Pavel Maria Smejkal lives and works in Slovakia. From 2009 to 2011 he created a series entitled Fatescapes in which the main subjects are removed from famous photographs and iconic images. What remains is the often eerie landscape in which the event unfolded. From Raising The Flag on Iwo Jima to Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston, these strange images are inherently important and memorable even though the central focus has shifted. In his own words: “In Fatescapes, I remove (using a classic tool of digital work today Adobe Photoshop) the central motifs from historical documentary photographs and the main subject of these motifs, human bodies. I use images that have become our cultural heritage, constitute the memory of nations, serve as symbols or tools of propaganda, and exemplify a specific approach to photography as a document of the historical moment. I explore their purpose and function, and I ask about the future of this magic medium, and about human existence. Aware that their authenticity is not unquestionable, I return to these key images after they have been reinterpreted numerous times from various perspectives, and by manipulating their content I explore their purpose, function, and future.” (via)
I’m loving the work of Barcelona, Spain based street artist Faif as of late. He’s recently been taking some well pointed jabs at the art world, street art, and pop culture as a whole with his wonky works on the street. Lets hope he keeps it up and other graffiti artists/street artists follow his lead to never take what they do too serious. (via)
On the weekend of June 6th and 7th, two giant Buddha statues destroyed by Taliban forces in 2001 were resurrected using 3D projection technology. Known as the Buddhas of Bamyan, the two structures, towering over 100 feet, were carved into the sandstone cliffs of Bamyan Valley, Afghanistan, and had watched over the area since the sixth century. They once served as an important site of pilgrimage for Buddhists. When the Taliban deemed the Buddhas false idols, they obliterated them using tanks and artillery shells. The damage was extensive, and in the years since there has been much debate on how — or even if — they could be repaired. UNESCO named the ruins a site of World Heritage in Danger in 2003.
Documentarians Janson Yu and Liyan Hu, however, offered the Afghan people a temporary (but inspiring) solution: to project beautiful, realistic holograms of the Buddhas inside the blasted caverns where they once stood. As The Atlantic explains, “the couple fine-tuned the projections on a mountainside in China and then, after receiving approval from UNESCO and the Afghan government, brought the system to Afghanistan” (Source). Only 150 people attended the event as it was not well publicized, but you can still witness the Buddhas’ resurrection in the images and video above. While the temporariness of the projections may reemphasize the devastating loss of the ancient statues — and how their future remains uncertain — the video sums up the symbolic effect quite nicely, deeming the holographic reconstructions a “beacon of light after a decade of war.” (Via artnet News)
Tom Sanford just might be todays urban Norman Rockwell. Like the famed painter from the mid 1900’s Sanford is concerned with American culture. From paintings of famed rappers such as Tupac to history paintings featuring sleazy right wing radio hosts, Sanford documents, interprets and comments on the American psyche.
For his latest show opening this Saturday at Kravets|Wehby Sanford painted the famous, eccentric, historical, powerful and colorful residents of New York City that inspire him. Film maker Spike Lee, street artist Steven Powers, and even Mayor Bloomberg make appearances in paintings that shift from smooth graphic rendering to impasto patterning.
“I didn’t grow up in New York City but I moved here to attend Columbia at eighteen. I remember around that time my grandfather told me that “When you leave Broadway you’re camping out.” I have been here (pretty much) ever since, and I plan to stay. I relate to Dylan Ebdus in Lethem’s “The Fortress of Solitude.” I feel like I am missing it all, between my pathological devotion to my studio and my daddy duties I can go days without leaving home at all, and sometimes weeks without getting on the subway. But I need New York City. I feed of the culture. All the amazing people who inhabit this magical place, doing fantastic things. They create an energy, or perhaps an anxiety, that nourishes me and I must be close to the source. Hopefully I am contributing that energy as well.
For this show I made New York genre paintings, portraits and scenes of ordinary life in my city. The portraits are of some of the thousands of New Yorkers that make this place so rich. These are people that I associate very strongly with New York and the city’s culture. Some of them are people I have met, some I know, some I have just seen at a deli or on the street. –Tom Sanford
NJ-native Matthew Charles Crabe pulls his imagery out from the deepest parts of his mind-gutter. There’s all sorts of fleshy things teleporting out of, or going into, strange orifices, then there’s the spillage of lactated milk, 40oz malt liquor, doo-doo, female and male juices, complete with the ageless beauty of symmetry. This wonderful mixture makes me think of one of his horrific, yet funny, images being diagrammed for there beautifully symmetrical properties in the way a celebrity’s face might be. Be warned, all images after the jump are certainly incredibly gnarly.
In 2002 Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada moved to Barcelona where he began his ‘Identity Series’. Gerada was drawn to the beauty of old surfaces and wanted to blend photo realistic images of anonymous locals to question the controls imposed in public space, and the use and abuse of iconic faces to sell us products and ideas. He decided to apply the same approaches used by advertising, such as strategic positioning and size, but with the intention of creating a poetic counter commentary that fades away with beauty. The Identity Series is about initiating a dialogue with a local community through art. These portraits transformed local, anonymous residents into social icons, giving relevance to an individual’s contribution to the community and touching upon the legacy that each life has to offer.
Gerada chose charcoal for its transparency and ephemeral quality. He involves the visual narrative of the textured wall instead of covering it. These time-based portraits gradually deteriorate. They become a metaphor of the fading of life, of fame and of the things we first thought were so important. The creation of the “Identity Series” is also an act that is environmentally sound and at the mercy of the natural world. The pieces fade away like the warmth after an embrace. The photo realistic drawing is only an aspect of the piece. The importance of the piece is the whole process of creation, destruction and memory. Watch a video of Gerada in action after the jump.
Lorena Garcia Mateu has created a series of stunning portraits of young women, but almost all of them have their faces obscured. Mateu’s warm colors and thick paint strokes create a soft ambience to his paintings, without hard lines or defined edges. But in these beautiful, soft settings, his figures are twisted and mutated, with obstructions growing out of their faces. The obstructions themselves are organic and natural things, like coral or flowers, but are growing in unnatural places. These figures leave the viewer wondering: are we supposed to find these images beautiful or horrifying? Are these harmonious mixtures of women and the natural world, or monsters?
The psychological effects of social media—seductive vortexes that they are—are well discussed. Every day, we are saturated with idealized bodies and enviable lifestyles—unreasonable standards of happiness and fulfillment that are based purely on constructed images. Seeking to criticize this culture of obsession and apparent emptiness, French artist Grégory Chatonsky has created a bizarre amalgam of Kim Kardashian’s face featuring more than 51,000 photos of her tagged on Instagram. Using a software program he designed using Unity3d, images of Kim K’s face are pulled and generated into a sea of amassed and distorted flesh. The effect is overwhelming and somewhat nauseating; facial features sink, expand, liquefy, and solidify like crushed and melted Barbie dolls. Chatonsky has literally transformed the celebrity’s face into an endless, empty landscape.
This project comes at a funny time, with Kim K’s book of never-before-seen photos, entitled Selfish, hitting the shelves last May. Chatonsky’s choice of her face is rooted in a blunt criticism, as he views her image as the benchmark of meaninglessness in the self-serving application of social media: “She has no talent, she has nothing exceptional, she is none other than our own design, that is to say the way she [is] represented to us,” he told The Creator’s Project. “It is simply an extended skin, everything is on the surface. There is nothing to look behind” (Source). Terrifyingly, the digital collage continues to grow and morph on its own. With intensity, humor, and a heavy dose of dizzying insanity, Perfect Skin II jabs us with a postmodern critique that visually demonstrates how the image—while highly valued in our digital culture—is a flat, empty simulacrum empowered by obsession and replicated beyond meaning or logic.
Check out Chatonsky’s website to view other fascinating and speculative projects, such as a contemplation on the photograph as a desperate—but finite—imprint of our times on Earth, and the discovery of the data humans will leave behind post-apocalypse. This latter project, entitled Extinct Memories, is made in collaboration with Dominique Sirois, Christophe Charles, and Jussi Parikka and will be opening at Brussel’s Interactive Media Art Laboratory in September of this year. (Via The Creators Project)