After the death of a dear friend, the photographer Emir Ozsahin was struck by the poignancy of life and grief, choosing to confront by creating heartbreaking images of deceased animals. In his series Pastel Deaths, he captures lifeless creatures in gentle tones, hoping to undo the fact of their tragic deaths with the naiveté of a child incapable of processing mortality: with the utmost innocence, he poses a dog beneath a blanket and offers the grey-nosed canine a book to read.
The series conveys this youthful optimism and poignant refusal to accept death with the use of tiny fixtures that could easily reside within a child’s dollhouse: a bed on which a bird might lay his beak, a straw nest for a guinea pig, a tiny, sudsy bathtub for another, darkly featured bird. The artist’s relentless striving to erase the fact of and his own personal knowledge of death is utterly heart wrenching; we follow him as he personifies each creature with a soft pair of miniature pajamas, a stuffed toy, or a pair of fallen glasses.
The juxtaposition of the dead with the artist’s infant-like insistence upon life results in a painfully intimate conversation with death and with each once-living being. Ozsahin’s subjects are so unflinchingly peaceful in their eternal slumber that the viewer must approach them only with utter care; the eye holds each for a moment like a tender newborn baby, then sets him down to rest. As viewers, we waver between acknowledging the facts and whispering to ourselves quietly, “No, look, he’s just sleeping.” While using once living creatures as subjects normally raises ethical flags for me, Ozsahin’s images read like Victorian post-mortem shots of humans, serving to tenderly and lovingly memorialize each creature. (via Feature Shoot)
When Sally Mann published a series of photographs of her children titled Immediate Family in 1992, she spotlighted childhood with a rich tonal backdrop of a Virginia riverside summer house, and she was met with accusations of child pornography. About twenty years later, caught in a starkly different contemporary artistic current, the photographer Alain LaBoile presents La Famillie, a series that for its distinctive silver gelatin aesthetic and subject matter seems to pick up where Mann left off.
LaBoile’s work, unlike Mann’s, lacks the suggestion of immediacy, binding viewers within the nostalgic frame of childhood play, entirely carefree and unabashed. Mann’s work is urgent: she reveals a haloed shot of her daughter, blonde hair dancing in pool of water like some inexperienced Ophelia, and she tragically subverts its innocence with image of the last nude swimming photo her son let her take. Childhood for Mann is something to be beautifully lost, but for LaBoile, it’s more of a constant realm, easily returned to with a flash and made blindingly undeniable by jarring accents of white.
The innovative power of this contemporary work relies upon oh-so-subtle symbols of purity and incorruptibility of youth; a boy digs himself from mud filled and grave-like abyss, resurrected in glowing white to a young girl who prances about the Edenic verdure. Similarly, another daughter remains preserved in a class case, safely nuzzled between fine china and a white cat. Bums innocently moon the camera like those of cherubs. A boy printed in a blinding sort of white appears to hang from a tree; yet upon closer inspection, he’s just climbing, playing the part of a-not-yet-fallen Adam for an onlooking sister. Take a look. (via Feature Shoot)
On his blog, “The Daily Doodles”, self-taught artist David Michael Chandler features an illustration or gif every day accompanied by a story or poem. Most of his work is representative of childhood fears and nostalgia, and includes science fiction and fantastical elements. I love his bright color palettes and dreamy narratives. His worlds are full of childhood imagination and possibility.
Chandler says, “Everything I create on my site is written and drawn by me alone, and I love how I can control every aspect of my art and have it succeed or fail with only me to blame. I try to keep it all as original as possible, and as a rule I don’t reference anything from pop culture, such as TV or movies.”
Chandler currently lives in Los Angeles. (via art chipel)
I have to confess I am easily drawn to works of art that resemble or depict toys and other childhood objects. At face value these works are easy, as all of us have some form of relationship or pre-existing association with the referenced nostalgic icons. In other words, the works naturally engage us and draw us in. However, these works, specifically those featured here, use the familiar imagery to interject layers of conceptual content, moving far beyond catchy into heavier implications, through expert usage of scale, quantity and context.
Context is key in these pieces. Maurizio Cattelan is a conceptual master of context, as demonstrated in his piece Daddy Daddy, which features a large drowned figure of Pinocchio floating face down in a pool inside the Guggenheim. The result is ironic, tragic and flawless. As well, the practice of significantly altering scale such as Jeff Koons‘ balloon animal sculptures, Urs Fischer‘s Untitled (Lamp/Bear) and Yoram Wolberger‘s life-size sculptures of toy and trophy figurines, allows the objects to become monolithic, dwarf us and alter our sense of reality.
NYC via Arizona artist Joe Sorren creates oil paintings of idyllic children and their soft, forgiving companions. He shares a similar palette with Dave Cooper, and both artists have also been represented, at one time or another, by the same gallery (Jonathan Levine in Chelsea, NYC). But that’s pretty much where the comparisons end. Where Cooper depicts hedonistic wood-nymphs frolicking in the woods, Sorren places children sitting on a blanket reading a book. The artist’s beautiful paintings show us that there is as much intrigue and mystery in the lighter (and perhaps also sad) elements in in life as there are in the dark, animalistic realm of self-serving greed. Sorren will hold a small solo show in Levine’s project room in December.
It’s hard to stand out as a collage artist these days. But Brooklyn-based Pierre Botardo is so good at what he does that his wonderfully composed , vibrant works have no trouble ‘standing out’. This new batch of collaged goodness from Botardo gives you the idea that the artist has somehow gazed into the collective childhood memories of all Americans, and combined his experiences into a collection found on paper that is so empathic, that it makes us want to go home and do it all again.
Kwong Kyung Yup‘s latest series of paintings have calmness and warmth despite her subjects looking like victims of some tragic accident, bearing eye patches, bandages, and occasionally, tears. Her subjects seem to pierce through her canvas with knowing looks, her titles like “Audios,” “Bleached Memory,” “Childhood,” and “Memory of Love” suggest pain the artist might have felt in coming of age.