Ana Maraž has captured and lulled out of me (and into) the warmth of a late summer’s afternoon. I love that simplicity in the composition of these photographs still holds expressive qualities. They just make me so happy and dreamy…(I’m also listening to Nina Simone.)
The paintings of Victor Castillo have a unique eerie style. He began drawing from a young age inspired by cartoons, comics, and album covers. Castillo finally attended art school but found himself disillusioned with his time there. After leaving school he spent some time working with an experimental art collective in his native country of Chile. Next Castillo relocated to Barcelona, Spain. It is in Barcelona that his signature style solidified.
His painted world are most noticeably populated by children wearing clown-like masks: a red nose protrudes from a white face and any eyes are conspicuously absent. Though the masks smile, there is something disturbingly insincere about the expressions. Castillo carefully sets up each scene of his paintings almost as a sort of visual parable. A small narrative unfolds hinting at a larger message. Political themes such as greed or abuse of power begin to emerge within the symbolism of each piece. Castillo makes use of narrative tools often found not only in painting, but also comics. A statement from a past solo exhibit at the Jonathan Levine Gallery further explains the symbolism behind his paintings:
“In this exhibition, Castillo’s allegorical visions of the current socio-economic world crisis come in the form of spooky children’s tales. Through acrylic works on canvas and drawings on paper, his cast of masked, hollow-eyed children serve as a vehicle to convey ominous narratives of survival, greed and indoctrination. Inspired by vintage animation, his paintings are like theatrical sketches of tragicomic situations. With cartoon-like figures in the foreground and lush, classical landscapes in the background, Castillo’s dramatic baroque lighting completes the effect of exposing corrupted innocence.”
It is the age of the selfie, and yet Roberto Foddai’s self-portraits feel like anything but. His images range from dramatic, erotic snapshots to costumed and posed portraits. The Photoshop manipulations he executes, notably in the “make it double!” series, are both subtle and transformative. He merges pictures of himself into the same frame, doubling the impact. Two Robertos laughing together, two lying on the same bed, and, memorably, one pleasuring his “other” self. The effects are transparent and the narrative in the pictures exists outside of their computerized genesis.
Why the costumes, the playacting and grimacing? Why two Robertos in the frame? He answers:
1. I like to be other people as I am often bored of myself.
2. It is easier to be boring in my daily life and dressing up in photographs fills the need I often have to be different.
3. I think, as Feminist and writer Carol Hanish said “The Personal is Political” so it is me in the pictures but they are often a political statement and maybe not as personal as they look.
We see Roberto Foddai as Freida Pinto. Roberto Foddai as a pink gowned ingénue. Wearing a necklace of shuttlecocks. In a swim cap, a nightgown. In underwear and red socks. Cindy Sherman’s self-portraits in disguise are called to mind, but unlike Sherman, Foddai makes very little effort to camouflage himself completely.
I always liked the idea of documenting my own life for myself. Keeping a visual diary of my life also gave me other ideas or other subjects I could work on. This is clearly a work in progress and without any doubt one of my favourite parts of my work. I often struggle with the way I look but it helps me to look at my life in a more objective way.
In many of these self-portraits Foddai is not conventionally attractive. Sweaty, with decayed looking teeth, and testicles poking through his underwear, these images are raw and unadorned. And it’s that truth in the images, in the portraits, that makes it difficult to look away.
The world of Chu Teppa is magical. She recalls memories from her childhood and from those she creates mythological goddesses. Among the seven dolls forming the family, there’s Cîz, Goddess of light, predictions and hope riding her swan and leading a bottled frog; Dvü, Goddess of inspiration and fertility with her cat nose and Hyê Goddess of maternity, kindness and antics holding two pigs and wearing a pig nose herself.
Each doll is white, a color dear to Chu Teppa which, according to her, brings peace and comfort. Interested in the expression of feelings and emotions, she uses white as a mask, a layer that helps forget worries. In opposition, the touch of vivid colors symbolizes life as joy and pain. Wanting to design tender sculptures, the artist nevertheless claims that imperfection is part of being human and that it shouldn’t be forgotten.
If color has a strong meaning in the art of Chu Teppa, the 3 lettered names of the goddesses are even more relevant. The number three, according to the artist, is an expression of artistic expression, vital optimism and abundance.
The artist is sensible to the duality between clarity and darkness. Two concepts that are identified by almost everyone and part of their mission “to transcend into eternal light as we evolve”. Through her fantasy universe, her goddesses and her symbols, Chu Teppa suggests an introspection of the combination of agony and its polar opposite, pleasure.
NADA (New Art Dealers Alliance), founded in 2002, is a not-for-profit art fair that showcases international galleries in New York, Miami Beach, and Cologne. NADA’s exhibitors are a breath of fresh air; the young vibe, the weirdness, and progressiveness of this exposition is hard to dismiss.
Here, I gather the most interesting works at the expo:
Estonian artist Kris Lemsalu sculpts and stages grotesque figures. In this particular set, it seems, are two very strange looking dogs(?), wrapped around sleeping bags. I’m not sure what is artist is going for here, but it seems to me that he is trying to set a scene, and a specific one at that. Both ‘dogs’ are covering their eyes, they are wrapped tightly, and they hovering amongst themselves; might it be that these are scared ‘dogs’ at an estranged camp of sorts?
Jonathan Torres, a Puerto Rican artist, creates half-animal, half-human sculptures, that are brightly colored and full of feathers. They are on the floor, nor are the hanging from the upright walls, instead they appear in odd places, throughout the tiny booth of the http://crenaz.byethost22.com/.
Lauren Pelc McArthur is a multi-disiplinary artist from Toronto,Ontario currently attending the Ontario College of Art and Design. Through a back and forth process of collage, painting and digital art she explores the inter-connectivity of modern media and technology along with science fiction influenced concepts of the assimilation of technology, pop culture and the human form.
Gorgeous and a tad grotesque photography by Frederik Heyman.