German painter Jens Hesse’s work is influenced by digital glitches and distortions. Cleverly using corduroy fabric as a base, Hesse creates fragmented images that are abstract and representational at once showing a glimpse of reality and creating unexpected abstract moments via imperfections in technology.
Ah Xian is a Chinese-Australian artist whose beautiful porcelain busts explore the intersections between artistic tradition, cultural identity, and the body. Sculpting each statue in the likeness of his family members, Ah Xian paints over their dreaming faces with a cobalt blue glaze; tree branches grow across temples, flowers bloom over silent mouths, and necks and shoulders become geographies for mountains and lakes.
Drawing on an enduring fascination for the human form, Ah Xian’s creations exude a sense of mystery and otherworldliness, transcending history as embodiments of a living past: their very “skin” is made of materials used in traditional Chinese craft methods. Ah Xian’s intent, however, is not to show the disjunction between past and present, but rather how such heritages have ongoing relevance and meaning in the present-day world. As he states in an interview with Craft Australia:
When I think about human history and civilization, it always appears to be like a string: one extreme is old time and tradition; current and contemporary is the other. Interestingly, when we turn and join the two extremes together, it forms a perfect circle and creates a new language of art.
This is why I choose traditional materials and hand craft those materials; our ancestors have created and handed down to us such wealthy and brilliant art and culture heritage. Why don’t we use such a rich and meaningful deposit as our resources to develop and create our new art and culture? (Source)
When viewing Ah Xian’s work through a contemporary lens, there lies the potential criticism that his busts — like the porcelain vases that preceded them in the nineteenth century — evoke an imperialist form of exoticism; that is, just because they are objects of beauty, they speak to a tradition of cultural appropriation. Ah Xian, however, maintains that no matter what context in which porcelain is crafted, it is always a valuable and admired art form:
“Porcelain is beautiful and meaningful, not necessary just for meeting the exotic appreciation among some of the western people only, but for the whole human society, for every single human being, I believe.” (Source)
At first glance, the artwork of Alexandra Bastien appears to be photographs of a nude woman with a variety of skulls. However, the artist unbelievably renders her hyper-realistic drawings from layer upon layers of color pencil. Bastien’s astonishing ability to create such incredibly detailed drawings allows her to beautifully show the human body in a state of transition. The heavy symbolism that has long been attached to the skull in art history represents death. Bastien illustrates this concept in contrast to the soft, warm body of the nude woman. The women in her work are holding the skulls, embracing whatever darkness they may bring. In one drawing, both skull and human have even merged together in perfect balance. This balance of life and death is shown in a state of transition and transformation, exploring themes of rebirth and the afterlife. Seeing the many different skulls amongst a human in its natural state may be reminiscent to human origins and ancestry.
Bastien’s incredible, artistic skill and talent can be seen in this photorealistic series titled Taming the Beast. She finds inspiration in her natural fascination with the human body and form. The accomplishments of this Canadian artist are just as impressive as her skill. Her work has been included in several publications and magazines as well as been exhibited all over the world.
Australian born and now London based artist Nick Sheehy illustrates awesome quirky, street art inspired scenes of fantastical hybrid characters. His work marries ideas from both aspects of low and high brow art; the playfulness and sort of dark humor moments of skeletons and overwhelming string that is reminiscent of veins (or, perhaps they are veins that are reminiscent of string?) winks to the aesthetic from both graffiti and comic book culture. Yet, there is a true classic beauty within each drawing, highlighting Sheehy’s talent and admiration for traditionalist draftsmanship. It is clear from his work that his attention to detail and disciplined drawing style has been developed from an intense labour of love, employing master technique and classic methods. Sheehy originally studied bronze sculpture “in the wilds of Tasmania,” (perhaps giving him the inspiration for such inventive animal-creature centered work!). He then “gave up on art only to re-discover his love for drawing whilst living in London.” Each of his pieces is unique to his practice and full of imagination, cleverness, and sophistication. Sheehy‘s work, he notes, “explores the dreamlike, sometimes semi-autobiographical scenes and oddball characters that echo from his childhood imagination.”
By day Alan E. Brown is a mild mannered bookstore employee in Bear, Delaware. At night he transforms himself into Medusawolf and paints quaint little portraits of demons, beasts, and robots – each radiating their own agonizing, pulsating energies. These intensely hued dimensions merge bits of insanity, beauty, and humor and crunch it all down into a fun but very warped output. I got a chance to catch up with Medusawolf to find out what he is up to…