Artist Patricia Piccinini has a very impressive and eclectic range of artistic talents. Her body of work includes drawings, installations, and even a giant hot-air balloon that has floated across Australia. Her astonishingly hyper-real sculptures, however, truly give you an image that you will not soon forget. Made from silicone, acrylic, and fiberglass, Patricia Piccinini forms creatures that appear to be somewhat human, but altogether alien. They seem to be alive, as they stare back at you with emotion-filled eyes. They exhibit traits of humans, like lifelike hair and fleshy skin, but are unmistakably not. It is as if they are hybrid animals living amongst us. Many of her sculptures include one of her hairless, mutated creatures alongside of what appears to be a real human. The dichotomy between this possible mutated creatures and a “human” is interesting, because neither one is actually real.
Patricia Piccinini’s work explores ethical issues surrounding cloning, DNA, and genetic mutation. Her shocking sculptures point a firm finger at human kind’s manipulation of nature and the possible consequences. The effect science has on the natural world and the creatures inhabiting it are a reoccurring theme in Piccinini’s work. We see her sculptures that look so realistic; it is as if these grotesque creatures really do exist. Portraying them with human-like features gives way to pity and empathy for the creatures. The artist’s incredibly intriguing work is one of unbelievable skill that holds a strong, often controversial, message on genetic alteration and mankind’s hand in nature.
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, this artist takes the written word and uses it to carve rolling hills and steep mountains. Artist Guy Laramee transforms the pages of a book into a breathtaking a landscape by carving and shaping its pages into different geography. He uses books like encyclopedias and dictionaries to create mostly cliffs and steep rock formations. These tiny environments are incredibly detailed, as you can see each small tree, bush, and layer of earth. It is as if the pages have been corroded away, producing new form in the books. Erosion is a heavy theme in Guy Laramee’s body of work. Interested in ethnography, he explains that parts of cultures are often eroded away, lost to the hands of time. As technology advances, in print materials, such as encyclopedias, are on their way to being obsolete. The artist uses these “archaic” tools and utilizes them in a new way. Once a source for knowledge, now questions what is at risk of being lost culturally if these physical books do indeed disappear.
Guy Laramee is not just a talented paper sculpture, as you can see from the covers of the books he uses. He beautifully paints birds and sky on the covers and displays them upright so that you can see both sides. Both the inside and outside of these books are transformed into something amazing, showing different forms of nature. His miniature environments and ecosystems now live in the pages of books, reminding us of what stories and knowledge could possibly lay between the pages.
The curious artwork of Grzegorz Gwiazda breaks down form and structure, yet often builds up color and shape. His sculptures range from a wide variety of style, whether it is representational, surreal, or incredibly abstract. Reminiscent of 19th century European sculptures, his work has a timeless quality that demands respect and appreciation. However, there is always an unmistakable contemporary element present in each piece. For example, one of Gwiazda’s sculptures appears to be a classic, male nude made out of bronze. However, this man is also riding a unicycle, and even has one red foot. Another striking piece holds his arms out in a traditional stance, also nude. This sculpture contains a brilliant blue stripe dissecting the man in half, while several shades of vibrant colors fanning across the background in which he stands. The artist beautifully takes 19th century motifs and style and majestically brings them into contemporary times; into the avant garde.
Not all of Gwiazda’s sculptures display realistically sculpted, male nudes. Many of them break down the figure, melting their details and characteristics until, sometimes; they are nothing but a skeleton of a man. His multiplicity in styles is as impressive as his eclectic us of media. He uses more common materials like bronze and ceramic, but also uses more obscure ones like resin and paper. The artist is able to create such magnificent form and detail, with just enough abstraction to push male nude sculpture to the next level.
Sparkling sequence and plush yarn are just some of the mixture of materials that artist Rachel Denny uses in her work to cover bodies, or sometimes just heads, of animals. This Portland based artist’s work lives in a world somewhere between taxidermy and your grandmother’s craft room. Her unique take on animal trophy heads uses cashmere knitting and twine to transform what looks like the shape of the head of a dead animal. Denny’s artwork includes a diverse variety of woodland fauna, including deer, horses, goats, lambs, and even bears. Sometimes her colorful, eclectic materials, including satin, matchsticks, and pennies cover an entire body of a creature, other times it is just the head unattached to its body.
The creative and interesting use of materials used transforms the animals into something different, something very inviting and attractive, but also unnatural. The seductive sparkles of the black sequence Denny uses pulls you in closer, all the while there is a “bear” underneath. There is a theme of masking over organic beauty with our own human inventions that is apparent in the artists work. Humans often take a natural object or creature that is already beautiful, and try to improve on it. We alter it so that it fits our own needs, or that we may see it as looking even better. Although Denny’s work is incredibly bright and fun with her pastel yarn and sparkling materials, there is a dark hint of the hand that humans have on the natural environment. (via The Jealous Curator)
Kirk Cheng invites us to stop and smell the roses at his new solo exhibition “Circle of Life” at the Above Second gallery in Hong Kong. Cheng being a floral artist, he constructs fantastical floral sculptures that appear as if they derive from ecosystems from another planet. Flowers, which are often used as just a decoration, are now in full bloom as the main attraction. Cheng uses striking, vibrant colors with unique plants that are arranged in circles, taking over the gallery space in all their glory. Like every plant, these magnificent flora pieces will start to die, whither, and decay. Although this death is bittersweet, the artist intentionally shows this process, hence the title of the exhibition “Circle of Life.”
An organic beauty can be found in seeing different stages of the lifecycle of Cheng’s floral arrangements. Death is natural, but it always stems from life. The decaying plants have their own unique aesthetic, as their colors are now dark and their texture changed. Seeing the flowers transform into different colors and their pedals turn hard and crispy is both intriguing and interactive, as the exhibition becomes ever changing. No doubt if you saw Cheng’s work at the end of the exhibition, it would look like an entirely different show than at the beginning. Perhaps displaying the dead flowers next to the thriving ones makes the living flowers seem even more full and vivacious. Seeing such an honest example of the cycle of life holds its own tragic beauty, allowing us to experience the magnificence of life. (via Hi Fructose)
The street art and murals of artist Okuda San Miguel drip with color and burst with energy, until they are no longer held on a brick wall, but spilling out into real life, in three-dimensional form. The Madrid-based artist uses a pop surrealist style to create large scale murals that transform public spaces into places of geometric, vibrant color and imagery. His work is so incredibly stunning, that it is almost as if the street walls cannot contain them. Public works like his painted phone booth contain an element that explodes from the piece. Color drips from the phone booth, fusing Okuda’s work with the real world. He often transforms his murals into three dimensional sculptures, creating an even more dynamic and captivating piece. As if Okuda’s mural that resembles a multicolored starburst didn’t demand our attention enough, he has a sculpture piece that brings the mural into the third dimension.
Okuda’s beautifully fractured, geometric style is applied to murals, street art, smaller scale paintings, and sculptures. Whichever medium the artist so chooses, he creates works that are both mesermizing and transfixing. His paintings often use similar imagery, such as velumptuous, nude bodies, animal heads, and skulls. A fascinating juxtoposition is formed when certain subjects of Okuda’s paintings are covered in colorful shapes, while others have a smoother texture rendered in black and white. It is interesting that often the face or head will be full of color, while the more organic forms such as a nude body or a tree branch will be absent of it. Okuda portrays what lies underneath the bright shapes as monochromatic forms, exposing our sameness and human connection below our exteriors.
It’s a girl’s world in these scenes of playful mischief created by an eclectic array of delicate materials by Amanda Michelle Smith. Rendering tiny girls full of energy and angst, the artist uses oil paint, golf leaf, and ceramic pieces to construct her highly textured work. Smith’s talents in painting spritely girls are only matches in her ability in ceramics. Her light and airy palette combined with the rich glazes of the ceramic creates incredibly eye-popping aesthetics. The surface texture and detail in each leaf, tree, and flower jump out at you as they are formed from ceramic, creating a relief.
Although Smith’s work is full of little girls in dresses and bows, things are not always giggles and tea parties. Except, when there is actually a tea party, there are strange ghoulish guests dining in front of a black sky. Each scene has a bizarre flare that is both whimsical and somewhat dark. These are places where grumpy girls hide in a house while tons of little people seek to get inside. Proportions are skewed, size doesn’t matter, and little girls have a mind of their own. These feisty young ladies get into peculiar situations that are so beautifully and intricately constructed. Smith’s use of clay is flawlessly blended into her painting style, creating finished pieces that are begging to be touched. This California based artists creates three dimensional ceramic pieces as well, make sure to check them out on her website!
(via The Jealous Curator)
In the endless patterns of mandalas, one can find tranquility through its sacred geometry. You can find this peace in the spiraling colors of the mandalas artist Alison Moyna Greene creates. However, things are not always what they seem in her work. What is mesmerizing and calm at first glance is actually rough and defensive up close. The artist constructs her mandalas with individual cactus spines that jut out of the surface at the viewer. The process of using such a harmful medium by hand does not only take an intense focus, but also can be physically harmful. However, this meditative process of picking this material, painting them individually, and placing them onto their surface is a practice of care and love. Greene takes something painful and turns it into beauty.
The incredibly metaphor for transformation and healing is realized through this intricate series. The artist explains that her work acknowledges the coexistence of light and darkness and explores the balance of both necessary elements. The mandala is a traditional symbol of harmony. In this harmony, we find brilliant colors and winding patterns. However, we also find sharp, unsafe objects that make up this symbol. This contrast makes Greene’s work even more beautiful as she finds comfort in the amazing transformation of suffering into serenity.
This series of artwork uses thorns and cactus spines as a metaphor of changing pain and suffering. The process of hand plucking, hand painting and hand placing speaks about the transformation of pain into beauty and fear into love.