Combine the variety of Hieronymus Bosch and the weirdness of David Lynch; add a pinch of skateboarding and two d-cups of death metal and you’ve got a good recipe for taking in Dan Attoe’s newest painting, “Accretion 40.” Placing multiple small scenes over an end-of-days landscape, he touches on everything from a drawing monkey (self-portrait?), to strippers, Christmas, and going to Hell. Dan put the finishing touches on this yesterday, and he’s about to move and have a kid, so this is going to be the last big painting for a little while.
There is a lot of public art on view in Nantes, France right now. Amazing installation pieces have sprouted all over the city, an industrial port off the Loire river near the Atlantic coast, as part of a couple large exhibitions happening all at once. One of these exhibits (and possibly the best of all currently on view), is ESTUAIRE, a trail of installation pieces in and along the Loire near Nantes and Saint Nazaire that celebrates and plays off of river habitats. This is the third year the show has been organized (2007 and 2009, previously). A few of the sculptures include beached boats, partially submersed homes, bears in trees, and monstrous sea snake skeletons, providing for a really strong, visually appealing commentary on the state of our natural environments. Check out more of ESTUAIRE 2012 after the jump.
Jesse Harris may be the hardest working man in business of being punker than you. As both a vinyl signmaker and fine artist, Jesse is a great example of the DIY aesthetic perfected. Creating work that is both questioning yet precise, there is no doubt to Jesse’s intention- the message is the medium.
Massachusetts-based painter Raul Gonzalez is not only an artist who has exhibited in galleries, but he also works as an art teacher. I also worked as an art teacher, and so I can’t help but feel an instant respect for Raul. Looking through his paintings, you are immediately reminded of classic cartoons…..classic cartoons that are walking around with arrows pierced through their skulls, boners growing out of their foreheads, and wearing necklaces made out of bullets… I think Raul would be a very fun teacher to learn from.
Dumbarton Bridge, CA (#4)Dumbarton Bridge, CA (#2)Golden Gate Bridge, CA (#3)Golden Gate Bridge, CA (#11)
This series from the landscape photographer Donna J. Wan might at first seem exhilarating, with its sweeping views of turquoise blue, frothy water; however, overlaid each magnificent seascape is the knowledge that tragic suicides have occurred in these exact spots. The artist, inspired by her own postpartum depression, names her body of work Death Wooed Us after a line from the poet Louise Gluck: “Death wooed us, by water, wooed us.”
Wan’s stunning images look startlingly like the work of of Caspar Davd Friedrich, whose dark romantic landscape paintings capture the spiritual bonds between human and nature. Friedrich, who is widely assumed to have suffered from depression, also used the shifting tides, colored with mist and fog, to express the lonesomeness of the human condition. Where the 19th century painter employed a human figure, his back facing the viewer, Wan leaves her bridges and overlooks painfully empty; any (wo)man who has sat and contemplated his (or her) life and death here has since departed.
Wan’s tragic photographs stretch endlessly to the edges of the frame, as if her somber landscapes could barely fit within a single shot. They alternate between vitality and utter silence; where some capture the bubbling surf and faraway beach-goers, others present the water fixed and frozen, still as a glass mirror. The materiality of the bodies of water is powerful; we can imagine their impact, cold and wet. Standing at the precipice, viewers feel the danger of the majestic waters; ultimately, we are compelled to turn away, the unforgettable image pressed into our mind’s eye. (via Feature Shoot)
Text phrases, words and letters abound in contemporary art, ranging widely from direct witty phrases to text that has become illegible in its adaptation. With increased crossover between different fields of art, the craft of editing text in literary arts is a skill and practice that has been incorporated into the visual arts more frequently. Jenny Holzer is an artist who comes to mind in this regard.
However, in this article I am examining the other polarity of text in art. As an artist who regularly uses text in my own art work, I am always interested in discovering the ways in which other artists step beyond the all too prevalent witty-one-liner on the wall into an artistic language that is far more expansive and uniquely cultivated. The artists included here demonstrate the beautiful grey area that emerges between abstract painting, graffiti, constructivist painting and the written word, to name a few. Here text becomes a vehicle for additional forms of communication, used as a foundation to expand upon with the artist’s particular vision or agenda.
Wendy White, Feodor Voronov, Glenn Ligon, Annie Vought, Jose Parla and Jel Martinez are all artists whose work takes text and language and pushes way outside the box. Wendy White’s use of the lines and structure of letters themselves is deconstructed and echoed in lines that emerge within her abstracted and color washed work. In the images of her work shared here, I particularly love the way in which she goes beyond the canvas in architecturally reconstructing the text-like elements along the border.
The Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles has not one, but two very appealing magic-related exhibitions opening April 28. The first, Houdini: Art and Magic, travels to us from New York. Featuring tons of Houdini-ana, the exhibition looks not only at the historical Houdini, but also at his enduring legacy. To that end, the exhibition includes a number of artworks by contemporary artists inspired by the Houdini legend, including such luminaries as Matthew Barney, Petah Coyne, Vik Muniz and Raymond Pettibon. The Skirball has created a second exhibition to give context to Houdini. This is called Masters of Illusion: Jewish Magicians of the Golden Age, and it focuses on Houdini’s predecessors, colleagues and competitors in both Europe and the US, focusing on the years 1875 to 1948. The exhibition examines more than 40 fascinating careers, largely forgotten, and contains many outstanding objects, all displayed in “period” environments meant to evoke vaudeville stages, Victorian magic parlors and the like. Both exhibitions feature vintage photography, gorgeous promotional ephemera, original props and costumes, and rare documents, and Masters of Illusion includes four renowned automata.
These transcendentally intergalactic images are like cryptic icons from the future. I’m pretty sure this is what it would look like if an alien landed on earth and created a transmission from his ship that beamed down a chronological history of time cascading into future mankind straight into your dreams.