Melbourne-based artist The Black Math (TBM) changes the meaning of portraits by adding simple line art to the subjects of the photographs. This fusion results in a unique style where parts of a model’s face is completely obscured by black or white shapes and different symbols and markings are drawn over top. It shifts the emphasis from fashion and lifestyle and to something that has an entirely new narrative. Now, there’s something mystical and mysterious as we try to make sense of what TBM has drawn.
All of the photos that the artist altered are of conventionally “beautiful” people, and he transforms them into something we don’t recognize. They’re made especially eerie when the pupils are removed from the eyes. At one point these people’s aesthetically-pleasing appearance probably sold some sort of product. Now, given an entirely new voice and meaning, they are saying something entirely different, which doesn’t necessarily pertain to consumerism.
Suellen Parker builds each character from unforgettable moments of strangers or friends. First, she starts with sculpting the shape from plastiline clay before photographing it with a blank backdrop. Then, simultaneously, she scavengers for props, walls, or environments that might suit a certain character well and shoots those too. All of these images are finally loaded into a computer, where the art of merging and manipulation occurs. Skin tones are “digitally painted” and human faces technologically blend with clay while backgrounds stitch together to create a new imaginative world.
Of Letting Go, her most recent series collected here, Parker strives to twist not only mediums, but also gender roles. She suggests her characters concretely and conceptually have a fine blend of both, and states, they “are attempting to find a sacred space, a place of vulnerability, a place where they allow themselves to be really seen. By quieting one’s life, even momentarily, an opportunity is presented to learn truths about oneself. By engaging in private play, one is able to let go of expectations and rules. The result is a private and truthful moment that may be enjoyed without fear of judgment or consequence.”
Although difficult to generalize, a common theme ties together the exhibitions currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) and the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU). “At the Far Edge of Words” and “Imaginary Homelands” engage on some level, with the complex reflections of the artists cultural identity in relation to their exchanges with western culture, concepts of otherness, and navigating the hybrid spaces between while defining ‘home’. Rather than allowing these notions to become static, absolute, or restrictive, the artists invoke politics, humour, and nostalgia as a means to mediate their competing definitions of identity.
Joshua Harker‘s incredible sculptures are the result of advanced 3D printing technologies. Harker’s designs represent patterns of symmetry and naturally dividing or winding formations like those found in nature or as part of our bodies. His work combines 2D design and imaging with the geometry of the 3D form. Some of his work has even been rendered in steel, bronze, silver, glass, polyamide, and ceramics, merging current sculptural technology with past technology. Two of his projects, Crania Anatomica Filigre and Anatomica di Revolutis, are two of the most funded sculpture projects on Kickstarter.
“My work reveals a passion for the uninhibited and represents my quest for originality in the most literal sense. Incorporated imagery & influences include organic mathematics (phi, knot theory, fluid & turbulence dynamics), vermicular & arabesque patterns. Intentionally, viewers are invited to exercise their own translation of my work in much the same way a Rorschach inkblot elicits various interpretations. The forms and images become uniquely personal to the viewer through this psychological dialogue. My art bears qualities of neo-surrealism, tachisme abstract expressionism, and is invariably contemporary.”
Korean artist Seungchun Lim creates life-size sculptures. His work is steeped in narrative, each piece a character. Seungchun’s sculptures are, in fact, part of a complex story. The three eyed boy above is born with a hump in his back that turns out to be wings. Eventually his wings are stolen from him. Independent of their grand tale, Seungchun’s sculptures still exude an air lonliness and sadness. His characters wordlessly communicate through their powerful but quiet imagery.
Lionel Bawden is an Australian artist working in sculpture, performance, installation and painting. Bawden’s core practice exploits hexagonal colored pencils as a sculptural material, reconfigured and carved into amorphous shapes, mining the material’s rich qualities of color, geometry and metaphor. Bawden explores themes of flux, transformation and repetition as preconditions to our experience of the physical world, essential to the construction of identity. Bawden’s sculptural works harness landscape as a stand-in for the body, personal themes of desire, longing and interconnection become abstracted in a generative process to create form. Bawden’s recent paintings explore darker psychological states, grounded in an exploration of an ambivalent relationship between figure and landscape. These paintings mark a return to the figure after a sustained fascination with more oblique approaches to articulating aspects of the human condition.
Dan Attoe has a new show up in Berlin at Peres Projects. The places in Attoe’s new work are psychologically pregnant. Some feature groups of people doing a focused activity together, like camping or going to a dirt track demolition derby. There’s enough detail that we can put ourselves into the places, and hear the moon crickets, or smell the b.o., beer, and car exhaust mixing into a sort of glorious perfume. Many artists are concerned with myth making, and that’s because we live on the Earth, but in a world. A world isn’t a physical thing – it’s a story we tell ourselves to make sense of our experience. Attoe’s newest work conjures places in order to get at the heart of that human story, and he’s weaving a spell of world-making as much as image-making here. All the images in this post are courtesy of Peres Projects. Dan’s show is up until November 5th.