Fra.Biancoshock insists he is not a street artist, but rather the Milan-based experientialist noticed that his street-level installations and interventions spoke using the same language as Street Art. In regards to the movement of Street Art in regards to his work, the mysterious, identity-protecting Fra. says, “For me, that phrase is a provocation: I have not studied art, I do not frequent artistic circles, or amicidell’amicodelcuginodelfratellodelsuoamico … And I have no particular technical and artistic skills. I just have ideas and I like to strain my mind in trying to propose to the common people through what I call “Unconventional Experiences.” I think mine are “experiences” rather than works of art.”
With ties and intentions closer to Performance and Conceptual Art (for those paying off MFA degrees, think Guy Debord), the man who would become Fra.Biancoshock developed the performative avant-garde school of art he calls Effimerismo (“The Effimerismo is a movement that has the aim of producing works of art that exists in a limited way in the space, but that they persist in an infinite way in time…”) as a means of exploring and categorizing his specific means of street engagement (or as he is known to call them, “speeches”).
Operating in this very-intentionally public mode of communication, Fra.Biancoshock uses the streets as a forum, installing temporary interventions to call attention to themes of poverty, urban blight, modern stress and decay. Present in most works is how Fra deals with serious themes with a disarmingly light-hearted approach. His work has mostly been viewed (often quite temporarily) in Europe, though as Fra. says in his Manifesto-like statement, “Prior to founding the movement, [Fra.biancoshock] has made more than 400 speeches on the streets of Italy , Spain , Portugal, Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Malaysia and the State of Singapore, and has no intention of stopping.” (via hi-fructose)
A native of Hungary, Rita Ackermann moved to New York City in the mid-1990s, arriving to find a culture— and art world—in transition. Rave and zine culture was in full swing; collaborations between artists, musicians, and magazine and book publishers were pervasive; and the age of the Internet was upon us. Within a few short months, Ackermann received widespread attention for her work, particularly a group of canvases populated with figures inspired by the cult German film We Children from Bahnhof Zoo about the heroin subculture of the 1970s. Her work forged a new visual language: paintings, drawings, and collages which telescoped between a virtuoso—and sometimes brutalistic—expressionism and taut, precise figurative drawing. Ackermann’s work explores the paradoxical relationship between fragility and violence, as she derives inspiration from literature, film, philosophy, and popular culture.
The work of Laurent Craste lies at the crossroads of two mediums. It participates in the world of visual arts, but never crosses its borders. This is explore in his use of ceramics. The form, linked by tradition to crafts, requires a technical knowledge and know-how so restrictive that artists are prompted to remain within canonical forms, never pushing their limits. In this series of ceramic sculptures, Craste has used porcelain vases, representative of certain upper class tastes, and laid into them with a variety of blunt objects, essentially critiquing the fusty conservatism of both this group and the medium itself.
Ben DeHaan‘s “Uncured” series captures the decay of a printed photograph as a result of the removal of the UV light used to instantly dry the ink on the page and cure the image. These portraits appear as if they are melting and evoke a surreal aesthetic, creating a completely unique visual experience that questions the idea of simple replication. In this series, Dehaan also seeks to address the role of machinery and the physical environment in the response to forces that construct the image. (via)
In the last year, we’ve featured a variety of artists who are using embroidery in unique ways, such as Leah Emery’s erotic stitches and Juana Gomez’s anatomy portraits. Featured today is the work of Lisa Smirnova, who embroiders images that ripple with impressionistic life. Her subjects range from animals, to pensive tattooed men, to creative portraits of icons such as Frida Kahlo. Body parts are also recurring throughout work—such as a heart in a bouquet, and a pelvis on a white shirt—lending the otherwise “unassuming” medium of embroidery a flavor of surrealism and the macabre.
Smirnova’s artworks require time and patience, some taking months to complete. This is not surprising, considering the way she masterfully stitches threads into the likeness of skin, fur, and bone. The colors blend together seamlessly, capturing the reflection of light on skin and the red-blue tones of the heart. Texture and emotion arrive together as the threads interlock, each character appearing to vibrate with an inner life.
Since his tragic death, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s image has fluttered on and off of our computer screens more times than we can count. When we lose celebrities who’ve influenced us, we might search for solace in a single work of art that captures an intimate expression of some larger cultural current; we elevate the photographic likeness of stars to the status of a late relative, bookmarked online rather than carried in a wallet.
A few short weeks ago, Hoffman and fellow actors sat for the photographer Victoria Will at the Sundance film festival, and her photographs serve as a testament to the worshipful and nurturing ways in which we consider celebrity. The series is unusual for Will’s choice to use tintype, a photographic process popular in the mid-1800s. As the artist positions her sitters behind a reverent lens, the prolific subjects themselves becomes elevated by the sheer amount of work needed to produce their image. In this way, the work harkens back to an era when people treasured the photograph of a loved one and maybe only sat for one shot throughout a lifetime.
Will refers to the process as “finicky” and “honest;” the images recall the work of Moyra Davey, a photographer who wrote on the power of accidents in the medium. With the remarkably delicate crinkling of emulsion and subtle and unintentional chemical happenings, each subject becomes marked and qualified by the artist’s accidental movements and sporadic perceptions. With each astounding frame, our idols beg the question, “Will this be the image by which you remember me?” (via 22 Words and Esquire)
Via large-scale installations, Antony Gormley explores relationships with nature in a radical investigation of the body as a place of memory and transformation. His recent work increasingly engages with energy systems, fields and vectors, rather than mass and defined volume, evident in works like CLEARING, BLIND LIGHT, FIRMAMENT and ANOTHER SINGULARITY.
Ryan Jacob Smith lives and works in Portland, Oregon. With a limited color palette he explores the living and the dead, the growing and the decaying. His subjects seem to pulse as vein like matter spreads across them. Are his skulls rotting or forming? Are his branching vein structures an extension of life or an ever advancing impairment? Questions like this allow the viewer to reflect on creation and destruction.