Europe-Europe is a series of porcelain figurines created by the collective AES+F - a group made up of the artists Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovitch, Evgeny Svyatsky, and Vladimir Fridkes. A first quick glance they may seem like typical decorative figurines. However, it soon becomes clear that something is terribly/wonderfully wrong. The collection, exhibited together in a case, seems like an orgy – people caught in various sexual situations.
Yet, something else makes this series especially interesting: the characters are often thought of disliking or even hating each other in real life situations. A Neo-Nazi strokes the locks of a Hasidic Jewish boy, sweat shop workers pet their capitalist supervisor, a police officer fondles a rioter. While these can easily be read as a playful and optimistic depiction of global unity, a sinister feeling lingers on these figurines. It seems as likely that these hateful feelings are depicted as a sexual tension. Political power struggles are illustrated as sexual power struggles.
At Beautiful Decay we are beginning to bring our readers weekend coverage, where we’ll be sharing micro art trends of the unusual and unexpected every weekend. And we figured what better way to start than with dessert?
The work featured here of artists Peter Bugg, Rebecca Holland, William Lamson, Aude Moreau, Navid Nuur and Kara Tanaka demonstrates that diverse ways confection can become conceptual. From the painstaking process of Moreau’s Sugar Carpet (which uses 4,500 pounds of loose Domino sugar) to the haunting ephemerality of Tanaka’s Social Leveler (When Immortality Became Uncouth), the use of sugar as a medium, sometimes in combination with other materials, becomes an expansive tactile vehicle.
Artist Alan Bur Johnson natural motifs often. However, this may be his work at its most creepy. Johnson’s Progeny series begins with photographs of winged insects. The photographs are transferred to transparencies and affixed to the wall using insect pins. Progeny allows viewers to inspect the insects up close, afford creatures we’d otherwise dispose of more time, and give some thought to taxonomy, the exercise of classification. Interestingly his statement says in part:
“Whether an image, memory or specimen, each is meticulously dissected, altered and restructured. Referencing physical structures and the pulse of living cycles, his work documents fleeting occurrences, which typically transpire unnoticed.”
Street art has become especially exciting and unpredictable over the last several years. However, the last place many would expect to find it is on the water. The New York based street artist SWOON designed three sea vessels built from salvaged material. The “flotilla” sailed from the coast of Slovenia to Venice, Italy. Though, definitely not the street SWOON effectively brings an urban aesthetic to sea. Photographer Tod Seelie was along for the ride to document the trip. The photographs and wild journey are as amazing as the vessels themselves. The raucous mash up of materials perfectly match the crew and set the atmosphere for what was certainly a wild ride.
Artist Li Lihong expertly juxtaposes two familiar but disparate sets of imagery. He renders familiar corporate logos as three dimensional sculptures. However, these are more than just sculptures. Li uses traditional ceramicist techniques coupled with Chinese iconography. The pairing of traditional and contemporary, East and West, corporate and fine art isn’t such a violent clash one may expect. Rather, the over arching familiarity, through from contrasting sources, is nearly complimentary.
Artist Aki Inomata asks “Why not hand over a “shelter” to hermit crabs?” and this is exactly what she does. Inomata carefully scanned the structure of shells used by hermit crabs and took note of their specific needs. Then using 3D modeling software she created new “homes” for these crabs. Drawing a connection between humans and the hermit crabs, Inomata decorated the shells with human structures and dwellings. Somewhat similar to humans, the crabs out grow their shells and must look for new shelter. The project underscores the basic need of a place to live, regardless of the seeming complexity behind the issue.
We are comparable to moths. This is what I think Bernardi Roig is doing with his mixed media pieces: allowing us to see our own attractions to the glowing lights brought forth with the Information Age. From computers to iPhones to tablets– our desire is instinctual or . . . mindlessly animalistic. I’m thinking here also about near death experiences: going towards the light. Remember that iconic scene from Poltergeist? Carol Ann. This too. It’s not about where our bodies gravitate or evolve, but how we speak to the light and what we leave behind as we travel towards it.
Dutch artist Ron van der Ende‘s artworks at once deceiving and straightforward. His wall mounted sculptures are much shallower than they may appear. Not more than six inches deep the carefully painted bas relief pieces suggest a depth that extends beyond the wall. This deception of perspective extends into the works’ content. For example, a humble grain of salt depicted monumentally as if it were some extraterrestrial object. However, van der Ende never forgets his material or attempts to hide the art’s point of origin. For all of the trompe l’oeil effects and meticulous carving, the salvaged wood always seems to seep through. In this way the material determines the piece as a whole, and anything secret isn’t hidden far off.
You can see Ron van der Ende’s exhibition Phasmid currently on view at Ambach & Rice gallery in Los Angeles through the 27th of July.