The human relationship with the natural world is a complex one that doesn’t seem to untangle anytime soon. With animal life increasingly being abused and habitats encroached upon anxiety is understandably mounting. Artist Chris Musina address these issues in painting and also sculpture. Musina depicts the uglier side of the human/animal relationship. Rather than highlight idyllic scenes of nature, he draws gruesome imagery of animal mistreatment to the forefront. Animal carcasses are often kept as trophies, dead souvenirs of a once living creature. Painting’s tradition of depicting killed animals is extensive – the fox hunt alone, for example, an entire genre. Appropriately, then, Musina’s animal carcasses are not there to be admired but act as animals condemning the viewer. They seem to be holding an accounting for their present condition in the painting as well as in a larger abstract sense. They act as a tool to deconstruct disassociation. Musina further explains his use of painting in addressing ecological and animal issues:
“Dealing directly with our increasingly volatile and uneasy relationship to the natural world, I draw from contemporary animal thought and a deep phylogeny of cultural cues. My work dismantles how we look at animals via “nature morte” painters, philosophy, hunting, museum dioramas, and the like. Manifested in life size compositions full of dark humor and bright color, I am addressing the animal as neither symbol nor object, but as subject, a subject aware of his or her own powerful symbolic nature. Painting represents the bulk of my practice precisely due to its place in the forefront of a history of representing animals. My paintings are populated with animal protagonists who stare back at the viewer in an uneasy gaze; aware of that place in our cultural history– asking for compassion, mercy, or simply to be put out of their misery.”
Twin brothers Trevor and Ryan Oakes create works which investigate and analyze perspective, perception and the shapes that are intrinsically connected to the way we view the world around us. In addition to incredibly-detailed renderings on curved paper, the brothers Oakes create particularly interesting sculptural works from metaphorically-loaded materials, like the matchstick sculptures pictured above.
Though made from simple materials, their construction was anything but. The Colorado-born, New York-based artist’s match sculptures were difficult to create, as the review in Ignant documents, the “first form was a small grid of matchsticks which curved in two directions to become a portion of the surface of a sphere. After that, they set out on building an entire dome, starting with a ring of matches on a table surface upon which additional rings were stacked. The form didn’t quite want to emerge into a dome though unless a small amount of space was manually added between the match heads. Curiosity eventually caught them an they began to look for a form that would emerge if they didn’t manually space the heads and let the matches truly guide their own behavior. A sea-shell-like spiral unexpectedly emerged.”
The Oakes describe the shapes created from the matchsticks as a reflection of naturally developing forms. “Forms that occur naturally predicated upon simple rules, or building codes; in this case placing one matchstick next to another and allowing the fact that as the head is a slightly different width than the stick, a form will occur naturally.”
The sculptures possess an immediate cultural recognition being made from commonly used objects, and are given more weight when thousands of them are collected together. But they also hold a seductive energy because the inherent reactive possibilities of the materials. Matchsticks immediately insinuate fire, and collected matchsticks offer the potential for a chain-reaction, a possibility which adds to the idea of power in great numbers. (via Ignant)
Belgian artist Nick Ervinck‘s work is a divergent collection of the physical and the digital: by employing computer design techniques with a singular vision to make sculptural works new and exciting, Ervinck turned to 3D printed sculptures for his gallery works and comes out the other side creating works of singular focus, applicability and immediacy.
Says Ervinck on his website’s artist statement, “I have always been fascinated by how art has developed due to the use of new materials and techniques. Somewhat disappointed in contemporary sculpture and it’s lack of renewal, I turned towards architecture, applied sciences and new media, in order to elaborate a new language generated by computer software, and to compose forms and designs that were unthinkable in all those years before.”
While many of his works contain a quality that derives from ““Using copy paste techniques in a 3D software environment, I derive images, shapes and textures from different sources: basilicas, corals, dinosaurs, cottages, Rorschach inkblots, Chinese rocks and trees, manga, twelfth-century floral wallpaper, anatomical parts…”, perhaps most interesting in Ervinck’s work is his particular interest in the future possibilities and practical uses of the 3-Dimensional printing medium. In works such as the AGRIEBORZ series (pictured above), Ervinck worked closely with medical scientists to create realistic reproductions of the details of the human body in the fledgling bio-printing industry. He has openly remarked that he hopes that his artistic concerns and sculptures will eventually fuel scientific inspiration to continue research into the realms of human potential. (via MELT)
These sculptures are made from the bones of dead people. The photographic portraits of these sculptures are made by Arne Svenson. What results is Unspeaking Likeness, a strangely captivating series of death portraits, collected here.
For four years, Svenson sojourned from coroner’s offices to law enforcement agencies allover the country, snapping photographs of facial reconstruction sculptures which were built by forensic artists and molded from unidentifiable victims’ skeletal remains, with the intention of resolving crimes.
The narrative hidden behind each “face” is a mystery, and, as viewers, our own hearts tense with sadness when considering each subject’s lurid last moments of life. It’s almost too much; so, we reject the idea of reconstruction in relation to rejuvenation. It feels psychological, how we need to detach. The “face” in the context of Svenson’s portraits are not representative of an emotional life nor physical body; instead, it’s a mask or doll with a troubling echo, seemingly touched by the hands of Frankenstein.
Nøne Futbol Club is a duo of Paris based artists. They work in a wide variety of mediums and forms from video to installation. However, nearly all of their work seems to be tied together by a certain mischievous sense of humor. Though not always overtly political, the duo’s art is definitely subversive. For example, consider Lift a Finger, the first piece pictured here. The maneki-neko, usually a statuette of a welcoming or beckoning cat suddenly becomes hostile with a simple change of hand gesture. The pharase “KEEP WARM BURNOUT THE RICH” is turned into a branding iron. The implement not only burns, but more importantly is a tool for displaying and designating ownership.
Nicolas Rosette goes onto describe the duo’s practice saying:
“Nøne Futbol Club is a duo that is capable of mobilizing as many accomplices as necessary to make their works and performances.
The playful component is inseparable from their creative process which tackles the world like a playground for the expression of an art whose nature has continually bordered on the cellophane of the white cube and the great palaces must take the risk of being a mass distribution product. The recursive principle in their work is reversal. It is not about diverting elements from pop culture(or popular culture, the term changing depending on whether this culture comes to us from one side or the other of the Atlantic Ocean) but of a reversal whose final address is always popular culture. A double inversion, whose process of revelation reflects back to us as in a mirror the possible destiny of an art world which has become less subtle than the current popular media cultures; whose practices of critical and jubilatory diversions are the foundation. Would the Nøne Futbol Club be applying to contemporary art what digital cultures have subjected Chuck Norris, the pope and Darth Vader to?”
Artist Eyal Gever mixes two and three dimensions to capture the movement of destruction. For these installations Gever begins with a three dimensional model of an explosion that is split into ten layers. The layers are transformed into inkjet prints on acrylic, hung, and lit from underneath. Combining the ten layers gives the piece a strange sort of depth and seems to freeze time. Viewing the sculpture, though motionless, you begin the anticipate the motion and unfolding of the explosion as if it were a running algorithm. Gever explains the technology and concept behind his work saying:
“My sculptures are created from software I have developed. I am influenced by the destructive impact within our environment. Uncontrollable power, unpredictability and cataclysmic extremes are the sources for my work. They inspire, fascinate and remind me of the constant fragility and beauty of human-life. Beauty can come from the strangest of places, in the most horrific events. My art addresses these notions of destruction and beauty, the collisions of opposites, fear and attraction, seduction and betrayal, from the most tender brutalities to the most devastating sensitivities. I oscillate between these opposites. Using my own proprietary 3D physical simulation technologies, I have developed computational models for physical simulation, computer animation, and geometric modeling. Combining applied mathematics, computer science, and engineering, my work captures and freezes catastrophic situations as cathartic experiences.”
Check out the videos above and after the jump to see how the three dimensional images are sliced.
Artist Jeffrey Gibson blends art histories and cultures with seeming effortlessness. His work isn’t the pastiche of past decades, a witty pairing of disparate influences. Rather, Gibson’s work appears more to be rooted in contemporary remix culture. Portions of modern and contemporary art styles inhabit art pieces along traditional Native American artwork with an inclusiveness that’s refreshing. Interestingly, the gallery statement of his latest exhibit at Shoshana Wayne Gallery notes:
“This mash-up of visual and cultural references comes from the artist’s Choctaw and Cherokee heritage, moving frequently during his childhood—to Germany, Korea and the East Coast of the U.S. , and his early exposure to rave and club cultures of the 1980s and 1990s. Gibson cites that the sense of inclusiveness and acceptance, the celebratory melding of subcultures and an idealistic promise of unity all galvanized by the DJ’s power to literally move an audience to dance to his beat, continues to serve as a primary inspiration for his inter-disciplinary practice.”
Still, the way in which the Native American styling especially stands out makes the Native American artists largley left out from the discourse of modern art history conspicuous. The gallery statement continues about this relationship: “The paintings are done on elk rawhide stretched over wood panels. Gibson arrived at this format after years of looking at painting techniques found in various non-Western art histories, of paintings on shields, drums and parfleche containers (animal hides wrapped around varying goods). The paintings also read within a modern and contemporary art context whereas artists from the 1950s and 1960s were looking towards traditions such as Native American and Oceanic art to create ideals of spirituality, animism and purity. One can infer artistic influences from Frank Stella, Ellsworth Kelly, and Donald Judd.”
It’s in this way that Gibson inserts himself and his heritage into art history: by this smart mixing and remixing, and an artist’s eye at the past.
I have to confess I am easily drawn to works of art that resemble or depict toys and other childhood objects. At face value these works are easy, as all of us have some form of relationship or pre-existing association with the referenced nostalgic icons. In other words, the works naturally engage us and draw us in. However, these works, specifically those featured here, use the familiar imagery to interject layers of conceptual content, moving far beyond catchy into heavier implications, through expert usage of scale, quantity and context.
Context is key in these pieces. Maurizio Cattelan is a conceptual master of context, as demonstrated in his piece Daddy Daddy, which features a large drowned figure of Pinocchio floating face down in a pool inside the Guggenheim. The result is ironic, tragic and flawless. As well, the practice of significantly altering scale such as Jeff Koons‘ balloon animal sculptures, Urs Fischer‘s Untitled (Lamp/Bear) and Yoram Wolberger‘s life-size sculptures of toy and trophy figurines, allows the objects to become monolithic, dwarf us and alter our sense of reality.