New York artist Danny Evans, photoshops photos of celebrities to make them look like the average joe, precisely, to show what the super famous would eventually look like without the best make-up artists and stylists that money can buy.
“It was a reaction to the over-Photoshopped images of celebrities that we see everyday. I thought it would be interesting to take it in the opposite direction.”
The project has been active since 2006, when Danny started ‘making-under’ the highly popular photographs of socialite Paris Hilton. Evans was fascinated by how quickly Paris’ pictures created instant buzz, and how much power she really had over a mass public just by being rich and ‘attractive’. Needless to say, the collection of Paris’ ‘make-unders’ grew from there; Evans created a Facebook page named Planet Hiltron which turned into a huge success; from there, he started to work with other celebrities.
“Basically just stripping away their cool personas I always find it interesting to see what’s left after the Hollywood has been scrubbed off. My intention wasn’t necessarily to age them, but to strip them of their ‘Hollywood’ facade. That has more or less been my general goal with this series all along.”
In the fall of 2009 artist Michael Anthony Simon left Chicago behind, and moved to the countryside of Korea. He wanted to experience a new place and culture that would hopefully inform a fresh body of work that could exist beyond the constraints of the western art world. In the spring of 2011, contemporary artist, Ai Weiwei was arrested on falsified charges of tax evasion by a notoriously conservative Chinese government. The claims were suspect to say the least, and many silent protests were organized throughout the world by major museums and institutions calling for his release. These silent protests became a louder gesture than anything anyone could have audibly said. This act of defiant solidarity became a source of motivation for Simon in the year to come. Realizing that by attempting to silence something you make it’s presence that much more apparent he commenced on a series entitled “The Silence Paintings”. Analyzing the design and significance of the word ‘silence’ in different languages lead him to the creation of an intuitive process that would allow for compositions to develop naturally, but with purpose and intention.
Dutch design duo Raw Color toast the opening of Martin Creed’s grand overhaul of London’s Sketch restaurant with graphic still lifes dedicated to the restaurant’s new menu. The Turner Prize winning artist’s takeover saw him entirely revamp Sketch’s interiors, hanging his large-scale paintings along the walls and hand-picking each individual table, chair and piece of cutlery, as well as contributing in the kitchen. Sketch co-founder and Michelin-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire conceived two playfully named dishes dedicated to the conceptual artist––“Navet Martin Creed” and “Dundee Pinky”.
Raw Color concocted their Irving Penn-esque visions from each dish’s disassembled ingredients, including black olive jelly, squid ink and parmesan cream. “The cooking side of the project was harder to translate into our own visual language,” says Christoph Brach, one half of Raw Color with Daniera ter Haar. “But looking at Creed and his approach to projects, how he organizes things, stacking from big to small, we knew we could take the ingredients and do something similar with them.”
Even in his commercial work French photographer Laurent Chehere clearly has a creative and curious eye for his surroundings. An avid traveler, Chehere enjoys exploring the cities he visits. This becomes especially evident in his series Flying Houses. The series contains a number of photographs of floating buildings. The buildings seem otherwise ordinary, perhaps tethered by power lines, quietly floating in the sky. Chehere achieved the effect by taking photographs of buildings throughout the suburbs of Paris and digitally manipulating them. A gallery statement (translated from French) from a recent solo exhibit explains Chehere’s inspiration for the series:
“The artist isolates buildings from their urban context and frees them from their stifling environment. Houses fly in the clouds, like kites. Inspired by a poetic vision of old Paris and the famous short film The Red Balloon by Albert Lamorisse, Laurent Chéhère walked the districts of Belleville and Ménilmontant gazing at their typical houses. The images of the artist seize an unexpected levitation: held to the ground by unseen hands, like so many balloons used by the boy, these old buildings floating in the sky, sliding on the surface, they reveal to us their hidden beauty. Some houses are adorned with drying laundry or flower pots, outweigh other brands and shops fleeing the flames of a fire … All seem to find a second life. Uprooted from their hometown, they go to new heights. It’s a true invitation to travel and metaphor for the transience of the world, Flying Houses Laurent Chéhère’s series plunges us into a dreamlike and changing world full of gaiety and humor.”
John Grade’s Capacitor is a site-specific installation which reacts to the climate of the site it inhabits. Located within the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, this enormous coil is roughly 40′ x 20′ x 20′ and slowly reacts to the changing wind directions and temperatures of the outside environment. Physically behaving according to statistics collected outside the institution, a mechanized controller within the installation powers the enormous coil’s shape. According to Grade, “the whole of the sculpture will appear to be very slowly breathing”. Capacitor also changes the brightness of the lights within the construct, giving an entire reaction to outside elements. (contemporist and artist’s site)
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Giant monochrome webs of constellation materialize from a charcoal black wall, leaving the imagination floating, thinking we can envision anything we’d like. By connecting the dots, an image appears; it’s a gorilla, a fox, an owl or a hippopotamus. Philippe Baudelocque tames the stars on buildings’ front walls throughout the city of Paris, creating poetic packs of animals.
“I prefer the experience of art rather than the final piece of art. That explains why, drawn out of chalk, the illustrations are ephemeral. A risk the artist is willing to take, because that’s how he started his series and that he would like it to end.
The contrast between the black and white colors, the empty wall and the countless strokes bring another dimension to the illustrations. As if the artist wanted the animals to come out of the wall and talk to us. And they are, by the way they honestly stand, asking for nothing; confident that they are being understood. The stars and the animals represent unattainable immensity, identifiable to a lot of us. The combination creates a fantastic scene where the possibilities of interpretations are infinite.
Through the stillness of the black and white animal bodies, a feeling of compassion and kindness speaks to us. That’s the intention of Philippe Baudelocque : his illustrations gently suggest simple emotions to everyone.