Joseph Parra is an artist working with the human portrait and figure. While he obviously draws and paints very well, Parra is not necessarily concerned with perfectly replicating what someone looks like. He finds this notion limiting to an artist; after all, a photo or realistic painting can only go so far. You’ve made someone look like their outward appearance, but now what?
Parra strives to delve deeper into the figure or portrait and reveal what is unseen. His work questions what it means to be human using a couple of different methods. One way is through layers. Aside from a portrait, he adds of media that distorts the face or the body. Parra scrapes, pricks, and sands his subjects. In his words, this is “acting as reminders that we are merely a union of ideas.” Additionally, he will cut, braid, or fold paper as a way to express the complex nature of humanity. Oneself (directly below) is the same portrait but manipulated in three different ways. It references the fractured, multiple, and twisted ways we often view ourselves. Some days we think we’re great, while others we are loathsome.
Much of Parra’s work is screen prints and digital prints, which I think enhance his ideas and again parallels the human experience. We see these images mutilated and/or distorted, and they look very textural. Yet up close, they are mostly reproduced images and have a smooth sheen – the rawness is kept contained. I compare it to having a friend who appears very put together on the surface, but beneath you know they are a mess.
Parra was featured last year on Beautiful/Decay, not long after graduating college. Since then, he’s created more work that focuses on the braiding or manipulating of paper, which are some of my favorite pieces. I’m looking forward to seeing where Parra goes from here.
Canadian artist Shary Boyle’s beautiful sculptures know no bounds. Her physically delicate yet intrinsically powerful ceramic pieces push boundaries of the real, stretching seemingly ordinary moments into fantastical satire of historic dark realities. Her work explores the complexity of power dynamics, addressing a vast array of social structures including gender politics, colonialism, and exoticism. Her work exists in a state of quiet conflict; it is fragile, precious, and plays on notions of traditionalist elegant aesthetics, while simultaneously delivering sharp intellectual puns that are clever, sophisticated, and some how, even through the visual distortion, perfectly intellectually exact. For example, her piece Family (2010) features a pilgrim man and woman sitting by a fire made up of a totem pole reminiscent pile of a decapitated heads.
Along side her ceramic sculpture practice, Boyle is also prolific artist in a endless variety of media spanning painting, performance, and film, to name a few. The artist also does beautiful “live drawing” collaborations with musicians. She has worked with artists such as Feist, Peaches, and Christine Fellows.
Shary Boyle has won various awards including The Hnatyshyn Foundation Award and the Gershon Iskowitz Prize. She has shown her work at prestigious institutions such as the Centre Ppmpidou, The National Gallery of Canada, and The Art Gallery of Ontario. She exhibited at the 2010 Canadian Biennial as well as the 2013 Venice Biennale.
Welcome to Planet Earth is the story of the extremely unique Jody Pendarvis and his 30 foot UFO he built in his front yard in the small town of Bowman, SC. After a sighting of alien life forms, Jody built the giant UFO as a place to welcome aliens when they return. All though visitors are welcomed to check out this unique and slightly odd landmark, Jody hopes that he will one day see the return of his friends from the sky. Watch the full documentary by michael livingston for Pioneer Docs after the jump.
“Compassion,” Arabic calligraphy, Issé – France (2014).
In a stunning series of images that blend photography, calligraphy, and performance art, Nantes-based artist Julien Breton (aka Kaalam) uses light and dance to “paint” beautiful and fleeting characters into the air. Inspired by a combination of Latin and Arabic writing styles, each piece is captured on long-exposure film while the artist creates his inscriptions using colored lamps and careful, intention-filled movements. As a living, artistic response to the environment, the designs are matched in compositional harmony to the surrounding backdrop, be it an underpass in New York, an abandoned building in France, or a magnificent hall in India. Each performance lasts several minutes and is then transformed into a single frame, transcending the boundaries of time and our perception of light.
On his biography page, Breton is quoted as explaining his choice of medium, which is rooted in a synchrony of bodily and spiritual practice: “a white sheet is too limiting. To paint on a canvas, however large, means in any case a limit within which I do not feel myself free to express my whole being. Only light is really infinite. The only limit is the air” (Source). Exploring infinitude, Breton’s images demonstrate the seemingly contradictory nature of light; it is bright and endless, yet also fleeting and enveloped by darkness. Both presence and absence are at play in the photographs; the artist disappears while his physical, expressive “trace” (the writing) remains behind. In these pieces, subjectivity and self-expression become greater, geometric portraits of universal energies.
Vlad Mamyshev-Monroe is a master of camouflage and likes to play as many different people as possible. If the three artists are recounting the failure of being the engine of image making in a self-focused narrative role, Mamyshev-Monroe fills a role which makes failure the fate of her life. In the 2005 video ‘John and Marylin’, he tells the supposedly true love story of John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe which remains shrouded in any number of conspiracy theories to this day. (from Artfacts)
Jowhara AlSaud makes hybrid photo/drawings that dance with anonymity and censorship. Jowhara started working with this subject after noticing commercial photos altered in Saudi Arabia, seeing “…skirts lengthened and sleeves crudely added with black markers in magazines or blurred out faces on billboards.” She then applied the censors’ language to her personal photographs. The work is strangely readable for giving so few clues away.
Dictaphone Parcel is an animation based on a sound recorded with a dictaphone travelling secretly inside a parcel. As the hidden recorder travels through the global mail system, from London to Helsinki, it captures the unexpected. We hear a mixture of abstract sounds, various types of transport and even discussions between the mail workers. The animation visualizes this journey by creating an imaginary documentary. By Lauri Warsta
C E R A S O L I gallery is pleased to present a pair of exhibitions by two artists producing graphically bold works that blur the distinctions between the natural and synthetic worlds: David O’Brien: ‘Explosions in a Mental Sky’ in Gallery One and Tofer Chin: ‘Double Dip’ in Gallery Two.
Opens March 14, 2009, and remains on view through April 15, 2009. Opening reception is Saturday, March 14, from 6 – 9pm.