Sculptor John Bisbee has been working exclusively with nails for the last 30 years. He finds seemingly endless ways to bend, weld, hammer and manipulate the nails into large, striking, elegant sculptures. His installations include large wall murals of geometric patterns, three dimensional flower shapes, robust seed pods, intricate star bursts, and delicately twisted spirals. Most of his forms are based off ideas of flora or fauna, on either a magnified or minute scale. He proves that even an industrial material can be coerced into something graceful, and even flimsy.
Bisbee’s mantra is “only nails, always different”, and he uses it as a guideline or reminder that you don’t need much to push the boundaries and to be creative. Narrowing his materials down even further, he has for the last decade limited himself to 12 inch steel nails known as ‘bright common’. Treating the nails as lines, Bisbee says there is not much he can’t do with this wonder material.
Bisbee discovered the potential for nails completely by chance. While rummaging through an abandoned house during his years as a college student, looking for raw materials, he came across a lump of nails, fused together in the shape of the bucket that had held them. He then proceeded to explore just how far he could corrupt the nature of nails and used them as a drawing tool and as an inspiration in and of themselves.
You think that you would sort of choke off your options and potential, the more you keep excavating a single item, but I find it’s the opposite – it explodes. There are so many amazing tangents that I haven’t had the time to take; so many great insights that are buried years back, so it’s ever expanding, this mundane object. I’m quite happy saying now that I will only work with nails. (Source)
Through elegantly beautiful works, Vandana Jain uses corporate logos and symbols, to study the effects of institutionalized repression. Her metaphor, an illusory philanthropy implies how corporations subliminally demoralize and enslave cultures. Her depiction manifests most commonly in an architectural setting, and through icons of religious nature including mandalas and totems. These logos are beautifully manipulated by Jain into mesmerizing works, that distract from the symbol’s intended purpose. Mostly working in installation, Jain engages all media in this format including drawing, sewing, painting and video. Her most recent project, “Dazzle” is the result of her residency at Brooklyn’s Smack Mellon. For the project, Jain created a series of murals, inspired by naval camouflage used during world war l. Before sonar, brightly colored lines were painted on warships in various patterns. These were used to confuse the enemy of a ship’s size, speed and direction. Jain applied the same technique to the huge interior walls of Smack Mellon. In colored artist’s tape, her familiar corporate logos are masked behind camouflage, which continues her conversation with the corrupt and exploitive nature of corporate brands. Her training as a textile designer comes through in the pattern making ability needed to make the walls come alive. The dazzling lines recall circus tents and opt art made in the 60’s and 70’s.
Off the coast of Hinoba-an in the Negros Islands region of the Philippines, artist Azuma Makoto has constructed a floating, 13-foot-tall bouquet of Heliconia flowers and banana leaves. Shimmering against the ocean horizon in stark contrasts of red, green, and blue, the installation rises like a paradisiac mirage. Entitled “In Bloom #2,” the project juxtaposes terrestrial environments with the sea, bringing art and floral life where there would otherwise be open space. The following artist’s statement describes the construction and context of the art-island:
“A 4-meters long botanical sculpture consist[ing] of approximately 10,000 red Heliconia [was] installed on a simple raft used by the local fisherman. With nothing block[ing] the harsh sunlight, blown by salted water, the sculpture of flowers quietly floated in the cobalt blue ocean. The ocean accounts [for] 70% of the surface of the earth, and therefore it created [a] magnificent stage for the project.” (Source)
Following “Exobiotanica” — an exceptional project wherein Azuma sent boticanical arrangements into the stratosphere — “Bloom #2” demonstrates his creative goal to explore the visual and thematic effects of putting flowers in “environments where nature does not allow them to exist” (Source). The result is a detached form of beauty. Azuma’s work brings up questions of nature and place, and, by doing so, fosters an appreciation for the Earth’s harsh, disparate, and yet ultimately connected environments.
London based artist Phil Toledano’s provocative “A New Kind Of Beauty” series examines the extreme lengths people go to alter, change, and morph their appearance through plastic surgery and other cosmetic alterations. Balancing on the verge of not looking human these individuals are pushing the limits of identity politics.
“I’m interested in what we define as beauty, when we choose to create it ourselves. Beauty has always been a currency, and now that we finally have the technological means to mint our own, what choices do we make? Is beauty informed by contemporary culture? By history? Or is it defined by the surgeon’s hand? Can we identify physical trends that vary from decade to decade, or is beauty timeless? When we re-make ourselves, are we revealing our true character, or are we stripping away our very identity? Perhaps we are creating a new kind of beauty. An amalgam of surgery, art, and popular culture? And if so, are the results the vanguard of human induced evolution?”
Bianca Stone’s poetry comics are funny, raw, and endearingly sad. Because You Love You Come Apart, her latest collection of surreal illustrations are born from and combined with her own original poetry, published by Factory Hollow, an indie press out of Hadley, MA.
Stone’s blunt tethering between youth and adulthood travels by waves of sorrow and astute blitheness into our darkest nights. For instance, her lines of poetry range from “The crazy, absent fathers, all breaking wind in a fire” to “but this is also your life made with your clumsy hands” and merge with a messy scratch of passionate drawings to gutturally expose a ripcord above our own tired hearts. With each image/text juxtaposition, the need to tug grows harder and tougher, encouraging more half-wounded narratives to release.
Betlejuice must be hiding inside LA based artist Mark Licari, becuase his work is creepy-cool with lots of charisma. I’m seriously digging his sculptural pieces, especially the medicine cabinet. Go see his show up through February 14th at the Montery Museum of Art, or check him out at Honor Fraser Gallery.
Photographer Kenji Shibata‘s latest exhibit, “Locked in the ether,” is full of contradictions. The flowers he photographs are dead but their last breaths are immortalized in ice. They’re floating in limbo, lost somewhere ineffable, blushing still with color and life.
Shibata arranges them carefully within their icy tombs, with as much care as any botanist would. Choreographed by an expert hand, the flowers become more than themselves: alien landscapes, abstract smears of color, stunning centerpieces veiled by frost.
Yet as tenderly as he gave them new life, Shibata also lets the ice thaw. He photographs the blossoms’ descent, depicting them as vulnerable, exposed, dying once more. It’s elegant but also a little tragic. It’s gorgeous maybe because it’s ephemeral — the transition from vibrant summer to autumn to a long, quiet winter.
Heeseop Yoon‘s large-scale installations explore storage and debris — items that occupy space in our lives. Yoon’s method varies between collage and pen, and plays on notions of memory and perception of clutter over time. The finished work doesn’t feel finished as it swells over the space it inhabits, sketched and redrawn, different from every angle and space.