The house is a shape everyone has some form of relationship with. Whether it symbolizes comfort, global financial crises in housing market, cookie cutter mediocrity or family, the house as a mundane symbol or object has been elevated to captivating experimental art and high art on several occasions. This weekend we share with you a selection of significant works that adapt houses into art objects.
Urs Fischer‘s Untitled (Bread House), constructed of bread, bread crumbs, wood, polyurethane foam, silicone, acrylic paint, screws, tape and rugs leaves every ingredient exposed. Stepping inside this large sculptural work recently at MOCA had the effect of walking inside a decaying fairytale, as the work is naturally allowed to crumble and decompose in exhibition. Stepping over piles of crusts of cinnamon raisin bread amidst dirty rugs and peering up at the bubbled polyeurythane foam that seeps between boards and rows of old bread, the viewer may feel any combination of wonder, amusement and fear- much like Grimms Brothers Fairytales.
An Te Liu‘s Title Deed evolved from the Leona Drive Project in Toronto where a number of vacant tract houses were offered to artists to be reinvented as artistic installations. As this project took place in 2009 in the height of the housing market crash, the artist observed that the simple shape of the existing house represented the 20th century iconic Monopoly board game house pieces. The simple, yet flawless execution of Title Deed situated within a functioning suburban neighborhood carries comical yet heavy implications.
If you’re like me you probably listen to podcast’s in your studio while you make work. Until now there has only been a handful of comedy and news related podcast’s to listen to but I’m happy to say that The Conversation: An Artist Podcast is here to entertain you and help pass the time while you make work in solitude. Started by Michael Shaw, The Conversation is an intimate one-on-one interview between Shaw and artists working in every medium imaginable. From painters such as Charles Irvin (pictured above) to photographers such as Lilly McElroy the podcast focuses on emerging and mid-career artists working internationally. Void of the usual heavy handed art speak that you’d find in some art publications, The Conversation feels like an informal chat between two creative people about the good, the bad, and the ugly side of being an artist. We at Beautiful/Decay are extremely excited to have a quality podcast out there focusing on art and we hope you are too. So make sure to visit their site, subscribe on iTunes, and maybe donate a buck or two!
Dan McPharlin is an illustrator who is concerned with the “future past or past future,” as he notes on his webpage. His artwork live in a realm of speculative reality, where space is the final frontier — or perhaps the first of a civilization beginning to rebuild itself.
There are dystopian touches in his illustrations: in one, an astronaut gazes on temple ruins; in another, we see the haggard remnants of a bridge that looks like it used to be golden. It’s a little reminiscent of the final scenes of Planet of the Apes, a familiar monument from a world long lost. McPharlin’s work utilizes rich colors that are once neon yet muted. His palette is one that includes the golden rod yellow of futuristic smog as well as the earth tones of somewhere decidedly not-Earth. There is certainly a quality of nostalgia to his work, though for what, we don’t necessarily know.
“These are the worlds of dreams and half-memories,” McPharlin says on his webpage. “The collision zone of past-futures and futures-past, derived from blueprints laid down decades earlier on the pages of battered sci-fi paperbacks, fantasy art books, and mid-century design quarterlies.” (via Dark Silence in Suburbia)
There will always be something magical about photo-realism, and UK artist Tom French adds just enough abstract brushwork to keep it interesting. The wildness of some of his mark making gives his pieces a real feeling of movement specific to the subject matter; the angry, chaotic bucking of a bull or the seeming tranquility of a boy slipping through space.
If you’ve ever taken a road trip, you are probably familiar with tourist attractions (also known as tourist traps). Caves are not an uncommon destination for these off-the-highway places, and are often ostentatious with not a lot of intellectual substance. Large-format photographer Austin Irving travelled across America and East Asia photographing these places, which were developed for weary travelers. She titled the series Show Caves.
The caves feature unnatural lighting, revolving doors, public restrooms, and man made design elements. There are penguins, for instance, that line the path of one interior and feels like a disingenuous attempt at showcasing the wonders of the wonders.
There aren’t any crowds in these photos, which allow us to see the attractions clearly. It also showcases the fact that these places are not much different than some place like a suburban shopping mall. (Via Artlog)
Austin Irving’s current exhibit, Portals, at Curio by AFN truly lives up to its name. Her pictures taken on medium and large format cameras seem like entranceways to secret headquarters or the opening images to an epic film. And no piece emitted that cinematic feeling more, then one taken right in the middle of a natural cave formation that was mounted onto a light-box. The color and shading of the rocks, which was amplified by the backlight, made the work seem 3 dimensional. It was almost like you could walk inside of the piece and hear the water actually dripping from the stalactites onto the floor. My advice is to start collecting Austin’s work now, before it’s totally out of reach.
Photographer Todd Davis doesn’t just take snapshots of gas and fluids, he creates beautiful, ever-interesting abstract images that are impressive and captivating. In his Viscosity Series, he presents different forms of smoke in hundreds of variations – as a colored lump, twisting and turning in on itself, or as a light and airy wisp, silently falling down and fading into the background. Reminiscent of lava lamps, or science experiments when you test different chemicals out against one another, Davis’ work is a gorgeous juxtaposition between weightlessness and form. The smoke exists on the boundary of disappearing or falling apart. Here’s an excerpt from his representative gallery:
The Viscosity Series is a photographic study of the fleeting, random shapes created when two or more dissimilar fluids are introduced. The series is called Viscosity because fluids of different densities permit a moment of suspension before they disseminate in the other giving one the appearance of being more viscous. (Source)
In true abstract fashion, his photos take on many different ideas and images. They can look like paint thrown at a wall and left to coagulate into gooey lumps, or some strange marshmallow cake that’s spilled over the edges of it’s dish, or like a blob of inks and dyes dumped into a glass of water.
Davis not only is able to flatter inanimate subjects (including beverages and tabletop set ups), he also takes beautiful portraiture photography, showing off his skill with intricate lighting configurations.
Christian Stearry is great example of what happens when one spends their entire youth skateboarding- it begins to permeate every aspect of your life. His illustrations are focused on the tongue-in-cheek jokes found in growing up “bad,” whether it’s through graffiti, drinking, or being that guy that brings his bong everywhere. Lucky for us, it works.