Sarah Rosado, a self-taught illustrator and photographer, has recently implemented the medium of dirt scavenged from New York City’s parks to create quirky and playful images for her most recent project, Dirty Little Secrets. Oftentimes, she will accessorize the dirty images to give them a 3D effect and render them more realistic. She sets her dirty images against a stark white background, playing with the contrast of dirty/clean. A simple concept with a graceful execution.
Ottawa-based artist Howie Tsui uses a mix of traditional Asian themes with Western aesthetics. His paintings depict scenes of terror that are very nightmare-like. “Tsui’s work is informed by a variety of dark subjects, including Asian ghost stories, Buddhist hell scrolls, Hong Kong vampire films, neo-conservative propaganda, and twentieth-century genocides such as the Nanking massacre.” We dig it.
In April, Ward van Gemert and Adriaan van der Ploeg of the Rotterdam-based design studio Nightshop will be showcasing their unique “décor” at the Robert van Oosterom Gallery: large-scale rugs made out of colorful foam. Each one is created from the artists’ unique blend of urethane foam, which they put into syringes and squeeze out into spiraling and cross-hatched designs. Once the foam dries, it fuses to the adjacent “thread” and thereby creates a solid piece. There are currently seven carpets completed, and the artists plan to finish three more by the exhibition.
While the rugs appear functional (and comfortable—perhaps due to that soft, clay-like appearance), the artists have stated that they’re “they’re more objects without a clear use,” intended to be viewed as art pieces (Source). As colorful curiosities, they blend the traditional art form of carpet weaving with modern kitsch; the are reminiscent of everything from playroom décor to a carpet as seen during a psychedelic trip. On their studio’s About page, Nightshop professes to “bring aspects of ‘low-culture’ into their designs,” thereby “investigating the boundaries between good and bad taste” (Source). The foam rugs bring our attention to everyday objects, highlighting their innate design characteristics and artistic, culturally-relevant merit.
Chinese artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu have materialized a tangible loss of hope with their most recent work simply entitled “Angel”. The life-size sculpture made entirely of silica gel, fibre glass, stainless steel, and woven mesh depicts a fallen angel caught in a net. The angel is depicted here as an old women, with all of the feathers gone from the wings lying at an angle that suggests she is not alive anymore. The sculpture is on display in a public setting, which gives it the role of an epic spectacle not only because of its aesthetic features but also for the message it carries.
The craftsmanship and work put into this piece are almost eerie in all their hyperrealist nature. The details put into emulating a human face and realistic, accurately sized wings contribute to the disturbing effect of the piece and bring an otherworldly being into a world in a brutal way that makes us assess the situation as if it were actually happening.
The symbolic value of such a piece lies in the idea of an angel being able to be of help to mankind, yet, in the powerless position Yuan and Yu have presented it, this role is diminished if not erased completely. This piece also explores the clash between the world of angels and the world of human beings, which are brought together here in a painful, if not catastrophic manner. The magnificent horror of this piece lies both in its strong visual and symbolic value and gives the viewers something to reflect upon.
There is something intrinsically fascinating about seeing the ordinary created in new, surprising ways. Artist have long used this technique to make their viewer contemplate new connections and possibilities, and the internet has proven to be a particularly useful tool in spreading this type of work. South Korean artist Seon Ghi Bahk is an expert at this method. Using charcoal and other natural materials en masse to form familiar objects, Bahk reminds of us the connection between man-made goods and their source.
Bahk’s precision is absolute, meticulously hanging large groups of charcoal at specific heights to collectively echo architectural and building elements, such as stairs, columns, shelves and planters. Using translucent nylon thread to hang individual pieces gives each installation a floating quality, further separating them from their everyday inspiration.
In an interview with the Korean Art Museum’s Korean Artist Project, Bahk explains how he came to use charcoal in his installation work. “I first used stones as materials for the installations…but the supporting structure and installation became unnecessarily large and overwhelmed the stones so I replaced the stones with charcoal. Since I spent my childhood out in nature, I wanted to embrace natural things in my work. I found that my favorite things in nature were wind, mountains and trees. But it was difficult to express wind or mountains in my work, so I chose trees as an alternative, and charcoal comes derives from that…now I seek natural encounters between man and culture…I emphasize the materiality in its poetic shapes.”
Using homegrown bacteria, photographer Seung-Hwan Oh warps and manipulates his photographs, surrendering his art to a higher ecological order. Oh, who also goes by the name Tonio Oh, explains that his intention is to “explore the impermanence of matter as well as the material limitations of photography.” It brings the artist’s studio into the laboratory, marvelously blending the organic and the artificial.
Oh’s website describes the process:
“As the microbes consume light-sensitive chemical over the course of months or years, the silver halides destabilize, obfuscating the legibility of foreground, background, and scale.”
It’s an interesting approach to photography that takes a normally still medium and adds a dimension of something active, live, and dynamic. When you view Oh’s photographs, the question is no longer the significance of what is depicted; instead, what catches your eye is the tension between what is shown and what is already lost. Though art is naturally created to be consumed, in this case, the art itself is the act of consumption, the parts of the photographs that have been literally eaten away by a relentless force of nature. The result, in Oh’s word, can be witnessed as something that is “entangled creation and destruction that inevitably is ephemeral”.
Ultraista who I just saw perform their U.S. debut at the Echoplex just last week have a new video for their single, Our Song. The band was in great spirits as they performed most, if not all the songs from their self-titled debut and made great use of their colorful videos during the set. The trio features Nigel Godrich from Radiohead producing fame, drummer extraordinaire, Joey Waronker and Laura Bettinson on vocals. They are playing at (le) poisson rouge in New York on October 24th so be sure to check them out before they head to much larger venues.