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Studio Visit: Claude Collins-Stracensky’s Explorations in Space and Light

As part of our ongoing partnership with In The Make, Beautiful/Decay is sharing a studio visit with artist Claude Collins-Stracensky. See the full studio visit and interview with Claude and other West Coast artists at www.inthemake.com.

Claude’s studio is in a commercial building in Downtown, Los Angeles right where two fairly busy streets intersect. It’s a few floors up, and as soon as Klea and I stepped out from the elevator doors Claude’s Vizsla dogs greeted us with wild tail-wagging enthusiasm and then lead the way into the studio. It’s a huge corner space with tons of natural light streaming in through the wide windows that lends an almost limitless feel to the room. I took a few minutes to wander around and take it all in— the dogs tumbling about together in play, the dust particles fluttering in and out of the hazy afternoon light, and the many projects underway, all of them in various states of completeness. At any given time Claude is often at work on multiple endeavors, taking time with each to experiment, re-think, tinker and tweak. His studio is a like a research lab where he plays around with concepts and materials, creating mock-ups and models, and then tries to bring these ideas to life with his hands. There is a bit of a “mad scientist” in Claude— he approaches his work with unfettered imagination and whimsy, totally unafraid to scheme and dream big, and he seems almost possessed by a rampant curiosity about the natural world and how it works. At the core of Claude’s practice is a preoccupation with physical systems and processes and the innate dynamics of different materials, and the ways in which these forces and elements can interact to bring about a new consciousness of one’s surroundings. Embracing a range of mediums, his practice often plays with perception and aims to expand his viewers’ visual experience and spatial awareness to create impressions that go beyond an everyday understanding of the world. I got the impression that the wheels in Claude’s brain must always be spinning at top speed, never at rest, always at work on questions, always in a state of assessing and hypothesizing. Which is kind of funny, because he comes across as super mellow… but I didn’t let that easy-going vibe fool me!

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Allan Ludwig

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Allan Ludwig’s simple paintings are curious. The majority of his work online is painted primarily in only three colors – black, blue, and white. His variety in brush strokes and weight of the ink color change his minimal compositions, which often include references to eyes, basic representations of landscape, and barriers or obstructions. More after the jump!

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Eric Ogden

Eric Ogden’s photographs manage to freeze time almost as though someone hit the pause button on life.

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Gabriela Herman Photography

Gabriela Herman Photography

Gabriela Herman’s photography portfolio features a wide array of self portraits and photos from various travels.

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Ramiro Gomez Paints The Invisible People Who Work For The Rich Into Luxury Magazine Ads

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Artist Ramiro Gomez alters luxury magazine ads and photographs by adding in the often-underpaid workers that make their beauty and opulence possible. He paints gardeners, cleaning ladies, people who maintain swimming pools, and more. They are faceless bodies and appear like ghosts in and in front of mansions and sunny palm trees. By doing so, Gomez highlights the disparity between these lavish lifestyles and the workers who barely make minimum wage.

Gomez experienced this firsthand as a live-in nanny for a wealthy West Hollywood family. In an interview with Fast Company, he states,  “It was interesting the feeling that would happen as I was signing off this purse, that the family had so much already, yet they weren’t able to pay [me] more,” Gomez says. “I took it personally, in a way.” This job was also where he first had the idea for the series. After fishing magazines like Dwell and Luxe out of the trash, he tore out the ads and started painting in figures.

So, what do affluent folks think of Gomez’s work? Those that have seen it actually like it, including his former employers. His paintings illustrate the complex economic system that find ourselves in. Those who can most likely afford Gomez’s work are ones that identify with the luxury lifestyle. But, they are essentially buying work that is critical of their status. That’s part of the point of Gomez’s paintings – to engage with an audience who might otherwise not realize the other side of their privilege. (Via Fast Company)

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Lisa Swerllng’s Tiny People With Pubic Hair Make Bold Emotional Statements

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Trapped behind glass cases, the miniature human subjects of Lisa Swerllng’s Glass Cathedrals unabashedly perform daily rituals normally veiled from the outside world. The stunning pieces afford viewers with a whimsical type of voyeuristic indulgence. Like children before a set of dolls, we are invited to examine the many mundane moments that compose adult life, breathing life and meaning into each dollhouse-like setup with our own imaginations.

With its feet firmly planted in childlike curiosity, the series is unafraid to veer into tragic emotional spaces; caught staring into endless amounts of white space, many of the figures appear lonesome and fully aware of their smallness. A woman scrubs at a dizzyingly vast array of tired floors and walls, incapable of completing her work for her own tininess and permanently fixed position. Similarly, a man stares at his cow, a sole companion who does not return his gaze.

Though humorously seen, Swerling’s models are at times bitterly unaware. A group of people stand before a glass case containing the figure of a generic ghost labeled “god” with a sign stating, “In case of emergency break glass,” not noticing that they themselves are encased in glass, searching for meaning in the touchingly absurd. The viewer, in turn, is forced to face his or her burning existential yearnings within this magically adult dollhouse.

The idea of domesticity as it relates to femininity shines through in Swerling’s work in unexpected ways. A piece titled “A woman’s work is never done” features a woman sweeping pink glitter, erasing the suggestion of the usual portrayal of the home as unfulfilling; here and in a piece that features a woman serving dinner at the head of the table, glitter serves as a surprising and ecstatic symbol of female self-actualization. From the woman who examines herself before a mirror to an unwaxed redhead standing nude before circle of nuns, Swarling’s women embrace their activities unabashedly.

Hitting poignant notes that remind us of the power that lies beneath human smallness, isolation, connection, and actively defined identities, Glass Cathedrals serves as an alter at which we may worship our own condition. (via Foodie Bugle, Catto Gallery, and Lost At E Minor)

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Christian Engelmann

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This is a picture of a picture projected onto the scene that the picture was taken of. Duh. Needless to say, artist Christian Engelmann likes to mess with people. His art is often interactive and always maintains a sense of playfulness aimed at eliciting exaggerated double-takes. Engelmann tries to jolt people out of their every day state of being and remind us that the universe is full of surprises.

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A Traveling Installation Series Inspired by Famous Works of Architecture

 

 

French artist Xavier Veilhan is staging a series of site-specific sculptural installations in various international, architecturally significant structures as part of a project entitled Architectones. To kick off the series, the artist is presenting works at the Richard Neutra VDL Research House in L.A. The works on view at the Neutra VDL Research House (exhibit closes September 16th) are inspired by modernity, Richard Neutra, and the house itself, where the artist stayed with his family while completing each piece in the show; an echo of Neutra’s family life. Curated by Francois Perrin, the exhibit features models of cars and boats, a metal flag, and more.

Over the next year, the VDL project will be followed by Pierre Koenig’s Case Study House #21 (1958); the roof of Le Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse, Marseille (1952), (set for spring 2013); St. Bernadette du Banlay Church (1966) by Claude Parent and Paul Virilio, Nevers, France; and the Melnikov House (1929) in Moscow. After the jump, more pictures of the show. (Photographs by Joshua White).

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