Until recently I was unfamiliar with the artist Alex Ebstein, but I am glad to have rectified my lack of awareness. There is an honesty to Ebstein’s work that I find readily engaging. The use of yarn or string in an artist’s practice can often shift the aesthetic towards a decidedly crafty end result, but Ebstein manages to use the material with such purpose that it might as well be a drawn line in an architectural blue print. The effectiveness of the work hinges on her ability to merge direct compositional tactics with a more playful approach to the selected materials. Ebstein’s use of string also elevates the intentionality of her mark marking, and then quickly reasserts itself as a method of creating illusory depth in what would otherwise be relatively flat pieces. Taught angular moments combined with purposefully relaxed textures start a visual conversation that I am more than happy to participate in.
I could have just included the ‘eye chart’ pieces because I found them extremely aesthetically pleasing, but the back-story provides a bit of insight that I think most would enjoy. Think of it as a ‘Director’s Commentary’ for the work. Courtesy of Miss Ebstein, “…then for the eye chart pieces. They are more of a weird reflection on (and obsession with) eyesight and my existing eye problems that force me to visit the doctor every month. I’ve had four eye surgeries in three years… I am always nervously checking my vision against things, one eye at a time, so these drawings were kind of my own dark humored joke about being an artist and constantly worrying about my vision.” I am of the belief that ‘going blind’ is one of (if not) the most terrifying things any artist could imagine, and I appreciate the candor with which she addresses what could be an immobilizing reality to those with a more pessimistic outlook on life. Ebstein will be starting grad school this fall, and I am eager to see how this focused environment will affect her work. I also encourage anyone interested in contemporary art to check out the consistently interesting programming at Nudashank – a gallery she co-runs with Seth Adelsberger in the Baltimore area.
New York-based artist Lucas Blalock constructs images that are photographed in film and then uses digital overlapping and editing to distort. The work’s overlapping elements, merging and mutilation of pattern and playfulness of colour show Blalock’s clear experimentation with humour and absurdity. Check more out after the jump.
Los Angeles based artist Bovey Lee uses one single sheet of Chinese rice paper to cut and construct her unbelievably intricate urban scenes. The winding compositions she creates with simple positive and negative space forms a topsy-turvy world of concrete jungles, mountains, and wild flora. Even the clouds present in her work are fantastical as they swirl around the buildings like smoke. Bovey Lee’s process begins with rendering the composition digitally on a computer. She then prints these images and hand cuts each little detail into creation. These whimsical, impossible worlds are so complex you can search through the cut paper for hours, noticing small details like a person balancing across a tightrope, or a city floating on a cloud in the distance. Even the trucks passing by have unique patterns on each one.
Bovey Lee explains that her work is full of tension between mankind and our environment; a power struggle between two forces. Her work explores the intensions and actions of humans and the affect it has on our surroundings. Lee’s process can be tedious and time consuming, but at the same time meditative. The artist further explains her relationship with working with cut paper. (via Faith is Torment)
“My work is like drawing with a knife and is rooted in my study of Chinese calligraphy and pencil drawing. Cutting paper is a visceral reaction and natural response to my affection for immediacy, detail, and subtlety. The physical and mental demand from cutting is extreme and thrilling, slows me down and allows me to think clearly and decisively.”
Li Hui, a conceptual artist born in the (a term which is often used here) post-70’s decade, creates a lot of his work with automobiles and “custom laser array, Laser Night Module, waterjet cutting machines, and laser engraving machines” in his arsenal. He’s even welded two front parts of a car together and turned yet another car into a pink sofa. Check out his video interview on The Creator’s Project.
We featured the illustrations of Australian artist Tom Littleson (aka, Dilly) in 2011, and he is also one of the artists featured in Beautiful/Decay’s Book 9, which examines the seven deadly sins through the lens of contemporary art. Dilly’s illustrations fall into the “Wrath” category, but there are many more incredible artists to explore in Book 9, including Jeremy Kost’s sexually-charged and explorative Polaroids (Lust), and Libby Black’s colorful paper sculptures of coveted, material possessions (Envy). For centuries, the seven sins have influenced the Western imagination in discerning “good” behavior from “bad” impulses, and Book 9 gives you the exclusive opportunity to see how groundbreaking artists are navigating these distinctions in the present-day world.
Dilly’s illustrations are a drastic combination of immaculate detail and excessive rage. In a series titled The Mind’s Apocalypse, Dilly has drawn the hyper-realistic portraits of various men, capturing everything from their individual hairs to wrinkles and beard scruff. The contemplative beauty of these pieces, however, is shattered by the grotesque, self-mutilating acts the men are engaged in; with expressions of passion and madness, they tear open their own skin, self-cannibalize, and anoint themselves in blood. Some of them are screaming in what could be pain or rage. The greyscale faces with bright red gore are brutally beautiful, and despite their stomach-turning intensity, it is hard to look away.
Limited copies of Book 9 are still available on the B/D shop. Click here to grab yours before they are gone for good.
This video by Crystal Castles for their Baptism release is low budget as hell but gets the point across. Pull out your Halloween vampire teeth, start crying, put on some spandex, and jump around til you’re dizzy. Once you’re done take a deep breath and repeat!
Guillermo Lorca is a Chilean artist who infuses Baroque- and Renaissance-influenced paintings with touches of surrealism, fantasy, and paranoia. In scenes of luxury and violence, bright-haired children wander around in the company of shadowy, mythical beasts. The classical style and carefully planned (and almost theatrical) compositions lend Lorca’s works an air of gravitas and serenity, but among his innocent and otherworldly characters are signs of deep trouble and impending chaos, such as smoke-filled skies, bloodied animal carcasses, and snarling dogs. Similar to the Flemish vanitas, his works are beautiful, symbolic visions that teeter on the verge of becoming nightmares of death and human excess.
The ambiguity that permeates from Lorca’s paintings allows him to tell stories through metaphor, thereby exploring the shape of the human soul. Just as fairy tales transmit their veiled messages across generations, his imagery can be unpacked to uncover layers of meaning. For example, there is savagery and madness in the dogs that demolish a pristine-white table setting into a mountain of blood and gore; there is obscenity and greed in the animal-headed clowns who topple over platters of uneaten meat; and the child sitting courageously in the burning field alludes to a loss of innocence. The beautiful thing about Lorca’s works, however, is that their immense detail and seductive atmosphere allows the viewer to extract his or her own meaning, one that resonates across time to masterfully portray symptoms of the human psyche and experience.