Stare at this for long enough and you’ll be tripping more than your Dad at Woodstock while Hendrix was shreddin!
In a stunning series of images that blend photography, calligraphy, and performance art, Nantes-based artist Julien Breton (aka Kaalam) uses light and dance to “paint” beautiful and fleeting characters into the air. Inspired by a combination of Latin and Arabic writing styles, each piece is captured on long-exposure film while the artist creates his inscriptions using colored lamps and careful, intention-filled movements. As a living, artistic response to the environment, the designs are matched in compositional harmony to the surrounding backdrop, be it an underpass in New York, an abandoned building in France, or a magnificent hall in India. Each performance lasts several minutes and is then transformed into a single frame, transcending the boundaries of time and our perception of light.
On his biography page, Breton is quoted as explaining his choice of medium, which is rooted in a synchrony of bodily and spiritual practice: “a white sheet is too limiting. To paint on a canvas, however large, means in any case a limit within which I do not feel myself free to express my whole being. Only light is really infinite. The only limit is the air” (Source). Exploring infinitude, Breton’s images demonstrate the seemingly contradictory nature of light; it is bright and endless, yet also fleeting and enveloped by darkness. Both presence and absence are at play in the photographs; the artist disappears while his physical, expressive “trace” (the writing) remains behind. In these pieces, subjectivity and self-expression become greater, geometric portraits of universal energies.
Portland painter Hickory Mertsching has a penchant for life, death and nature: both wild and man-made. His still lifes, done in oil, showcase a confluence of symbolism with many conflicting elements. Throughout his work, one sees a running commentary of environmental negligence, and human impact through littering and deforestation. Animals juxtaposed with crushed beer cans and chainsaws showcase not only the symbolic reference of destruction but also the aesthetics of defacing the environment through litter and clear-cutting. The animals interact, oblivious to the objects, as in real life: nature cannot defend itself nor comment on our treatment of it.
It is hard to view Mertsching’s paintings without feeling a paroxysm of guilt toward existing and participating in a time of such extreme usability; within a culture that bulldozes through natural resources, sidelines scientific research in the name of profit and economic interests, everyone meets a moment where they have to wonder just how bad their impact is on the world and what they could be doing differently.
Even so, Mertsching’s paintings focus on a larger set of paradoxes than just that. There is the implied confusion within viewing the animals, of which it is uncertain whether they are alive or dead. Many of the landscapes, some on fire and under immediate threat, are not fully realized and hover curiously within the white, negative space of the canvas. The direct confrontation between life force and waste, is beautifully arranged and painted in such a light that the garbage gains an antique presence, a glowing look, one that only highlights the ridiculousness of how we treat our environment.
Mertsching’s words on his own work:
“My paintings are about illustrating and presenting unavoidable natural realities by utilizing mundane objects as symbols. The realities constantly challenge our existence and are powerful enough to be beyond our control, always offering more to wonder and question. Such as the rise and fall of a garden in the span of summer it offers sustenance but requires toil for any reward of consumption. Within this cycle all allegorical manners of life occur, crossing paths, pursuits of enlightenment, conflicts of survival, and the passing of time.”
Jeremy Little is a graphic designer based out of Los Angeles, His poster designs dwell in the realm of the mystic. Themes such as totality and modernity are examined and radiated through his cosmic visual style.
Using photography as a tool for generating evidence, South African artist Dillon Marsh approaches the creation of his serial landscape works with the methodology of a researcher. Marsh is constantly looking to capture his subjects “in the wild,” and his watchful eye has yielded a variety of interesting results—with some topics touching on landscape, ownership and disruption in both realms.
For his “Invasive Species” series, Marsh captures instances of oddly jarring, slightly unapologetic occurrences of poorly disguised cell phone towers as they dot the South African landscape. He notes: “In 1996 a palm tree appeared almost overnight in a suburb of Cape Town. This was supposedly the world’s first ever disguised cell phone tower. Since then these trees have spread across the city, South Africa and the rest of the world. Invasive Species explores the relationship between the environment and the disguised towers of Cape Town and its surrounds.”
Geoff McFetridge is a creator living in Los Angeles, California. He has his hand in many things, most recently the title sequence in Spike Jonze’s ‘Where the Wild Things Are’, and never seems to disappoint. At the moment, he has a skate company called The Solitary Arts, a wallpaper company called Pottok Prints, a design business called Champion Graphics, and does gallery/museum shows in his spare time. I’ve been following his work for years, and his work deserves every bit of recognition is receives. I can’t wait to see what his hand has in store for us next.
The lovely Catlin Moore of Mark Moore Gallery was so kind as to provide Beautiful/Decay with a sneak-peak at Kiel Johnson’s upcoming exhibition entitled “Publish or Perish.” If you’re unfamiliar with Kiel Johnson’s work, his work, he creates transmorphic drawings, paintings and sculpture that seem to synthesize the ever-expanding media explosion through a kind of personal narrative. Really lovely line work, almost animation-like. Check out tons of amazing studio shots and the artist at work after the jump.
This video just sorted out where I would spend my next vacation. Watch it and then join me in the private B/D jumbo jet as we head off to Spain, where the Goths, the Romans, and the Moorish left their mark. Where Don Quijote fought against the windmills. And where El Greco, Diego de Velazquez and Francisco de Goya all once lived. Watch the full video after the jump.