Alison Moritsugu is an artist based in Beacon, NY, who paints pieces of fallen trees with scenes of idealized nature. Her works recall the landscape paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly those of Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Edwin Church. Following the contours of the logs, she revisions their origins as trees, painting deep forests, still lakes, mountain waterfalls, and autumnal skies. The log paintings serve a dual function: first, to acknowledge and meditate on the beauty of nature, much like the artists of the Hudson River School did; second, to contrast this romanticism with the signs of its destruction—the dead wood on which the scenes appear.
“My work reveals how idealized images of the land shape our concept of the natural world—in essence, how our experiences are mediated by the mechanisms of art and culture,” Moritsugu writes in her artist’s statement (Source). Throughout history, artists have appropriated and interpreted nature, turning lush imagery into cultural symbols of peace, exploration, sublimity, and abundance. These were the types of stories that fostered an idea that nature was somehow separate from us, a land of fantasy that eventually grew to be exploited. Today, as Moritsugu points out, “photoshopped images of verdant forests and unspoiled beaches invite us to vacation and sightsee, providing a false sense of assurance that the wilderness will always exist” (Source). By producing a conflict between the serene imagery and the dead wood, Moritsugu faces us with our roles in the environment’s uncertain future.
German artist Felix Schramm likes to make sculptures that confuse you. He uses pieces of drywood, paint, steel frames and paint to recreate parts of architecture matching the space that they inhabit, but are very different than what you would expect. His highly formalized sculptures are a bit like architecture that has stopped pretending to hold itself up. They can be huge chunks of material that have been dumped in the room from a construction site by accident, or shoved through the wall like an art install that has gone bad. Resembling crumpled paper, or layers of torn posters on a lamp post, Schramm makes subtle comments about space, form, structure and the nature of materials with his work.
These group of photos are from a series called ‘Intersection’, and act exactly as that – they intersect, interrupt and divide the space like we wouldn’t expect. The sculptural fragments are reminders of the temporal spaces we inhabit – that architecture is only a fabrication and is easily destructible. These splinters of construction serve to disorientate the viewer. Schramm is able to warp our understanding of these mundane spaces purely by placing chunks of industrial material where they shouldn’t be.
The destroyed fragments of drywall wrapping themselves around existing columns and leaning butted up against pristine gallery walls are beautifully disturbing. Schramm’s work also features formalized ceramics, pieces made from plaster and paint, and smaller versions of ruined architecture. His installations act as a visual reminder of the grey area between chaos and order. These large scale replicas are both gently delicate and immensely strong. To see more contradictions and opposites at play against each other in Schramm’s work, go here.
Photographer Patrick Willocq grew up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its culture has shaped his work as an adult. In the series I am Walé Respect Me, Willocq provides us with a peek into tribal traditions that are still practiced in the DR Congo. These particular photographs create a narrative that portrays the stories of primiparous (first-time) nursing mothers. They are colorful scenes featuring compositions that are set like a stage, as we see objects hanging from a not-so-invisible string. Willocq speaks more about his images that blend the truth with the fantastical:
I’ve always been fascinated by native tribes because I feel they have a wealth that we have somehow lost. To document this beautiful tribute to motherhood, fertility and femininity, I proposed to some Walés to participate in staged photographs. Each set-up worked as a visual representation of one of the subjects that the Walé would sing about on the day of her release from seclusion. On that day, she sings the story of her own loneliness, and with humor praises her own behavior while discrediting her Walé rivals. (Via Juxtapoz)
London based production team Sam&Sam have created a great mini documentary on British illustrator Jake Blanchard that gets into the artists process of printmaking, his anxieties of being a freelance illustrator, and his favorite projects. Watch the full documentary after the jump.
Noah Becker has curated a sweet show of Canadian artists, Six Degrees of Separation, at Claire Oliver. It’s nice to see what’s happening in the Canadian metropolises of Vancouver and Toronto, and the bulk of the artists are from these two cities. The show covers a wide range of approaches, from the pop-optical abstractions of Ben Van Netten to Becker’s own highly detailed ink drawings. Becker’s drawings make a nice metaphor for the artists he selected for the show; he’s making connections and building relationships that go beyond superficial resemblances. Six Degrees will be up until November 13th.
Beautiful/Decay has partnered with premiere website building platform Made With Color to bring you some of the most exciting contemporary artists working today. Made With Color allows you to create a website that is professional and easy to use with just a few clicks and no coding. This week we bring you the Deconstructed geometric abstractions of Benjamin Gardner!
Great things can be found in the mid-west such as the work of DeMoines, Iowa based painter and sculptor Benjamin Gardner. When we usually think about geometric abstraction we think of razor precision lines and carefully calculated angles. However Gardner bucks the norm by presenting a deconstructed geometry where it’s angles bend and sway in ways more aligned with abstract expressionism. Creating both sculpture and paintings (and often a combination of both) Gardner’s work calls upon the visual language of mystic texts, constellations, mandalas and hex signs combined with found objects and materials for surprising results that make us ponder the space between intuitive mark making and mathematical precision.
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Studio Swine‘s Azusa Murkakmi and Alexander Groves specialize in creating exquisite designs out of discarded objects (aka trash). For the pair’s latest project, they turned to an alternative unwanted material: discarded locks of human hair. With it, the designers at Studio Swine created Hair Highway, a series of beautiful functional and decorative objects that mimic the look and texture of hardwood but are in fact made of human hair. Mixed with resins and dye, the hair turns to a hard material, one that becomes a potential functional and decorative piece of art work. Each of the objects in the series looks as if it is carved from tropical wood, horn, and tortoise shell yet they were produced at a fraction of the cost with the human hair. According to the duo, hair is in many ways a perfect sustainable resource. It grows up to 16 times faster than many tropical hardwoods, and it’s incredibly strong as well.