Manal Al Dowayan’s installation illustrates Saudi women’s struggle for freedom

Manal Al Dowayan- Sculpture

Manal Al Dowayan- Sculpture

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Manal Al Dowayan is a Saudi Arabian contemporary art photographer based in London, Dubai and her native land of Saudi. The basis of her work is black-and-white photography, however she recently introduced more layers to her work by working on sculpture and installations .

Suspended Together, first displayed on the 54th Venice Biennale’s The Future of Promise exhibition is comprised of 200 fiberglass doves that hang from the ceiling by transparent nylon thread. Each of these doves are imprinted with images of written postcards and stamps.

The piece is visually striking and it evokes an interesting set of complex emotions and ideas that challenge the spectator’s view on Saudi women and their initiatives and downfalls to find freedom. At first glance, Suspended Together gives the impression of movement and freedom, however, a closer look, leaves the spectator looking at doves that are static in movement, suspended in flight. Manal tells Nafas Magazine that the written text and images imprinted in the doves are real “permission documents issued by an appointed guardian when they [women, in this case successful professionals] have to travel [get surgery, or any type of important procedure]” ; women in Saudi are not able to conduct themselves freely, and although reforms to improve the visibility and freedom of women look promising, they don’t seem to pass through King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia’s leader. This struggle is visually present in Manal’s work, as she successfully implements imagery that illustrates the contradiction of many important women that found success in their profession [the dove], yet find themselves suspended in flight, as they try to find their way to do the small tasks of everyday life with volition and freedom from their ‘guardians’.

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Otoniel Borda Garzón’s Tornado-Like Wood Sculptures

Otoniel Borda Garzón

Otoniel Borda Garzón

Otoniel Borda Garzón is known for his use of repurposed wood to create intricately twisted installations that dominate their gallery settings. The Bogota-born Garzón creates shapes which resemble naturally destructive environmental forms, those which upset life and cause death and destruction. The insinuations of hurricanes, tornadoes and twisters is amplified by the use of splintered wood, which recalls the damage after extreme weather conditions. However, his choice of using wood is important to these piece’s message. Just as the tree’s death gives humans and animals a material to work with, Garzón continues this cycle by using wood that has also ‘died’ or lost its purpose, creating a metaphor for the constant cycle of life and death and reinvention.

This series of installations, which the artist calls Reserva, involves site-specific construction and a reaction to each individual exhibition space. For the Bogota International Art Fair, Garzón built a 40 foot high tornado (pictured above and below). The installation, which took almost three weeks to build, with an additional week to disassemble, both reminds the viewer of the instabilities of destruction, but also the possibilities of life. (via colossal and behance)

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Seon Ghi Bahk’s Cascading Sculptures Created Out Of Charcoal

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There is something intrinsically fascinating about seeing the ordinary created in new, surprising ways. Artist have long used this technique to make their viewer contemplate new connections and possibilities, and the internet has proven to be a particularly useful tool in spreading this type of work. South Korean artist Seon Ghi Bahk is an expert at this method. Using charcoal and other natural materials en masse to form familiar objects, Bahk reminds of us the connection between man-made goods and their source.

Bahk’s precision is absolute, meticulously hanging large groups of charcoal at specific heights to collectively echo architectural and building elements, such as stairs, columns, shelves and planters. Using translucent nylon thread to hang individual pieces gives each installation a floating quality, further separating them from their everyday inspiration.

In an interview with the Korean Art Museum’s Korean Artist Project, Bahk explains how he came to use charcoal in his installation work. “I first used stones as materials for the installations…but the supporting structure and installation became unnecessarily large and overwhelmed the stones so I replaced the stones with charcoal. Since I spent my childhood out in nature, I wanted to embrace natural things in my work. I found that my favorite things in nature were wind, mountains and trees. But it was difficult to express wind or mountains in my work, so I chose trees as an alternative, and charcoal comes derives from that…now I seek natural encounters between man and culture…I emphasize the materiality in its poetic shapes.”

(via mymodernmet)

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Ernesto Neto’s Massive Installations Address Mind/Body Relationships

Ernesto Nesto - Installation

Ernesto Nesto - Installation

Ernesto Nesto - Installation

Ernesto Neto’s installations ache of a strange dreamy womb I’m sleepwalking towards, one that promises 100 years of hibernation, an extended respite that is sensually comforting and yet also terrifying claustrophobic. It’s a peculiar feeling– a mushy feeling, a propelling and repulsive feeling, or push and pull, that I can’t stop leaning into.

I am not my body, yet I am my body.

Unintentionally echoing motifs in David Cronenberg’s psychological horror films, Neto’s “beyond abstract minimalism” worlds seem to confront the dysfunctional relationship we have with our internal and external selves, and the weeping orifices that connect us to one another on a physical and emotional level. Each path is carved viscerally, interactively– ideally, playfully, but admittedly, horrifyingly in our own image, resembling internal organs and wads of flesh and goo. We are attracted to this, and this attraction is disturbing.

Of his work, and perhaps of this feeling I’m describing, in an interview with Bill Arning, Neto states, “Do you understand the word sacanagem? It’s a Portuguese word that does not translate well. It is beyond flirting. It’s after that, in that moment when both of your faces change into something else because the erotic charge is so high, when your bodies move towards each other. I wanted the work to manifest sacanagem without talking about it. It’s all subtextual. My work is first and foremost a contemporary sculpture; it speaks of the finite and the infinite, of the macroscopic and the microscopic, the internal and external, by the masculine and feminine powers, but sex is like a snake, it slithers through everything.”

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Text Based Neon Art From Bruce Nauman And Six Other Artists

Patrick Martinez neon art

Patrick Martinez

Bruce Nauman neon art

Bruce Nauman

Tracey Emin neon art

Tracey Emin

Text art seems to be popping up everywhere these days in a multitude of diverse forms, although the use of text in art is inarguably not a new movement.  However, when it comes to using words in visual art, several artists of different ages and sub-genres have found ways to burn their words into our brains.  The pieces featured here have real stay-power.  Whether the artist employs a blinking pattern between words, such as Bruce Nauman does, or draws rawly from their cultural background and related personal experience, such as Glenn Ligon and Patrick Martinez, these works deliver a very contemporary message. With simple language, and a sometimes poetic-sometimes brash- sense of honesty, these neon text-based works transcend many other works of text based art made today.  Artists featured here include: Bruce Nauman, Patrick Martinez, Tracey Emin, Jill Magid, Glenn Ligon, Robert Montgomery and Jung Lee.  The works speak for themselves- yet we encourage you to read between the lines.

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Urs Fischer And Seven Other Artists Create Dynamic Works With Houses

Urs Fischer

Urs Fischer

Rachel Whiteread

Rachel Whiteread

 An Te Liu

An Te Liu

The house is a shape everyone has some form of relationship with.  Whether it symbolizes comfort, global financial crises in housing market, cookie cutter mediocrity or family, the house as a mundane symbol or object has been elevated to captivating experimental art and high art on several occasions.  This weekend we share with you a selection of significant works that adapt houses into art objects.

Urs Fischer‘s Untitled (Bread House), constructed of bread, bread crumbs, wood, polyurethane foam, silicone, acrylic paint, screws, tape and rugs leaves every ingredient exposed.  Stepping inside this large sculptural work recently at MOCA had the effect of walking inside a decaying fairytale, as the work is naturally allowed to crumble and decompose in exhibition.  Stepping over piles of crusts of cinnamon raisin bread amidst dirty rugs and peering up at the bubbled polyeurythane foam that seeps between boards and rows of old bread, the viewer may feel any combination of wonder, amusement and fear- much like Grimms Brothers Fairytales.

An Te Liu‘s Title Deed  evolved from the Leona Drive Project in Toronto where a number of vacant tract houses were offered to artists to be reinvented as artistic installations.  As this project took place in 2009 in the height of the housing market crash, the artist observed that the simple shape of the existing house represented the 20th century iconic Monopoly board game house pieces.  The simple, yet flawless execution of Title Deed situated within a functioning suburban neighborhood carries comical yet heavy implications.

 

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Charles Matson Lume’s Ethereal Light Works

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Artist James Turrell, pioneer of using light as an art medium, once said “Seeing is a very sensuous act“. Charles Matson Lume follows Turrell’s influential path, adding his own sculptural, material and architectural elements to his light works. Though the two have distinct differences, Lume’s idea that “Light is seemingly capable of releasing a kind of secret from the ordinary” holds many similarities to Turrell’s artistic philosophy.

The Twin Cities-based Lume spoke with Beautiful/Decay on the eve of being named to the ArtPrize Shortlist for 3D Works for his piece, The World’s An Untranslatable Language II (for Charles Wright) (pictured above). Using pedestals of plastic warning tapes, as well as neon duct tape, mirrored paper reflects light onto the gallery’s walls, creating the alluring forms and patterns which are the spirit of Lume’s work. The artist adds, “Yes, the light is elemental in my work. However, the materials hold meaning. For me, the pas du deux of light and materials mirrors my experience in the world.”

This relationship between the materials and the light itself is interesting, as it is the artist’s main medium, yet is given more conceptual heft with the importance placed in the ephemeral materials used to support the light works themselves. Many of Lume’s ideas are broadened (and also named after) his interest in contemporary poetry, but the artist quickly adds, “I am interested in visual pleasure, the sensual, and experiential. I am also interested in what distracts us (Is there anything in our culture that isn’t vying for our attention?) What gets in the way of really living a full life? Art allows me to find gestures in which I can sometimes access a kind of authenticity that is true.”

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Earthworks: Five Artists Sculpt The Landscape

Matthew Moore

Matthew Moore

Lita Albuquerque

Lita Albuquerque

Andy Goldsworthy

Andy Goldsworthy

Our planet is a truly magical work of art; complex, multifaceted and textural.  Perhaps this is why Andy Warhol, a name that is unlikely to be associated with this topic, once said, “Land really is the best art.”  Viewed in this simplistic yet profound light, land, or Earth, serves almost as found object in the implementation of Earthworks.  In other instances land becomes the canvas, or the sculptural negative space for installation, or even a foundation and medium to explore sociocultural patterns.

Lita Albuquerque has used the earth and its materials for decades to create ephemeral and spiritually infused work. Her incorporation of performance, photography and installation creates multiple dimensions and lenses to experience our world, our relationship to earth and the stars, as well as their rhythms and cycles.  The images featured here of her project Stellar Axis document an artistic expedition into Antarctica, which was the first and largest ephemeral work created on the continent. The installation of ninety-nine spheres across the icy landscape mimics the pattern of the ninety-nine Antarctic stars above- visually linking Earth to the cosmos.

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