Josh Keyes‘s new solo exhibition, Sprout, will be on display at the David B. Smith Gallery (located at 825 Santa Fe Drive), beginning May 30th through July 3rd. Presenting a series of new paintings with a focus on the theme of overgrowth, Sprout delves into Keyes’s vocabulary of imagery, intertwining animals and objects to create a simultaneously mysterious and unsettling juxtaposition between the natural and the manmade landscape. Keyes’s body of work conveys anxious and realistic visions of a possible future due to current global warming predictions.
The artist collective Quiet Ensemble are skilled at making the mundane feel monumental, or at least worth noting. Their installation/ performance art Quintetto is naturally composed of a quintet of goldfish. The little fish may not realize it, but their movements are of consequence. Placed in tall tanks, the vertical movements of the fish are monitored and converted into sound. Each fish is assigned a separate tank. The installation seems to give some sort of order to the random, and in a strange way lend gravity to something that is trivial. Check out the video to see the fish in action in full performance art glory!
Calvin Ho is an Australian artist currently living in Hong Kong. Since 1997, Ho has worked on a wide range of projects that cover design, art direction, illustration & motion for the music, fashion, art, film & entertainment industries.
In this stunning project titled I Am Dust, photographer Olivier Valsecchi has created powerful images that embody the essence of creation and the will to survive. Currently, the project is divided between two series: “Dust” and “Time of War.” While both series depict models frozen in dynamic poses as ashes erupt off and around their bodies, there are slight thematic differences. “Dust” explores creation using Ovid’s definition of Chaos as “a crude and indigested mass, a lifeless lump, unfashioned and unframed” (Source) — essentially, an embryonic ball of matter that explodes into being. Valsecchi likens this concept to the Big Bang theory. What fascinates him is how these preexisting, scattered elements eventually fuse together, despite having once existed elsewhere in another form. Thus, in his work, he seeks to explore the reincarnation and infinitude of matter:
“What I looked for in the ‘Dust’ series was to curve around the timeline like a circle and capture, in the same image, something and its opposite, like endings and beginnings, dead and alive, floating in water and flying in dust, so in the end the viewer can never know when it starts and when it ends.”
The models in “Dust” capture this atemporal moment of creation perfectly. Their bodies are frozen in time and space, but with their eyes closed, they become expressions of pure energy. The ashes erupting off their skin resemble particles of their physical bodies being sent back into Chaos as matter lost in the violence of creation.
Ashes, of course, often occupy our imagination as symbols of death and a return to the earth. These associations make their explosive presence doubly significant in Valsecchi’s second series, “Time of War.” Inspired by the photographer’s fascination with Time, these particular images explore how Time is a circular phenomenon, and that we, as living beings, always seem to be fighting against it. As Valsecchi writes:
“I wanted pictures that would blur the viewer’s perception of before and after, and maybe, think about [the present moment]. Thinking about now, about our impermanence and our urge to live, in regards to our environment. Wars, conflicts, power, money: it is a struggle. That’s why ‘Time of War’ […] was more about surviving, standing up to the tests, [and] going forward.”
Demonstrating survival, the models twist and turn against an unseen threat, pushing against the darkness that surrounds them, while ash signifying their own material death sheds from their skin. Valsecchi has made powerfully visible our eternal struggle against mortality.
Curious about how Valsecchi created these dynamic shots, I asked him about his creative process. Not surprisingly, his method was just as interesting as the philosophies and perspectives driving his work. Each photo session was a ritual achieved in stages of inspired motion, mimicking the slow-but-accelerating process of creation itself. He describes the method as such:
“Before anything, I would explain the intention and say: ‘The ashes symbolize Death and it wants to [cover] you but you have to get rid of it.’ Or: ‘Close your eyes, you don’t want the ashes to blind you, plus you will focus on your energy and forget you’re naked.’ […] Then the model would undress and kneel down. I would shower him or her with ashes. […] Then I would stand in front of the model and show what kind of movement I’m expecting to shoot. […] The model and I are gradually sharing a trance, because the process is three or four hours long, and in the end, due to the jumping, swirling, and the closed eyes, you kind of lose your marks and only [feel] the energy.”
At this point, the challenge would be to capture the ashes before they diffuse into the air. But it goes without saying that the results are remarkable, and each dynamic photo captures the body’s struggle amidst and against Chaos.
Valsecchi hinted that there will be a third chapter in the I Am Dust series, which he will be working on this summer. Check out his website and follow his Facebook page to keep up with his compelling and thought-provoking work.
It’s really hard to pull off a painting with a white center but somehow Greg Bogin has done it. With a minimal amount of paint and some carefully shaped canvases greg manages to create beautiful work that packs a powerful punch. It also doesn’t hurt that he jam packs his work with one of my favorite things in life…gradients!
The lovely Catlin Moore of Mark Moore Gallery was so kind as to provide Beautiful/Decay with a sneak-peak at Kiel Johnson’s upcoming exhibition entitled “Publish or Perish.” If you’re unfamiliar with Kiel Johnson’s work, his work, he creates transmorphic drawings, paintings and sculpture that seem to synthesize the ever-expanding media explosion through a kind of personal narrative. Really lovely line work, almost animation-like. Check out tons of amazing studio shots and the artist at work after the jump.
The surreal photographs by Christopher McKenney are haunting, as a (mostly) faceless figure interacts with a deserted environment. The desaturated images are shot in the middle of the woods, a corn field, a lake, and back country roads. Sometimes, we see a ghost. Other times, a man is lit on fire. Whatever the situation, McKenney crafts a quietly desperate image.
The photographer recently told art blog iGNANT that he one day found himself in the woods with nothing but a sheet, chair, and frame. He placed the sheet over his head and photoshopped his body out. He tells iGnant, I like taking away identity when photographing and to leave people thinking. “I only make the photos I do to express myself and what other people see or think is up to them, as long as I make them feel anything I’m ok with that.”
Personally, I experience cognitive dissonance when looking at McKenney’s work. I find a lot of these images disturbing yet beautifully composed.. For instance, the photo Fragile Perspective (above) features someone with a burning box over their head. Formally, the colors are rich and the orange of the fire is stunning against the blues, browns, and grays. But, then I study the content of the photograph and realize that it depicts someone who is essentially set on fire.
Not all of McKenney’s photographs are like that. Other times, they are simply whimsical and nonsensical. In Let Go, a suitcase with a balloon tied to the handle stays on the ground as its owner floats away. Another photograph has a chair in an empty field with a pair of hands (only hands, no body), infinitely holding a mirror. It’s these photographs I enjoy more – ones that are odd, but don’t communicate utter despair. (Via iGNANT)
Sometimes I wish I was a monkey who traveled to exotic places like space. Until that happens I can just watch this video created as a collaboration between World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Ben Lee and Leo Burnett, “Space Monkey” carries a message about our planet, and features Ben Lee’s track, “Song for the Divine Mother of the Universe”.