Tables designed by Alexandre Chapelin make having coffee at the beach everyday a reality. By carving slopes into travertine and adhering layers of blue resin, his tables provide a home to what appears to be lapping waves on a sandy beach – transforming your morning coffee into a tropical vacation. Saint Martin-based, LA Table produces one of a kind tables forged with found objects and resin in order to give purchasers unique pieces that reflect their personal curiosities and desires. (via Colossal)
Artist Chris Maynard creates tiny ethereal designs on feathers. His process begins by collecting feathers of birds (usually not of North America descent) from aviaries and zoos. He uses delicate, detail oriented tools such as eye surgery scissors, forceps, and magnifying glasses that have been passed down to him through his family. With these tools, he is able to achieve intimate levels of detail, crafting miniaturized fantastical avian worlds. His uses his work to transform the ordinary into something surreal and perhaps a bit magical. He explains that he would like the viewer
“to take away being able to look at the world in a different way…I want people to be able to take a breath and look at something a little differently, something that they know. Feathers are a universal symbol. Feathers for different people will mean different things, but generally, it means flight, it can mean escape, something we want to strive for, a bridge between here and the heavens. I want people to take their own message from it, but I think what comes out are some of those themes.”
The original integrity of the feathers is important to the artist. He does not manipulate the color or over arching shape with the aim to “honor the birds and the feathers.” Maynard, having a strong background in biology and ecology, has published a book titled Feathers: Form & Function. He uses his work not only to express artistic notions but also explains origin and function of his material. Each work is intricate, delicate, and whimsical.
Walter Oltmann is an artist from South Africa who weaves together aluminum wire “doily” segments to create gauzy, black-and-white images. His more recent works—which were featured recently in an exhibition titled Cradle at the Goodman Gallery in Cape Town—depict skulls and sleeping children. Through tonal layering, Oltmann creates a ghostly, semi-transparent depth, and each of the drawings are their own sculptural objects. The result is a series of eerie, ancient-looking images that invoke a theme (and contemporary relevance) of ideas surrounding death, the fragility of life, and the passage of time.
Oltmann is fascinated by the processes of geology, evolution, and human history. As the press release for Cradle informs us, his work draws on the ideas set forth by Simon Calley in Sculpture and Archaeology (2011), which describes archeology as a discipline of “examining our relationship to time and our place to its continuity [. . .] It is an activity concerned with the present [and] with projecting ourselves into the past” (Source). Historically and culturally, skulls have been enduring symbols of death and transience; the image of a sleeping child, which has been used as a grave marker, is representative of tranquility, rest, and the final “long sleep.” By finding and exploring the similarities in these motifs, Oltmann unearths an age-old melancholia and retrospective on the finitude of human life.
Pinhole photographer Justin Quinnell takes photographs from an uniquely personalized perspective; from the inside of his mouth. Quinnell‘s images, despite the fact that they are taken from behind a set of teeth, tend to be surrounded by the ordinary. We find ourselves as witness to routine, fun and travel, perhaps adding up to be just the followings of an every day guy. Within this series the viewer finds themselves looking at smiling babies, children’s toys, cocktails, and known monuments from around the world. From this insider’s (quite literally) perspective, the viewer is not just asked to question what is being seen, but also, what is the experience of the person, or maybe you could call him the protagonist, of this series. Who is this person and what does he think, feel? Mostly on the side of humor, his series is light hearted and fun. Their is a true air of experimentation as it can be assumed that with each photograph the artist has given up his ability to control and leaves the work up to chance and the elements in which it is surrounded by. This series, titled Mouthpiece, is just one of many of his pinhole camera experiments. Each of his works has a vintage and personalized touch, allowing them to stand out and truly feel like a glimpse into the artist’s mind.
In the last year, we’ve featured a variety of artists who are using embroidery in unique ways, such as Leah Emery’s erotic stitches and Juana Gomez’s anatomy portraits. Featured today is the work of Lisa Smirnova, who embroiders images that ripple with impressionistic life. Her subjects range from animals, to pensive tattooed men, to creative portraits of icons such as Frida Kahlo. Body parts are also recurring throughout work—such as a heart in a bouquet, and a pelvis on a white shirt—lending the otherwise “unassuming” medium of embroidery a flavor of surrealism and the macabre.
Smirnova’s artworks require time and patience, some taking months to complete. This is not surprising, considering the way she masterfully stitches threads into the likeness of skin, fur, and bone. The colors blend together seamlessly, capturing the reflection of light on skin and the red-blue tones of the heart. Texture and emotion arrive together as the threads interlock, each character appearing to vibrate with an inner life.
Through a process of experimentation and manipulation, Italian artist Daniele Papuli creates sensual paper sculptures that evoke feelings of quite nature and grandeur. Active as a sculptor since 1991, Papuli’s work has developed through various stages of materiality and process. His early pieces were focused on stone, wood, and plaster, however, in 1993 he learned to make paper, and by 1997 he began solely focusing on the potential of paper’s materiality. He explains his admiration for the material. He states; “according to the way in which it is moved, touched, cut, paper offers me numberless sensorial, visual and tactile suggestions engendered by its new structure. My work proceeds by returning these experiences, and searching about sculpture, its physical character, its connection to space.” In order to fully understand the material he turned to paper handling and production. He tested and trailed myriad combinations of mincing different types of paper, mixing them with herbs, grounds and colors. This process in which permits the artist to become intimate with his martial allows his work to have a distinct personality that exudes a certain essence of delicate vibrancy. He explains;
“sometimes the sculpture shows a sort of inner energy, the bending of the different sheets suggests the trend and development in the round. I am extremely interested in these manifold variations. Sometimes the shapes become paper monoliths faceted in many light lamellae where the different layers are like veins and the chromatic variations of the surface, yellowing as paper does in the sun, follow the metamorphosis by which the sheet traces back to wood, to the tree, to its primary mother-matter.”
Marta Soul’s alter-ego unapologetically kisses 18 different men in the photography series “Idilios.” The red headed protagonist moves from idealized scene to idealized scene engaging in a single kiss with a different suitor each time. Soul says on her site, “immediate satisfaction is found in the kiss. It is the begin[ning] and end[ing] of the entire narrative scene and it is the iconographic element of the image too.”
It is true that the kiss is the central role of the series. Soul poses the lovers with their back turned towards us, bodies entirely choreographed, masking their expressions. Perfectly dressed and suited, the kiss is the only thing we know about the lovers, aside from the incredible wealth demonstrated by their scenarios. With these gestures, the passion between them is concealed from us and allows us to imagine the story between them.
In some ways, the saturation of colors in these passionately distanced and stylized environments are reminiscent of a 1950’s film. They might provide us with the possibility of Hollywood romance: exquisite clothes and remarkable vistas. But, more aptly, the unidentified lovers offer us a paperback romance experience where we can transfer our own fantasies into a world that does not exist outside a creative director’s imagination.
Marta Soul is a photographer working in Madrid.
Clément Guegan is a Montréal-based photographer and filmmaker from Paris. His works are dark and conceptual, exploring nightmares and states of alienation. Interested in the loss of control, he depicts characters who are struggling within the remains of identity; their faces are always turned away or obscured, putting the viewer’s focus on their bleak surroundings. In some photos, people fall from the sky, and in others, the camera follows them as they walk through graveyards and down empty mountain roads. There is a sense you are being guided through a surreal world with no certainty (or even sense) of where you’re going.
Existential voids aside, there is a beauty that arrives through the fearlessness of Guegan’s work. He is not afraid to unravel identity and reality by exploring existence as a strange wandering. At the same time, the stillness he conveys is inspiring, and the mystery is provoking. His characters (when they aren’t plummeting from the clouds) seem brave going into the unknown, even though they merely represent the physical remnants of the self. In this way, Geugan’s images make meaning where meaning seems to have been stripped away.
On January 1st, 2015, Guegan started a 365 Day Project, which means he posted a picture every day of the year. The project is almost at a close, but the results are impressive, blending portraiture with his unique surrealist style. Some of the photos from the challenge are featured here, and you can see a bigger selection on his website. He also has a Tumblr and Flickr to check out.