The work of Dillon Boy (né James Dillon Wright) emerged from a street art and graffiti background, combining pop culture, branding, advertising, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to take these sources further than they were intended. This evolution (or devolution) is evident in his series DIRTYLAND, where the artist takes the ever-popular childhood icons of Disney’s princesses and removes their context, and clothes.
In works which collage smut magazine backgrounds with spraypaint stencils, drips and graffiti scrawls, these princesses become transformed representations of our combined high and lowbrow society, and take aim at the falsely marketed ideas of perfection and innocence. In an exclusive talk with Beautiful/Decay, Dillon talks about the series. “Most of my audience were kids when these princesses ruled their world, so now that they are all adults (and sexually active) they are all ready to hang paintings of naked Disney chicks all over the house. [laughs]. No for real though, I believe it’s my job as an artist to question the very things around me and to continuously break down the traditional and more conventional ways of making art. It is my intention to raise or lower your eyebrows in one way or another.”
This reappropriation of pop culture icons is nothing new, but seems to be happening at a rapidly increasing pace (Beautiful/Decay has recently featured several such reimaginings of pop culture symbols), indicating that artists are remaining relevant to many audiences by constantly questioning what we collectively see daily. Dillon Boy (surprisingly?) notes that he has not seen much in the way of criticism of his DIRTYLAND series, and that is his job as an artist to take things one step further. “Well, one thing is for sure, we live in a sexually charged culture. Walk outside and you will quickly find a billboard or an ad in a publication showcasing a woman as a sex object. Sex sells remember. I simply used the pure, untainted characters of Walt Disney to convey that message. But that’s obvious, I’m not doing anything that hasn’t been done before… but I’m ready to do it again!”
Chinese artist Lu Xinjian has been inspired by maps and cities for years, often collected in his increasingly large-scale acrylic on canvas series City DNA. But his newest work City Light expands on these inspirations, taking the flat abstractions and mounting them onto the wall with neon.
Using Google Earth images of the artist’s current home, the sprawling metropolis of Shanghai, Xinjian renders the map loosely in his abstract style. The resulting plans are rendered in neon on a solid black background, and run on a flash program which controls the timing of each area’s lines being illuminated. Starting with a small, centrally-located blue square, the rest of the surrounding area follows, until the entire piece is lit. Representing the rapid growth of the modern metropolis, the network of neon light tubes takes the language of city communication and visually abstracts the idea of rapid expansion. (via alwaysinstudio and designboom)
Cuban artist Erik Ravelo is known for his ability to confront the difficult and taboo directly by presenting fearless, visually provocative work (previously featured for his Los Intocables, or The Untouchables, series here). Lana Sutra (combining the Spanish word ‘Lana’ meaning ‘Wool’ and ‘Sutra’, which means the thread which connects us) takes the idea of these strings – love, humanity, sexuality – and displays them literally, binding human forms together in intense colored poses.“I’m a human being and I don’t believe in borders. I think the world belongs to everyone born on Earth. This is my planet, our planet. No man is an island. Yes, I was born on Cuba but, above all, I was born on Planet Earth. I like to think that Lana Sutra talks about universal love which cancels diversity.”
Created during his residency at Italian communication research and artistic grant center Fabrica (connected with clothing brand United Colors of Benneton), Ravelo began Lana Sutra by guiding models to pose together, and then casting these poses in plaster. The plaster mannequins were then covered in yarn (in the fall colors of the Benneton line), with separate colored threads from each mannequin being bound together in Kama Sutra positions. Bursting with color, the fifteen installations of present a completely unbiased version of humanity, no longer separated by race, religion, creed or sexuality, and merely bound by our shared humanity. (via collater.al)
The first quality one may see in the brightly-colored, bent steel pieces by Rana Begum is the potential to shift based on perspective. From one angle, viewers will be confronted by a flat, monochromatic shape jutting from the wall, while another view offers more intricate geometric patterns spreading across several pieces. This is the legacy of Sol Lewitt, Donald Judd or Agnes Martin – to take the simplest shapes and through color, form and collection, imbue them with complexity and depth. As Begum explains, “Its so beautiful the way the simple form and shape can be repeated to create a space like that”
Though Begum lists these more modern artists as influences, theBangladeshi-born, London-based artist also explains that the Aniconism (belief in avoiding/outlawing representations of divine beings, prophets or any human beings in religious imagery) traditions of Islam were equally influential. This tradition was responsible for the exquisite geometric and intensely detailed works seen in classical Islamic architecture, a connection which is apparent in Begum’s deceptively simple works. “For me, architecture evokes memories of reading the Quran as a child in a mosque in Bangladesh,” said Begum in an interview with Surface Magazine’s Marina Cashdan, “which was bare, simple, and had a lot of light coming in through the windows.” This shifting imagery can be seen in her works, where repetition and simplistic elements collectively offer complexity.
Begum’s most recent works often uses paint on Origami-like, bent mild steel and powder-coated aluminum, but she has also begun using brass and copper as a base for her wall sculptures. “[They are] materials I spent a long time researching and I’m excited to use them for this show,” she says. “They bring an extra dimension to the works” (via wallpaper* and surface)
Helsinki, Finland is already known for its beautiful landscapes, sonorous Baltic coastlines and for its focus on civic design (the city having been named the World Design Capital of 2012). To celebrate this honor, Helsinki tapped Madrid-based design firm Lighting Design Collective (LDC) to create a permanent urban art light piece.
Named for the repurposed oil silo, Silo 468 is a project for the cities residents to enjoy from the inside and out. The silo’s walls feature more than 2,000 perforated holes which echo ideas of a traditional lighthouse, displaying an incredible light show for Helsinki’s Kruunuvuorenranta district. While the coastline is illuminated by the modern lighthouse, the inside of Silo 468 offers a different, more intimate experience. Painted a deep, captivating red, there is an additional light show for citizens to enjoy.
The Director of LDC, Tapio Rosenius, fully explained the project. “At night 1250 white LED’s flicker and sway on the surface of the silo controlled by a bespoke software mimicking swarms of birds in flight – a reference to silo´s seaside location. The prevailing winds, well-known to those living in Helsinki, are used to trigger different light patterns in real time.
“Processes that give rise to forms are at the heart of our artistic work.” says German studio Deskriptiv (the combined work of Dominik Kolb and Christoph Bader), who describe their work as being rooted jointly in the (occasionally conflicting) realms of design, art and computer science. “We work on the interface of computer science and design and combine both disciplines. In this area of conflict to find new processes to deal with it, to analyze it and graphically prepare, that’s what fascinates us and drives. The formation processes, we define purely digitally with the help of our main working tool, the computer.”
Naturally 3D printing fits neatly into the Venn Diagram shared by these disciplines (see previous examples, such as the world’s first 3D printed room, Nick Ervick’s incredibly complex 3D sculptures, and more at Beautiful/Decay) and serves as the perfect medium in which to explore their intersection. In works like their “Hüllen” series (“Wrap,” in English), the duo utilizes clear and opaque plastics, combining them with more mirrored silver surfaces. The intricate complexities (and the imagined difficulties to achieve such subtleties without blending the materials) can also be seen in the their “Verbowen” (translation, “Interwoven”) series, combines a variety of materials and surfaces, weaving them in tight complexity. Meanwhile, their “Klebend” (translation, “Adhesive”) series focuses less on blended materials and more on form, choosing a singular palate to exhibit the true range of surfaces the technology is capable of. (via hi-fructose)
Every winter, nearly two million people from all around the world venture to Sapporo, on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, to celebrate all things winter for one week at the Sapporo Snow Festival. The festival, which has its roots from when the city hosted the Winter Olympics in 1972, has been taking place since the early 1980’s. From enormous buildings, temples and slides to more intricately detailed and finely-sculpted statues, the city’s streets are full of all types of snow and ice works to celebrate the natural beauty of the winter season.
Now the festival draws sculptors and competitors from all around the world for its famous annual competitions, taking place in several different sites around the city. The event has set several World Records, including the audience-participatory construction of the most snowmen ever made in one place (over 10,000 – a record which still stands). The next installment, now the 65th Sapporo Snow Festival, will be held this February 5th through 11th in 2014. (via weirdtwist)
Using both printmaking and embroidery in his work, artist Max Colby explores themes of death and transformation in his series Role Play. He first prints on handmade paper, creating a collograph. This type of printmaking applies materials to a rigid board. Things with a lot of texture like sandpaper, leaves, cardboard are inked and printed. Colby has controlled the shape of the print, manipulating it in a very deliberate way. Once printing is done, he then adorns it with hand-sewn embroidery.
In a short statement about his work, Colby refers to his the imagery in his work as “figures,” which I take to mean as beings. Not necessarily human, but some other living force. Their “body” is made out from printing, while the embroidery acts as embellishment for the figure. Colby writes that Role Play features “sculptural ‘skins’ which showcase fragility and temporality in conjunction with highly embellished and extravagant applications using notions of death and transformation as a catalyst.” I imagine that these could be armor or headdresses, with pieces that have spikes sewn-in or tactile objects like beads and buttons.
There is a stark difference between the delicate collograph printing and the visually-heavy embroidery. At times, it engulfs the figures, which I think is the point. Garments last a lot longer than we do. Items are passed down from generation to generation, and evidence of what a jacket looked like will be surpass our lifetime.