Artist Takahiro Iwasaki is a master when it comes to constructing elaborate, miniature landscapes. However, these small-scale scenes are not formed from Lego’s, but from much more unlikely and unstable items such as cloth fiber, dust, and human hair. This Japanese artist takes the most miniscule, seemingly insignificant materials and uses them to create something incredibly complex and enchanting. His newest installations, which are part of the series titled Out of Disorder, contain mini-scenes of recognizable landmarks such as Coney Island, ferris wheel and all. Inspired by painted landscapes on Japanese folding screens, Iwasaki comments on his work in relation to its inspiration.
“Just as the artist of the screens did, I would like to revisit a commonplace everyday scene from today’s Japan, and just as the screens embody a smooth flow from one season to the next, I hope to capture, in my work, the graceful transition of a Japanese landscape from past to present.”
Each tree, building, factory, and rollercoaster in Iwasaki’s work are brightly colored and fragile, as many of them are enclosed in a glass case. This glass reveals one of the most captivating elements of the landscapes; the layers of clothing that make up the earth in many of the installations. Each cloth is filled with diverse colors and clashing patterns, revealing a mishmash of layers that resemble section of sediment in the soil. They form the rolling hills and steep slopes that make up the miniature environments. However, not all of the artist’s creations are constructed from recycled cloth, but from toothbrushes, as well. Telephone towers sprout out of Iwasaki’s toothbrush bristles in this strange yet familiar installation. Out of Disorder is on display now at Takahiro Iwasaki’s first solo show Takahiro Iwasaki: In Focus at the Asian Society Museum in New York. (via Spoon & Tamago)
Galleries come in all sizes, even in a really, really tiny scale. Swedish graphic designer and illustrator Henrik Franklin has created an installation that’s something you’d be more likely to see in a dollhouse than anywhere else. But, instead of a bedroom, it’s located at the Odenplan underground station at Gallery 1:10 in Stockholm, Sweden. The group exhibition is titled If You Tolerate This – an exhibition about resistance. Franklin’s piece features a library of colorful books, all small enough that you can hold between two fingers.
In a show centered around worries of the future and the holding on to hope, Franklin’s tiny books represent how important literature is in our development. It teaches us the lessons of the past so we won’t be doomed to repeat them; prose also encourages and inspires us to dream and to think differently.
If You Tolerate This – an exhibition about resistance is on view until December 6.
Kim Burke’s miniature food sculptures are so realistic you’ll want to eat them in one bite. Inspired by the photorealist movement, Burke creates flawless dollhouse-scale meals from actual photographs, positioned at various angles for maximum accuracy. Each plate of food, so small as to be balanced on a human fingertip, is carefully rendered from clay using needles, razor blades, and a rock for texture. Chalk pastels add color. For cake frosting, Burke uses Translucent Liquid Sculpey mixed with solid clay. The artist’s company, Fairchild Art, offers a range of plates, from sweet to savory dishes, each at a 1:12 scale.
Burke’s passion for dollhouse accessories began as a hobby in 2008, but soon blossomed into what she calls an “obsession.” The work is painstaking and each piece typically requires one to three hours of full concentration, but the result is well worth it. She says of her process, “every time I make something new I always try to add something extra to make it even look more real.”
Decadent and indulgent, Burke’s tiny masterpieces combine the sensuousness of a Caravaggio painting with the whimsy of childhood play. Like Caravaggio’s Still Life with Fruit, each piece is entirely inedible yet invites a mouthwatering appetite. Burke’s delicate fruit baskets emerge like Eden’s forbidden fruit in miniature, igniting the imagination and uninhibited delight. Poignantly small, they remind us of the preciousness of our humanity. When seen on a plate the size of a penny, the most familiar food stuffs become miraculous and spellbinding. Made with tender love and care, the diminutive plates suggest our own fragilities and vulnerabilities. Take a look. (via Demilked)
The Michigan-based artist Bobby Causey breathes life into his astonishingly realistic sculptures of iconic movie stars and characters. As if ripped straight from the silver screen, his latex figures of Heath Ledger as the Joker and Jack Nicholson in The Shining appear to be frozen in a moment of passion and suspense. Some of the meticulously-crafted characters are built on a one to six scale, but their miniature frame hardly detracts from their ability to express the thrill of a memorable cinematic moment.
Without any formal training, the self-taught artist has developed a craft uniquely his own; for each piece, he carefully studies photographs of actors, memorizing their every trait. Amazingly, he plugs each strand of hair into the heads of his creation individually. While he has done some work for TV shows, his heart remains with classic film, and he prefers to send his work to children’s charities like the Make-a-Wish foundation. For his own daughter, he built a Na’vi from the movie Avatar.
Though he ultimately hopes to explore original sculptures, Causey narrows his current focus on replicating well-known and well-loved characters: Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden in Fight Club, Kiefer Sutherland as David in The Lost Boys, and Batman from The Dark Knight. These hyperrealistic models remind us of the joys of the cinema, fleshing out the figures who have haunted the collective conscious of movie-goers for decades. Causey’s body of work is much like the famed wax figures of Madame Tussaud’s museum, but they are somehow less campy, emanating a lovely sense of earnestness. Take a look. (via Oddity Central)
For the Turkish artist Hasan Kale, the tiniest morsel of food inspires visions of sweeping landscapes. Using his finger as a palate, he adorns almonds, M&Ms, and the most translucent layers of an onion with astonishing renderings of his native Istanbul. Where most landscapes take up entire museum walls, commanding attention with their sheer immensity, Kale’s work does the opposite. In these miraculous works of macro painting, the infinite nature of the earth, sea, and sky collides with the impossibly minuscule, heightening the preciousness of the Turkish terrain.
Here, snack foods become as wondrous as great feats of nature and man. On thin slice of banana, a storm rages, its brushstrokes transforming the very texture of the fruit into that of a saturated canvas. On the inner flesh of an almond, he imagines the legendary baroque architecture of the Nusretiye Mosque. The iconic building becomes vertically stretched as in a romantic masterpiece, extending upwards to conform to the natural shape of the almond. On these tiny surfaces, the grandiosity of the city’s architecture is expressed through the vibrancy of color and the dreamy, sweeping whims of the artist’s brush.
Perhaps the most poignant aspect of Kale’s work is its impermanence. Unlike the great canvases entombed in museums, these paintings will decay, perish, or be lost. The banana will rot into mush; the fragile quail egg might crumble. A stunning mosque might accidentally be eaten. But in the meantime, these imagined landmarks exist for the sake of our wonderment. Take a look. (via Colossal)
For her project Rouleaux, the French multimedia artist Annastassia Elias builds tiny world within single toilet paper rolls. Lit from behind, her delightful cardboard scenes appear like stills from a mysterious work of shadow puppetry. Here, the roll, most commonly a piece of trash associated with the mundane rituals of domestic life, becomes elevated to the realm of high art. Elias’s visual narratives span time and space; as surely as summer swings fade to frigid snowmen, we move from an underwater universe to the barber shop around the corner.
Caught between the circular borders of the toilet paper roll, Elias’s characters seem to emerge from the cardboard of their own volition. Each racehorse and dinosaur is constructed from cut pieces of paper that share their color with the naked roll itself. The artist chooses not to paint either the rolls or the scenes that emerge from within them, allowing the textured, sand-hued paper to maintain a uniform circularity; ultimately, each tiny world appears to be eternally collapsing into itself. Horses run in circles, and a weary man and his donkey, who lowers his head in exhaustion, appear to trudge forward down a path that will only lead to the start.
Fitting in the palm of one’s hand, Elias’s delicate pieces remind us of the preciousness of even the most banal moments. Beneath sheets of toilet tissue, we might discover secret universes, available only to those with a childlike imagination and a thirst for adventure. Rouleaux is now available as a book, and the pieces are currently on view at the National Museum of Singapore until August 3, 2014. (via Demilked)
Packed within the four walls of a tiny 6 by 10 centimeter sardine can, the miniature characters created by sculptor Nathalie Alony for her project Home Sweet Home are both humorous and poignant. Arranged in a massive grid, the artist’s sardine can dioramas serve as a metaphor for the confined apartments in which we nest. These intricate figurines—men, women, children, beloved pets—each exist within the limits of their aluminum enclosure, building complex family and personal universes that seem to operate independently of the outside world. Despite the isolation of each piece, together Alony’s cans form a complex network that wakes and rests as a unified community, separated only by thin, delicate metal.
Like strange dollhouses, these precious sardine can apartments allow us to navigate and to find meaning in the rituals of domestic life. Much of the action portrayed here is banal: the routine laundering of children’s clothes, the checking off of days on a calendar, the painting of walls. When seen in miniature, intricately rendered by the artist’s masterful hands, mundane home improvement tasks become endlessly enthralling. Here, we can be voyeurs in the most innocent sense, entering the intimate confines of the homes of others with tender curiosity.
Alony’s brilliant little worlds capture the lonesomeness of modern living; seeing the fourth aluminum wall pulled back to reveal precious, private lives, we yearn for a similar intimacy in real life. A home, carved out lovingly from a tiny industrial box, contains all the secrets and wonders of families that are not our own. What goes on in the cherished homes of others? (via Junk Culture and Lost at E Minor)
The Connecticut-based artist Dalton M. Ghetti carves mind-glowingly small sculptures atop the tips of pencils. Bored with carving larger objects, the sculptor invented this delightfully miniature medium to draw the eye to the pleasures of the minuscule; in a world where bigger is generally thought to be better, his work reminds us that sometimes the most magical things can spring forth from right under our noses. Ghetti uses sewing needles and razor blades as carving tools, and he works by holding the pencil steady beneath a direct light source like a lamp. Due to the required precision and effort, a single piece may take months or even years to finish.
Ghetti’s work contains a charming childlike curiosity and innocence, one that is maintained in part by his staunch refusal to sell or profit financially from his creations. The pencil is an artistic medium in itself, and by carving it, the artist shifts our perspective and subverts our understanding of what constitutes fine art. Furthering this whimsical challenge to the visual arts cannon, Ghetti avoids fancy pencils, using only recycled or discarded pencils that he finds on the street. The subject matter of his sculptures is also delightfully regular; by carving these everyday objects—a saw, a hammer, a spool of thread— he elevates the seemingly mundane.
Ghetti’s most ambitious piece is his 9/11 memorial. For the project, titled 3,000 tears, the artist carved 3,000 tiny teardrops from pencil graphite. Each tear took approximately an hour to make, and the entire work was in progress for a decade. Together, the tears form one large drop. Take a look. (via KoiKoiKoi)