Walking the line between fine art and craft, Brent Owens has a characteristic style of woodworking that he incorporates with a somewhat irreverent sense of humor and applies to a myriad of subjects. Conspicuously hand-carved, embracing the flaws and all, Owens enhances his imperfect look by selecting wood with notable imperfections. The casual woodwork is not a comment on Owens’ talents. Rather it is done to emphasize the fact that the human hand has influenced the material. Conceptually, Owens works from the notion that humans have a tendency to render nature amenable to their own agenda. Describing this “healthy disrespect for nature” as a “shameless manipulation of a gorgeous natural material,” Owens considers his woodworking to be “imposing his own desires on the material” in the name of progressing culture.
Owens’ exploration of craft takes him in several directions. His “Turkish rugs,” for instance, are carved freehand and modeled after Googled images. These works are juxtaposed with carved paintings of appropriated text of medical queries and responses, which have been translated from Chinese to English. The results are a mix of park signage and conceptual art exhibited as a confused mix of words that have lost the nuance of human translation. The works becomes symbolic of how epically the human desire to understand and control everything so often fails.
Both funny and frightening Owens’ works are ultimately a representation of the fact that craft as fine art becomes a commentary on fine art itself. Thereby becoming commentary on culture, and human nature at large.
Pieter Hugo’s “Kin” is the photographer’s closer look into his motherland and a personal approach to the incredible human diversity surrounding him. Hugo’s photo series from South Africa depicts the issues of race, social status, economical despair, sexuality and his own place in such “fractured, schizophrenic, wounded, and problematic place”.
Despite being complicated in content, Hugo’s photographs carry a distinctly serene, calming style and the sense of connection between the photographer, camera and the subject. Regardless of who’s in frame, an unknown homeless drifter, domestic servant, or his pregnant wife, Hugo captures their essence and tension in a simple static shot.
“[Kin] is an engagement with the failure of the South African colonial experiment and my sense of being ‘colonial driftwood. [South Africa] is a very violent society and the scars of colonialism and apartheid still run very deep. Issues of race and cultural custodianship permeate every aspect of society, and the legacy of forced racial segregation casts a long shadow.”
Based on his photographic approach, Pieter Hugo raises questions to himself and searches for answers through his work. How should one live in this diverse society? Should one accept the historical aftermath for granted or try to change it? How to raise a family in these circumstances?
German artist Claudia Rogge digitally transforms her photography to create patterned and rapturous images of masses of people. Often the subject matter of her work appears bleak or apocalyptic, but ultimately portrays the vulnerable beauty of these deliberately arranged human figures. Even in the photographs that are a bit more chaotic, you can sense Rogge’s careful attention to the patterns she creates, and the order contained within them. Her meticulously composed photographs evoke both a sense of euphoria and foreboding while demonstrating the fractal-like beauty of people en masse. One of Rogge’s biggest challenges in her work is creating a scene that looks genuine and believable with digital effects.
Of her work, Cluadia Rogge says, “The fascination the theme “mass” exerts on me lies both in the content as well as in the formal and aesthetic aspect. As regards content, it is indeed exciting to live in a time that on the one hand trains people for absolute individuality, but an individuality that is defined by mass media, mass consumption, mass tourism etc. Aesthetically, the patterns and rhythms developed from masses are unique. You can find them in shoals and flocking birds as well as in major gatherings like military parades, processions, concerts etc. Regarding this, I do not resort to already existing masses in my works, but simulate my own.”
I’m sure you’ve seen this already, but this is so amazing, I just had to post for you all on Christmas Eve… Day. This former Disney Imagineer rigged his whole house to be a real, playable, Guitar Hero game! Lucky kids in that neighborhood… not so lucky for everyone else.
Lisa Nilsson’s works renders the densely squished and lovely internal landscape of the human body in cross sections. Her materials are Japanese mulberry paper and the gilded edges of old books. They are constructed by a technique of rolling and shaping narrow strips of paper called quilling or paper filigree. Quilling was first practiced by Renaissance nuns and monks who made artistic use of the gilded edges of worn out bibles, and later by 18th century ladies who made artistic use of lots of free time.
Say hello to Harrison Roberts. Harrison stopped by our offices to drop off his work for the upcoming Art Works Every Time exhibit. He was a bit flushed and out of breath – having lugged his pieces, many of them quite large, up several flights of stairs on a muggy Los Angeles afternoon – and then we made him pose for our camera! I’ve been admiring his collection of 2 and 3-dimensional works. They speak so boldly from afar but I can’t help inspecting them from very close in order to take in all the unexpected details; his concoctions speak equally well – albeit with altered voices – from both perspectives. You can see Harrison’s complete collection next Saturday, June 12th, at the Art Works Every Time opening reception at L.A.’s Synchronicity Gallery. Thanks Harrison!
Ramsey Dau, an LA-based artist, loves America, Disneyland and you. Well, actually, not really, but he makes wonderful art that makes you smile and cry a little at the same… only because it’s so colorful (not in the example above, obviously.. unless you’re colorblind, then I’m very, very sorry if I’ve offended you). Ramsey uses typography as artistic expression, forcing your eye to read the page and take in the flow.
Ryan Chapman’s iconic illustrations are proof that sometimes simple is best. His quirky and playful illustrations go back and forth between digital, hand drawn, and the occasional 3D sculpture. Find all this and more after the jump!