One of the most highly acclaimed contemporary artists from the Philippines, Ronald Ventura has garnered enormous international attention in recent years. He is noted for paintings featuring complex layering, combining images and styles raging from hyper realism to cartoons and graffiti — as well as for a significant body of sculptural work.
Ventura takes the layering process in his work as a metaphor for the multifaceted national identity of the Philippines. Over the centuries, the profound influences of various occupying powers – Spain, Japan, and the United States – along with the underlying indigenous culture, have produced a complex and at times uneasy sense of identity. Ventura explores this historical and psychic phenomenon through a dialogue of images evoking East and West, high and low, old and young – seen, for example, in allusions to Old Master paintings or Japanese and American cartoons. He draws our attention to the “second skin” of cultural signifiers that each person carries with him, however unwittingly. Ventura views skin as an expressive surface – written on with tattoos, concealed under layers of imagery, or exploding outwards to reveal an inner world of fantasy and conflict.
No matter what the medium, artist Shanti Grumbine manipulates her work by slicing it into fractals of distorted imagery. In her series titled Looking Awry, she uses front-page images from the New York Times, and prints them in large format. She then cuts and divides the image into hundreds of smaller pieces and rearranges them before mounting the squares onto wooden dowel. Each square resembles a pixel, creating a strange mix of visual information since they are not placed in their original spot. This hodgepodge of colors and shapes are referencing a digital file that is corrupted, in which we can no longer see what is originally intended to visually display. Although altered and skewed, we can still make out some of the original image in Grumbine’s work. If you look closely, you can see a woman’s face or remnants of a human body. Grumbine explains her journey while creating her wall reliefs.
These wall reliefs become monuments to the untold levels of mediation between my creative acts and the rest of the world.
Much like digital files move across digital highways or frequencies, Grumbine’s work seems to travel across the composition in waves. As each cut out “pixel’ is mounted on a wooden dowel, the dowels are all different lengths, creating a wall relief. These varying levels, confronting the viewer, form a new textural and visual element. Further engaging the viewers are small, square mirrors that Grumbine integrates into each piece, replacing some of the “pixels.” Now, each captivating piece is not just reaching out at you in waves of visual complexities, but also include fractals of the viewer and its surroundings. You are now a part of the piece, a part of an endless source of aesthetic, digital information. A master at carving new meaning into different materials, this Brooklyn-based artist also has a series of incredibly detailed newspaper cut-outs titled Zeroing, also utilizes New York Times newspapers. New visuals are sliced into each word, and even a wall relief in the shape of an orb is formed from its text.
The work of Italian artist Alberto Tadiello peeks into the vagaries of technology, nature, and their relationships. For example, the first five photos of this post depict the installation EPROM (an acronym for Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory). The installation mounted on the wall consists of music boxes connected to small electric motors, which are in turn connected to transformers. While the tinny notes of the music boxes may conjure memories of childhood at first, the motors and music boxes are soon spinning faster than the mechanisms can withstand. Eventually the motors wear out reducing the ‘music’ to a hardly noticeable noise. Of this event, the gallery statement says:
“Once the pawls wear out the noise slowly becomes less noticeable and even indistinguishable. The high-speed movement is associated with a sort of cathartic event, which relieves the music box interface from bearing nostalgic feelings.” [via]
Seattle artist Robert Hardgrave creates swirling, abstract mixed media paintings. Sometimes a figure or structure will appear, but you can never be too sure of exactly what you’re looking at. Any element of order in each work is shrouded beyond most comprehension by beautiful chaos. Things are better off that way. And Hardgrave’s work is so textured and effortlessly intricate that all you want to do is swallow each painting whole. Who cares what a single brushstroke might mean? There’s too much going on not to take it all in at once. When you do get the chance to examine detail though, Hardgrave’s insane skill level is undeniable.
Readers of this blog may already be familiar with Chris Gray whether they’re aware of it or not. This is because he’s designed a couple shirts for Beautiful/Decay Apparel: Sex and Casual Apple. Based in the UK, Mr. Gray has been going off with some seriously good design and illustration work since graduating in 2007. His work is simple and crisp, evoking a certain playfulness through bold fills.
Texas-based graphic designer Parker Jones has come up with a cheeky and clever idea to help women suffering from mood swings and cravings during ‘that time of the month’. Her college project features different fictional flavors of PMS Ice Cream. Named after moods and emotions that she herself has been a victim of, Jones has come up with some witty names. “Don’t Come Near Me” is a tub full of chocolatey rocky road and nuts. It also features a scale marked on the side showing how much you have eaten. Victims of PMS can eat their way through anger, rage, whining, crying, anxiety and laughter again and again until they reach the bottom of the container.
The series also features “I Need Some More” – which is full of mint chocolate chips, and “I Think I’m Dying” – a sweet strawberry flavor. The strawberry package bears a countdown of sorts, listing the different days and the various things women tell themselves to get through the monthly process:
Day One: it’s only just begun
Day Two: hell is coming
Day Three: can’t turn back now
Day Four: only a few more days
Day Five: dear god make it stop
Day Six: please tell me it’s over
Day Seven: sweet relief
Parker’s fictional products are sure to make women (and men) who are familiar with the different stages of PMS laugh. As I’m sure we all know, sometimes PMS can be no laughing matter. It definitely is a shame that this ice cream isn’t available to buy…. (Via DeMilked)