Cattelan’s personal art practice has led to him gaining a reputation as an art scene’s joker. One of his best known sculptures, ‘La Nona Ora’ consists of an effigy of Pope John Paul II in full ceremonial dress being crushed by a meteor and is a good example of his typically humorous approach to work. Another of Cattelan’s quirks is his use of a ‘stand-in’ in media interviews equipped with a stock of evasive answers and non-sensical explanations.
The Nairobi-based artist, Michael Soi, was asked by The Center for African Family Studies (CAFS), a Nairobi-based international NGO, to work along their side in order to create an eye-catching condom line with pop art-inspired packaging to promote safe sex and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS.
Soi is primarily known for his satirical commentary on socio-political issues (political impunity, greed and Kenya’s growing sex industry). Unafraid to shy away from taboo subjects like sex and interracial relationships, the artist was more than happy to collaborate with the NGO on this important project.
“I felt like everybody is basically trying to deal with this whole issue — HIV, unwanted pregnancies — and when I talk about everybody I mean the church is doing whatever they can, the government is doing whatever they can.I felt the project was a good thing. I wanted to try to chip in and create something that would help fight a good fight.”
Soi’s visual work offers a grounded and relatable aesthetic that engages with the targeted public in a very fun way; his subjects are modern, often interracial couples or young women drinking Tusker, a popular Kenyan beer brand. His “pop-art condoms” are meant to attract young buyers who might otherwise face social stigma.
According to CNN, the project is in its on its first stages, and they are asking for funding on Indiegogo. (Via CNN)
In Hair Pieces, the photographer Rebecca Drolen examines the relationship between human beings and our hair, highlighting the impulse to deem body hair beautiful or strange. Inspired by what she calls the “archival” power of hair to outlive the rest of the human body, Drolen engages with hair pieces in comical and yet starkly emotional narratives. In the striking series, human hair transforms from ornamentation to elixir to parasite, creating a poignant work that elevates the mundane to the transcendent.
With clever titles like Hair Tie and Ear Hair, Drolen’s images read in part as a modern take on 1960s feminist photography; her carefully staged self-portraits are shot in black and white, revealing the rich grays of her vintage garments, retro decor, and and outdated shears. The home serves as the backdrop to the artist’s exploration of a more domestic femininity. In turn, the luxurious tresses and the house engage in both harmonious and conflicting dialogues: expertly styled hair dresses the windows in one image, yet in another, it uncontrollably discharges from the bathtub drain.
In her apparent nod to both women’s and photographic history, Drolen addresses the association between hair and death, or the ability of hair to document and catalog human existence. Hair fills the medicine cabinet as if promising to cure disease; it covers a foggy, indefinitely seen window to a mysterious space beyond. Like relics of years gone by, hair hangs on a wall, labeled and numbered by tally marks. Without a hint of sentimentality, a pair of shears and a head of hair lay side by side on a cleared out bed, evocative of an individual’s absence and passing. Take a look. (via Lenscratch)
It is hard to summarize what Ben Jones does. One, overly broad, way to describe his work is that Jones creates genre defying art in a wide range of media, and within his oeuvre there are a lot of nooks and crannies, each of which has its own special ideas and charm. His creative work has been enthusiastically followed by artists since the late 1990s through zines, underground animations, painting and sculpture. I remember seeing something called Paper Rad on the internet around 2003 or 4, and being mesmerized by the bold drawing and color, and, not to be cheesy, but there was also a contagious sense of joy. The imagery remixed pop culture with high cultural stuff like abstract painting. A few years later, towards 2007, the broader popular culture became aware of Jones through his animated television series Problem Solverz, and more recently his new series entitled Stone Quackers. All of the work seems to hover half in the subconscious, placing seemingly real and present iconological formations alongside impossible or wonderful subconscious riffs. In Jones’s work it feels like half the colors are colors, the other half are memories.
Jones has a new exhibition opening Saturday July 11th at Ace Gallery in L.A from 7 to 9pm, and you can see the show until September. This is a major show that is going to transform the gallery. You will be immersed in both high-tech painting and the ladder sculptures we discuss in the interview. His televison show, Stone Quackers, has recently aired new episodes on FXX in the Animation Domination block, and you can see his animations all over the internet and on Hulu.
Robert Ryan Cory is an animation character designer currently working on Nickelodeon’s Spongebob Squarepants. Over at his flickr (linked to his name at the beginning of this post), Cory has posted some fantastic character sketches from the show. I haven’t watched Spongebob in a few years now but I don’t remember it being quite this violent and grotesque. His drawings are like Ren and Stimpy meets Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. Perhaps the show is taking a turn towards the weird(er)?
Erik Parker is a German-born, New York-based artist who paints mashed-up characters in psychedelic landscapes; from graffiti, to comic books, to hip-hop, his work represents a synthesis of subculture that has taken on a rebellious life of its own. His work is part of Beautiful/Decay’s Issue O:“…Is the Public Enemy,” a magazine dedicated to artists who critique—through different mediums—mainstream structures. Other featured artists include Anthony Hernandez, a photographer who documented over 40 years of marginalized people and disregarded places in Los Angeles, as well as Imaad Wasif, a singer-songwriter whose passionate, eclectic style traverses the realms of folk and psychedelic/postmodern rock.
Parker’s approach to the “public enemy”—normative society—is to animate cultural expressions of dissonance into grotesquely expressive beings. Order is twisted into madness; human bodies are melted into sensation-filled lava pools of eyeballs, mouths, and viscera; and playful, biomorphic shapes swell into the suggestively sexual. In true graffiti style, many of Parker’s works include words resonating with rebellion and discontent, such as “rize,” “torn,” and “sink/swim.” With their amorphous and infinitely unpredictable shapes, Parker’s paintings signify a fluid form of resistance that undermines structures of constraint.
To learn more about Parker, check out B/D’s Issue O, which includes a feature-length interview with the artist. Limited copies can be purchased in our shop.
German photographer Frank Bauer takes celebrity portraits. It’s an interesting conundrum, capturing a famous face on film. The picture is taken because the audience wants to see that well-known (if not loved) face, but the resulting image is of a sight we’re used to seeing. How, then, to make the ubiquitous new again?
In Bauer’s skilled hands, the celebrities seem to relax. The inner sanctum opens a bit, and the person behind the celebrity peeks out. Actress Tilda Swinton, known for her androgynous fierceness, softens. Cool, coture-wearer Cate Blanchette smolders. Clearly not camera ready, director Steve McQueen stifles a yawn. Musician Iggy Pop looks stripped of artifice in his rear-view mirror shot.
For all the personal exposures in his work, Bauer is remarkably hard to find. His website is neatly organized, with a news section that documents his recent work, but there’s no “I” there, no personal commentary or gossip. Same with his Facebook page: friendly-seeming and public and absolutely impersonal. Perhaps it’s his way of creating a void, one that these performers will want to fill. Maybe he’s seen what it means to reveal oneself. It could be a business decision, an unconscious choice, a cautious reticence. Whatever the reason, Frank Bauer, unlike his famous subjects, is a bit of a cipher, one who lets his intimate and beautiful work speak for him. (Via It’s Nice That)