Berlin-based artist Ivan Prieto sculpts colorful figures whose very existence seems to be burdened by their own body. In his 2014 exhibition titled Icarus, a cast of characters pepper the gallery, each with their own affliction. One lean figure has an intrusive rock growing from its skull. Another is armless and has its torso wrapped in large red coils. As a whole, the group is beautiful yet tragic.
The name of the exhibition could give us some clue about these character. It refers to the Greek mythological story about Icarus, the son of Daedalus who dared to fly too near to the sun on wings of feathers and wax. Before takeoff, his father warns of him of having hubris and requested that he not fly too low or high because the sea’s dampness would clog his wings while the sun’s heat would melt them. Since he flew too near, his wings melted and he fell into the sea.
Like their namesake, there’s a sense of these characters suffering physical consequences for their choices, be them foolish or misguided. You feel for Prietro’s sculptures, because they could be any of us.
Austrian artist Stefan Zsaitsits draws portraits in pencil that are simultaneously nostalgic and strange. The alluring images often feature surreal moments that are from a child’s point of view and a deranged mash-up of characters, places, and frantic mark-making.
There are small comforts in Zsaitsit’s work, like the warm-toned graphite coupled with moments that highlight the joys of growing up. Some characters play with toys and imagine pleasant, beautiful things. Other times, Zsaitsits depicts children and their nightmares. Dark combinations of desolate scenes are ravaged by scary animals and enemies.
Through visual layering of these characters, the artist indicates that many of these images are seen in the mind’s eye. In the drawings, they’re contained within the body or its direct gaze. Zsaitsits’ symbolic works are a darker, more modern-day version of a child’s Boogie Man, and ripe for interpretation by the viewer. (Via Faith is Torment)
Philadelphia-based artist Mike Tanis produces intricate paper sculptures using a combination of origami and kirigami techniques. If you’re not familiar with what those are, they’re Japanese art forms that fold and cut paper in complex ways without the help of glue. Here, Tanis has used these methods to create abstract structures that appear soft and wavy as well as splintered and fractured. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell that they’re made of paper.
Tanis tells Quanta Magazine that he uses a scalpel to make any cuts and doesn’t use directions or crease patterns. “I start with a folding technique or principle and improvise once I start to feel the 3d form developing,” he explains. The results are dramatic forms that are reminiscent of architecture and nature. His taller, cut-paper structure mimic skyscrapers while his completely-folded pieces conjure images of the beach or a mountainscape.
Encased in white-framed boxes are Crystal Wagner’s intricate cut paper sculptures. Like specimens meant for studying, parts of textured tentacles and honeycomb-esque patterns wrap around themselves as well as non-representational wavy shapes. Wagner’s work is meticulous, and each scalloped edge has its own slightly-curled edge. It’s reminiscent of a dragon or a reptile, but not one that we’ve ever seen before. The vibrant colors feature jewel-toned gradients that push her sculptures from quasi-reality into full-blown fantasy.
These works first made their appearance at the Hashimoto Contemporary gallery in San Francisco in 2014. Her exhibition was titled Synesthesia, and the intention was to explore the psychological realm between the familiar and strange. The gallery writes, “…combining screen printing, cut paper and various dollar store items, Wagner meticulously assembles her sculptures with a sense of organic growth. Allowing her materials to build upon themselves, layer by layer, each structure swells into a mass of movement, as if grown from the soil of another planet.”
From a distance, artist Ye Hongxing’s works on canvas appear like pointillism technique, as if it’s thousands of tiny painted dots occupying a single canvas. But, as you look closer, her images are much more than that. The small spots of color are actually decorative stickers! Cartoonish dogs, cats, fruit with faces, smiling raindrops, and virtually any cutesy design under the sun make up the complex compositions. They’re a collision of subject matter, and you’ll find pop culture icons, animals, flowers, and historical references are just some of the things you’ll find in these swirling works.
The dizzy mosaic are meant to fuse traditional Chinese imagery with contemporary society. Religious statues, for instance, flow into Darth Vader’s mask. This juxtaposition is the artist’s reflection on China and how its culture has been influenced by the West. “Using stickers is a conscious challenge to traditional and conventional mediums,” she writes in an profile for the Lux Art Institute. “A sticker has an enormous amount of information in it, they reflect the time we’re living in and they are fragmented and mosaic, so I can give them a new order in the landscape I’m creating.”
Canadian artist Erin Loree crafts luscious abstract paintings that have an incredible sense of light. The vibrant pictures feature incredible blues, magentas, yellows, and many more spread over a canvas. Loree varies her approach to texture, with some areas of smoothly-applied paint and others with short, thick brush strokes. They work together and form alluring artworks that resemble portraits and at times, landscapes.
Considering the scale of Loree’s strokes, the subjects that she’s painted seem to be captured at a close range. Large, sweeping lines form vague outlines of heads and shoulders, and with names like Energy body, it’s hard not to associate them with that. But, instead of giving us the an idea of what this physical body looks like, Loree uses gesture and intense hues to communicate an inner spirit or feeling. Some of her works appear as if they’re glowing from within - the essence of an intrinsic light that exists inside living beings.
Italian sound designers Fabio Di Salvo and Bernardo Vercelli, together known as Quiet Ensemble, create work that features insignificant sounds that we wouldn’t give a second thought to. They focus their energies on the “greatness of small events,” and the subject of their most recent project is a lamp. Specifically, lamps used to produce a musical event. Titled The Enlightenment, the duo calls this performance a “hidden concert of pure light” that uses a bevy of different lighting elements like stage lights and high-powered bulbs. “Instead of violins are neon lights, to replace drums are strobe lights and instead of clarinets we will see theatrical headlights illuminating the audience,” they explain in the video’s description.
The Enlightenment was performed in October for Bologna’s Robot Festival, where it included 96 lamps. Each was fitted with its own copper coil that received various electric currents set at specific intervals, as well as a sensor. This produced an electromagnetic field that was captured and turned into sounds. Salvo and Vercelli accompanied the buzzes by modifying and amplifying each lamp’s electric output in real time. The result is a clash of blues, greens, and yellow flashes with the poetics of a familiar buzz. (Via The Creators Project)
UK-based artist San Pierre has a slightly unorthodox method when creating his work. Instead of displaying a simple image in a frame, he draws designs over top of the print with threads that are secured with nuts and bolts. These intricate, criss-crossing strings form delicate shapes that alter how the viewer interprets the image. Depending on the depth and color of the strings, the artwork might appear diffused or distorted with geometric fragments.
Pierre’s use of thread adds not only a physical layer onto his work, but a conceptual one as well. His piece titled Discontent No. 6 (top two images) features a dark figure who looks as though they’re trying to gingerly find their way. With the technicolor strings, however, it now reads as a barrier or a wall. Instead of freedom, this being is trapped. (Via My Amp Goes to 11)