I know this video is a tad on the cheesy side of the spectrum but you gotta admit that it’s interesting to see these Van Gogh portraits shapeshifting from one work to the next. The most bizarre part is that the expression never changes once.
It’s a popular thing to draw on fairy tales and the fairy tale tradition as inspiration for art, but painter Stephen Mackey has invented a whole fantasy world of his own. Working with oil on wood, his paintings are by turns in media res cautionary stories and mysterious rituals straight out of make-believe myths. Each painting is labeled in cursive script or all caps serif, and the titles don’t do much except further the enigma. “Somnambulist as a Bride Ascending a Staircase Backward,” proclaims one. Another is straight out of the recipe book of some apocryphal apothecary: “Charm No. 2: Attar of Knotgrass.”
Populated with velvety plush clouds and soft-focus girls, Mackey’s world is certainly charming. There are friendly faces in his darling cat-headed children and the moon, which is adorned with a Mona Lisa smile. However, there is sense of danger in the still water: a menacing shadow looms in “The Secret People,” and another painting shows a little girl being lured to a cottage by a wolf-headed mother. The latter is simply called, “What the Moon Saw.”
Mackey’s paintings seem to all occur in the twilight hours or at least before waking. They hint at elusive stories that promise to be as interesting as they appear. Richly colored and filled with wonder, they feel like an elaborate game of hide and seek with one’s own dreams.
The work of Scott Young is a playful turn on food photography. His fruits and vegetables seem not so much delicious as rebellious. Young photographs various produce covered with studs usually found on clothing. He mixes the language of punk rock fashion with that of food photography to in a way that each undermines the other. The simple idea is strangely amusing. The disparate context of each crash together to create a new one that seems to somehow make sense in its own way.
Surreal and bizarre collages with a folksy hand made feel by Dennis Busch.
Walter de Maria’s Earth Room, permanently installed at 141 Wooster Street in New York since 1980, is nothing but 250 cubic yards of black soil filling 3,600 square feet. As Jerry Saltz describes it, it is a “majestic work that gives us bodily confirmations of the power of scale, material, natural phenomena, and art.” Indeed, Mother Nature’s material can provide a profound art experience that other artists have also experimented with. Gabriel Kuri uses familiar, everyday materials like newspapers and slabs of grass to focus attention on contemporary consumer culture and the circulation of things like money, information and energy in our global economy. Ruben Ochoa’s works, specifically his “Overturned Foundations” currently installed at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, alter our relationship to the ground and the wall by shifting our perception of space. At The Carriage House at The Islip Arts Museum in 2011 Olivia Kaufman-Rovira installed a watering system that grew giant grass chandeliers over a six week period. The grass chandeliers were interspersed with others made of discarded plastic bottles. The sculptures were meant to comment on resources needed to keep up lawns, how non-biodegradable materials pollute our environment and how important our water supply is. Phoebe Washburn is a New York artist who incorporates organic matter such as sod or plants into her installations, which act as attempts to exert control over the chaotic. Mathilde Roussel’s works, often suspended in mid-air, are grass sculptures that represent the growth and decay of life. Representations of gravity, time and the fragility of existence the works are poetic and beautiful. Sean Martindale replaced cracked city tree planters in Toronto with grass, making it appear as though it had spilled out over the planter. A kind of street art, the planters brought beauty and attention to an otherwise damaged part of the city. Mylyn Nguyen is an Australian artist who gives form to imaginary figures by sculpting natural materials such as moss, pebbles dirt, twigs etc.
The works of emerging Serbian artist Milan Hrnjazović are a swirling and melting mix of body parts and abstraction. Hrnjazović’s figures morph and meld into one another in a psychedelic surreal orgy that at first looks photoshopped but in fact is painstakingly painted in oil revealing the sensual nature of love and lust through the ancient (and equally sensual) medium of painting.
Marion Balac lives and works in France. She creates large graphite works that are jam packed with detail. Her drawings often feature extremely dense foliage juxtaposed with large white voids. The visual combination of painstaking detail coupled with empty space helps to accentuate her lush compositions. Are the mysterious ghostly forms ominous forces? Or respite from an ever swelling forest? The viewer is pulled into a stark landscape where anxiety reigns.
In the age of digital photography and Instagram filters that make things look fakely old, glass artist and photographer Emma Howell uses a technique that is opposite of the easy, fast-paced methods popular today. Not only does she go to painstaking lengths to print an image, but she uses the unconventional surface of glass. Howell crafts hand-blown vessels and prints landscape images on them using the technique of the wet plate collodion – a photographic process that predates the Civil War. The result is a subtle and moody piece that’s a conversation between photography and form. She tells Wired Magazine, “Most people are not able to experience a place that is unaffected by the human presence. So I’m creating a way for others to experience this in a way that’s more than looking at a flat print of the cliché beach we all see and know.” The shape of the glass informs what the image is. A ripple or imperfection is meant to echo waves in the landscapes.
Howell’s pieces are irregularly shaped, so she had to build her own camera to accommodate them. She studied how large format cameras were constructed and sawed a barrel in half to act as the camera’s body. Afterwards, she fashioned a mount that allowed her to attach a traditional lens to the barrel. After six weeks of trial and error, she had a working design and began shooting.
The process of transferring an image to glass is very involved. Howell hikes to remote areas with a miniature chemistry lab and darkroom in tow, working on the fly to mix up photosensitive chemicals, coat glass, expose shots, and develop the image – all in the span of 15 minutes.(Via Wired)