KwangHo Shin is an artist based in Yeongdeok, South Korea, who paints abstract portraits of human emotion. On massive canvases, Shin outlines the contours of a face before filling them in with thick, messy layers of oil and acrylic. As his process videos on YouTube demonstrate, he works from dark to light, allowing the paint to stream down and across the canvas before blending it out. The result is a series of “faceless” portraits, faces transformed into technicolored and monochromatic landscapes that exude a raw range of seemingly conflicting sensations: rage and sensitivity, fear and confidence, sadness and hope.
Shin’s intuitive, creative process—from blank canvas to storms of emotion—allows him to express the deep nuances of his subjects. As curator Myung-Jin You describes, “[The] complexity of human emotions, which is hard to be defined in one word, is left as momentary traces on the empty space, after the long agony of the artist’s inner side.” Following this, “the fear of blank space is collapsed, and [Shin’s] inner side’s fear and the ecstasy . . . coincide” (Source). The finished piece is a culmination of Shin’s energy that dissolves the facades of muscle and skin to reveal the textures of internal experience.
Texan photographer Sara Marjorie Strick‘s ongoing series Defining Mountains documents her experimentation with layering materials of dissimilar textures to create unique mountainscapes. More of her work from this series is shown below.
Mark Jenkins as been putting a lot of fun stuff in the streets over the years. His street installations are some of the best and truly bring a smile of curiosity to most on lookers. The one pictured above is my personal favorite, but make sure to check out the other fun installations coming from the wacky mind of Mark.
Midwestern artist Dave Rowe creates sculptures of time worn structures influenced by American landscapes. His work has developed through a means to “explore history,” as he believes that addressing the change and aging of a landscape reflects not only the passage of time, but also has psychological implications about those who inhabited that change. Memories, ideologies, and personal histories are shaped by one’s surroundings. Therefore, a landscape can serve as a reflection of a collective “personal” experience. By capturing one specific physical moment, the artist allows himself to reflect not a universal or personal truth, but instead, acts as a sort of mirroring of a hyper-specific type of development. The artist re-creates recognizable, yet unspecific buildings that allude to an archival, physical space. His sculptures, focusing on geometrical infrastructures, have been shaped by his own upbringing in the American Midwest and have been influenced by the changes in the American landscape. Specifically, his work focusses on the more rural areas, as the relocation of factories have dissolved the need for industrial buildings. He captures how functionality, or rather, a lack of it, can act as a record of topographical transformation. Even his use of color is a reference to time; he pairs “barn red or tar black” along with “brighter colors evocative of graffiti,” in order to reflect the often seen palette of a forgotten edifice. Rowe creates these structures scaled to hit at eye level, allowing the viewer to enter the space emotionally, and hopes to open a discourse for personal reflection.
Rachael McArthur is a Toronto-based artist whose photography explores the fascinating crossroads of modernity and classical culture, with a particular focus on the family structure. Featured here is an ongoing project called A Family Façade, which examines domesticity and social identity through a Victorian lens. Throughout the images—each with an intentionally staged appearance—McArthur captures the gilded debris of aristocracy and repression: ornamental coffins filled with flowers, pipes and alcohol bottles arranged like cherished knickknacks, and lockable suitcases containing old family photos and letters. Pulled between beauty and contrivance, each photo produces a tension of arbitrary decoration and the muffled underbelly of familial memory and secrets.
McArthur is particularly interested in how the body can be used to project a constructed (and often idealized) identity. In the Victorian era—not unlike today—materiality and the cohesion of the familial unit were a means to manifest an air of “success” and contentment. This is seen in McArthur’s adorned sculptures; well-dressed and surrounded by beautiful, antiquated objects, they appear deceivingly calm and graceful, provided for in every material way. The absence of faces and limbs, however, tells a different story; without eyes or hands to express the figures’ emotional worlds, the viewer sees the beautiful objects for what they are—superficial, gaudy façades that merely upholster an unsettling truth.
Layer after layer of meaning can be unraveled from McArthur’s works as she examines the historical and present-day significance of family and identity. Visit her website, blog, and Instagram to learn more about her work.
“The colorful seductive nature of cosmetics act to mask, conceal and deceive while drawing attention to the surface and the superficial. By emphasizing both the facade of glamour and the physicality of the body I am interested in what can be revealed through these surfaces.
In this collection of photographs of my mother she performs certain tropes used to visualize female beauty and sexuality. This act is further complicated as her appearance and gestures fluctuate between my overt stylized ideals and her own physical body. These photographs expose an awkwardness and tension in being looked at and scrutinized while also implying a longing to be seen as desirable and beautiful. By creating images that can be perceived as both garish and seductive, I question the fantasy of idealized beauty and what culture designates as flattering and desirable.” (via)