Tatiana Blass’s Wax Figures Melt From Within

wax figure Installation

wax art InstallationTatiana Blass - Installation

Metade da fala no chão_ Piano surdo, Tatiana Blass [Half of the speech on the ground - deaf piano] from Tatiana Blass on Vimeo.

Tatiana Blass built a human body that leans over the spine of a chair. She built this body out of wax and gave it a spotlight to shine; however, its glow not only illuminated, but also curdled the figure’s shape with heat. Arms broke off and bone emerged. Soon the body itself was only spine.

Spine against spine.

On another day, at another location or time, Blass built another body, a lying down one. The heat was not on the back, but instead rising from below. The body melted and there was no bone. Only a puddle of wax, something similar to where the body began.

The dissolution is the performance, the performer is the object: it moves to mirror our horror, to show its aliveness: our aliveness.

This concept of sculpture as a temporary structure feels relative to Urs Fischer’s own monolithic candlelit figures which also weaken over time. Both generate a sense of narrative that we relate to instantly– feelings of loss or devastation amidst chaos. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Wax to wax. What slips through our fingers: a certain temperature from day to day. We cannot gauge. An inevitable ritual.

The music must come to an end, and it does, especially for Blass’s other installation (video above), as Thiago Curry pounds five easy pieces on the keys, while two men pour melted paraffin into the grand piano.

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Vicki Ling’s Drawings of Fictional, Transitional Landscapes

Vicki Ling - Graphite

Vicki Ling - Graphite

Vicki Ling - Graphite

Vicki Ling - Graphite

 

Vicki Ling is an artist that creates graphite drawings of surreal landscapes. Chock full of symbolism and mystery, Ling’s images are cryptic. Part of their appeal is trying to solve the visual puzzle that she’s constructed.

Ling briefly speaks about her work, writing, “…fictional landscapes and constructions shift between two and three dimensions, creating a sensation of movement and evolving forms.” The places depicted are liminal spaces, meaning they are in transition, somewhere between what they began as and what they will become. This is made inherent in the movement and tension created by the textures and forms in the work. They are reminiscent of the ocean. We can imagine the crashing waves,  tides,  and the inhabitants of the sea. There is tension in Ling’s work, and it is easy to feel like at any moment waves will rush in and fill the rooms that she’s so carefully rendered. But, considering Ling’s intent, perhaps she wants an environment that could suddenly be swept away. This notion is refreshing, but also sad knowing that this environment is fleeting.

I am personally intrigued by Ling’s drawing that features a sinkhole. In this image, it looks like the top of the landscape has been punctured. The surface is fragile and looks like it is going to cave in on itself. What would it become? I imagine it to be a black hole, drawing everything in until nothing is left. Or, it could be a portal to another world. The places in Ling’s drawings could exist anywhere. They are surreal and conjure the feeling of a dream, so this could all exist in someone’s head. As the artist spoke of moving and evolving forms, these drawings are all metaphors; not only a shifting environment, but personally as we grow, change, and confront obstacles. If we are willing, we evolve just as Ling’s landscapes suggestively do.

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Natalie Ryan’s Mysterious Blue Velvet Taxidermy

Natalie Ryan - Blue Velvet Taxidermy Natalie Ryan - Blue Velvet Taxidermy Natalie Ryan - Blue Velvet Taxidermy

Animal sculptures by Australian artist Natalie Ryan are inspired by taxidermy. While conventional taxidermy practices dictate that she preserve the skin/fur of the animal she is preparing, Ryan instead uses synthetic materials to cover casts of squirrels, bears, and monkeys. Her current portfolio cloaks these animals entirely in blue velvet.

While Ryan’s web presence is limited, her gallery representation, Dianne Tanzer Gallery in Melbourne writes about Ryan’s latest exhibition, Evanescere, stating:

Continuing to explore notions of the cadaver as a secondary form, a shadow of it’s living self, these works depict the internals of animals stripped of their dermis and identifying features. Evanescere looks at the body in a suspended state of disappearing. In conjunction with this, these works also explore the idea of the animal cadaver on display and museology as a resting place. These works combine bodies and elements of the landscape that reference the paradigm of Natural History Museum displays. They seek to question the role the body plays in the Museum and the loss of the individual as it becomes a subject to represent an entire species.

Ryan’s decision to color her work bright blue introduces a contemporary aesthetic to taxidermy. It references the trends of home decor over the past few years, in which loud, unnatural colors are applied to natural objects. When thinking about traditional taxidermy and how it uses real feathers and fur, the artist makes a statement about craft and preservation. The prevailing attitude of culture champions innovation and exploration of the new. Ryan is stripping this practice of its ritual, simply using foam casts and not real animals. She’s chosen a color and material that’s more en vogue. We are drawn to this work because it’s a twist on an old practice. She makes taxidermy fresh rather than just feeling old.

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Angelo Merendino Photographs His Wife’s Battle With Terminal Cancer

1cancer battler

death by cancer

Five months after being wed in Central Park, while most couples are settling into a new blissful life together, Angelo Merendino and his wife Jennifer received troubling news: Jennifer had breast cancer.

Of this diagnosis, and the journey that ensued, Angelo states, “With each challenge we grew closer. Words became less important. One night Jen had just been admitted to the hospital, her pain was out of control. She grabbed my arm, her eyes watering, ‘You have to look in my eyes, that’s the only way I can handle this pain.’”

Angelo took his wife’s request seriously and his photographs, collected here, document not just her struggle with cancer, but also a certain compassionate way of looking– a presence from behind the lens that is not exploiting nor agenda-driven. Each black and white image from Angelo shows the necessity of bearing witness or being a vulnerable presence that is sharing in the difficult and very human experience of love and loss.

Angelo additionally notes, “We loved each other with every bit of our souls. Jen taught me to love, to listen, to give and to believe in others and myself. I’ve never been as happy as I was during this time.”

For those of us touched by cancer, we can relate to Angelo’s statement — sickness is not just about the disease, it’s about relationships: how we deepen with one another by practicing empathy and how this feeling palpably echoes long after someone passes. Capturing this feeling in art, the way Angelo has, connects not just two people, but many millions more.

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Kate MccGwire’s Feather Sculptures are Beyond Our World

FeathersFeather sculpturesculpture

Kate MccGwire’s feather sculptures are awe inspiring in their detail; they are the type of thing that is marveled. Gathering, peeling, and layering are just a few ways she constructs her work. The materials, vibrant colors, and tactile quality gives them an uncanny feeling. Seeing layers of feathers, we expect a winged creature attached. Instead, MccGwire has created organic yet indistinguishable forms. Her sculptures wrap around themselves, like the ouroboros, eating their own tail. Like infinity symbols, they are never ending. These forms feel powerful, and the feathers play a large role in it. Their volume, combined with a high level of craft, make us do a double take and demand our full attention.Yes, MccGwire’s winged creatures are kept under glass so they won’t escape. But wait! They were actually real. This uncertainty is exactly what MccGwire wants. From her artist statement:

Kate MccGwire’s practice probes the beauty inherent in duality, exploring the play of opposites – at an aesthetic, intellectual and visceral level – that characterises the way we conceive the world. She does this by appealing to our essential duality as human beings, to our senses and our reason, and by drawing on materials capable of embodying a dichotomous way of seeing, feeling and thinking. The finished work has a consistent ‘otherness’ to it that places it beyond our experience of the world, poised on a threshold between the parameters that define everyday reality.

While we might try and figure out what MccGwire’s sculptures are supposed to be, that isn’t her top priority. The artist is much more interested in combining our uneasiness of the unknown with the beauty of the natural world. (Via Colossal)

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Erin M. Riley Weaves the Photos You Took Last Night

Erin M. Riley - Tapestry Erin M. Riley - Tapestry Erin M. Riley - Tapestry

Erin M. Riley takes the images that usually live on Snapchat, Tumblr, or the privacy of your own phone and translates them into tapestries. They are pictures you wouldn’t want your parents to see. They feature naked and half naked women, drug paraphernalia, used condoms, and more. In an interview with Arrested Motion, Riley states, “I try to take pictures of the condoms after I have sex, the pictures I send to people, pictures of tables at parties, substances & liquids that change the course of events.”

If broadcasted the world, these are the type of photos that would really embarrass someone. Riley takes time to translate these experiences into large, detailed, and colorful weavings completed on a loom. In the same interview, she goes on to say, “I am taking the time to recreate these images as physical tapestries, because these are the events and objects that are significant to me. Tapestry allows images to be given more time, for hookups to gel, for mistakes to be thought over, its a way to over analyze every detail.” This is a cathartic activity for the artist, who says that there is an ebb and a flow in her images over time. Sometimes, they will be more aggressive or explicit, then scale back. Riley says that it’s a reflection in her own life, and she’s open to sharing this with her viewers. Doing so gives the opportunity to start a dialogue with people who admire, question, and collect her work. She’s happy to have conversation with people who might not broach the subject without the help of her tapestries.

Part of the success of Riley’s work is the way it is produced. She combines two different worlds; weaving, an old art form that requires a lot of skill, and the digital age, one that is very focused on instant gratification and accessible by nearly everyone.

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Heavy Metal Art: Banks Violette And Seven Other Artists On The Spectrum Of Dark And Gritty

Banks Violette

Banks Violette

Skinner

Skinner

2

Ben Venom

This weekend on Beautiful Decay we want to welcome you over to the dark side, where a vast amount of artists are churning out contemporary art fueled by the fire of Metal.  A multitude of artists these days are making art inspired by the crushing sounds and dark spirit of Heavy Metal, Death Metal and Doom music, all of which weave in and out of several other genres.

I’ve been a huge fan for a while now of the work made by artists Skinner, Ben Venom and Martin Durazo, which are strongly informed by Heavy Metal.  This past week after chatting with artist and Beautiful Decay owner, Amir H. Fallah and artist Skinner and reaching out on Facebook to learn more about artists tied into this music scene, I was turned onto a breadth of incredible artists.  A lot of artists working with metal as inspiration have strong crossover into design and illustration, album art, posters (especially for the band Mastadon), band merch and murals.  There’s also a strong genre of work that explores dark spiritual matter, mythology and death that is absolutely captivating.  You can expect upcoming coverage of these sub-genres in coming weeks.

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Jason Hughes’ Creates Artwork From Shredded Dollar Bills

Jason Hughes - Dollar Bills Jason Hughes - Dollar BillsJason Hughes - Dollar Bills

Now that the US government is not longer shut down (at least for the time being…), it feels like an appropriate time to visit the work of Jason Hughes. For years, he has used money as his medium, literally. Hughes obtains dollar bills previously removed from circulation and shredded by the government. He takes the bills, weaving them together or applying them to panel. With both approaches, it is staggering to think about the amount of work, attention to detail, and time that goes into each piece.

Sometimes, Hughes will take the scraps and weave them together, while other times he will arrange them to form different icons like a heart, bullseye, and eye. The imagery has ties to American culture. For instance, the star inside of the circle is reminiscent of the classic Converse All Star shoes.

The process of Hughes’ work is as important as the outcome. The act of creating a piece explores ideas of labor, value, and worth. It highlights the disparity between skilled labor and industry in the United States. Jobs that are often tedious, like working in a factory, for instance, are very low on the pay scale. But, they make things we have work and keep our homes, buildings, and society running smoothly.  Another Day, Another Dollar (directly above) reconstructs the dollar bill, which seems to say that yes, another day is another dollar, but when you consider the amount of work that went into that single dollars, it isn’t enough.

By taking this shredded money, which was otherwise worthless before, Hughes assigns a new value by changing its context. Now, composed and presented as art, he creates something that is worth much more than the sum of its parts.

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