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Wolfgang Laib Makes Art With Yellow Pollen Fields

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German conceptual artist Wolfgang Laib creates his installations from natural materials displayed in very unnatural ways. In “Pollen from Hazelnut,” Laib collected pollen from the area around his studio for over 23 years. In the gallery, he carefully sifted the rich yellow powder into a saturated rectangular field. He says,

“I wanted to have this very intense, concentrated experience … with the pollen. So, the meadow with flowers where I collect the pollen is something very different from how you see it here, a real concentrated experience without any distractions, nothing else.” (Source)

Traditionally, conceptual art is primarily concerned with ideas—aesthetics are mainly disregarded. Laib’s pollen fields are unusual in that they have a strong conceptual basis, yet they’re also lovely and striking. The geometric shapes, as large as 380 square feet, have been described as a “vast luminous field of color” and “a blanket of pure pigment.”

Interestingly it is in the collection of the pollen and the amassed pollen itself where Laib finds the most meaning. The sifting onto the floor is almost irrelevant to him. This exchange is from an interview in The Journal of Contemporary Art

Ottmann [interviewer]: Your pollen pieces are for sale. If a collector wants to own one how exactly does that work?

Laib: He buys three jars of pollen and it’s his choice of keeping it in the jar or to get rid of his furniture and spread it out on the floor.

Ottmann: Would you go to his home and do that?

Laib: Yes, but of course I would be even happier if he would do it himself.

Some critics of the work are concerned with Laib’s “waste” of natural materials. This is not a concern for Laib, who, although he works with natural materials, does not consider himself a naturalist. It’s important to remember that the pollen is gathered by hand over a long period of time, not mass harvested, denuding the environment in one obscene swoop. From concept to exhibition, every aspect of Laib’s work displays patience, precision, and peace.

Read more about Wolfgang Laib on PBS’s wonderful Art21 website and look out for his episode airing soon!

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David Hornung

To S.P The woodlands, backyards and mountain fields David Hornung paints can feel like elegies for lost friends.  Conversely, much of the work is contagiously, imaginatively playful.  These paintings can be read in contradictory ways; simultaneously flat and deep, both graphic and luminous.  Hornung does this purposefully, because “picture making can be as paradoxical as life itself.”  The invented settings evoke “memory, the flow of time, and, for lack of a better phrase, the sheer enigma of existence.”  The light breaking on the horizon in “To S.P.” (above) is both beautiful and heartrendingly sad.  What does it say about us when a sunset begs to be personified?  You can see David’s work at Flowers Gallery in Chelsea from June 30 to July 31.

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Ritxi Ostáriz

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We don’t often highlight web design, but I thought that this recent work by Ritxi Ostáriz was worth showing. The site uses a very interesting animated background that uses moving image in quite an entrancing and hypnotic way. Check out the website by clicking here.

 

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Glitch Landscapes

 
In 1988 at the age of nine Tyson Skross moved with his family from suburban Texas to Geneva, Switzerland. Living there, wedged between the largest, most mysterious lake in Western Europe and the Swiss Alps with their historical relationship with romanticism, he witnessed many unusual natural phenomenon. These incidents, which he refers to as “glitches”, opened his mind to the fallacy of reality and also solidified his deep attachment to indefinite geography.

 

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Tofer Chin

Tofer Chin

Whoa, seriously psychedelic work from artist Tofer Chin. I’m not always the biggest fan of all things Op-Art, but I really like the way Tofer pushes the boundaries of a somewhat tired act. In particular, his “Discus Thrower” caught my eye as being an especially impressive and imaginative reinterpretation of both a traditional piece of art, and an avant-garde style of painting. His show “Alex” closes tomorrow at Fecal Face in San Francisco, so go quickly before it’s too late!!

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Kanye West And Spike Jonze Collaborate On Short Film “We Were Once A Fairytale”

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Although We Were Once a Fairytale (2007) begins slowly, with Kanye West stumbling drunkenly around a nightclub, the short film offers strange but rare insight into the celebrity/artist/god’s psychological complexes in a totally strange and successful way. He accomplishes this by stabbing himself in a bathroom, and producing a rodent from his guts. One of the main criticisms thrown Kanye’s way (other than pointing to his spectacular ego) is his inability to express himself coherently, but in his collaboration with Spike Jonze, Kanye seems to accomplish seemingly genuine and recognizable sentiment.

At first all of your assumptions about Kanye are affirmed: seeing him act like a shithead around the club, pitching back and forth barely able to stand, he is almost too easy to dislike. It’s about halfway through, when he ends up in the bathroom alone, that things begin to change. After he stabs himself, the vulnerable and repulsive creature he extracts from his streaming red-ribbon viscera creates an inner layer of Kanye most people are perhaps even unwilling to concede to him. Depending on how you look at it, it could be as cheesy/naive Bound 2 music video, but it’s difficult not to respect Kanye for the attempt to bare something deeper even when he is bashed so vehemently by pretty much anyone. The film defies direct interpretations. You have a sense of what the rodent represents: something living within, curious and grotesque, but it’s difficult to make sense of his relationship to the creature when he hands it a miniature knife. The final shot of Kanye’s expression maintains the ambiguity of the event, and keeps you thinking about it long after.

 

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Darin Shuler

Darin Shuler just got one of the final Xeric Grants, and with it he is publishing Castle and Wood, his ongoing comic involving some grotesque, yet cute, anthropomorphic individuals.  He has a lovely command over black and white. He’s got a great website, he tumbles, he flicks, and sells his comics.

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Brazilian Design Team Bicicleta Sem Freio Thrill Us With Color

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The Brazilian duo Bicicleta Sem Freio (‘Bicycles without brakes”) have broken away from murals and are now concentrating on some fine art work. Its two current members Douglas de Castro and Renato Perreira first met while attending art school in Goias, Brazil and started collaborating on large scale outdoor and concert poster projects. This led to a series of street art and other prominent commissions all over the world. They recently had their first gallery exhibit in London at “Just Kids” art space. This allowed visitors to see the work on a smaller scale in a white box environment.

The duo create imagery that combines rock and roll with sexy women and animal hybrids. Their bright colors depict figures drawn in similar likeness to action style figures which reference Wonder Woman and Flash Gordon. Most of the pictures take on a fantastical sensibility where shape and color are used to dramatic effect. The two illustrators aren’t afraid to combine loud off key hues to create a funkiness which strikes you with energy and power. Normally when street art is brought down to a smaller scale it loses some of its grandeur but that doesn’t seem to be the case with Bicicleta Sem Freio. Instead the smaller scale work is even more detailed and at times even borders on abstraction.
Some of their significant campaigns have been for The Life Is Beautiful Festival, Coachella, Nike, SubPop and Absolut. (via booooooom)

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