I’m sure most of us have a love of chocolate and confectionery – sometimes indulging ourselves a little, and sometimes we binge, purge and gorge our way to diabetes with the sweet stuff. Embroidery artist Charlotte Bailey of Hanging By A Thread has taken her obsession to a healthier place. Instead of eating the chocolate and candy bars, she has been reworking the logos and house hold brand names of the sweets with colorful, eye-catching embroidery thread. Bailey ever-so-slightly changes the wording of the labels to allude to the darker side of the confectionery industry.
Hershey’s is now changed to Hurtey’s; Milky Bar to Guilty Bar; Oreo to Ohno; Cadbury to Calories. The embroidered pieces are loaded with emotionally charged messages that remind us of the seriousness of an eating disorder. Bailey taps into the thought processes that pass through people’s heads when thinking of buying their next candy fix.
She points out the scary subtext that is always there with any kind of confectionery, or actually with any commodity that is superfluous to our needs. We are always being told to buy more; need more. Whether it’s the style of the attractive packaging and optimistic-looking font, or the level of sugar content in the product, we are always left wanting more.
And if you want more of Bailey’s clever designs, the collection of embroideries are on display at Menier Gallery in London from 28th July – 2nd August 2015.
The trendiest bananas are far from looking yellow. Dan Cretu doesn’t let them stay that way. He gets them ready to strike a pose by handcarving and handpainting each one of them with geometric patterns, textures and vivid colors. No second degree, no political message; just the brilliant idea of admiring creative and colorful images.
Strangely enough they leave a taste in the mouth, the one of bananas of course, but with a twist of positivity and spontaneity. So many ideas to embellish a fruit, as we scroll down the “Bananametric Series” we can imagine that if the fruit was genetically modified by the artist we could end up with a large pallet of banana varieties.
Dan Cretu masters his art: by blending food sculpture with photography he offers the world a new idea of conceptual design. In his previous work he put together orange and lemon peels to make a camera. Due to its fragile nature, this process has to be done quickly as the fruits deteriorate. The peels, arranged in an unexpected environment rather than in a kitchen let’s say, generates in this case an eco-art visual identity.
That’s the purpose of Dan Cretu: “all objects and things around us daily are possible subjects for me. The challenge is to transform a common object that we don’t notice anymore into something unusual, alive, and appealing.”
Michael Massaia is a photographer from New Jersey whose black-and-white imagery has an uncanny way of making the familiar seem unfamiliar: ordinary scenes are transformed into stunning portraits of isolation, desolation, and mystery. Two series are featured here: Afterlilfe and Sheep Meadow: Vertical Abstracts. The former documents vacant amusement piers along the New Jersey coastline, and the latter comprises vertical portraits of people sleeping in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow. While the subject matter is drastically different between the series — urban landscape photography and portraiture, respectively — both convey Massaia’s unique style: the haunting documentation of ordinary things that resonate with a deep sense of reflection and a yearning for connection.
Started in 2008, Afterlilfe features amusement piers in states of vacancy and ghost-like deterioration, photographed in the quiet hours between 4 and 6 o’clock in the morning. Most of the images were shot in FunTown and Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. In environments usually known for noise and elation, silence prevails; carousels lie dormant, and the architectural bones of roller coasters and ferris wheels loom against cloudy, darkened skies. Many of these structures were destroyed by hurricane Sandy in 2012. Shooting before and after the catastrophic event, Massaia’s unearthly photographs trouble us with their radiating atmospheres of stillness and absence.
Sheep Meadow: Vertical Abstracts is an extension of an earlier project titled Deep in a Dream. Massaia photographed people as they lay alone or in pairs on the grass. None of the subjects knew that they were being documented, allowing for candidly peaceful, reflective, and intimate postures. Vertical Abstracts sees photos of sleeping couples turned vertically and flipped backwards, making it appear as if they were floating or dancing through an otherworldly void. Massaia describes how the final prints “are gold-toned silver gelatin prints . . . [and] the grass is severely ‘burnt in’ to isolate and give the look of suspension to the subject” (Source). The strong contrast between the bodies and the surrounding darkness illuminates moments of beautiful (and strangely anxious) connection between the reclining couples.
Visit Massaia’s website and Facebook page to follow his hauntingly beautiful work. More photos after the jump.
“Para-para Dancing (Great Empire of Japan) vs. Break-dancing (America)”
Tenmyouya Hisashi is a Saitama-based artist who infuses traditional Japanese art with non-traditional media (mostly acrylic paint) and images from modern life. Calling his work “Neo Nihonga,” Tenmyouya seeks to renew the relevance of Japanese-style painting by portraying old motifs through a modern lens, thereby celebrating a long history of Japanese culture and artistic tradition. Among his images are samurai playing soccer, armor-clad animals, and a Japanese/American street “dance-off.” His work is also informed by contemporary cultural theories and critical thinking; for example, in “Japanese Spirit #3,” a man wearing a traditional tsuna rides a motorized skateboard. This painting “draws upon and amplifies the stereotypes foreigners hold of Japan and was intended to be viewed by a foreign audience” — hence the odd mix of traditional Japanese imagery with high-tech apparatuses (Source).
In 2010, Tenmyouya proposed a new art concept called Basara, referring to an aestheticization of defiance, extending from the “outlaw samurais” of the Nanboku dynasty era to the youth subcultures of present-day Japan. Exploring this trend through neo-traditional Japanese art unravels assumptions about a conservative and subdued cultural history (Source). Basara is also a response to enculturation from the West — the inflow of Western culture and media that immensely influenced Japanese life. As written on his website, Tenmyouya seeks through his art to bring back the vibrant “sun” in Japanese art, where before it was relegated as the passive “moon”:
“Basara aims to reverse traditional values in order to restore the fertile light of the sun that originally characterized Japanese art. It is at once an attempt to claim back through relativization within Japanese art—rather than by comparison with the outside—the diversity that it is supposed to abound in so much more.” (Source)
Using up to 30,000 volts of electricity, artist Dries Ketels tries to capture a quality usually unseen in most portraits. His latest series, called Our Souls Captured in the Electromagnetic Field is an exploration of the human condition. He says by using a unique combination of different chemicals, painting materials and electricity, he is able to capture something more about his subjects. He wants to go deeper into their psyche, and to reveal something about people that is usually unseen. In the process he has come up with some pretty striking images.
He raises some pretty interesting questions while trying to reveal the working of our inner selves:
What is this soul or this character of an individual other than a bunch of electromagnetic interactions in the brain of that individual? What is the most important thing that a portrait should grasp? Are our actions, that define us as a human being, more than electromagnetic interactions? (Dries Ketels)
Ketels also makes the connection in his images between the patterns formed from the lightning and veins in the body, or synapses in the brain. He links the macro-world to the micro-world; the external universe to our internal one. The young artist is interested in new, exciting and innovative methods and ideas:
For a few of my series around realism I leave the traditional realism behind and present the reality of realism. One of the most important attitudes that helped me developing a relaity of realism and becoming what I am is the simple act of going left when everybody else is going right. It’s the only way to discover the new and push the boundaries forward. (Source)
To see more of his boundary pushing art, see here.
Leslie Ann O’Dell is a self-taught photo-illustration artist from Denver who creates hauntingly surreal portraits of women. Recurring throughout her works are washed-out figures overgrown with flowers and foliage; patterns sprout and undulate in the place of eyes, and everywhere you look subtle details unravel through hair and across skin. Charged with an arcane darkness, O’Dell’s works summon the chilling, seductive beauty of vampires and forest spirits. With nature, the psyche, and the subconscious as some of the central themes, the portraits shift gracefully between reality and dreams.
O’Dell’s subjects are specters of both beauty and death: flowers bleed and adorn the women’s heads like funeral offerings, bodily contours putrefy into weeds, and sightless eyes gaze into an unseen abyss. In a figurative representation of death-becoming-life (and vice-versa), a bird stretches its wings inside an opened chest cavity (see “Hope”). Some of the images confront us with a more somber beauty — observe the ethereal and aloof figures in “Contemporary Monster” and “Sleepwalk.” Vacillating between delicacy and intense emotion, O’Dell’s works seduce and seize the imagination.
If you’re thinking about getting married and want to take your vows under a unique environment you can hop a plane to Shanghai China. There a company called Coordination Asia has designed The Rainbow Wedding Chapel modeled after the inside of a kaledeiscope. It takes the classic idea of this creative toy and proceeds to realize it on a larger scale. Using glass, mirrors, and paint in an array of colors it gives couples an alternative to more traditional nuptial environments. It looks super pretty and signifies many different things that have changed in our culture. For one how artists today are looking to affect on a broader scale and influence many opposed to a few. It also shows how traditions in our time are now flexible.
The chapel definitely has a new age feel. The architecture is circular signifying life’s continuous flow. The beautiful colors make for aesthetic bliss and no wonder someone would think to design it for that special day. You can adjust hue and choose how many of them you want reflected on the walls. Altogether 3,000 glass panels and 65 colors make up the chapel.
Based in Shanghai, China, Coordination Asia continues to be an innovator in glass design. The company recently curated an exhibit entitled “Keep It Glassy” showing large scale installations using the material. (via mymodernmet)
Zachari Logan is a Saskatoon-based artist who creates stunningly detailed drawings, installations, and ceramic works that explore representations of masculinity and queer identities. Proliferating throughout his works are thick amalgams of nature; beards and hair sprout into lush habitats for various animals (see the “Wild-Man” series); ceramic petals cluster together like piles of delicate, bleached bones (“Fountain 1”); and elsewhere, a mythological body composed entirely of flora and fauna melds with the surrounding forest (“Leshy 2”). Interestingly, the plants depicted are of diverse origins, sourced from images collected by Logan in North America and Europe. These beautifully-woven hybrid landscapes represent the liminal spaces inhabited by queer identities — that is, those vital spaces between “here” and “there” that unsettle the restrictive binaries of heteronormative gender and sexuality.
Many of these works are interpretative self-portraits of Logan, created in the exploration of his own body, memories, and sense of place. However, in his more recent works, Logan has portrayed the body more as a “catalyst,” thereby allowing him to “re-wild his body as a queer embodiment of nature” (Source). One of his most spectacular and ongoing works, the Eunuch Tapestry Series, exemplifies this shift from self-portraiture to a more objective exploration of identity, both corporeal and incorporeal. Based on the fourteenth-century FlemishUnicorn Tapestries, the Eunuch Tapestries feature camouflaged bodies (self-representations of Logan) crouching and searching amidst walls of dense, dark foliage. The newest work, “Tapestry 5” (shown above), features a nude, shadowy figure moving quietly through the hybridized forest. Whereas the Unicorn Tapestries represent a search for a mythical creature, Logan’s works metaphorically explore the liminal terrain of queerness, discovering new bodily narratives infused with history, myth, and presence.
Always investigating and expanding the boundaries between the physical and metaphysical, Logan’s ceramic works draw these two realms together. “Fountain 1,” for example, is a time-based installation whose bone-like flowers accumulate every time it is shown, proliferating like a living thing despite its sterile, ceramic composition. The Root Series also represents a philosophical blending of physical body and metaphysical time, place, and memory; detached body parts surrealistically sprout flourishing weeds. In these works, the body is both the adornment and the catalyst, the tangible and intangible vessel through which we derive personal meaning and identity.