The candy-colored works by New York-based artist Jaz Harold have a subversive nature about them. Although they use pastel colors have soft features, you can’t avoid the sexual undertones and overtones that are prevalent throughout Harold’s sculptures. We see grotesque displays of rotting skin, nippled pom poms, and sensual lips with just a hint of tongue. She writes about her charged works, stating:
Using an aesthetic that consciously appeals to child-like naïveté, Jaz’s work softens the emphasis on the ego, ritual, intimacy, and stigma that society generally attaches to sex.
Cherry blossoms (sakura) are a perfect balance of sexual innuendo, beauty, and innocence. The cherry blossom, symbolizing love in many cultures, adds an additional element in a body of work that covers both areas- an innocent love, and a simple uninhibited lust.
Harold makes the pure not so pure, perhaps in an attempt to scramble the visual culture that we’re used to, or as a way to offer a confusing reflection onto being young and learning about sex/being sexual. (Via Asylum Art)
Artist Peter Madden splices tiny elements to create large collages that are a dizzying combination of imagery. Using pictures extracted from encyclopedias, National Geographic magazines, and found photographs, he arranges all of the disparate pieces to form detailed compositions. The large groups are suspended on a transparent background, as if they are capture a moment in time before everything falls apart.
Madden’s collections create different narrative by virtue of the individual elements’ pairings. Some of the things included in his collages include: exotic birds, monkeys, the letter “m,” fishes, and clocks. They are often formed into some sort of larger shape, such as the outskirts of a giant hole, as if it’s surrounding the eye of a tornado.
The use of so many different pieces and the meticulously-constructed explosion-looking compositions feel as though we’re looking at windy, inclement weather that’s strong enough to make these pieces whip through the air. (via Inkult)
Artist Harry Roseman takes the ubiquitous material known as plywood and with careful cuts and placement, creates the illusion that this rigid material is pliable. The large pieces include “folds” that make them look as though they are textiles. Roseman uses a single piece of wood and mismatches its grain to break up the visual monotony; it fools us into think that there’s a back and a front to this “fabric.” The rigidity is reminiscent of a plastic camping tarp, but it’s still impressive at how, with relatively few cuts, the pieces are believeable as something other than what they’re made of.
These sort of observations and overall sentiment is part of what Roseman is trying to achieve in his sculptures, writing:
The subjects of my work are the bend of a curve, the conjunction of edges, the turn of a fold, the weight and nature of objects, the conjunction of idea and object, the way an idea sits in an object and next to an object and the way surface can obscure and also reveal. One of my aims is to close the distance between thinking, looking and making, to the point where it is hard to tell the difference.
Hedi Xandt is a multidisciplinary creative who has a formal graphic design education, but doesn’t see himself limited to this field – his work takes the form of fine art paintings and sculptures. Xandt’s three-dimensional pieces are visually powerful and conceptually compelling. They feature busts and skulls composed of gold-plated brass, polymer, distressed black finish, and marble. The gold acts as an accent that adds an element of terror to the work, such as giant spikes or dripping blood.
The skull and bust are symbols of both art and humanity, and the aggressive nature of Xandt’s sculptures makes it appear as if he is rejecting these classical notions. The sleek and stylish “killings” coincide with his philosophy about creative spirit. Instead of mastering one thing and sticking to it forever, Xandt favors a more fluid approach, writing:
I think that the main and most important aspects of my work are creativity and concept. Being permanently on the experimental side of thinking and creating, I seek to add to my skills with every piece I begin. Learning-By-Doing, this awfully overused term, applies to me just as well as Doing-By-Learning. The unison of knowledge and skill provides me with inspiration and a broad foundation to be used as a starting point for any kind of project. (Via Inkult)
Painter Joseba Eskubi’s lusciously-crafted landscape paintings have both an incredible energy and a certain mystique to them. The gestural brush strokes signify movement like the wind or temperamental weather, and they exist in these desolate locations with brilliantly-colored dark sky; it’s like the bluish-purple that marks the middle of the night.
All of Eskubi’s paintings feels like they exist in the same world, but each sets the stage different for its own strange happenings. A lot of these structures are reminiscent of weeping trees or their twisted branches. These lines create an interesting visual tension that doesn’t necessarily feel threatening at the moment, but it was at one time (or maybe in the future?). It’s an uncertain, post-apocalyptic shelter. But unlike the stereotypical gray landscape, Eskubi has created a place of visual splendor.
Victoria Wagner is an artist who is fascinated by unlikely pairings. Her set of gem-like sculptures called Woodrocks are comprised of wood and decorated with color, as she explains, “My eye generally and naturally tends toward tessellation and pattern, seeking a rhythm that mimics regular pulse. On the one hand, visual order provides a place for the senses to rest, while color relationships create problems for the brain to solve. I like this simultaneity.” The natural material and the unnatural oil pigments combine to create a precious object that’s small enough to be held comfortably.
Woodrocks serve as an iconic reference to the downed tree. They’re salvaged from local materials and painted to follow organic growth patterns and feature gradient spectrums.These sculptures were influenced by two books that Wagner read: The Golden Bough by Sir James Frazer and The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. “Both pseudoscientific works that examine sentience among carbon-based life forms and human revelation, practical and metaphysical,” she explains. “Both books forced a recognition in my life-of my own personal reverence for the trees being downed in the forest surrounding my studio.” The result? Woodrocks.
Artist Henrik Aarrestad Uldalen combines something that we’ve seen many, many times throughout the history of art – figure painting. But, he does it with a contemporary approach. His moody paintings feature partially obscured people as they rest beneath the water. They are just below the surface of the dark, deep pool, and the light from their bodies is all that’s visible.
According to Uldalen’s artist statement, his work, “…explores the dark sides of life, nihilism, existentialism, longing and loneliness, juxtaposed with fragile beauty. The atmosphere in his subject matter is often presented in a dream or limbo-like state, with elements of surrealism.” Although these figures are rendered realistically, they rest in a void with little additional visual information. We can’t be sure of where they are or what brought them there. And, for some, if they are dead or alive. It’s this open-ended narrative that gives drama to Uldalen’s paintings, and the hauntingly gorgeous images are the kind that will stay with you – even if you don’t want them to. (Via I Need a Guide)
Opening tomorrow, September 27, is Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei’s exhibition @Large in the former San Francisco Bay prison, Alcatraz Island. The sculpture, sound, and mixed media installations are staged in four locations throughout the space: the New Industries Building; a group of cells in A Block; the Hospital; and the Dining Hall. Ai’s work inside creates a dialogue about how we define liberty, justice, and individual rights.
In 2011, Ai was secretly detained by Chinese authorities for 81 days, and is still not permitted to travel outside of the country. He was unable to visit Alcatraz during the planning of the show and was developed in his studio with the help of the FOR-SITE Foundation.
There are a variety of pieces in @Large, including Trace, which is 176 portraits of political prisoners and exiles made from LEGO blocks. The impressive works began at Ai’s studio in Beijing and were completed in San Francisco by a team of 90 volunteers. Cheryl Haines, the exhibition’s curator told the San Francisco Chronicle, “I’m overwhelmed by how remarkable it looks. This is the face of the individual in the fight for freedom, but it’s also a collective statement and to see the density and quantity of people that are incorporated in this work, I find deeply moving.”
In addition to Trace, there are six other themes: With Wind, a giant traditional Chinese dragon kite; Refraction, stunning metal wings; Stay Tuned, sound installation that occupies 12 cells; Illumination, the sounds of Tibetan Buddhist and Native American chants; Blossom, fragile floral bouquets; and Yours Truly, where visitors can write postcards to prisoners. (Via FOR-SITE and Artnet)