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.
Lauren Semivan’s black and white photography raises the dead, feels rich with ritual, and sullen from the earth. To say it is simply an abstract psychological expression would be too easy. There’s something else happening here that is magically archaic, and it’s not just the finely tailored compositions that carefully, yet seemingly casually, dig at our remains by arranging drawn fragments, bodies, vegetation, bones, and string, against a sparse backdrop. This “something else” is movement or play not just in the environment, but as or with the environment, a dreamy surreal fade that lingers.
Technically, each image is a true representation of not just what collects, but how the collection becomes. Shot with a purist sense of photography’s past, Semivan uses an early 20th century 8 x 10″ view camera and, without digital manipulation or any touch-ups at all, develops prints from a scanned large format negative. The ephemeral result, interestingly, pushes on our own anthropological or archeological impulses as a species– asking us to engage and connect with our ancestors, creatively, scientifically, and divinely.
Of her work, Semivan states, “In scientific disciplines, a line is classified as an event. Something as primitive as a scrawl on a surface reveals an aggregate of events, intersecting and changing course. Drawings made on the seamless backdrop describe an emotional space. Science is inherently experiential, as is art making. Knowing and feeling are not separate, and the whole of the environment can be used as a pedagogic instrument. Observatory elegantly draws upon a tension that exists between irrational and physical worlds. Within each image, ghosts of previous drawings.”
Czlowiek Kamera is not this photographer’s real name. In Russian the name means “human-cam” or “cam-man,” and was sourced from Vertov’s “Man with a Movie Camera.” This human-mechanical fusion can be identified throughout Kamera’s compositions, at least in the way he fuses his human subjects with the camera’s manipulation of them. His photographs are surreal and mystical, and remind me a bit of Kyle Thompson’s aesthetic. Kamera specializes in recording live music performances, including artists Sigur Rós and Fever Ray. Check out his Flickr for more photos.
In his latest series of drawings, Anthony Coicolea poetically engages with the term “pathetic fallacy” or our own egocentric inclination to prescribe human characteristics or qualities to all living things. His imagery, done beautifully with simple graphite on layered mylar, allows worlds to overflow with new pattens of transcendence despite an archaic old world order.
Of this series, the artist statement suggests, “In a new hybridized world of man and nature, nothing is permanent and nothing is safe. Humans, plants and animals have cross-pollinated; they have merged, evolved and adopted different features from each other. Objects acquire pathos and empathy while the decomposition of material things reflects the world in flux.
Marco Mazzoni’s work softly drips with an exquisite ease of darkness. From blooming faces where birds gather to a rabbit draining with butterfly wings, each image surrealistically depicts folklore infused with spiritual healing properties that twist and twirl with our own imaginative connections to nature.
To elaborate, Jonathan Levine Gallery notes, “Mazzoni’s imagery references herbalist traditions and Sardinian folklore of mystical seductresses who enchant, curse and cure. His body of work is a tribute to the legacy of female healers throughout history. These women held an important role in medieval communities yet their ancient knowledge of the natural healing properties of medicinal plants was widely feared by the Church, viewed as witchcraft and cause for persecution.”