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C. Owen’s Stunning Portraits Of Taxidermied Animals

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C. Owen Lavoie’s (better know as C. Owen) series of photographs entitled Trophies captures the emergence of exotic creatures out of darkness. Because they are shrouded in so much darkness, these portraits at first seem to be taken in close proximity to live animals, but Lavoie is able to get so close to these beasts because they are taxidermied. This creates a haunting and mysterious effect that reflects on ideas about preservation, death, and hunting. The lens captures the preserved expressions of the creatures’ vulnerability, creating a sort of double preservation of the dead animal that stares right back at us. Lavoie says that she considers the series “a way of bringing the animals back to life for the public eye. It’s sort of like a third generation; first the animal was born, then hunted and handed over to a taxidermist so it can be displayed and finally in the end, modified by my lens.”

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Hirotoshi Ito’s Rocks and Stones Look Like Anything But

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When not attending to his family’s masonry business, Hirotoshi Ito turns a more playful eye to the stones of his work day.  Hirotoshi deftly works stone transforming it into sculptures that appear to be anything but the hard material.  Rocks look as if they’re thin skinned pouches, melting like butter, and laughing faces.  Hirotoshi’s sculptures – their playful forms and use of material – betray the artists sense of humor and a desire to pleasantly surprise the viewer.  Indeed, the artist’s statement says that his work welcomes  a laugh and a smile.

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Studio Visit: Tom Sanford

Tom Sanford had me over to his spacious basement studio in Tribeca this past Saturday.  I became aware of Sanford’s work in 2008 when I saw his show “Mr. Hangover” at Leo Koenig, Inc.  Tom’s main project is capturing our rapid-fire digital culture in the slow language of painting.  If it’s in the news – it’s likely fodder for his paintings.  When we watch TV, a pop star’s recent public tantrum is covered with the same attention as the death count in a war zone.  Tom doesn’t try to adjust the playing field between pop culture and world events – he conflates them.  But when that happens in a painting the dissonance is in your face in a way that it isn’t on TV.  For instance, in a new large-scale painting, Bill Murray (as a red capped Steve Zissou from The Life Aquatic) is being held at gun point by pirates off the coast of Somalia.  It’s inexplicably poignant – maybe because I care about the character from a movie?  Sanford speaks eloquently about how painting is slow media, and how we’re all enmeshed in fast media – he has a sign up in his studio that sums it up as “The worse the better.”

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Nikolay Saveliev

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New York based graphic designer/artist Nikolay Saveliev channels a host of perspectives within his work; sometimes funky, occasionally quirky and consistently sophisticated. Nikolay has a way with conceptual translations – transforming & developing the simplest of ideas across a broad spectrum of mediums – imbuing any viewer with an increased curiosity and a desire to see more, more, more, of work!

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Carly Waito is Crystal Clear

Carly Waito’s paintings are so crystal clear you have to look twice to make sure they’re not photos. They’re all oil paintings on panel and I’ve gotta say, this is one girl who has surely mastered her craft. She’s picked such interesting gems as subjects, and represents them flawlessly. I’m just as enamored with every new one I see as I was with the one before. She exhibits with Narwhal Art Projects in Toronto, Canada, if you’re lucky enough to be in the area, I’m sure they’re breathtaking in person. 

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Nicholas Nyland’s Colorful Abstractions

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Nicholas Nyland is a Washington-based artist who creates paintings, sculptures and installations.  Stating that his work is “driven by a fascination with the life of form, the nature of creation and the will to decorate,” Nyland makes works that are abstract, but contain references to history and traditional craft sources.  Embracing abstraction because as he says, “it is generous and capacious, able to absorb and then release a multitude of references,” Nyland does in fact draw from a myriad of sources.  For his most recent solo show in Seattle, Physical Speculations on a Future State, Nyland incorporated inspiration from Chinese scholar’s stones, Japanese gardens, Early American decorative traditions and 1970s design.  Despite such wide-ranging influences, Nyland manages to create works that are at once formally engaging and conceptually inquisitive.  Nyland leaves room for a viewer to consider material, gesture and form, but enigmatic historical references also provide inquiry into the way we define and identify objects.

There is lightheartedness to Nyland’s work that borders on humorous.  A viewer can tell that Nyland enjoyed making whatever object she is observing.  The lack of seriousness involved in Nyland’s works further promotes active questioning about material, influence and formal choice.  Moreover, the tactile quality of Nyland’s work makes it all the more engaging.  Bordering on craft with some of his works, Nyland’s pieces are all distinctly handmade.  There is a purposeful clumsiness to them that is charming and endearing.

Recent winner of a Contemporary Northwest Art Award, Nyland’s work will be on view at the Portland Art Museum through January 12, 2014.

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“Broads, Boobs and Buckles: The Pinball Art of Dave Christensen”

Broads, Boobs and Buckles: The Pinball Art of Dave Christensen

Kristi Engle Gallery is proud to present its last show of the season, “Broads, Boobs and Buckles: The Pinball Art of Dave Christensen” on view from July 11th – August 8th, 2009.

While the mechanics of pinball were developed by engineers, the illustrations were handled by graphic artists. This work included the back glass and the playing field of each machine. Curated by local collector, Mark Andresen, this exhibition features the work of acclaimed pinball machine artist, Dave Christensen. 11 pinball machines will display Christensen’s graphics as well as the original artwork used in fabrication and drawings for proposed and/or rejected versions and prototypes.

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Allison Schulnik’s Claymation Film “Eager” Is A Dark Journey Through A Beautifully Bizarre World

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Allison Schulnik’s 2014 claymation and stop-motion film Eager is a bizarre dance of the beautifully macabre. At 8 minutes and 30 seconds, it is her longest film to date — and perhaps her darkest, portraying a peaceful, ritualistic world that spirals in and out of violent, psychedelic chaos. The story begins in an opaque, supernatural world, devoid of light, before the viewer is guided into the heart of a strange forest. Traversing these unpredictable landscapes is a cast of misfits: the multiplying, skeletal specters, who open the film with their haunting, synchronized dance; flowers with faces that pulsate and transmogrify into mouths, labia, and cavernous expressions of joy and despair; and the eyeless, fleshy horse, with his lolling tongue and genitalia, who plods along with an almost human ungainliness.

What makes the film so stunning and dark — aside from the endearing absurdity of its characters — is how quickly and easily the world of Eager oscillates between compassion and cruelty. Take the skeletal specters, for instance, who, after completing their ritual, eviscerate each other and don the bloody skins like cloaks. The flowers, too, live in a world of beauty and menace, as they dance and devour each other. Despite the darkness, Schulnik’s treatment of her “monsters” is based in love and fascination; as she said in an interview with Beautiful/Decay in 2012,

“I’m drawn to these characters, for some reason. There’s something about the sad or pathetic kind of character that I like. There’s something sad about them, yet […]  it’s comforting to know that [they are] maybe not real.”

In Schulnik’s surreal and metamorphosing universe, she has created a vast creative space wherein she explores the vicissitudes of life, and furthermore, celebrates the heart-wrenching beauty of what is normally seen as “dark,” “forlorn,” or “rejected.”

Schulnik also works in other mediums; her paintings, seen here, reflect the layered, whirling, and melting style of her claymation. Check out her webpage for links to her other films. And, as it has been advised, make sure you turn the lights down and the volume up as you experience Eager. More stills from the film after the jump. (Via Juxtapoz)

Credit: Zieher Smith & Horton (NY); Mark Moore Gallery (LA). Original soundtrack by Aaron M. Olson.

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