Midwestern artist Dave Rowe creates sculptures of time worn structures influenced by American landscapes. His work has developed through a means to “explore history,” as he believes that addressing the change and aging of a landscape reflects not only the passage of time, but also has psychological implications about those who inhabited that change. Memories, ideologies, and personal histories are shaped by one’s surroundings. Therefore, a landscape can serve as a reflection of a collective “personal” experience. By capturing one specific physical moment, the artist allows himself to reflect not a universal or personal truth, but instead, acts as a sort of mirroring of a hyper-specific type of development. The artist re-creates recognizable, yet unspecific buildings that allude to an archival, physical space. His sculptures, focusing on geometrical infrastructures, have been shaped by his own upbringing in the American Midwest and have been influenced by the changes in the American landscape. Specifically, his work focusses on the more rural areas, as the relocation of factories have dissolved the need for industrial buildings. He captures how functionality, or rather, a lack of it, can act as a record of topographical transformation. Even his use of color is a reference to time; he pairs “barn red or tar black” along with “brighter colors evocative of graffiti,” in order to reflect the often seen palette of a forgotten edifice. Rowe creates these structures scaled to hit at eye level, allowing the viewer to enter the space emotionally, and hopes to open a discourse for personal reflection.
Amy Mahnick takes garbage, things like empty plastic containers and packing tape, and makes paintings. The paintings are very realistic, which isn’t something that I normally get excited about, but this case is special, because the realistic technique serves the purpose of making us say “Hey, that garbage is beautiful.” It makes us think about living better. Maybe our stuff could be put to good use, maybe we could be more graceful, maybe our garbage could serve a higher purpose like Amy’s.
There is no shortage of art and creativity in the City of Light. As Louise Fili shows us in her upcoming book Graphique de la Rue, even Paris’ signage has a resplendence that conveys generations of art styles, from Art Nouveau to Art Deco to Futurism. As an esteemed graphic designer, Fili wandered the streets of Paris for four decades, documenting signs that combined art with typography. Among her photo diary are images of ornate metro signs, vintage café signs, mosaics, and of course, the iconic Moulin Rouge cast in its red glow. In the press release for Graphique de la Rue, Fili describes the source of her inspiration:
“From my first visit to Paris at age twenty, just as I had begun to embrace the world of graphic design, my eyes were opened to the spectacular signage that appeared everywhere . . . With each successive visit, I would continue to be struck by the uniqueness of the signs; in no other city had I seen such distinctive typography on the likes of public school buildings, police stations, funeral parlors, and patisseries.”
Fili’s book comes at an important time, when such original signs are being replaced by their cheaper, poorly designed, and mass-produced versions. Sadly, many of the art pieces documented in Graphique de la Rue have already been destroyed. Fascinated by vernacular design—that is, the designs that give Paris its distinctness as an epicenter of art and history—Fili’s book is a “typographic love letter to Paris,” one that will both immortalize these signs and inspire the imaginations of designers and travellers alike (Source).
Graphique de la Rue can be ordered from Princeton Architectural Press.
Lunakhods is an art collective comprising two Toronto-based photographers. Drenched in color and filled with a luminescent haze, their images resemble daydreams experienced beneath the heat of a midday sun. With a touch of surrealism, otherwise familiar landscapes are made unearthly: glowing wells appear in deserts at twilight, and eerie fogs cloud out distant views of mountains and trees. There is a competing sense drowsiness and vitality, transcending consciousness and materializing an alternative reality.
Lunakhod’s photography conveys an emotional and almost cinematic experience of the world. Human behavior is turned into a bizarre and deeply metaphorical reflection of itself; like muses of our solitary, dream-wandering selves, masked figures haunt dark roadsides and rooftops. Elsewhere, someone holds aloft a garden flamingo in an act of both absurdity and reverie. Time is suspended; past and present collide in images aged with dust. In the world of dreams that Lunakhods creates, temporality and concrete meaning become irrelevant — instead, their images explore the spirit, eternity, and subjectivity of a semi-lucid moment.
Visit Lunakhods’ website, Facebook, and Tumblr to view more of their sensorial images. Their work will also be on display at The Keystone Gallery’s exhibition Less is More in Toronto starting June 5th.
Kristen Liu-Wong is a Los-Angeles artist who paints darkly humorous and bizarre scenarios—ones that often involve violence and/or human depravity. The bright colors and cartoonish figures are initially misleading; look closer into her grotesque doll house of images and you’ll see people decapitated, vomiting, and performing sexual acts. It’s a bit like the Sims on bad acid; people stand around in ordinary-looking rooms while engaging in absurd (and placidly horrific) situations. It’s all in good humor, however; Liu-Wong’s characters smile diabolically and carry on, no matter what mayhem is occurring around them. She also paints still-life-like images with the same surreal edge.
Liu-Wong draws her inspiration from a variety of styles, ranging from American folk art to Japanese paintings to 90s “lowbrow” artists. She cites Clare Rojas as a main source of inspiration (Source). Her subject matter—a figurative representation of the world and human behavior—is a product of her vivid imagination. Visit her website, Tumblr, and Instagram for more high-energy and detailed scenarios that will leave you amused and guessing. There is an interview with the artist available on Pacific Dissent. (Via Art Fucks Me)
Let’s check in with Dutch artist/designer/illustrator mogul Parra for a second. What’s that dude been up to lately (besides a show at SFMOMA)? Well, looks like he’s still killin’ it with his idiosyncratic minimalistic style. Birds, babes, food, and his signature palette still in full force- good to know he’s not slowing down. His style has always had an element of vintage 70s illustration, but not that of this planet. If you’re craving some Parra imagery for your own consumption and can’t afford a limited run print or sculpture, you can head over to his clothing/design company and score somethign there.
Guy Overfelt is a conceptual artist based in San Francisco. His work spans multiple mediums and defies easy classification. Whether it is fluorescent light fixtures in the shape of a pentagram mirrored into infinity or wallpaper made from re appropriated punk iconography his projects explore pop culture in a sardonic way. Car culture is another reoccurring theme in his work. One series utilizes a 1977 Pontiac Trans AM as a printmaking tool. Works are made by “burning out” over canvas and paper. These monographs resemble gloomy landscapes. Overfelt has even recreated the Trans AM using inflated nylon to comment on large scale manufacturing and our quest for the “American Dream”.
I’m loving this series of photographs by Miru Kim wandering various cities naked. I especially like the photos after the jump where she’s in various train tunnels and abandoned buildings. Talk about Beautiful Decay!