Hikaru Cho‘s method of painting could best be described as a physical and unconventional type of doodling. Cho primarily uses acrylic paints on bodies or food to create believably 3D surrealistic effects, and even transfers this skill to stop-motion film and other video work. Her work alters our perspective of seemingly stable universal concepts, creating new forms that demand our engagement using only the special effects rendered through paint.
British photographer Vikram Kushwah recreates pieces of the past with staged photography. Working with fashion designer, writer, and researcher Trisha Sakhlecham, the two produced a series of images titled Memoirs of Lost Time. The subject matter, its tone, and coloring of the photographs are a dreamy and hazy. They straddle the fine line between what is a dream and what is a memory. Each image features a person gazing beyond the landscape, as though they are longing for something lost.
On his website, Kushwah writes about Memoirs of Lost Time. He says that the series is inspired by the romantic notions of childhood memories, and goes on to say:
…A biographical documentation of sorts, of seven creative personalities’ childhood recollections, this book captures not only what was, but also suggests a very imaginative take on what could have been.
Stories evocative of the intimate moments and bygone days of these personalities are embellished with wondrously staged pictures featuring the subjects themselves. Each chapter takes you into the personal and never seen before world of one of these personalities with a short story, an insightful interview and photographs, weaving in and out of reality, where you start beginning to drift into a realm of imaginative possibilities and yet remain attached to the facts that were.
With dreams, like distant memories, we sometimes question whether or not something actually happened. While this could be distressing, Kushwah chooses to embrace uncertainty and magic of it all. There are some fantastical elements, like a woman that is carried away by small umbrellas. But mostly, these images lack action. Instead, they depict quiet moments in the company of many books or the vast outdoors. Reading and nature provide the perfect fodder for imaginations to run wild. (Via My Modern Met)
The surreal photographs by Christopher McKenney are haunting, as a (mostly) faceless figure interacts with a deserted environment. The desaturated images are shot in the middle of the woods, a corn field, a lake, and back country roads. Sometimes, we see a ghost. Other times, a man is lit on fire. Whatever the situation, McKenney crafts a quietly desperate image.
The photographer recently told art blog iGNANT that he one day found himself in the woods with nothing but a sheet, chair, and frame. He placed the sheet over his head and photoshopped his body out. He tells iGnant, I like taking away identity when photographing and to leave people thinking. “I only make the photos I do to express myself and what other people see or think is up to them, as long as I make them feel anything I’m ok with that.”
Personally, I experience cognitive dissonance when looking at McKenney’s work. I find a lot of these images disturbing yet beautifully composed.. For instance, the photo Fragile Perspective (above) features someone with a burning box over their head. Formally, the colors are rich and the orange of the fire is stunning against the blues, browns, and grays. But, then I study the content of the photograph and realize that it depicts someone who is essentially set on fire.
Not all of McKenney’s photographs are like that. Other times, they are simply whimsical and nonsensical. In Let Go, a suitcase with a balloon tied to the handle stays on the ground as its owner floats away. Another photograph has a chair in an empty field with a pair of hands (only hands, no body), infinitely holding a mirror. It’s these photographs I enjoy more – ones that are odd, but don’t communicate utter despair. (Via iGNANT)
Baltimore based illustrator and designer Gel Jamlang illustrates surreal watercolor and acrylic pieces that largely feature the human body, sometimes paired with animals or painted with an interesting symmetrical or mirroring effect. Jamlang’s illustrations combine realism with whimsical imagery to create a dynamic and energetic composition. The figures in her illustrations seem to lack boundaries – they merge or spill into other figures.
Of her process, Jamlang explains, “Watercolor behaves so unpredictably… It is very exciting to use. It drives itself. The transparency and the brilliance of the colors all swirling around are thrilling. And when you use it side by side with acrylic, the more opaque, dense and unyielding medium, the contrast can be beautiful.” (via hifructose)
Spanish artist Iván Prieto‘s sculpture work is surreal and sometimes a bit disturbing. In order to heighten the jarring effect of his creations, Prieto places some of his work in abandoned places, creating a narrative that lends his work (and the places they inhabit) a haunting presence. His sculptures are largely figurative, and feature bodies that are warped or grotesque, speaking to ideas of excess and deficiency. Even when he’s not using empty spaces to feature his work, his gallery installations are just as provocative and strange. Prieto’s talent for sculpting fascinating figurative shapes and contortions and then contextualizing them within spaces indicates an awareness of an overall composition of his creations, something not all sculptors think about when featuring their work. (via slow art day)
Vicki Ling is an artist that creates graphite drawings of surreal landscapes. Chock full of symbolism and mystery, Ling’s images are cryptic. Part of their appeal is trying to solve the visual puzzle that she’s constructed.
Ling briefly speaks about her work, writing, “…fictional landscapes and constructions shift between two and three dimensions, creating a sensation of movement and evolving forms.” The places depicted are liminal spaces, meaning they are in transition, somewhere between what they began as and what they will become. This is made inherent in the movement and tension created by the textures and forms in the work. They are reminiscent of the ocean. We can imagine the crashing waves, tides, and the inhabitants of the sea. There is tension in Ling’s work, and it is easy to feel like at any moment waves will rush in and fill the rooms that she’s so carefully rendered. But, considering Ling’s intent, perhaps she wants an environment that could suddenly be swept away. This notion is refreshing, but also sad knowing that this environment is fleeting.
I am personally intrigued by Ling’s drawing that features a sinkhole. In this image, it looks like the top of the landscape has been punctured. The surface is fragile and looks like it is going to cave in on itself. What would it become? I imagine it to be a black hole, drawing everything in until nothing is left. Or, it could be a portal to another world. The places in Ling’s drawings could exist anywhere. They are surreal and conjure the feeling of a dream, so this could all exist in someone’s head. As the artist spoke of moving and evolving forms, these drawings are all metaphors; not only a shifting environment, but personally as we grow, change, and confront obstacles. If we are willing, we evolve just as Ling’s landscapes suggestively do.
Petros Chrisostomou, a New York based photographer, plays with scale, mass-produced and ephemeral objects, and hand-crafted mini architectural models in order to challenge the viewer’s visual certainties, and visual signifiers of contemporary mass culture.
The multi-faceted works resemble lively assemblages of what seem to be large-scaled mundane objects in exaggerated interiors – some resembling wreckage, and others referencing the extravagance of a Rococo palace.
Christosomou’s photographs become the field for mixing the high- and the low-brow, mass culture and genre painting, the luxurious and the expendable, as indications of social class distinctions. At the same time, the relations between the real and the imaginary in his oeuvre are a commentary on the mediated images of contemporary mass media that distort the natural and immediate dimension of our relation to reality, determining, among other things, the conditions for viewing and receiving art.
The relevance of this body of work does not completely rely on its technical complexities, and cultural commentary, but also in its visual power. We know that the artist is not fabricating monumental sculptures resembling stiletto shoes, instead he is fabricating small-scaled architectural spaces- that play out with the objects, making them look bigger than they seem. It is important to notice, as curator Tina Pandi points out that “the alteration of scale and reversal of the relation between object and environment, between imaginary and real space.”
The saying “home is where the heart is” very rarely relates to contemporary art. And though the works featured here are not directly about home, they are informed to some degree by immediate family,relationships and experiences that stem from it. In a global spectrum of east meets west these five artists come from genres ranging from Chinese Avant Garde to lowbrow painting, from surrealism to contemporary portraiture, to name a few. The paintings, mixed media works and digital media stills of artists: Song Dong, Brooke Grucella, Seonna Hong, Aaron Holz and Zhang Xiaogang exemplify the diversity with which the artists’ loved ones have become not only the subject for the works, but also at times part of the process, as well as a platform to tell a story that becomes increasingly universal.
I recall visiting the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco a couple of years ago to see Song Dong’s massive solo exhibition of works made with his family members as subjects, as well as a massive installation that incorporated decades worth of of family possessions as material. His work is deeply personal, with a strong narrative thread, and truly draw you into his world with their reverence and profoundly flawless execution. Zhang Xiaogang’s works from his series Bloodlines uses other family portraits as a vehicle for conveying the experiences of his immediate family that they experienced as he came of age during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Each piece in this series has a thin red line that weaves throughout the composition, symbolizing the connection of heritage and family.