Walking the line between fine art and craft, Brent Owens has a characteristic style of woodworking that he incorporates with a somewhat irreverent sense of humor and applies to a myriad of subjects. Conspicuously hand-carved, embracing the flaws and all, Owens enhances his imperfect look by selecting wood with notable imperfections. The casual woodwork is not a comment on Owens’ talents. Rather it is done to emphasize the fact that the human hand has influenced the material. Conceptually, Owens works from the notion that humans have a tendency to render nature amenable to their own agenda. Describing this “healthy disrespect for nature” as a “shameless manipulation of a gorgeous natural material,” Owens considers his woodworking to be “imposing his own desires on the material” in the name of progressing culture.
Owens’ exploration of craft takes him in several directions. His “Turkish rugs,” for instance, are carved freehand and modeled after Googled images. These works are juxtaposed with carved paintings of appropriated text of medical queries and responses, which have been translated from Chinese to English. The results are a mix of park signage and conceptual art exhibited as a confused mix of words that have lost the nuance of human translation. The works becomes symbolic of how epically the human desire to understand and control everything so often fails.
Both funny and frightening Owens’ works are ultimately a representation of the fact that craft as fine art becomes a commentary on fine art itself. Thereby becoming commentary on culture, and human nature at large.
Socialist-era monuments dot the countryside of the lands that once made up Yugoslavia, many of them World War II and concentration camp memorials. The majority of the the monuments were commissioned by then president Josip Broz Tito during the 1960’s and 70’s. Photographer Jan Kempenaers toured the countries that once made up Yugoslavia to document the monuments in this series of photographs. With the fall of socialism and the disintegration of Yugoslavia, the monuments were largely abandoned. The monuments’ neglect is apparent and contrasts severely against their futuristic aesthetic.
The grouping of monuments have not only been abandoned by visitors but also their meaning and symbolism. They ask serious questions regarding the nature of monuments in the sculptural tradition. What is a memorial when it no longer memorializes anything?
Edrem, (merde backwards), is a collaborative sketchblog from three French/Belgian designer-illustrators: Sébastien Paquereau, David Zazurca, and Steven Burke. The concept of the project, as is instantly evident to the viewer, is based in achieving volume. Paquereau, Zazurca, and Burke just want to get as many whimsical, stream-of-consciousness graphics out into the world as possible. In Burke’s words:
“We like not to say who we are when we talk about Edrem, because this is not the point of the blog. We try to get…massive numbers of experimentations and funny things [onto the blog], but we don’t care if the drawing is well done or not, it just has to be understandable…”
We all have a tendency to get heavily involved in our various projects, exerting microscopic levels of control on our output. Edrem reminds us that pulling off the reigns a little bit can yield many fruitful results. The Edrem crew staged an exhibition in Spring of 2010 at Michard Ardillier in Bordeaux entitled, “La Palissade”.
From Instagram to the Flickr, clenched nail art shots are ubiquitous– ranging from classic solids to wild patterns; however, I’m pretty sure Alice Bartlett holds court as best in show. Moving beyond simple fashion trends, Bartlett artistically installs miniature scenes on the tips of her fingers: clad green flocking covers each nail, creating a tranquil resting place for tiny figures to contemplate the massive scope and delicacy of the world.
As part of our ongoing partnership with Feature Shoot, Beautiful/Decay is sharing Alison Zavos’ article on Matthew Albanese.
“DIY Paradise” was constructed from cotton, salt, cooked sugar, tin foil, feathers & canvas.
My work involves the construction of small-scale meticulously detailed models using various materials and objects to create emotive landscapes. Every aspect from the construction to the lighting of the final model is painstakingly pre-planned using methods which force the viewers perspective when photographed from a specific angle. Using a mixture of photographic techniques such as scale, depth of field, white balance and lighting I am able to drastically alter the appearance of my materials.—Matthew Albanese
Matthew Albanese is a fine art photographer from New Jersey who specializes in creating and photographing miniatures from common household objects and materials. “New Life I” (pictured above) was constructed using painted parchment paper, thread, hand dyed ostrich feathers, carved chocolate, wire, raffia, masking tape, coffee, synthetic potting moss and cotton.
Hailing from Valencia, Spain, Vinz Feel Free’s large scale wheat paste street art installations where nude women’s heads are replaced with bird heads and the heads of business men are altered to look like reptiles.
“Birds and naked people are extracted from the book of Genesis in the Bible. Mayas, Aztechs, Sumerians etc. talk about the figure of reptile as the animals which take control over us, like police in our world. And the frog appears in Apocalypse scenes and is responsible for Humanity disasters. This is why I use them to build men in suit characters.” (via)
Artaksiniya is a Russian girl who’s “lifeblood is fashion for the moment.” Her illustrations are whimsical and odd yet altogether quite endearing. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her work in Vogue sometime next Spring or something.