A humble kingdom of mountains dominates the geological park of Zhangye Danxia in China. The images are surreal, hard to believe they haven’t been photoshopped. Naturally formed of multi-colored layers, the mesmerizing rocks echo the intoxicating installations of Katharina Grosse. She creates an environment of massive abstract installations on where she sprays vivid horizontal and vertical colored lines.
The mountains are overlooking the world and we are observing their similar version in the work of Katharina Grosse. A bizarre unpredicted three way which leaves us, humans, feeling very small face to face with the immensity of creation.
They are both the result of a performance, nature’s on one hand, the artist’s on the other; leaving on site a charismatic scene. The colors on the mountains are the result of deposits of sandstones and other minerals that occured over 24 million years ago. The regularity of the juxtaposed colors is shocking, as if a human hand had meticulously traced those lines. Unthinkable; yet nature did it on its own.
Katharina Grosse, already featured in Beautiful/Decay for her incredible installations, uses space without any limits. Her art is, at times, perceived as graffiti art or outdoor paintings. Means by which she expresses herself as a vision and avoids to think about a separation between what’s inside and what’s outside. “When I’m painting I show what I’m thinking about the world I live in. I don’t make up a world”.
The artist Morehshin Allahyari has made a series called “Material Speculation ISIS” which are replicas of artworks destroyed by the Jihad extremist group. In a coo which recalls Nazi Germany and other Facist regimes ISIS has been systematically looting and destroying precious artifacts in Syria and Iraq. In response to this, Iranian-born Allahyari has produced a series which stands as a reminder of her culture’s history. Artwork serves as a link to a nation’s past. The ideas reflected in Allahyari’s work include that by taking over a nation you also destroy their history. The act by ISIS shows that art and artifacts are still seen as strong examples of ideas which can sway a nation. ISIS firmly rejects idolatry and is one of the reasons so many statues are being destroyed.
Allahyari’s pieces are produced using a 3D printing technique combined with plastic and each have a usb drive inserted. The usb carries all important information about the original piece and whether it was looted or destroyed. The artist sees this as an attempt at activism combined with archival importance. The pieces are beautiful replicas done with much care and meaning. Most are miniature versions of the original and possess a delicate vulnerability.
3D printing is a relatively new technique which takes a photographic image and prints it according to 3D standards. It is a breakthrough technology for many artists who see it as another way to execute drawings and sculpture effectively.
One of the hottest talents to come out of South Africa lately is painter Kurt Pio. His practice includes printmaking, painting and sculptural pieces, exploring many different topics. But the most eye catching of his works, I think, would be his diamond series. A collection of abstract, fragmented, striking paintings of jewels, diamonds, and gems, his canvases are a display of his sensitivity to color.
With a background in interior design, Pio thinks of the designer’s point of view while painting his fine art pieces. He likes to create work that will suit the environment they could be placed in, and is finely tuned to the colors and atmosphere of his surroundings. This may have something to do with growing up in the picturesque Cape Town and appreciating it’s unique aesthetic.
You are constantly told by foreigners that the city is very beautiful. It’s a constant thing that you hear. But until you go traveling and compare your city to other places, that’s when you realize that what they say is true. I wanted to pay patronage to my home, and to celebrate the beautiful place that I’m living in. (Source)
Pio says the things around him are a massive influence on him; they are the things that make him the most excited. So, taking mundane objects, he combines that with a love of colors and contrast to produce some beautiful work. The talented painter is looking forward to the future, and is currently obsessed with the idea of using gold in his work. But as we can see from Pio’s Diamond series, gold is not the only thing that glitters. (Via The Jealous Curator)
The art of cross-stitching is no longer reserved for floral patterns and butterflies. In a curious combination of erotica and a (usually) conservative medium, Brisbane-based artist Leah Emery has embroidered a series of pornographic images. The project began when Emery discovered explicit pictures that had missed the spam filters on her work computer. Imbued with mischief and a good sense of humor, Emery decided to learn how to cross-stitch while putting the images to use. In the above video, Emery discusses her content and “research”:
“[My porn scenes depict] human beings in the throes of carnality, which isn’t always attractive from the outside — it can sometimes be quite confronting and twisted and sweaty and hairy. And I really enjoy depicting those real moments. And doing the research is sitting on the computer looking through porn files on porn sites, which is a kind of funny career aspiration.”
Some of the images are hard to immediately discern — you might notice the gorgeous stitch work and colors before your eyes adjust to what they actually depict. Among masses of blurry skin and spread legs are a variety of sexual acts, from penetration, to threesomes, to voyeurism, to headstand cunnilingus. Somehow, the pixelated “censorship” makes the images more provocative, giving us a decent idea of what’s going on without the full visual satisfaction of high-definition.
Humor and eroticism aside, Emery’s artistic goal with her cross-stitch porn is to initiate conversation and sex positivity. She concludes the video with the following statement:
“It’s not the intention to shock. I just like the idea of contributing to a healthy sexual debate, which I don’t think we have a lot of in the media these days. I think we could all have a much healthier understanding and approach to topics of a sexual nature if we talk about it a little bit more.”
Antic staatsoper makes photographs which reference old religious renaissance paintings. These include themes about love, lust, faith, shame, and betrayal. The pictures created are striking and controversial. The nude and partially nude models are manipulated in such a way that they transform into more painterly forms. Staatsoper uses a technique which blurs the image to produce a hazy mind altering effect. The overall results are violently striking images which bring age old stories to light. The idea of carnal desire is present but not only in a sexual sense. There’s also the notion of an abnormal attraction to food and drugs. And a desire for power. The artist talks about our current state of spirituality which seems compromised from the old way of thinking. This is an astute conclusion as more earthly ways have come to define us and become more prevalent in “current religions”. Still, we are aware of a higher power whether imagined or real it surrounds us with the question of why am I here and for what reason? In that sense, Staatsoper captures the uncertainty we feel in extreme situations which usually define us. From an aesthetic viewpoint the work is powerfully done in its moving and raw depiction of circumstance. Using figures seemingly pulled from greek tragedy we see them in a modern light tracing our historical significance.
There is no real connections between the center pieces of Thomas Jackson’s pictures and the landscapes in the background. We are seeing tutus, magazines, cups and streamers floating candidly in a scenery of virgin mountains, forests and beaches. The artist is offering a dreamlike visual of what can be perceived as the last moments on earth of these peculiar items.
Each image, part of the emergent behavior series, is an experimental coalition of items placed where they don’t seem to belong. This juxtaposition creates at first a feeling of well being; we foremost notice the swirl and the nature. After a deeper glance at what is really going on there’s a hesitation: are these everyday things really the focus of this beauty? The emphasis is made on industrial versus natural; reality versus imagination. Thomas Jackson’s purpose is to come up with a fresh interpretation of our daily routines. Calling for a distress, if we are brave enough to face it, of what is really going on in our ecosystem.
There has been quite a few inquisition about how the pictures where taken. They were in fact photoshopped and kept as realistic as their originals. Thomas Jackson confesses that he photographed the whole thing and then only removed the prop using photoshop: On the spectrum between “retouched image” and “real time image”, I’ve strived to make it closer to the latter”. When a picture can create such a flow of different kind of emotions, there’s no need to question the retouching. What the artist has created is a hazy fantasy that we wish could appear in real life.
Kirk Cheng invites us to stop and smell the roses at his new solo exhibition “Circle of Life” at the Above Second gallery in Hong Kong. Cheng being a floral artist, he constructs fantastical floral sculptures that appear as if they derive from ecosystems from another planet. Flowers, which are often used as just a decoration, are now in full bloom as the main attraction. Cheng uses striking, vibrant colors with unique plants that are arranged in circles, taking over the gallery space in all their glory. Like every plant, these magnificent flora pieces will start to die, whither, and decay. Although this death is bittersweet, the artist intentionally shows this process, hence the title of the exhibition “Circle of Life.”
An organic beauty can be found in seeing different stages of the lifecycle of Cheng’s floral arrangements. Death is natural, but it always stems from life. The decaying plants have their own unique aesthetic, as their colors are now dark and their texture changed. Seeing the flowers transform into different colors and their pedals turn hard and crispy is both intriguing and interactive, as the exhibition becomes ever changing. No doubt if you saw Cheng’s work at the end of the exhibition, it would look like an entirely different show than at the beginning. Perhaps displaying the dead flowers next to the thriving ones makes the living flowers seem even more full and vivacious. Seeing such an honest example of the cycle of life holds its own tragic beauty, allowing us to experience the magnificence of life. (via Hi Fructose)
First grade school teacher Russell Powell takes a favorite children’s past time and has turned it into something awesome. Using ordinary acrylic paints, he builds up realistic portraits of celebrities, musicians or cultural icons on his palms, then while the paint is still wet, he stamps them onto paper. He calls the process ‘hand stamping’ and has no doubt developed his skill over the 14 years he has been teaching kids to explore their own creativity.
Powell is able to utilize the lines, textures and indents of his hands to add to the detail of the faces he paints. He has stamped the faces of many – from TuPac, to The Girl With The Pearl Earring; from Kurt Cobain, David Bowie and Gwen Stefani, to the Dalai Lama. Powell has also been working on some original artworks – or rather faces that he creates as he paints. His pieces usually have a empathy about them; it is easy to see the San Jose based artist is a lover of people, characters and their humanity.