In 2010 Fionna Banner installed Harrier And Jaguar at the Tate Britain. The massive installation juxtaposed real fighter planes inside the neo-classical gallery spaces. Weapons of mass destruction have never looked so good.
“According to Fiona Banner, Harrier and Jaguar are “ambiguous objects implying both captured beast and fallen trophy”. While the Sea Harrier was transformed into a “captive bird”, with feathered markings on its surface similar to the Harrier Hawk, the Jaguar lay belly-up on the floor with posture suggestive of a submissive animal”- Urban Ghosts
“We all hate war but these objects inspire a strange enthusiasm in us. When you reflect on their beauty it’s a strange thing, people say surely they are designed with an aesthetic in mind and, of course, they’re not. They are absolutely designed to function and that function is to kill, and that says something questionable about our aesthetic judgement and makes us ask questions about our moral position.” – Fionna Banner as told to The Guardian
A seemingly unlikely source of inspiration for contemporary artists, figurative sculpture has a long history. From the classical figure sculpture of Greek antiquity to African Yourba figurines artists have always had an inclination to depict the human form. Meeting the challenges of making such an old tradition new and relevant, these contemporary artists re-imagine the human form.
Contemporary master Jim Dine, often categorized as a pop artist, appropriated from art history. He selects icons, such as the Venus de Milo, to re-contextualize for a modern audience. Nathan Mabry draws from archaeology, Dadaism, surrealism and minimalism. He makes references across the art historical timeline, “crashing,” as he calls it, multiple aesthetics together. Interested in the impact of historical and mythological events on our collective consciousness, Katy Schimert creates sculptures that feel like they might have walked out of history. Fascinated with surface, Schimert uses her mediums to make the forms feel new, evoking a unique kind of introspection. Kevin Francis Gray’s work addresses the complex relationship between abstraction and figuration. He combines Neoclassical sculpture with an urban aesthetic. Fernando Botero is a Colombian artist who creates sculptures depicting people and other figures in large, exaggerated volume. The overstated features are meant to be humorous and generate political criticism.
Italian street artist Agostino Iacurci is one prolific muralist. His signature style has popped up around the globe in unique locations. The first image, one of the largest murals I’ve ever seen, dominates the side of a skyscraper in Taiwan. Consider the second set of photographs which can be found inside the walls of a maximum security prison near Rome. The third set is over 985 feet long and on a school in the Western Sahara. Iacurci’s singular narrative-like style has seen exhibitions and walls both small and large is a story told globally.
Upon running out of paper, the French illustrator DZO turned to unexpected canvases: a found skull and stones collected from the river. Following the curves of the bone and rock matter, the artist imagines monstrous and divine forms. Skulls, serving both as surface and as illustrative content, lend the pieces a distinctly foreboding current. Coiled upon itself, a serpent and a tentacled beast recall John Milton’s Satan, carrying with them notions of death and fallenness. As if gazing at her mirror reflection, a woman, quite like the Medusa with thick serpentine locks of hair, is imprisoned within the surface of a stone.
Despite all his allegorical references to death and decay, DZO imbues his stones and bones with an undeniable pulse of life. His fertile images, these doodles that turn in upon themselves with passionate vigor, are alive with creative energy. As the artist was inspired in part by Medieval artwork and alchemy, the stones may be viewed as modern-day interpretation of the Philosopher’s Stone, a legendary object said to be capable of transforming lead to gold and human being to immortal.
DZO’s art objects, serving as strange embodiments of both death and fertile abundance, much resemble Medieval and early Renaissance engravings like those created by Albrecht Dürer. Through his ecstatic use of religious symbolism, DZO leaves the interpretation of these magnificent objects to the viewer. The skull and stones may be turned in any which way; with the shifting perspective inherent in the medium, we might choose to see his pentagrams right-side up, denoting holiness and religious faith, or upside down, symbolizing corruption and death. Take a look. (via Colossal and Lost at E Minor)
Choreographer, Willi Dorner, brought together a group of artists in New York to participate in his performance piece, Bodies in Urban Space. The artists go around to different parts of Manhattan to confine themselves together into architecturally specific shapes, conveying the idea of the restrictions we face physically, emotionally, and spiritually living in such a structure dominant space.
I can’t look at Warwick Saint’s portfolio without blushing. His Ink series is dripping with bad girl sex appeal that will have you clicking the next button over and over to see all 85 images from the series. If that’s not enough reason to check out his work he also is an accomplished portrait, music, and celebrity photographer.
Caleb Brown paints real things — sharks, diving tigers, track stars — in a realistic manner. Deviation lies in the implausible situations he inserts his subjects into. Brown uses what he calls “elements of contemporary life” to set the stage for a bigger, more interesting angle on current events.