power of human desire. Beautiful abundance becomes disturbing; the skinned animals and raw meats, although carefully arranged, remind us of our own bodily death and decay. Even the sweet pastries — flesh-toned and topped with a cherry — become gross and oddly cannibalistic, representing an insatiable urge to horde and consume that ends in self-destruction.
Not all of Staschke’s works are so obviously grotesque. In a series titled Translation, he features framed sculptural still lifes of flowers (in addition to the more obviously macabre meat arrangements). The 3D medium, however, unveils the compositions’ inner vanity and morbidity; look behind the sculptures, and you will see messy hollows, buttresses, and layers of sculpted construction. An appealing and seemingly flawless work of art becomes a false edifice for a grim and roughly-hewn interior. Whether comprising ceramic flowers or flesh, Staschke’s works demonstrate how beautified desires cover up an earthly reality of transience and rot.
Visit Staschke’s website to see more detailed images of his creations. He exhibited recently at Winston Wächter in Seattle, and you can see his artist page here.
Guy-Olivier Deveau’s sculptures would be fascinating in any medium, the fact that he works with sand and ice makes them that much more appealing and interesting. Deveau started out sand sculpting as a summer job in Quebec City so he could earn money to finance his education in the filed of philosophy. Now that he’s a sculptor full-time the Canadian artist travels around the world creating his ephemeral sculptures and competing in competitions. Though he also works with wood, snow and ice, Deveau appreciates sand as a medium because he feels he can achieve his desired texture, shadow and edges. Indeed, his final products are amazing feats considering their medium. Each of his sculptures takes approximately three days to create and each requires an immense amount of patience. Deveau starts with a sold sand block and slowly and carefully carves from that.
Deveau will often include themes relating to philosophy, mythology or psychology, incorporating his interests along with his talent. For instance, his most recent sculpture made on a beach in Texas, Bleeding, features a horizontal face, seemingly melting back into the ground. The agony and expression of the face are remarkable taking into account that they were carved out of sand. Though his was one of many sand sculptures created for Sandcastle Days 2013, the sophisticated emotion of Deveau’s Bleeding allowed it to stand out as eye-catching and thought provoking.
Generic Art Solutions is a duo made up of artists Matt Vis and Tony Campbell. The two artists comment on present day anxiety by re-imagining classic paintings. Their photographs are carefully staged, often to resemble classic works of art. Their images are clearly populated with subjects, clothing, and settings that are all modern. However, the compositions immediately bring to mind the paintings of Caravaggio, Goya, and Marat. Perhaps a reason the images of the classic artwork and re-imagined in the duo’s photographs are still relevant is because people have never moved beyond the anxieties and problems that plagued us centuries ago. The gallery statement for their upcoming exhibit at Miami’s Mindy Solomon Gallery expounds on that point:
“The work of Generic Art Solutions (whether it be a photograph, performance, video, or print) begins with a thoughtful re-examination of the human condition, and the effect of recurring cycles of technological advancements and cultural awakenings. But, how much has mankind really evolved? Aren’t we essentially still making the same mistakes? According to the artists, it would certainly seem so. Compare Gericault’s famed painting ‘The Raft of the Medusa,’ 1819, to the G.A.S. representation of Deepwater Horizon’s oil spill in April 2010, as depicted in their photographic work ‘The Raft’ (2010): these two artworks portray shockingly similar tales of human suffering brought on by corporate greed. Or, take Delacroix’s ‘Liberty Leading the People’ commemorating the French Revolution in 1830, and the perpetual revolutionary uprisings of the Arab Spring as seen in G.A.S.’s ‘Liberty,’ 2011. The artists state: “However evolved we may think we are, the folly of human behavior is still the root of all societal (dis)functions. This is a sobering thought that demands attention. But there is a message of hope in these contemporary homages: through thoughtful reexamination and a commitment to change, we can break the cycle of repeating our mistakes.”
Rarely do we encounter things in our daily life that sincerely challenge our sense of self. A close friend showed this to me the other day, and I think its appropriate NO my responsibility to share this with you. Its called Garfield minus Garfield.