Photographer Kenji Shibata‘s latest exhibit, “Locked in the ether,” is full of contradictions. The flowers he photographs are dead but their last breaths are immortalized in ice. They’re floating in limbo, lost somewhere ineffable, blushing still with color and life.
Shibata arranges them carefully within their icy tombs, with as much care as any botanist would. Choreographed by an expert hand, the flowers become more than themselves: alien landscapes, abstract smears of color, stunning centerpieces veiled by frost.
Yet as tenderly as he gave them new life, Shibata also lets the ice thaw. He photographs the blossoms’ descent, depicting them as vulnerable, exposed, dying once more. It’s elegant but also a little tragic. It’s gorgeous maybe because it’s ephemeral — the transition from vibrant summer to autumn to a long, quiet winter.
Yuko Takada Keller creates detailed and intricate sculptures out of paper. Since 1996, she has been using small triangular pieces to create her designs, which she says “symbolizes something like a molecule.” Her work is inspired by dreams she’s had, and her delicate, cascading designs resonate with ethereality. She claims her work has also evolved over time since she’s realized the connection between the thin delicacy of the paper and skin membranes. From her website,
“Tracing paper has a transparency and an untransparency.
I’m interested in how tracing paper is like a skin membrane.
The skin membrane lies between dream and reality.
The skin membrane lies between consciousness and behavior.
The skin membrane is there when life is born.
The skin membrane is part of a human being.
I want to represent the space that people are aware of
The skin membrane is unconsciousness.”
Alexandra Levasseur’s complex paintings are filled with emotion and beauty. With heavy brushstrokes dripping with color, she creates scenes of tormented women in a strange world filled with golden halos, burning asteroids, and melting faces. These faces depict a deathly pale beauty that is often transformed and altered by thick globs of color or all encompassing flora. Levasseur explores themes of love and fear, anguish and unsatisfied desire in her body of work.
I am interested in depicting both the solitude and the bipolarity of the existence of the human being, through the representation of memories. I question the relationship between physical comfort and peace of mind, and how the environment around us can affect this state of mind.
Her women are set in scenes of rolling hills of flowers and palpable paint amongst other wilderness. However picturesque the setting may seem, there is a sense of distress and loss. Some of the women lie in a lush, colorful sea of flowers, but still have a look of distress on their face. There is repeatedly a flaming asteroid in the background, implying an impending doom. Levasseur beautifully portrays these women full of emotion, with an inevitable tragedy behind their eyes, if they even have eyes at all. Many of the faces have eyes hiding behind strokes of color, or holes where their eyes used to be. Each woman, beautiful in their own right, is lost and being engulfed in her equally as beautiful surroundings. All of the seeping colors, crushing flora, and heartbreaking women become meshed together in Levaseur’s paintings. She represents this world as a single organism, blending color and form.
Alexandra Levasseur’s solo exhibition Body of Land is on view now at Mirus Gallery in San Francisco.
Roman Klonek has a soft spot for old fashioned cartoons, especially east european styled prints that sit somewhere between folk art, pop, and propaganda graphics. In the 90s he studied Graphic Arts in Duesseldorf and discovered a passion for woodblock printing. For the last 10 years he has been creating posters with a wide range of whimsical creatures, mostly half animal/half human, preferential in awkward situations.
Texan photographer Sara Marjorie Strick‘s ongoing series Defining Mountains documents her experimentation with layering materials of dissimilar textures to create unique mountainscapes. More of her work from this series is shown below.
Photographer Brian McCarty combines the innocence of childhood with the horrors of war in his series WAR-TOYS. Violent scenes are reenacted with toys; Bombs are dropped on a pink plastic house, while toy soldiers gun down a giant-headed doll. McCarty’s source material is the drawings of children who live in war-torn areas like the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel.
The artist travelled to the sites where the children had been, which adds another level of sadness to these images. This project is not just the undertaking of McCarty, but he pairs with other aid workers as well. From his artist statement:
Employing principles of expressive art therapy, my process begins with observation and guided interaction with children under the care of humanitarian organizations operating in areas of active conflict. Specialized therapists and caregivers conduct art-based interviews on my behalf, inviting children to draw pictures about their lives and experiences. The resulting illustrations serve as art direction and basis for photographic exploration.
McCarty tries to involve the tiny artists, too, and uses toys that are acquired locally. You’ll see that a Disney Princess is in the line of fire. He writes:
When possible and under the guidance of specialists, I invite the children to actively participate and use the photographic process as a form of therapeutic play. The resulting photographs provide an interpretive document of witnessed events and context for the children’s accounts.
McCarty plans to continue this project and travel to Afghanistan, Sudan, and Colombia. (Via Huffington Post)
Typically, the art of drawing focuses on the finished product – the marks left on the paper that form an image. Heather Hansen‘s Emptied Gestures is as much a performance piece as it is a drawing. Appearing to use charcoal or pastel, Hansen literally steps on to the paper and begins to draw. She allows the natural movements of her body – the movements of joints, the extension of her back, stretching and contracting – to define her lines. The large-scale drawing becomes a kind of record of her moving body. Interestingly she says:
“Emptying Gestures is an experiment in kinetic drawing. In this series, I am searching for ways to download my movement directly onto paper, emptying gestures from one form to another and creating something new in the process.”