Fionn McCabe’s tongue-in-cheek comic illustrations poke fun at the way art is received today. In “The Whole Thing” he seems to be criticizing the over-analyzing – and sometimes pretentious – art patrons, that can get in the way of artists’ real messages. (Though, ironically, this can only be gleaned by examining his work.) Though his more recent projects are more graphic in nature, his older works prove that he is also deft with more traditional mediums.
Paul Cherwick approaches his subtractive wooden sculptures with the spontaneity of drawings, treating them as quick, multi-sided one-offs. Employing a carving technique, he chooses an art that runs the gamut, unchanged between folk art material, and the stuff of priceless antiquities. Cherwick creates his figures as allegories, each with an absurd background story; they show the classical grace of the commoner, rather than his or her banality. His cast of personal folklores draws from Classical Greek mythology, in which individuals serve as tropes, created to personify human qualities in ways that are often very literal. Though he is drawn to wood for its classical nature and inherent morality, his translations of the material often verge on Pop.
Tomohide Ikeya is a Japanese photographer whose underwater nude portraits walk the line between serene beauty and the terror of death and drowning. In three series, titled Wave, Breath, and Moon, Ikeya explores the body interacting with the ocean in various ways: struggling on the shore, reaching for the surface, and surrendering to its darkness. The images are disturbing in a poetic way, depicting people expressing the primordial will to survive, while others curl up and quietly succumb, turning the surrounding water into a simultaneous womb and deathbed. Breath — that vital act — often goes unnoticed, but Ikeya’s work makes it visible in the form of bubbles, open mouths, and deathly stillness. “Perhaps the essence of life, granted to everyone, is to live while struggling against death,” Ikeya writes in his description of Breath. “Life is not just about visible beauty, but also about true strength, which we have from birth” (Source).
For Ikeya, the neutrality of water makes it the ideal medium in which to explore the rhythms of survival. Water gives life, and also extinguishes it. “Water is not the Mother of Creation or the Master of Destruction,” Ikeya states; it simply exists as an essential but unfeeling element (Source). By photographing the body in a physical struggle against water, Ikeya’s works are dark portraits of the value of life and the concurrence of death. The boundaries between unforgiving “nature” and the indestructible “human” are literally subsumed, washed away into emotional and physical gestures of life-defining resistance against — and fatal integration with — the ocean. The moment of struggle becomes the affirmation.
Christian Kraemer AKA Dome is a Karlsruhe, Germany based street artist with a knack for monochromatic murals. Not confining himself to the streets of Germany, the artist paints his massive black and white murals everywhere from Turkey to Poland. Focusing on surreal themes, Kraemer’s work taps into mysterious narratives that take place in familiar yet strange worlds full of elongated figures wearing animal heads upon their heads while playing music as they travel in unknown seas.
The series Hipster in Stone was captured by photographer Léo Caillard and retouched by Alexis Persani. The series’ premise is simple: classical statues don a hipster wardrobe. The effect, though, is amusing. A simple change or addition of clothing seems to transform each figure’s timeless grace to a modern boredom. Subtle expression becomes cool aloofness. However, the photographs do draw a strange similarity between ancient figures and modern models. A preoccupation with appearance and appreciation for (or obsession with) physical beauty seems to never have left us entirely.
Australian photographer Greg Briggs‘ new photoseries Melbourne Cleaners highlights the often nameless faces that clean and restore the seemingly untouched galleries, theaters and museums. By focusing on the people who keep these spaces pristine, Briggs not only acknowledges the work of these people, but also takes the viewer behind the scenes to an even more quite, contemplative place, rarely seen by most museum-goers.
Taking place via a virtual tour of important architecture and places throughout Melbourne, Australia, Briggs’ photoseries was captured over six months. Capturing these workers who generally work alone, they are seemingly oblivious to the camera, and are caught in intensely private moments alone with their work. One cannot help but notice how these abandoned, quiet, spaces might be a better way to actually appreciate all the works of art we often walk right by during busy open hours.
Katie Hosmer at My Modern Met writes, “The artist captures what seem like voyeuristic moments as cleaners go about their work in some of the city’s important and iconic buildings including St Paul’s Cathedral and The Queens Hall, Parliament House. Surrounded by classic architecture andfamous artwork, each individual concentrates on the task at hand and seems completely unaware of the camera’s presence. Viewers can almost hear the low hum of polishing machines, the soft whoosh of feathers dusting across the nooks of a picture frame, and the splatter of bottle spraying cleaner along the surface of glass.” (via mymodernmet)
Decaying structures house the oddest assortment of memories. Without an explanation for why it’s there, a newspaper on the wall of an empty room can get pretty Murakami-esque. Mou Hoo, a young photographer working out of Beijing, explores the mysterious clutter of abandoned buildings.