Stop And Smell The Roses: The Eclectic Flora Collages Of Anne Ten Donkelaar

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Spring is in full bloom in the work of Anne Ten Donkelaar, as she breathes new life into fragile shards of flora. Using photos of flowers, she collages together lush bouquets of plants in combinations that are unlike any you may find in the wild. Each bloom and root this Netherland based artist creates is mismatched with another. She even combines black and white nature photography with color, creating a striking affect. Donkelaar’s emphasis of the faint, subtle lines of the roots and stems moving through the composition beautifully compliment the flourishing flora. Her magical specimens are delicate and ethereal, as they seem to float in their frame. In fact, her work is suspended above the background by small pins, casting a contrasting shadow behind it.

“Weeds become poetry, each unique twig gets attention, nature seems to float.”

Donkelaar’s work shows off an eclectic assortment of plant types, as she displays cactus, succulents, and fungi amongst the layers and layers of wildflowers. The large variety of hue and color combined with the widely diverse nature in her work creates overwhelming visual detail and beauty that will have you searching through every leaf and pedal. The artist treats each piece with such love as to show the faint detail of each small bud that transforms and evolves into a new and thriving creation.

“By protecting these precious pieces under glass, I give the objects a second life and hope to inspire people to make up their own stories about them.”

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Wolfgang Laib Makes Art With Yellow Pollen Fields

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German conceptual artist Wolfgang Laib creates his installations from natural materials displayed in very unnatural ways. In “Pollen from Hazelnut,” Laib collected pollen from the area around his studio for over 23 years. In the gallery, he carefully sifted the rich yellow powder into a saturated rectangular field. He says,

“I wanted to have this very intense, concentrated experience … with the pollen. So, the meadow with flowers where I collect the pollen is something very different from how you see it here, a real concentrated experience without any distractions, nothing else.” (Source)

Traditionally, conceptual art is primarily concerned with ideas—aesthetics are mainly disregarded. Laib’s pollen fields are unusual in that they have a strong conceptual basis, yet they’re also lovely and striking. The geometric shapes, as large as 380 square feet, have been described as a “vast luminous field of color” and “a blanket of pure pigment.”

Interestingly it is in the collection of the pollen and the amassed pollen itself where Laib finds the most meaning. The sifting onto the floor is almost irrelevant to him. This exchange is from an interview in The Journal of Contemporary Art

Ottmann [interviewer]: Your pollen pieces are for sale. If a collector wants to own one how exactly does that work?

Laib: He buys three jars of pollen and it’s his choice of keeping it in the jar or to get rid of his furniture and spread it out on the floor.

Ottmann: Would you go to his home and do that?

Laib: Yes, but of course I would be even happier if he would do it himself.

Some critics of the work are concerned with Laib’s “waste” of natural materials. This is not a concern for Laib, who, although he works with natural materials, does not consider himself a naturalist. It’s important to remember that the pollen is gathered by hand over a long period of time, not mass harvested, denuding the environment in one obscene swoop. From concept to exhibition, every aspect of Laib’s work displays patience, precision, and peace.

Read more about Wolfgang Laib on PBS’s wonderful Art21 website and look out for his episode airing soon!

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Whimsical Animals Sculpted From Dreams By Wang Ruilin Carry The World On Their Back

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Beijing artist Wang Ruilin dreams of animal/nature hybrids, surreal and beautiful, influenced by fine art techniques and aesthetics. In his ongoing series, “Pursuit of Dreams,” these unreal images come to life as large copper sculptures.

Some of the animals carry landscapes: cloud lined mountains rest on deer-like antlers; a relief map spreads across the back of a yak; the backs of a crocodile and a whale hold mountain ranges. In Ark, another whale serves as vessel, holding an ocean and icebergs on its back. The play of scale in familiar forms makes these sculptures somewhat whimsical, despite their literal interpretation. The integration of living creature with land mass and body of water lends an added dimension to the idea of “nature.”

“The Ark series is the result of my most recent efforts. Infused with my true feelings and emotions, they send the message that life sustains nature. As I grew older with more life experience, I started to doubt what I used to learn. These works are the denial of our current world and a depiction of an ideal one. I oppose the self-centeredness of human beings and the ruthless exploitation of other species and natural resources. I seek harmony with the nature. Nature’s greatness lies in her inclusion of everything on earth, while man’s greatness lies in his perception of his own smallness.”

Some of the “Pursuit of Dreams” sculptures are more streamlined versions of actual animals. With their smooth surfaces and self-contained air, the Horse, Rhino and Bird sculptures reveal Ruilin’s life-long interest in animals. His art influences are also long-standing:

“Eastern classical art also gives me inspiration. I like deep and pure Chinese flowers and bright and cool verdigris with rich colors and full of profoundness and uniqueness.”

(via This is Colossal)

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Laurent Millet’s Collages Evoke Life And Death By Interweaving Man And Nature

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The surreal collages of men and plants that Laurent Millet creates in his series L’Herbier portray a strong connection between nature and the man. But what is that connection? The roots of the plants are always embedded in the body, replacing veins and organs, speaking of an essential. Is the body a receptacle for these plants? Are the plants a kind of succubus, living in and through the human form?

Millet’s work also connotes a strong sense of the fragility of life, echoing Genesis, “For dust you are and to dust you will return.” Plants growing in and through the body are a strong reminder of mortality, but also that there is life in death. Nothing ever really ends.

On his website, Millet’s tags for this work are revealing. “Copertino, homme, machine, vegetal, sciences, naturelles, herbier.” Man and machine, science and vegetation. Stylistically these disparate elements come together in photographs combined with botanical and anatomical illustrations. The men photographed seem preternaturally still. Are they already dead?

The series opens with this quote:

“[…] she with a knife did off the head from the body, as best she could, and wrapping it in a napkin, laid it in her maid’s lap. Then, casting back the earth over the trunk, she departed thence, without being seen of any, and returned home […] Then, taking a great and goodly pot, of those wherein they plant marjoram or sweet basil, she set the head therein, folded in a fair linen cloth, and covered it with earth, in which she planted sundry heads of right fair basil of Salerno; nor did she ever water these with other water than that of her tears or rose or orange-flower water.”
Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron, 1349-1353, translated by John Payne, 2007, Project Gutenberg ebook

Grotesque but beautiful, it is a reminder of how there must be life after death.

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Stunning Timelapse Captures A Seemingly Dead Plant Come Back To Life

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Videographer Sean Steininger of Tender Fox has put together a stunning video timelapsing the resurrections of the Rose of Jericho (Selaginella lepidophylla) plant. This plant can survive months and sometimes years without water, curling up and browning to the appearance of death – that is, until the presence of water quickly, and seemingly magically, brings the plant back to bright, green life. Steininger captured a time span of just 12-24 hours, documenting the fingers of foliage unfurling multiple times in order to best capture this amazing transformation. You can actually purchase a Rose of Jericho plant on Amazon, if you’d like to experience the water resurrection first-hand. (via colossal)

 

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Antonio Mora Transforms Human Portraits Into Mind-Bending Illusions

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Double exposure portraits by Spanish-based artist Antonio Mora (a.k.a. Mylovt) blend human and nature worlds into surreal hybrid artworks. Mora works with images he’d found browsing through online databases, magazines and blogs, and then fuses them together using skillful photo manipulation techniques. His seamless way of mixing various concepts together leaves the viewer with mind-tricking illusions.

“I want people to feel inspired when observing my artworks, and that is what I long for. I often look at images hundreds of times without finding anything, and then the spark just arrives. It’s a bit like fishing, a matter of patience and intuition.”

Mora describes his artworks as cocktails, mixtures of ordinary elements merged into forceful and expressive daydreams. According to the artist, his inspiration is provided by the limitless Internet itself and he feels as a medium between the two parallel worlds: real-life and the Web.

Antonio Mora originally graduated from graphic design. Right after his studies, he started a personal design studio which turned him into an art director for 15 years. Gradually, artist decided to concentrate on his art solely. Mora is one of the artists whose instant fame relies on social media: “Social networks, especially Pinterest, have been an important vehicle to spread by artworks”.

His mind-bending photo manipulations are very accessible to the public, as Mora offers anyone the chance to have their own portrait turned into an astounding work of art. (via Writeca)

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Incredibly Detailed Drawings Merge Wildlife And Human Worlds

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Graphic design and illustration studio Violaine & Jeremy create stunning graphite pencil drawings of animals and people merging with wildlife and nature. Surreal illustrations feature wild and domestic critters propped with various attributes of human world: spectacles, patterned scarves and even Victorian waistcoats.

Another humorous venture by the creative duo, Violaine Orsoni and Jeremy Schneider, is to attach lush flowery beards onto humans and wild animals. The unexpected combination of a fiercely looking gorilla sporting a Garden of Eden-like facial hair is beyond humorous. The idea seems to resonate with the latest trend of men adorning their beards with colorful blossoming flora.

Each piece of the collection demonstrates incredible attention to detail. Perfect technique of pencil hatching and shading brings Orsoni and Schneider’s intricate drawings very close to photorealism. Their studio collaborates on a variety of projects: from visual identity, to album covers, to design of the France’s leading innovation magazine, Influencia. (via KoiKoiKoi)

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Deconstructed Photography: Joseph Heidecker And Four Other Artists Redefine The Photograph

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Since the first photograph, photography has ushered forth in producing a consequential depiction of truths through the containment of fleeting moments in a tangible and archival format. Instances in time are revealed as light falls upon sensitized paper, asserting the presence of each photograph’s content. The picture plane remains uniform, constricted by its own variable, physical dimensions: a synthetic simulacrum of a three-dimensional reality that will forever remain in constant flux. And yet, in spite of presenting elements of proof based within reality, the upheaval of the actual authenticity of the photograph has found itself under siege.

Through a variety of executions, the following artists working with the photographic medium twist this truism in unique and awe-inspiring ways, abolishing preconceived notions of photography through a re-presentation of the photograph. In their reconsideration of the ordinarily static picture plane, form is pushed beyond the confines of the image through the destruction, manipulation or interference of the photograph.

Featured artists include Joseph Heidecker, Matthew Brandt, Soo Kim, Eileen Quinlan and Nelson Crespo.

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