The characters in Tip Toland’s hyper realistic sculptures are fragile creatures that find themselves at the end of adulthood or at the beginning of childhood. Those stages in life have a certain vulnerability, isolation and innocence in common. Toland attempts to demonstrate the decline preceding death, and the increased separation from others it brings. Their expressions are unengaged and convey a sense of deep psychological detachment that is sad and enigmatic as well as dignified by the process of natural aging. In his article for, Ceramics: Art and Perception, Glen Brown states, “[The works] weigh upon [the viewer] for the simple reason that they reflect the profound, inevitable solitude that envelops the beginning and the end of life.”
While exploring age and aging, Toland’s work attempts to give voice to inner psychological and spiritual states of being. What is of primary importance to her is that the figures contain particular aspects of humanity, which they mirror back to the viewer. It’s the fragility and transient aspect of mankind that the artist is after. That is one reason for choosing very old or very young subjects; they both portray innocence as well as complexity. While her subjects are sometimes self-portraits, they are meant to convey universal truths about humanity, society and the self.
The hyper realism of Toland’s figures comes from her attention to detail and unique use of materials. Using an encaustic technique, Toland creates a waxy finish for the skin that mimics real flesh. She even goes so far as to incorporate actual human hair into the works. The porcelain eyes create a doll-like realism that is both haunting and entrancing, while carefully defined wrinkles, skin tone, tooth enamel, and bone structure, are remarkably realistic.
As 2013 draws to a close, it becomes easier to see the trends in art, design and visual storytelling that attracted especially popular interest over the year. Among them were the use of superheroes, which only decades ago were confined to a mythology only ‘nerds’ spoke of. But with superheroes becoming ever-more popular and Geek culture no longer a source of shame, comic book and science fiction heroes have become instantly recognizable forms of pop symbolism for many. Beautiful/Decay featured the work of Andreas Englund’s aging superhero paintings, Alex Lukas’ referential superhero screenprints and Antonio Strafella’s comic heroes as saints, all who took these mythologies and blended them with updated styles, forms, perspectives and techniques.
Josh Lane (Ln) took the same cues with his perfectly titled Hero-Glyphics series, combining a variety of classic comic book (the X-men, Spiderman, the Avengers) and sci-fi (Star Trek) heroes, and re-imagining them in the style of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Ln expands on the classic heroes as well, also casting 90’s nostalgia (in the form of the Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) as well as newer comic and movie characters (Kick-Ass).
Project Nim is a powerful look at how science can go from studying an animal to exploiting it. In this doc we follow Nim, an adorable baby chimpanzee who was taken from his mother and placed with a foster human mother as part of a “nature vs. nurture” academic experiment. Nim was to grow up around humans and learn language and communicate like a human being.
What at first may look like a Styrofoam Mona Lisa is actually incredibly detailed marble work by Italian artist Fabio Viale. Yes you read that right. Marble. Viale does some incredible work to modernize this “old-fashioned” medium, like re-creating Greek Korus torsos and hands covered in tattoos. He is able to transform this heavy, bulky material into creations that seem light and airy, like old beat up tires, popcorn or crumpled paper bags. Viale even went so far as to create a marble motorboat he called Ahgalla, which remarkably he used to navigate the rivers north of Italy.
Joseph Parra, who received his BFA in Painting this year from MICA, has started his career with a running start. Back in 2008, he worked with famed architect Richard Gehry as part of HBO’s Masterclass, and last year he completed a solo show at Galerie M in Milwaukee, WI. He distorts portraits of absentminded subjects with unorthodox techniques, employing sand paper and collage. Parra’s charcoal drawings, also figurative in nature, are equally of note. His drawings (like his prints) are ghostly. His figures are presented with little distraction, no context or background. This demonstrates a confidence in his image making. He’s showing us exactly what he wants us to see.
Matthew Volz is the official artist of Queens, New York based garage punks The Beets. In addition to creating banners, posters, and album artwork for the band he makes paintings and sculptural installations involving a vast iconography culled from the doldrums of saturday morning cartoons and comic books. Pro wrestlers of the past share the page with bug eyed teenagers, superheroes, street rats, cowboys, indians, Joey Ramone, and everything in between.
In an unusual attempt to explore their own digestive tracts, student artists Luke Evans and Joshua Lake swallowed single frames of 35mm film, folding each piece in a brightly colored capsule that allowed for the acids and bodily fluids to process the film with minimal risk of colon damage. Once excreted, the negatives were recovered, cleaned, and studied in detail by an electron microscope; ultimately, they were printed into giant black and white works.
The project, titled “I turn myself inside out” is an almost uncomfortably intimate and human exploration of the photographic medium. Normally, images are produced and processed by machinery, light, and chemicals, but this provocative series substitutes the artists’ own bodies and their fluids for the impersonal metal gears and glass lens of a camera.
The images themselves are so strong because of their unexpected three-dimensionality; while most film photographs flatten space, condensing foregrounds and background to create a compelling work of art, Evans and Lake’s work does the opposite. Each frame looks like a scientific image taken from a microscope. The digestive process and the resultant breakdown of the film’s emulsion afford each image its dimensionality, transcending the medium’s traditional reliance on light and shadow to convey space.
The most miraculous aspect of the work lies perhaps in the tension that arises between the intimate and vulnerable bodily process and the somewhat impersonal aesthetic of the resultant images. Once printed, the images become abstract explorations of tone and space, their apparently inhuman, unemotional form subverted only by the knowledge of their painfully visceral creation. What do you think: gross or cool? (via Wired and Oddity Central)
It’s surprising that I’m just discovering this epic 2004 installation by Daniele Buetti. Titled Le Grand Rhume (The Great Cold) this piece features a massive larger than life nose complete with skin blemishes,discoloration, and bad pores crashing through the roof of an old hut and dripping a gooey pile of stalagmites from the nostril. I’m not usually a fan of nasal drips but this just be one of my all time favorite sculptures! More shots of the install after the jump.