British artist Richard Galpin has developed a very specific method which he uses to create all of his work, going all the way back to 2001. He shoots photographs in cities and then takes a scalpel to them, stripping away pieces of the image until a new kind of image of urban space – a very futuristic urban space – emerges. So while he is imagining the future, we can still see the vestiges of the past.
Sydney-based illustrator, Jirat Patradoon, creates strong, masculine, and drama-packed illustrations of masked protagonists inside an almost comic book-like world. He recently featured his work at a solo show in the Sydney-based Boutwell Draper Gallery, and has made an appearance in our new Beautiful/Decay Book 4.
Tatiana Blass built a human body that leans over the spine of a chair. She built this body out of wax and gave it a spotlight to shine; however, its glow not only illuminated, but also curdled the figure’s shape with heat. Arms broke off and bone emerged. Soon the body itself was only spine.
Spine against spine.
On another day, at another location or time, Blass built another body, a lying down one. The heat was not on the back, but instead rising from below. The body melted and there was no bone. Only a puddle of wax, something similar to where the body began.
The dissolution is the performance, the performer is the object: it moves to mirror our horror, to show its aliveness: our aliveness.
This concept of sculpture as a temporary structure feels relative to Urs Fischer’s own monolithic candlelit figures which also weaken over time. Both generate a sense of narrative that we relate to instantly– feelings of loss or devastation amidst chaos. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Wax to wax. What slips through our fingers: a certain temperature from day to day. We cannot gauge. An inevitable ritual.
The music must come to an end, and it does, especially for Blass’s other installation (video above), as Thiago Curry pounds five easy pieces on the keys, while two men pour melted paraffin into the grand piano.
Megan Van Groll paints women– mediating on the fine line between nakedness and nudity, or how these two concepts relate to freedom or identity. Likewise, from bathing in cocoa puffs to sensually brawling at a donut shop, her food motif is an interesting one, often working in tandem with the female form– provoking thoughts of fetish from the outside, but also, a much more personal and complicated binging ceremony.
Of her own craft, Groll states, “My narrative portraits of women are, at their core, a painted attempt to understand and portray how modern women create identity and meaning from the world around them. I am interested in exploring the way we perform our projected ideal personas, for ourselves and for others.”
Mexican photographer Alinka Echeverria’sThe Road to Tepeyac , for which she won the prestigious French prize HSBC Prix pour la Photographie is a typology of the backs of three hundred Mexican pilgrims on their journey to the Basilica de Guadalupe in Mexico city. This yearly pilgrimage is undertaken by approximately six million devout Catholics on the anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe in 1531 to the indigenous man Juan Diego. This journey is a manifestation of the iconic power of the Virgin, whose image was miraculously imposed onto Juan Diego’s cloak. Belief in the apparitions and their evidence, the ‘sacred image of a miracle and a miracle of images’, marks a turning point in the struggle for power of the Spanish conquerors, for whom evangelizing was imperative to the success of the empire. They successfully conquered the imagination using imagery as a tool for acculturation and domination in an already extremely visual indigenous culture.
The pilgrims photographed, carry their own reproduction of the Virgin – paintings, sculptures, posters or cloaks of the icon, taken from home and shouldered on their backs to the place of the apparition. The journey is an arduous one, a physical and spiritual undertaking with each pilgrim bearing their own evidence of devotion whilst enforcing their own personal relationship with the Virgin. Echeverria takes each portrait separately, which is then cut and transposed onto a plain background. This de-contextualisation is intended to raise the subject above the corporal world, making them appear like an isolated icon.
Seen as a series, each portrait creates a dialogue with the others. A narrative of interconnecting personal missions removed from the rest of the elements originally in the image. The sheer number of portraits helps to create a visual maze of similarities and differences. With the surrounding landscape removed we are struck by the contrasting richly colored Virgins and muted tones of the pilgrims.
Cattelan’s personal art practice has led to him gaining a reputation as an art scene’s joker. One of his best known sculptures, ‘La Nona Ora’ consists of an effigy of Pope John Paul II in full ceremonial dress being crushed by a meteor and is a good example of his typically humorous approach to work. Another of Cattelan’s quirks is his use of a ‘stand-in’ in media interviews equipped with a stock of evasive answers and non-sensical explanations.
Somehow along with doing Beautiful/Decay, making my own art and occasionally sleeping, I have also been teaching a class called “Exploring The Los Angeles Art Scene” at UCLA for the last six months. The word “teaching” actually might be a bit misleading as we don’t meet in a classroom, and there are no tests or lectures. It’s more like a series of field trips that we take to some of the most exciting galleries, artist’s studios, and collections in and around Los Angeles. We meet at a new location on the first Saturday of every month and get an insiders view into some of the major (and aspiring major) players in the LA art scene. I never bothered posting about the class on here but it occurred to me that it may be interesting to some of you out there in blog land.
Starting in January I’ll be teaching the class once again and visiting a whole slew of new galleries and artists all around town. There are around 25 slots for the class and half are already filled so If you’re looking for something fun to do on Saturday mornings sign up and join professor Amir!