Baltimore-based artist Jordan Kasey creates large-scale oil paintings of surreal scenes that include monumental figures and objects. In these strange worlds, her subjects occupy entire compositions and are often distorted by a canvas’ constraints. Although they could seemingly exist anywhere, we see them fused with both the aquatic and natural landscape.
There’s an emphasis on hands and fingers in Kasey’s paintings. We’ll often see pair of hands hugging or carefully cradling colorful, rock-like objects. Fingers on opposing hands match up to form tiny arches that make her faceless subjects look as though they’re plotting something. It doesn’t feel sinister, though, but almost absent of any emotion whatsoever.
While some of Kasey’s works are devoid of identifying details, others replace the expected with the unexpected. Facial features are altered with aquatic rocks, coral, and sea plants. It creates an odd-yet-familiar place whose tightly-rendered subjects begin to approach a level of uncanniness. While we know Kasey’s work is fantastical, it looks realistic enough that we might try and apply logic to it.
Untitled, 2014. Styrene index cards, metal, wood, paint and glue
(detail) Untitled, 2014. Styrene index cards, metal, wood, paint and glue
Tara Donovan (previously featured here) has famously used inorganic materials to emulate organic shapes, resembling hives, mountains and other natural configurations. Her most recent exhibition, Tara Donovan, at Pace Gallery’s Chelsea, New York, expands on the artist’s use of inventive materials, including index cards, a first for Donovan. Featuring two large-scale works, “the artist continues to explore the phenomenological effect of work created through the accumulation of identical objects”
The former Macarthur Foundation ‘Genius’ Grant recipient is known for her commitment to process, inventive materials, and evocative installations. Says Donovan,
“There is a sense I get of wanting to choreograph someone’s experience of my work, because the surfaces of my work do often shift and follow the perspective of the viewer, there is a perceptual movement that coincides with a person’s physical movement within the gallery space.’”
Though he is perhaps most famous for his internet sensation photoseries, Everyday, where he has taken a photo of himself daily since 2000 (and which was then turned into a stop-motion video which went viral), Noah Kalina‘s work actually possesses a very distinctly subtle, and personal feel. In the series Internet/Sex, taken between 2007 and 2009, Kalina pairs empty hotel rooms, illuminated only by computer screens, and composite photography which suggests naked couples having sex. The dynamic of the empty and occupied rooms, when paired together, connect a portrayal of the inherent loneliness and longing of the human condition.
Kalina, who is based in Brooklyn and Lumberland, New York, has not explicitly said what these photos are documenting, it can easily be implied that these intimate moments with open computer screens simulate the connections and separations that both sex and connection through the internet offer. Taking place in various hotel and motel rooms, the series seems to suggest a lonely traveller, using their computer to make a primal, human connection. Surprisingly, the open screens and the desire they represent offers a loneliness more lewd than photographing sex.
James Thurber said, “Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility,” which seems to be a tactic comic artist and illustrator Kate (Ellen) Lacour has mastered in her recent drawing series Bodies, which she has only described with three words, “body horror beauty.” The motives, inspiration, or goals behind the series have not been disclosed, yet appear to be a distinct side-project from her usual cartooning work, replacing a visually lighter style with a combination of human anatomical drawings found in textbooks. The results twist the familiar style of textbook, anatomical human renderings, creating drawings which utilize symmetry, unique and unusual body arrangements, and religious or spiritual iconography.
Symbolic poses are taken by transparent, headless bodies, such as the Lotus position, a pose with Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist relevance. Lacour (who perhaps tellingly also works as an art therapist) enhances this peaceful, evocative aesthetic by drawing lines with ink and pen but softly coloring the drawings in with food coloring. However, even with the emphasis of religious and anatomical text, the drawings evoke a humorous effect, replacing heads with comically screaming mouths and adding eyes to the Fallopian tubes of a levitating uterus. The most successful works are those which pack in detail, such as Devouring Mother (first drawing, above) where a creation myth entirely new is presented by mixing tales and traditions of the past. (via hi-fructose)
Daan Botlek‘s trademark figural painted works always evoke a certain one-off kind of narrative, but his latest series, Escape From Wuhlheide, carries this idea even further. Based in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, Botlek (previously here) was exploring an abandoned and graffiti-filled building in Berlin, when the idea of painting an escape came to mind.
“While wandering through Wuhlheide looking for some spots to paint the idea arose…to make some sort of storyline of an escape.”
The story in Escape From Wuhlheidereads like a cartoon rendered in real life, blending street art, animation, illustration and painting. Each ‘cell’ of the escape is painted individually, depicting two blanked-outline characters making their way through the dilapidated space, peeking around corners, crawling up walls and climbing ladders. Each ‘cell’ is then photographed, documenting their run away. (via colossal)
Often in our daily lives, something needs to be taken out of it’s normal context to be seen with renewed appreciation. In Arnaud Lajeunie‘s recent photoseries Water meets colour, colour meets water, the Paris-based photographer explores new waves of seeing the constant ebb and flow of ocean waves by making them more visible, through the use of biodegradable, sugar-based dyes. Arnaud’s interventions tint the surging water with a plethora of colors, which are captured using an extremely fast shutter speed, which produces photos of violent, colorful takes of traditional landscape photography. Taken out of a normal context, one can see more clearly the natural beauty and fury.Says Arnaud, “Here, colour is seen as a raw material, as are the waves and the rocks. Colour adds density and thickness to transparent water, thus enhancing the flux fixation process.”
As writer Eugenia Lapteva notes in an essay on the series, Colours of Absence, “As the colours bleed into the sea, the texture of the water thickens and the motion of the waves is (re)defined, revealing its hidden course and complex networks. The crashing waves, which are carefully contained within the camera frame, pull the viewer into a vortex of frozen shapes and novel configurations that are otherwise indiscernible to the human eye.”
In his own words, the photographer explains, “I rely on the camera as a device with technical features that can give tangible shapes to ever-moving fluxes, in this case the waves. The high shutter speed transcends the human reflex of persistence of vision: it reveals existing shapes that the ‘mortal eye’ cannot perceive on its own.” (via mymodernmet)
Austrian artist Valentin Ruhry often plays with ideas of Minimalism and analog technologies, using light installations as a systematic approach which reveals a metaphor of interconnectedness, even when we do not see them present. In his 2013 exhibition Réclamer at Halle für Kunst & Medien in Graz, (then travelling to Österreich), Ruhry references advertising and promotional communication, using light boxes which generally house these messages. The exhibition’s title, Réclamer, comes from Latin and French, meaning to claim, to appeal, to call back. Ruhry, who was born in Graz, Austria and now lives and works in Vienna, used the empty light to represent a loss of function, “both through their components and in and of themselves.”
This type of installation investigates many of the themes present in Ruhry’s other works. When speaking with Jon Rathenberg’s Artist Interview Tumblr, Ruhry explains his fascination and his process, “I´m not a scientist nor have I ever been educated in mechanical engineering or whatever but I have always had a strong interest in technology. For me, a jet plane or a refrigerator is as fascinating and sometimes as miraculous as the power socket on your wall. Since I don’t understand much about the technical aspects of most of the equipment that surrounds me I study there aesthetic qualities. I try to highlight them by placing aesthetics or form before function.” (via likeafieldmouse and artistinterview)
Amy Boone-McCreesh’s sculptures and 2-D mixed-media works are both self-referential and highlight a larger aesthetic idea, which is the visual aspect of celebrations. For years, she’s explored the way in which different cultures commemorate events in their lives, particularly how they express it with decoration and objects. Now, with a new body of work, Boone-McCreesh goes beyond this initial inspiration and uses things she’s previously created as raw material for new pieces. They debuted at a recent two-person exhibition with artist Sarah Knobel entitled Anything Sacred at Hamiltonian Gallery in Washington, DC.
Anything Sacred is a birth of new from the old. Through digital manipulation, collage, printing, and reworking, I allow visual elements from an extant body of work to become new imagery printed on vinyl, paper, and custom fabric. The complex layering, stripping, and blending of the digital with the handmade gives birth to a new visual language.
In sampling my own imagery and re-contextualizing it in an immersive visual experience that is both cyclical and unifying, I am challenging traditional notions about value and pushing for a more complex, dynamic personal aesthetic. Simultaneously, my work in Anything Sacred continues to examine the use and meaning of decoration through formal arrangement and design.
You can view Anything Sacred now at Hamiltonian Gallery in Washington, DC until June 21 of this year. More shots of the candy-colored walls and lively work after the jump.