I want to share the works of Scott Reeder with those of you who aren’t familiar already. He uses lots of great art convention and history references combined with slapstick humor via painting and sculpture. Like Naked Gun meets Painters Painting. Plus he is from Milwaukee, the wierdest place ever! Awesome!
Raqib Shaw was born in Calcultta, India. He now lives in London where he graduated from Central St Martins School of Arts and based his house/studio in the South London neighborhood.
His work is mostly comprised of paintings. He uses a unique technique: he paints with a porcupine quill and car paint. Every motif is outlined in embossed gold, a technique similar to ‘cloisonné’ found in early Asian pottery, which is a source of inspiration.
The artist’s fantastical world is full of intricate details, rich colors, and jewel-like surfaces, masking an intense violent and sexual content. It’s an explosion of Western architecture (arches, columns, wall decorations), vibrant flora and unexpected animals that have human bodies (peacoks, ducks, roosters, reptiles).
The result from far is intoxicating; but as the viewer, you want to come closer and admire the beauty of the details. The paintings, which at first can feel overwhelming become fascinating in terms of color, shapes and harmony. Underneath the bizarre combinations of the figures, there is the celebration of a society free of moral restraint.
Raqib Shaw has added new paintings in this recent parisian exhibition. Three of them are self portraits, showing the artist in his house/studio. Although his own image never clearly appears, he made sure his favorite personal elements were recognizable: his dogs, views from his studio’s window, champagne bottles and his new bronze sculptures.
Raqib Shaw’s second solo exhibition is currently at the Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery in Paris, Marais location, until July 25th 2015.
Anouk Mercier’s work centers around the notion of escapism through the fabrication of narrative. Relying on the nostalgia of Romanticism and mythology to depict melancholic worlds and characters, her drawings celebrate both the power of the imagination to escape the quotidian and the mundane, whilst also exploring the mysterious, the abysmal and the uncanny that often lurks behind idylls.
Presented as illustrations of an enigmatic tale, her drawings range from tenebrous Animalia portraits, to haunting landscapes and mysterious ‘mini-worlds’, laced with decorative flora. The artist invites viewers to engage with this fantastical world, whilst yet creating the illusion that it can only be observed through a distancing window. Positioning the viewer in doing so, as an entranced voyeur, enticed into formulating a narrative based on the visual fragments presented.
Roman Klonek has a soft spot for old fashioned cartoons, especially east european styled prints that sit somewhere between folk art, pop, and propaganda graphics. In the 90s he studied Graphic Arts in Duesseldorf and discovered a passion for woodblock printing. For the last 10 years he has been creating posters with a wide range of whimsical creatures, mostly half animal/half human, preferential in awkward situations.
Artist Ron Issacs crafts delicate-looking garments using a not-so-delicate looking material – wood. Starting with Finnish birch plywood, he builds elaborate relief constructions and ends by painting them in a trompe l’oeil fashion. Issacs excels at capturing the subtle details that make these sculptures believable. The shirts, dresses, and flowers look as though they are gently swaying in the wind. He writes about the subjects of his work, writing:
My three primary recurring subjects are vintage clothing (for the way it continues the life of the past into the present, for its rich structures and colors and shapes, and for its anthropomorphic presence as a stand-in for the figure); plant materials in the form of sticks, leaves, and flowers (for too many reasons to list); and found objects. They combine in appropriate or surprising juxtapositions, sometimes purely as a visual “poem” of sorts and (if I’m lucky) sometimes as an image with real psychological resonance. Objects occasionally reappear in other contexts and take on new meanings, like a repertory company of actors playing different roles in different plays.
Issacs goes on to say that he sees his art as a hybrid of painting and sculpture; the three-dimensional construction employs one half of the work while the colorful adornments are the other. In addition, he invites the viewer to come up with their own interpretations of his creations. You can attach a narrative to it and your own “reading,” but to him, these are largely about the act of making and the fascination with making things resemble something that they’re not.
Young-Deok Seo is a South Korean artist who creates what he calls “iron men”: nude sculptures made completely out of welded chain fragments. Demonstrating his deep fascination and concern for the human body, Seo builds standing figures, heads, busts, and torsos by carefully melting and linking chain fragments together piece by piece. The result is a series of elaborate assemblages, the links seeming to undulate like living cells. Each work entails a huge commitment of Seo’s time, patience, and concentration, making his artwork a form of spiritual practice.
What is most remarkable about these re-imaginations of the body is the way each piece tells a story—both intimate and universal—about the pangs of existence. On his website, Seo’s write-up describes his figures as embodying intense suffering, and conversely, an ascetic emptiness; they are at once “haggard like a seeker,” “infected by something unknown,” and devoid of all “earthly desires and passions” (Source). Despite their complex “skins,” each figure is ominously hollow. Some of them are incomplete, with their faces and limbs appearing to dissolve into the surrounding space. This suggests a chain reaction of the body to the outside world, a fusion of pain and hope that resembles destruction as much as it does liberation.
Photographer Mark Holthusen shows an unexpected side to cockfighting in his aptly-titled series Pelea De Gallos (Cockfight).Instead of capturing the brutal matches, he went a more tame route. Holthusen rented a photo studio called Hollywood Fotos and invited the Partido Tres Hermanos cockfighting team in Zaragosa, Mexico to have their portraits taken.
Holthusen’s pictures focus on seven different team members that pose with their beloved rooster. Some cradle the bird in their arms with others grip it with both hands. Either way, the majestic-looking creature sits as calmly as the men do.
In a blog post about Pelea De Gallos, Holthusen shares his experience. The team is made up of people who are a dentist, teacher, businessman, and student. “In the end they were nothing but smiles, excited to have their pictures taken.”
However docile these images appear, they are tainted with the knowledge that these birds are forced into a cruel blood sport where death is an outcome. Roosters are specifically bred, fed, trained, and given steroids to make them into killing machines for our entertainment. It’s illegal in the United States but still popular and prevalent in many other countries.
If you enjoy Holthusen’s photos, check out his Second in Show series that we recently featured. It highlights the eerie similarities between show dogs and their owners.