Disturbing Aftereffects Of Vietnam War Depicted In The Sexually Charged Paintings Of Nguyen Xuan Huy

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Vietnamese painter Nguyen Xuan Huy introduces us to the disruptive effects and ongoing legacy of the Vietnam War. His works carry a rooted sense of grotesque which makes it impossible to stay intact. Huy outlines Vietnam’s grim reality by confronting pop art aesthetics with hints of Socialist iconography and heartbreaking results of Agent Orange warfare.

Huy, who is currently based in Berlin, aggregates many aspects of art history by mimicking famous painter’s artworks. Motifs from Matisse’s Dance, Bosch’s Garden Of Earthly Delights, and even Michelangelo’s Creation Of Adam are taken and distorted to outline the traumatic consequences country’s post-war experiences. Twisted naked bodies, guns and dead animals join in a feast of spite and sorrow.

Agent Orange, a poisonous defoliant, was used by the US military and its counterparts to spray on the Vietnamese countryside hoping it will destroy the food sources and thus, end resistance. Only later it was titled the Chernobyl of Vietnam because of it’s irreversible effects, specifically the crippling birth defects. Chemicals used in Agent Orange caused genotype mutations which are present even three generations later.

“It’s insensitive to imagine that because I was born healthy that I am untouched by this issue. <…> So many people are potential carriers of the altered genotype, this is a problem which could affect each and every citizen of Vietnam.”

(via Hi-Fructose)

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Andy Warhol’s Groundbreaking Computer Art Recovered

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Digitally created visuals are so ubiquitous today, from commercial applications to advertising to contemporary art, that it is hard to remember a time when it was a rudimentary technology used only be a few specialists. Commodore’s “Amiga 1000″ changed this, bringing image creation programs into the home, allowing anyone to create original and edited computer images for the first time. To promote the public launch of their groundbreaking model, Commodore asked Andy Warhol to create an image using the software, demonstrating the accessibility of the program, and the possibilities in the hands of a pioneering visual artist. Seen in the following clip of Warhol “painting” Blondie singer Debbie Harry in 1985, it was assumed that Warhol only used the program once, his digital experiment being forgotten. 

It may have stayed that way had it not been for the curiosity and effort of another pioneering artist, Cory Arcangel. Well-known for his early hacked video games and glitched aesthetic that came to be known as Net Art (or Post-Conceptualism), Arcangel was curious if the Prince of Pop Art created any other works on the early digital format. This search led to conversations with curators at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, who owned most of the equipment (discs, hard drives and floppies) that might contain these experiments. Connecting Arcangel to the nearby Carnegie Melon University’s computing club, who have experience in recovery and “retrocomputing”, the combined effort to recover Warhol’s files took three years.

In a more tech-savvy description of the difficult process at Wired.com, Liz Stinson notes, “Because of the disks’ age and fragility, extracting data posed a serious risk. The archiving and viewing process could irreversibly damage the content, but letting the disks slowly degrade was an even worse option.”

The team was eventually able to recover eighteen images (some of which are shown above), among the first digitally made images by an already famous visual artist. Describing the astoundingly original files, Arcangel said, “What’s amazing is that by looking at these images, we can see how quickly Warhol seemed to intuit the essence of what it meant to express oneself, in what then was a brand-new medium: the digital.”

A documentary about the recovery, Trapped: Andy Warhol’s Amiga Experiments, will premiere May 10th at Carnegie Mellon (and will then be viewable at http://nowseethis.org/.), after which many more of the images will probably be released to the public for the first time ever. (via wired)

 

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Paul Rousso’s Larger-Than-Life Crumpled Paper Sculptures

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Artist Paul Rousso spent part of his career as an art director and freelance illustrator for big companies like Revlon, Clairol, and Bloomingdales. So, it’s fitting that his recent body of work relates to pop art and features realistic, larger-than-life sculptures of discarded candy wrappers, magazine pages, and money. He delicately forms acrylic into folds and creases of paper, and paints it to look like it’s been beat up, stepped on, and generally seen better days.

Rousso is specifically interested in these small pieces of ephemera that mean so much to us. From his artist statement:

Ever since I was a child I have been fascinated by the endless oscillation of the human condition through text and imagery. As alternating replicas of our day-to-day become transformed by the inexplicable need to create, I endeavor to illuminate the imagined, effervescent edges of our all but invisible lives through the flat, two-dimensional subject matter that is all around us. As these shifting forms become distorted through the lens of history, my work inscribes an epitaph to the printed reality that was our past existence.

By blowing up this forgettable part of popular culture, Rousso makes it inescapable. It’s in your face and won’t be ignored, reminding us about the obsessions that we have with it and eventually (try) and forget. (Via PICDIT and mashKULTURE)

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Joe Black’s Pop Art Portraits Created Out Of Thousands Of Small Items

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Joe Black is an artist who uses Pop Art against itself. Collecting iconic imagery (often choosing those which have already been famously exploited by other artists), Black creates large-scale hued portraits using copious amounts of consumer items. One of many artists using collected masses of materials into larger mosiac-style works, Black claims that he is open to using any material as long as it is small and plentiful (past pieces have used Lego pieces, toy soldiers, pins, ball bearings, badges) and relates to the source image. These images, which are best seen from a distance of fifty feet, offer a contextual surprise for viewers upon closer inspection.

Though trained as an artist and painter, Black claims to be uncomfortable labeling himself a professional artist, preferring to consider his work more based on image-making and craftsmanship. One such aspect is the time-consuming application of several thousand smaller pieces which make up his whole images, which Black hand-alters by using aerosol to add tones that give gentle gradients which become the lines and shading of the portrait.  (via u1u11)

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Kenny Scharf’s Psychedelic Pop Art

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Whether through painting, illustration, sculpture, or installation, Kenny Scharf displays an aesthetic saturated with bright colors and playful figures. Think: Pee Wee’s Playhouse + Keith Haring on acid. With his work, Scharf seamlessly integrates pop culture into fun and fluid forms. With his pop culture appeal, it’s no surprise that Scharf has been commissioned to do commercial work by companies such as Kiehl’s, Vans, and Swatch. While other artists might have a different viewpoint on commercial work, for Scharf, the opportunity to bring his playful forms into everyday products is of significant cultural value, “One very important and guiding principle to my work is to reach out beyond the elitist boundaries of fine art and connect to popular culture through my art,” Scharf writes in his artist statement.

These traversed boundaries are mirrored in Scharf’s art through his use of fluid characters and shapes. Stay tuned for more from Art Ruby, who recently paid his studio and one of his psychedelic Cosmic Caverns a visit.

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John Chae’s New Levels, Video-Games and Otherwise

New Levels, the title of John Chae‘s new series of work, captures its dual nature succinctly.  While the phrase New Levels may partly refer to higher levels of perception or consciousness, you may likely have had the same first impression as I did: video games.  Chae’s paintings use both elements of fine art history and throw-away pop culture imagery – he visually cites Magritte and Escher alongside manga artists.  Chae moves beyond the highbrow/lowbrow juxtaposition of our pop-art grandparents.  Rather, his paintings are for and from a generation that doesn’t consume images as much as it puts them to use as a recyclable tool of self-expression.

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Mauro Perucchetti’s Hand Carved Marbel Superheroes And Pez Obama

Italian artist Mauro Perucchetti’s pop sculptures take jabs at everything from Barack Obama to religious ideology (see angry Jesus on the cross after the jump). Working in a large range of mediums from hand carved marble (like the above Batman & Superman sculpture) to cast resin, Perucchetti’s work has the perfect mixture of ironic wit and social critique.

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Sigmar Polke Dies at 69

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German painter and photographer Sigmar Polke (1941 – 2010) died yesterday from complications of cancer, according to Gordon Veneklasen, the artist’s main American representative. Polke invigorated the world of pop art and beyond with his parodic examinations of consumerism and politics, especially those concerning post-war Germany. The artist resisted artistic conventions by expanding on ideas of “what art is” with his multi-faced, mixed media pieces.

“We cannot rely on it that good painting will be made one day. We have to take the matter in hand ourselves,” Polke once said. A bit of an understatement, but I’ll allow Polke’s “good painting” to speak for itself. Check out more of my favorites after the cut.

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