Todd Knopke weaves strange and wonderful quilts with heavy titles like “A Powerful Force,” “Stoner,” and “Conservation and Revelation (A Certain Solidity).” What?! I love the top image, of shrouded woodland mystics proffering ancient staffs and unknown orbs in the midst of whitelight/white heat/energy. I want to wrap my (technically) unborn black metal son in it while I sing him Sabbath to sleep! Who says quilting bees are just for fussy old ladies! Knopke’s sewn tableuxs shred! (Literally!)
Before the insanely popular Lil Bub or the hilarious Doge memes of today was the photography of Harry Whittier Frees, a man who was capturing dogs and cats in odd-yet-amusing situations long before you and I were around. He fashioned a career from these adorable pictures and used them in postcards, calendars, and children’s books. The positive reception (and the fact that it made him wealthy) further proves that our obsession with cuteness is timeless. Some things really do remain the same.
These strange images show cats and dogs in dresses and bonnets, performing household chores like hanging clothes to dry or watering the plants. While it’s hard to deny the cute factor, you can’t help but feel a little uncomfortable by the unnatural positions these actors are posed in. It’s reminiscent to the work of Walter Potter, whom we recently shared here. Although there is a certain similarity to the stiff adorableness, you can feel better knowing that Frees’ animals stayed alive for their photo shoots.
Photographing these tiny creatures was no simple feat and Frees would only photograph three months out of the year. He writes about his experiences in his book Animal Land on the Air:
Rabbits are the easiest to photograph in costume, but incapable of taking many ”human“ parts. Puppies are tractable when rightly understood, but the kitten is the most versatile animal actor, and possesses the greatest variety of appeal. The pig is the most difficult to deal with, but effective on occasion. The best period of young animal models is a short one, being when they are from six to ten weeks of age. An interesting fact is that a kitten’s attention is best held through the sense of sight, while that of a puppy is most influenced by sound, and equally readily distracted by it. The native reasoning powers of young animals moreover, quite as pronounced as those of the human species, and relatively far surer. (Via Co.Design)
Artist Gabriel Schama demonstrates that lasers aren’t just for starships: He uses them to carve out incredibly intricate designs and patterns from materials such as wood, paper, and even leather. His works come alive with “surreal textures” that create a kinetic feeling, the kind you might get from studying a Magic Eye poster. There’s also the structural element, which lends his artwork literal depth as they seem almost excavated, blooming into mandalas and swirls.
The cool thing about Schama’s work is that it’s clearly informed by the natural world, some sporting the same frills as aquatic flowers and others looking like any garden-worthy blossom. There’s also a very rigid manmade feel to his work, though, not just in the precision with which he carves them but in some elements of his designs that look almost retro-futuristic chic.
Schama’s art is evolving, growing from his early hands-on approach that used mixed-media materials. In the description of his second Kickstarter project, he says:
“I have long been possessed with a desire to make my work bigger and more intricate at the same time. A modestly sized cut paper piece could take me weeks of nonstop work to execute. This project is not only the next step forward stylistically, but a means to achieve far more daring and exciting projects.”
In his first eleven years of life, the Serbian artist Dušan Krtolica has already exhibited his drawings at two nation-wide solo shows. He began his drawing career at two-years-old, displaying an astounding visual ability; since then, the prodigy has focussed his efforts on depicting wildlife and natural worlds, both existing and extinct. As with the notebooks of Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci, Krtolica’s pages are filled to their edges with rich anatomical and zoological studies. Though passionate about drawing, the fifth-grader hopes someday to pursue his passion for animals by becoming a zoologist.
Krtolica’s drawings magically marry a childlike sense of wonder with a more seasoned visual precision; though startlingly detailed and studiously seen, his work maintains a frenetic and unabashed curiosity. His ocean floors and vast jungles are seemingly blessed with creatures of different periods, as if more mature and evolved animals could intermingle with primordial beasts. The bodies of animals overlap in the midst of a wonderful chaos, and an armed knight is envisioned with the same degree of specificity as a tiny beetle.
Though powerfully scientific and unfalteringly observant, Krtolica’s images contain within their borders an ineffable quality of life and vitality, as seen through the rubbing of hybrid wings, the weaving of a spider web. The artist possesses both the awe-filled eye of a child and the technical ability to render his imaginings on paper, and that is a truly magical combination indeed. Take a look. (via Demilked)
For the series “Trialogo,” the Catholic photographer Gonzalo Orquin captured images of homosexual couples kissing in centuries-old Italian churches; beneath the ornate ceilings, the lovers’ embrace harmonizes with the architecture, elevating gay love to the religious beauty and devotion normally associated only with heterosexual marriages. By locating each shot within a religious and cultural context that has opposed marriage equality, Orquin courageously asserts the sacred validity of same-sex love.
The artist deliberately positions each pair at the church alter or in the center of the frame, visually uniting them under gilded crosses, vivid paintings of the crucifixion, and engravings of biblical passages. Like the churches themselves, architecturally built around the sacred concept of symmetry, the lovers are powerfully balanced, each assigned equal visual weight. Where one leans in for the kiss, the other braces to accommodate the movement. Heightening this notion of harmony and equilibrium, each couple is linked by similar clothing choices: two leather jackets, two dark suits, two soft cardigans.
Orquin’s lovers are seen as fully realized unit, unified under the Christian ideas of balance and wholeness. They complement and nurture one another as they bask in a golden glow, lit by radiant daylight steaming into the sacred spaces. Upon seeing these moving images, viewers might recognize the virtue and spiritual value that romantic love affords humanity, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Sadly, an exhibit of Orquin’s images, set to open last fall at the Galleria L’Opera, was legally threatened and ultimately shut down by the Vatican on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. In the eyes of the Catholic church, the photographs would “offend and infringe upon the advancement of man in the particular place for the expression of faith.” Orquin has articulated his outrage against the decision, and the work continues to spark passionate debate. What do you think? (via HuffPost)
With a somewhat brutal realness, artist (and YBA member) Tracey Emin confronts her viewers with work that is provocative, personal—and stakes claim to a sizeable piece of feminist-advised contemporary art landscape. She works in a variety of media, choosing to work in a combination of sculpture, painting and installation.
Her most recent body of work hinges on ideas of self-discovery, reflection and vulnerability. An installation of quiet, pleading text-based sculptures rest on tables surrounded by raw, harshly expressionist gouache drawings. It feels as though the work overall serves as some kind of confession, because it possesses a strange openness, even as the concepts float from neon to paper to projection.
I Followed You To The Sun is on view at Lehmann Maupin through June 30.
Peter Trevelyan’s incredible geometric sculptures are a thing of wonder being created out of fragile pencil lead. Fused together carefully with glue these delicate sculptures come in a range of sizes that will boggle the mind.
Patient careful craftsmanship, the slow meticulous creation of form through the assemblage of repeated elements and an interest in the architecture of space are characteristics of Peter Trevelyan’s elegant, refined works, which speak to the world’s structures but also to fragility and ethereality – both practically and metaphorically.
Forged from in his interest in the history of mathematics Trevelyan’s pieces, large and tiny, transit possibilities from antiquity through utopian architecture to future focused nanotechnology.
Drawing and sculpture are entwined in Peter Trevelyan’s practice with both two and three-dimensional works ‘drawn’ in fine pencil lead or created with paper. An investigation of the role of drawing is at the heart of his work. As he has said:
“A drawing is a plan, a preliminary visualisation of something to be undertaken in the physical world. Drawing is an ancient technology, a system for postulating, organising and mapping information about the physical world and manipulating it in order to change or affect that world.” (via)