I recently met David O’Brien through a mutual friend while checking out various openings in the Culver City gallery district of Los Angeles. This type of event draws a specific demographic, and the likelihood that you will end up discussing various aspects of art/the art world is exactly one hundred percent. Often times these discussions involve an exchange of websites, and an eventual glance into the practice of your recently met acquaintance. I would be lying if I said that I am generally impressed by the endeavors of my newly made friends, but this time was a pleasant surprise. Not only is David O’Brien a genuinely funny and nice human being – his work is just as engaging to be around.
In his ongoing series Human Entropy O’Brien continues to build a collection of mass portraits using a series of hyper-collage diagrams that investigate personal relationships in a truly unique way. Much in the same way a painter (in the romantic sense of the word) may have many colors on their palette – O’Brien continues to photograph and amass an array of different people/poses as a personal visual vernacular for composing dynamic large-scale photographs. O’Brien begins establishing the structure of each piece by placing one figure down at a time, and then repeating this process until the work reaches a level of depth and space that serves his aesthetic and conceptual needs. Patterns begin to organically emerge from these localized interactions between individual forces to create some very compelling images.
The work of artist Vanessa Marsh is perhaps most accurately described as photography. Marsh creates her richly layered compositions one layer at a time. Using drawings on clear acetate sheets and small- scale models she creates a narrative unfolding on a landscape. After producing several such landscapes Marsh photographs the combined layers. The resulting photographs are pictured here. The numerous planes in each piece are similar to past and present time and the memories that accompany it. In fact, of her work, Marsh says:
“Within the series I am exploring not only the working of memory and imagination but also our contemporary relationship to the landscape, where we might find ourselves in the future and how our feelings towards the landscape often center around ideas of dislocation, need and yearning.”
New York based Judith Braun’s ongoing series, “Symmetrical Procedures” is an ongoing series of drawings constrained by four rules: Abstraction, Bilateral Symmetry, Square Format, and Graphite. This first image looks like a generative Processing application- but actually “Fingerings” are done with fingers dipped in charcoal, sometimes using both hands simultaneously to the extent of arms’ reach and developing a vocabulary of mark making with these simple means.
Joel Tretin calls himself a Photo Humorist and that description seems perfectly apt. His photo series Stranger in Paradox “looks at what’s true and totally screws with it.” At first glance, the pictures seem deceptively straightforward—portraits of the city shot in a somewhat generic ad-agency aesthetic. Hidden in plain sight are the visual jokes: a parking ticket on the windshield on a sports car in a building height ad; a carousel over a revolving door; an elephant walking though the green murkiness of a subway. The Photoshop manipulations are mostly seamless—it really looks like that woman is pushing an eight-seat stroller, and that sporty yellow cab looks real next to its stodgier brother. A stack of cars make the most of a lone parking space.
The subtlest images make you work for them. A lit Wall Street façade, American flags… oh, there. The don’t walk sign is flipping the bird. The traffic sign points to the “Road Most Taken” an apparent play on Robert Frost’s Road Less Taken.
Photo manipulation in art is often used to create surreal imagery. And these pictures are surreal in that they portray things that are unreal and often fantastic, but the photos lack the intention and technique that transform pictures into fine art. Which seems to be just fine with Trentin, who says:
I am a failed stand up comedian, who now tries to make people laugh through photography.
Hawaiian artist Sally Lundburg is greatly influenced by her native land’s “history of ecological and social invasions and it’s shifting cultural landscape, as well as personal experiences of self-reliance, independence, isolation, and exposure to spirituality and faith.” She is a multi faceted artist, as she works with sculpture, photography, film and video to explore notions of identity and social dynamics.
On her recent stunning body of work, Epiphytes and Invasives (totem series), Lundberg creates sculptural objects that serve as a medium to further investigate and literally envision the social history of post-contact Hawaii and the diverse family lineages that make up Hawaii today.
These ‘sculptures’ are nothing more that milled longs and branches that have been “punctured with commercial pine woodworking plugs, rusty fencing stakes, upholstery pins, rope, and dried ma’o hau hele flowers”. However, it is the archival portraits that Lundburg imprints on them that, together with the organic elements, make this series a remarkable artistic endeavor.
Her works look simple, however there are reasons for each and every detail that she ads on her sculptural objects. It is important to appreciate and put further thought upon the juxtapositions of organic and inorganic materials, as well as her emphasis of trying to mesh these two opposites together. On her description of this series, Lundburg explains that Epiphytes are plants that grow on other plants, and in rainforests [known for its tropical conditions, something that is an outright connection to Hawaii) just about any plant can grow epiphytically. Her usage of organic tropical flowers, plants and Koa logs together with the archival portraits work symbiotically to represent the social history of post-contact Hawaii and its diverse yet close-knitted family lineages that make up Hawaii today.
I know I may be partial to artists who went to the same art school as me (Maryland Institute College Of Art) but Milana Braslavsky’s photographs are downright quirky, playful, funny, and most importantly Beautiful. For some reason all the figures in her photos remind me of quirky art school girls with thick rimmed glasses who listen to Buddy Holly albums on vinyl.
3:2 An experiment in time travel. Subject lived in isolation for three weeks adjusting to a slow clock, experiencing only two weeks 2008
Continuing my Rhizome Commissions coverage, here is Office for the development of Substitute Materials. Their work deals in the relationship between objects and how humans use them, or how objects become more human just because we are using them. The ideas about tools and their relationships to us and each other is incredibly smart but at the same time, attainable in their simplicity. The way they document their work is also very beautiful. I’m a big fan. You can see their Rhizome proposal after the jump (it’s the last item in the post).
The work of artist Adel Abdessemed is at once direct and poetic. He often uses common imagery and objects as a point of departure. However, the mundane beginnings of these objects only further underscore the weighty nature of his art. Abdessemed’s installations are able to provoke a sudden impact of its viewer. Still, the installations communicate complex ideas that unfold over extended viewing. At times controversial, his work is effective in piquing thought and discussion.