The work of Los Angeles based artist Nike Schroeder is full of a complex hybrid of mediums, as she integrates textiles, painting, and installation into her art. Her installations are creates from fiber where the colors of the threads have a very intentional meaning, as they draw their palette from the hues of the horizon at dawn. In one installation, the thread cascades to the floor, dripping off the canvas. Schroeder includes this same aesthetic in many of her other works, including her embroidery. The artist creates portraits out of needle and thread, with certain colors of thread hanging loose so to draw your eye to certain areas. Often, these bright colors and hanging thread come from the subject’s eyes or lips. Other times, this thread is not hanging loose, but cutting across to the other side of the canvas, dissecting the composition with multi-colored fibers. The harsh line Schroeder imposes onto her portraits guides your eye to specific elements.
As if Schroeder’s fiber-based installations and intricate embroideries were not impressive enough, many of her textile pieces are extremely large. Her nude portraits of women, which examine the beauty ideals of the female body, are actually life-size! These, again, contain long, hanging thread pouring down from certain elements, jolting our eyes to an “unlikely” part of the women; their pubic hair. This series among others in Schroeder’s expansive body of work include not only thread but paint as well. The artist often applies paint like she does fiber, with flowing drips. Schroeder’s work can be seen on view at Walter Maciel Gallery in Los Angeles from May 30th through July 11th.
The installations of Michel Blazy grow, flow, and froth. Like much of his work, Blazy’s latest installation, titled Bouquet Final, makes use of white foam. Inside a French Medieval church, the foam tumbles from high scaffolding to the floor. The pliable, moving, and ever changing foam contrasts with the sense of permanence in the centuries old cathedral. Blazy alludes to a change and mortality by using materials such as foam, an unstable medium in perpetual transformation. The foamy flow could also reference the earth and neglect for its environment. The installation resembles uncontrollable detergent suds – a product that is at once used to clean our homes and also a poisonous pollutant to the earth and its waters.
Born in Belgium in 1969, Anja Van Herle combines a European sense of high fashion in her artwork with an American sense of wonder. Her childhood years were devoted to exploring the fundamentals of her art using crayons, pencils and watercolors. In 1987, she enrolled in Belgium’s Higher Institute for Art Education where she earned a Master’s of Fine Arts in Painting. In 2003, Anja relocated to Los Angeles, where she now concentrates on figurative paintings that are inspired by both classic and contemporary fashion while exploring issues of identity, emotion and human interrelationships. As timelessly chic as Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Anja’s women are playfully sexy, and their expressions and eyes tell stories that go far beyond the simple exhibition of fine fashion. In Anja’s masterful hands, fashion becomes alive.
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Last year Beautiful Decay featured Paola Pivi’s 360 Degree Rotating Airplane in New York City Plaza. Pivi is making art headlines again with her fantastical feather-clad polar bears. Influenced by the surrealists, Pivi’s plumed bears walk the line between dream and reality. They are her version of the ready-made. Prone to “visions,” Pivi says that she often sees animals located in a strange setting. For her most recent show, entitled Ok, you are better than me, so what?, at Galerie Perrotin’s new space in New York, Pivi created a series of sculptures influenced by a vision she had of a polar bear dancing with a grizzly bear. Rather than taxidermy actual animals, Pivi had an expert create bears from urethane foam, plastic, and feathers. The results are fantastic in the truest sense of the word. Meaning, they are imaginative, fanciful and slightly absurd.
In proper surrealist fashion the bears engage an element of surprise and unusual juxtapositions, which Pivi strives to create with all her work. The bears, for instance, embody several contradictions. All at once they are both real and whimsical, frightening and amusing, and serious and absurd. Mostly though, they seem like a lot of fun.
Pivi has lived all over the world, but currently resides in New Delhi, India. Her show that opened Sept 18th at Galerie Perrotin’s New York location will be up through October 26th.
Beautiful/Decay spent the last three days at the Pool Tradeshow in Las Vagas. Throughout our time, we met a lot of fun and interesting people. For me, the one person that stands out the most was probably the nicest. Sacramento Artist Skinner is one hell of a rad dude. His work is insane and his attention to detail is on point. Skinner continues to pump out amazing piece after piece and before you know it, this guy is going to blow up. Make sure to check out his site for some well priced pieces. Keep it up dude!
Lotta van Droom is an Ireland-based (Germany-born) photographer whose otherworldly images explore the landscapes of bodies and dreams. Inspired by artists such as Andy Warhol and Francisco de Goya, Lotta’s style is a beautiful mix of surrealism and romanticism. Characterizing her work are unnatural portraits and dream-like scenes, such as a man with hands smothering his face, and a woman with ghostly, skeletal wings and a collection of spherical eyes. Lotta’s nude photographs are similarly unconventional; draped in sheets resembling funeral shrouds, her mysterious subjects twist and struggle against their coverings, like resurrected beings, or butterflies about to erupt from a cocoon. When I asked Lotta how she would identify her style, she explained:
“I think my photographic style is surreal […]. Many of my photos are the result of stories, formed in my mind. They are little excerpts of my thoughts which I try to reflect this way. It’s not important for me to show reality. I want to show my world of fantasy and wishes.”
By not striving to portray the material real-world, Lotta’s goal is to inspire the imagination and trigger alternative perceptions. Her nude photographs, for example, are not about objectified sex and desire, but instead an exploration of the body’s architecture. “The human body is an outstanding construction and it would be sad if nudity is only associated with sexuality,” she writes. “The sheets are a medium to hide the absolute nudity to create an unreal character. The form becomes perfected or alienated, so the bodies look like sculptures.” By obscuring the faces, Lotta allows us to perceive the divine symmetry and strength of the human form.
The surrealist Dreamworld photos likewise stimulate the mind. By altering reality, Lotta uncovers a hidden emotional world that exists inside all of us. Just like the strange and beautiful images we see in our sleep, her photographs encourage subjective interpretation. In “Mitternachtstheater,” for example, some may see a death, while others, a resurrection; the character in “sector absorption” may be seen as frightening, impassive, or melancholic. This is Lotta’s intention, as she explains: “I hope when people look at my work, they could descend into their own dreamworlds.”
Hungarian photographer Bence Bakonyi‘s series Dignity is a clearly personal one. The white arctic-like landscape is contrasted against deep black fields. The inky pools seem to be light swallowing and even begin to envelop a figure in some images. Bakonyi’s photographs are intensely lonely. Referring to the series, he speaks about a distinction between the body and mind as expressed in the photos.
Speaking about struggles between the two he relates, “It’s so alluring, sometimes as if the will of the body would want to swallow me, leaving my thoughts behind, but then comes the soul to pull me back.”
The advent of Google maps was eventful for the general public – it became the first time most of us had access to these views of earth. However, it also turned out to be problematic for some governements. Some governments obscure areas they deem too sensitive to appear on Google maps. This is generally done by simple blurring or covering an area with a white or black box. In his series Dutch Landscapes, Mishka Henner presents the unique censorship of the Dutch countryside. The Dutch forgo simpler censorship methods for a strangely attractive one. Variously shaped and colored polygons cover sites the government would rather keep off the map. Inadvertently (or perhaps intentionally) the Dutch government abstracts the landscape in way that fits in well with an artistic tradition.