It is fair to assume that while most of us know that our world, our living spaces, and even our bodies are covered with microscopic organisms, we do like to not be reminded of it. Photography student Marcus DeSieno’s recent photoseries begs to differ, offering a beautiful yet disturbingly close look at our microscopic natural surroundings. Parasites is an ongoing project “investigating a history of scientific exploration through images of parasitic animals.” Taken with a Scanning Electron Microscope and then exposed onto dry plate gelatin ferrotype plates, a process which combines classical and cutting-edge photographic techniques. The final images are archival pigment prints from the scanned ferrotype plates and printed larger for these abject animals to confront the viewer at a one-on-one scale.
“Photography and science have had an intrinsic relationship since its’ invention in 1839. It did not take William Henry Fox Talbot long until he was using his calotype process to capture what was under the lens of his microscope. The indexical nature of photography has pushed the reaches of science ever forward into the 21st century. These technologies allow us to peer in to the unexamined corners of the natural world reminding us that the universe around us is much greater than ourselves. In this realm of scientific curiosity, photography has a intriguing relationship with the invisible, allowing us to see the world that we cannot. Parasites explores these themes of science and wonder and, at the same time, confronts a personal fear of these parasitic organisms that attach themselves to humans. Embedded in the work is an engaging dialog with photographic history, its\’ shifting modes of representation, and its’ material possibilities. Parasites investigates the role of shifting photographic technologies in contemporary culture and their abilities to capture a mysterious and unseen world.”
Maricor and Maricar, two twin sisters based in Sydney, design and hand stitch vivid colored quotes and phrases written in bold typography. The result is fresh and bright. They work as a team on sewn animations, illustrations and hand embroideries, coming up with unexpected color combinations. They work is most of the time commissioned for renowned international magazines within the publishing and advertising field. The latest embroidered pieces the artists created were quotes and bold statements. The words Love, You gotta keep cheering, Not everybody’s cup of tea and Shut up I’m dreaming are playfully displayed on monochromatic backgrounds.
Their embroidery making process starts off with a sketch. With the help of digitalization or the use of watercolors they fill the typos with vibrant gradient schemes. The design is usually traced onto cotton or linen based fabrics before the needle work; rendering a tactile 3D effect. Both equally involved in projects, they make sure their ideas are always original and pushing the technical limits of embroidery. They find inspiration in other designer’s work and take great pride in the fact that they have a unique and talented skill.
I have to confess I am easily drawn to works of art that resemble or depict toys and other childhood objects. At face value these works are easy, as all of us have some form of relationship or pre-existing association with the referenced nostalgic icons. In other words, the works naturally engage us and draw us in. However, these works, specifically those featured here, use the familiar imagery to interject layers of conceptual content, moving far beyond catchy into heavier implications, through expert usage of scale, quantity and context.
Context is key in these pieces. Maurizio Cattelan is a conceptual master of context, as demonstrated in his piece Daddy Daddy, which features a large drowned figure of Pinocchio floating face down in a pool inside the Guggenheim. The result is ironic, tragic and flawless. As well, the practice of significantly altering scale such as Jeff Koons‘ balloon animal sculptures, Urs Fischer‘s Untitled (Lamp/Bear) and Yoram Wolberger‘s life-size sculptures of toy and trophy figurines, allows the objects to become monolithic, dwarf us and alter our sense of reality.
Lola Dupre’s collage visions can make Hilary Clinton look like Jaba the Hutt and Virginia Woolf look like a camel. Dupre cuts and pastes her pieces by hand, stretching or shrinking features of the face and/or body of politicians, celebrities, and anonymous characters. Strange though this may sound, her approach to collage seems so obvious it’s almost surprising no one’s thought of it before. This is what makes her work so strong. A really great idea can often seem familiar because it makes so much sense.
In her most recent work, Dupre has been transforming nude figures into unexpected (and sometimes ‘Human Centipede’-like) forms. Whereas in most of them she multiplies limbs and genitals, she throws you a curveball in Osa Desnuda, where she sticks a the top half of a teddy beat head on a nude woman with an ample drooping breast and strange proportions throughout. This one in particular is reminiscent of Wangechi Mutu’s work. She also creates hybrid forms with women’s bodies: confusingly erotic while also disturbing and unexpected, though Mutu’s work is more extreme than Dupre’s.
Although the images are made manually they don’t escape the digital. They reference (accidentally or intentionally) a computer screen that has frozen up where the user has tried to drag the image across the screen, only to have all the repetitions of the image remain as it is moved along. Though similar imagery could probably be made on photoshop, the handmade aspect is essential. The images would loose the sensual textures of skin achieved in the overlapping paper, and the process itself is more mysterious.
These marble and bronze sculptures of Kevin Francis Gray‘s are beautifully mysterious. They are classical in technique, but completely contemporary in subject matter. Gray chooses figures and characters – “the freaks and oft-romanticized street tribes of the East End” he see on the streets around his studio in London and then turns them into striking statues. Covering them in beaded veils or shrouding their faces with draped cloth, he manages to surround them in mystery.
His piece called ‘Ghost Girl’ superficially looks like a classical Greek or Roman sculpture, but is actually an earnest, tender view of a modern city girl, with a urban-ghetto-gothic twist. Poking out from underneath her veil is a skull tilted down toward her feet. She has her arms casually wrapped behind her back, but bear the markings of self harm. Gray renders many of his subjects from live sittings and recalls sketching the different faces:
One of the subjects has intense agoraphobia. Another was the first subject whom I really, truly didn’t like. He was so dark, a complicated psychopath. But I was determined to capture that. Some of the subjects could only sit still for an hour, because they had to go get high or whatever. (Source)
All of Gray’s pieces have a dark history to them, but he sculpts them so impressively they transform into something majestic, almost mythical.
What I’m trying to do is create a juxtaposition. The surface is glossy and consumable, but look deeper beneath that and you’ll see a darker underworld. (Source)
Caleb Brown paints real things — sharks, diving tigers, track stars — in a realistic manner. Deviation lies in the implausible situations he inserts his subjects into. Brown uses what he calls “elements of contemporary life” to set the stage for a bigger, more interesting angle on current events.
William Edmonds is one of three artists that are a part of London’s prolific Nous Vous art collective. On top of his precise attention to detail and color, Edmonds also has an unconventional perspective that shines through within every single one of his illustrations.
Upon first glance, these paintings by Spanish artist Antonio Santin appear to be photographs of beautiful rugs with bodies hidden underneath. Take a closer look and you can see the amazing detailed work that Santin has created in order for these rugs to appear real. Using a deeply-rooted tradition of Spanish Tenebrism and his training as a sculptor, Santin paints using the play of light and shadow to create depth and a haunting realism.
Interested in the way bodies shape fabrics, in an interview with Hi-Fructose, he says, “Painting is essentially a superficial activity, the artist’s psychology translates into a certain colored texture that will in turn eventually trigger or host the unique psychology of the beholder. Thus, according to this transitional synesthesia, any represented face is an enlivened mask. My background is sculpture, a discipline that could as well be defined as the development of structural strategies that end up supporting a surface. Not being its main raison d’être, the surface does conceal and contain the essence of the volume, whose physicality permeates its vessel while existing often only in the territory of the imagination. Therefore, whether it is a face, a dress or a rug, for me, it’s all about grasping what is hidden or concealed. (via from89)