Standing like a miniaturized skeleton city, American artist Ben Butler has installed an epic geometric sculpture that seems to distort any sense of space. The installation, titled Unbounded, is a site-specific piece for Rice Gallery in Houston, Texas. The work is made up of ten thousand small rods of poplar wood. Through the creation of complex grids, the artist and a team put together this epic structure, building section by section, almost like a block building meditation. The artist notes that Unbounded “alludes to the notion that its form has no defined boundary, that is it untamed and fills the space according to its own logic.” Butler’s work, which is not solely sculptural but also delves into printmaking and draughtsmanship, consistently refers and reflects on the notion of mass. Each work is intricate, meticulous, but perhaps, most importantly, explores a sort of metaphysical notion of space. Delicate, yet powerful in scale, his work tends to use elements of the earth. The combination of the power of size and the natural material — which acts as a connection to the earth — allows his work to truly carry an awe inspiring essence. Almost like an Agnes Martin notion of finding these quiet patterns within nature meets the raw power of element and structure like the work of Richard Serra. Profound, with a nod to a notion of fun and simplicity, Butler’s installation truly plays with perception. (via IGNANT)
Sean Norvet is an LA-based artist who paints grotesquely amusing mash-ups that represent the mania and excess of contemporary culture. Food and flesh are his two main ingredients; shattered jawbones, melting eyes, raw meat, and fast food collide in unholy, humanoid altars. Norvet punctuates his pieces with eroticized body parts, mixing desire and beauty ideals with mass consumption. Despite the gruesome subject matter, his work is surprisingly humorous—and there’s a lot to digest.
In an Artist Perspective video with the Stay Gallery, Norvet describes today’s technology-saturated world as an all-you-can eat buffet. From dawn until dusk, we are inundated with arbitrary connections and information—whether we consent to them or not. With intense talent and keen social observations, his paintings reveal this cultural chaos in shameless and visceral ways, provoking self-reflection through imagery that is fun, insightful, and revolting.
Mayan Toledano uses evocative photographs of adolescent girls to show the melancholy of burgeoning womanhood. Combining glittered rainbow and unicorn imagery with loneliness and frustration, Toledano takes us behind a nymphette’s bedroom door. Toledano along with her collaborator Julia Baylis originally used these images as a way to document and design a more “girly” aesthetic that was suppressed in fashion school. In an interview with Elephant, Toledano expresses her desire to incorporate playfulness in an otherwise serious and drab world. This resulted in “Me and You” an online store where you can buy sweatshirts, stickers, cell phone cases, and “feminist” cotton underwear. She says, “we [Toledano and Baylis] both feel that something is lacking in today’s fashion world and we wanted to start something that felt more inclusive, safe, and inviting, more celebratory of our girlhood and femininity.” But while Toledano documents the growing pains of these girls, and issues like body consciousness and eating disorders, she is also a shadow to their emerging sexuality and many of the voyeuristic images are uncomfortable to look at. But, even with those things said, Toledano asks us to imagine a less complicated adolescence with best friends and large sunglasses, sitting on the bed, daydreaming, waiting for the phone to ring.
Quotes taken from: Elephant, Issue 25, Winter 2015 – 2016.
Los Angeles based artist Laurie Lipton draws fantastical worlds built of dystopian technology and waste. Her recent work, which she refers to as Techno Rococo, explores “society’s relationship to technology and how it’s uniting us while simultaneously disconnecting everyone from each other.” Her epic, painstakingly detailed drawings are giant, allowing the viewer to fully enter them — Lipton’s work is not just a vision, its an experience. Lipton explains her unique style; “it was all abstract and conceptual art when I attended university. My teachers told me that figurative art went ‘out’ in the Middle Ages and that I should express myself using form and shapes, but plashes on canvas and rocks on the floor bored me. I knew what I wanted: I wanted to create something no one has ever seen before, something that was brewing in the back on my brain.” Originally inspired by the Flemish School of painting, Lipton developed her drawing style based on traditional egg tempera techniques of creating depth through a meticulous process of cross hatching. Using only charcoal and pencil on paper, her black and white work, despite its futuristic content, aims to hint at a sense of classicism. She states, “I used to sit for hours in the library copying Durer, Memling, Van Eyck, Goya and Rembrandt. The photographer, Diane Arbus, was another of my inspirations. Her use of black and white hit me at the core of my Being. Black and white is the color of accent photographs and told TV shows…it is the color of ghosts, longing, time passing, memory, and madness. Black and white ached. I realized that it was perfect for the imagery in my work.” (via Hi Fructose)
Julien Previeux’s Patterns of Life uses dancing lightsabers to reveal the simplicity and power of gesture. This 15 minute video is a highly choreographed work whose opening section uses light to uncover the essence of human movement. Dancers wired with lights illuminate the darkness and reveal the simplicity of movement.
Part galactic warrior and part neon sign, the dancers fill the space with the linearity of their limbs punctuated by shining spheres that add curvature and depth to their geometry.
But this is just the beginning of Previeux’s exploration of the intimacy of gesture and its implication in a world shared with others. Through what looks like a strenuous eye exam, Previeux demonstrates that eye movements have the power to reveal our thought patterns and perhaps betray our inner world to those who observe us carefully enough.
Also compelling is Previeux’s fascination with walking patterns and our natural tendency to follow the same paths again and again. By mapping the route of a young Parisian woman, where she works, where she lives, and where she goes to school, one of Previeux’s dancers uses tape to create a three dimensional model. Once mapped, her movements, which were assumed to be open and carefree, seem controlled and confined.
Patterns of Life switches between time frames and points of view. In doing so it presents us with various choreographed vignettes. Narrator Crystal Shepherd Cross guides us tranquilly through the intellectual terrain with ease so we can enjoy the grace that is Previeux’s work.
Julien Previeux’s Patterns of Life can be seen at DiverseWorks, Houston, Texas, in “What Shall We Do Next” until 19 March, 2016.
In collaboration with the Vatican, a coalition of artists and humanitarians from the documentary Racing Extinction projected a stunning light show on the edifice of St. Peter’s Basilica. The videos display endangered animals and ecological crises from around the word, including whales, pandas, imperilled rainforests, and melting icebergs. As pointed out on My Modern Met, this demonstration follows a letter released from Pope Francis that makes clear the role humans play in the destruction of natural environments and non-human species. The goal of the light show was to foster awareness from the public, and on a political level, to encourage other influential figures and world leaders to acknowledge the loss and devastation.
Helmed by Oscar-winner Louie Psihoyos (director of The Cove), Racing Extinction features never-before-seen images that explore endangered species and the threat of mass extinction. Much like the light show—which is part of an ongoing (and vital) campaign to provoke action—Racing Extinction seeks to change the way we view the planet and the global beauty and vitality we will lose in the pursuit of our unsustainable practices. Such projects remind us that no matter where we are situated, even in our urban, human-centered habitats, we are always responsible and capable of changing the world’s grim outlook. (Via My Modern Met)
Los Angeles based artist Michelle Kingdom creates intimate embroidered keepsakes. Working on a small scale, Kingdom is able to achieve a compact level of detail, allowing the work to fully invite the viewer into their tiny, unique worlds. Through stitching each piece with a high volume of thread, she achieves a specific density which she calls “compressed compositions.” Every embroidered work is inspired by a specific moment in time. Whether they are her own memories, emotional portraits that are personal or exploratory, literary scenes, or historical references, Kingdom’s work is formulated through building intense moments that are of intellectual importance. She refers to her work as “psychological landscapes,” in which her aim is to “illuminat[e] thoughts left unspoken…creat[ing] tiny worlds in thread to capture elusive yet persistent inner voices.” She explains further that “symbolism and allegory law bare dynamics of aspiration and limitation, expectation and loss, belonging and alienation, truth and illusion.” While her work is doubly contemporary and fun, she does note that her work does pay homage to the tradition of needlework. The delicate nature of the material and the intensive and intimate process of creation allows each piece to fully possess an aura of both elegance and fragility, mimicking the sort of nature of frail and strenuous emotional conditions. She states; “beauty parallels melancholy, as conventional stitches acquiesce to the fragile and expressive.”
Darryl Cox is an artist living in Bend, Oregon, who grafts tree limbs onto vintage frames. Each “Fusion Frame,” as he calls them, involves a combination of woodworking, painting, and sculpting to ensure the branch “sprouts” seamlessly from the man-made object. After locating a unique frame, Cox then searches the forest for the complementary limb. Each art piece is unique and expressive, giving the static object a sense of organic vitality. The branch warps the frame and twists the molding in its own dramatic way, seeming to overtake the rigid boundaries and thus demonstrating the power and patience of nature.
Cox seeks to create art that is humble, distinctive, and intricate. Originality is key, which means bypassing ingrained artistic customs and modes of thought. He discusses this further in his artist’s statement:
“As much as I embrace convention in art, and I certainly do, my Fusion Frame art fulfills the part of me that says ‘no’ to convention. That it is not only okay to be avant-garde, it is right. I like to embrace alternatives to an accepted order in art. To even, at times, completely ignore conventions when fashioning a piece and enjoy the unbounded ability to create by refusing to be limited by precept, artistically speaking.” (Source)
Some of the Fusion Frames are tailored with sentimental objects, lending them even more unique emotional value. You can learn more about Cox’s work on his website and Facebook, and he has works available for purchase on his Etsy. (Via Colossal)