Los Angeles naive Andrew Hem paints epic, supernatural scenes that use color and movement to create moments of the otherworldly. His paintings are utterly breathtaking and feature a true knowledge of color theory and master a saturation that runs similar to the impressionist works of 19th century Europe. His treatment of flesh and rounded rendering of the human body is reminiscent of an Eastern aesthetic — creating ties with his Cambodian heritage. His vibrant figurative work holds similar notes to the powerful paintings of Dana Schutz; both painters using a pastiche of painterly traditions to create works that are undoubtedly contemporary and unmistakeable their own — their paintings hold no boundaries due to the sheer talent they hold as painters. Hem’s work is alluring and demanding. He brings his viewer around the world, creating works that depict scenes from Asia, South America and the United States. Each piece captures a moment of pause and perhaps, even enlightenment. There is a true essence of ethereal energy within these works. For example, his pieces such as Igloolik, Close to the Edge, Lost and Found and Civic show bodies in motion, unnatural flotation. There is a fairytale like element in his work — like each painting is a new scene within a story about Hem’s fantastical life. Experiencing the work of Hem is like peering into the unknown, maybe witnessing something sacred and hidden from the common eye.
Artist Lauren Gallaspy creates unique and dynamic ceramic sculptures that play with notions of fantasy and duality. Her work, beautiful, adventurous, and full of a sense of wonder, invokes magical moments of nonsensical, yet somehow perfected, chaos. Her intention lies in finding balance in seemingly irrational binaries. She explains, “the things that I love and the things that I fear refuse to balance out. They scrap like cats, cloak and conceal like kudzu, terrify and delight, like a large, shaky lake or a dog swimming hard towards a floating ball.” The artist uses this tension to create creative and inventive ceramic sculptures, which are not only experimental by nature, but break boundaries of traditionalist methods of pottery. Experiencing Gallaspy’s work is like an investigation. Each color, each angle, each new treatment of material is expressive and fascinating. Her work screams out for a quiet attention, being open ended yet intimate. Her work emphasizes the complexity of humanity, the ups and downs of just simply being. She explains;
“My work is about that imbalance: the vulnerability of living things and the sometimes violent, sometimes pleasurable, almost always complex consequences that occur when bodies and objects in the world come into contact with one another. I use ornamentation, obsessive mark-making, and decorative imagery as a kind of devotional or transformational act, a way to render interior spaces and intense psychological experiences physically.”
Dan Bannino is an Italian photographer who translates ideas into visual stories, often through the creation of eclectic still lifes. Featured here is a new series titled Niche of Wonders, which explores the lives of musicians throughout history. From Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to Alice Cooper to Taylor Swift, Bannino has constructed “shrines” that explore their individual quirks and hobbies. We discover (among many other things) that Roger Daltrey is an avid fisherman; Nikki Sixx uses photography as a creative outlet; and Grandmaster Flash collects mugs as souvenirs.
Niche of Wonders makes us wonder how musicians live every day, outside of the talent and stage presence that has made them famous. In a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay, Bannino encourages us to imagine what they are like “when the show is over,” so that we can consider them as unique individuals who channel their personas and ambitions into other projects. If we imagined niches for two recently-deceased artist, for example, we would perhaps see chess pieces for David Bowie, and a collection of Nazi memorabilia for Lemmy. In a playful call to curiosity, Bannino states, “Be prepared to change your thoughts about your favorite rockstar, and perhaps next time you could even consider to buy them the right Christmas present.”
Photographer Lynn Lane captures dancing spirits in a series of haunting photographs. These site-specific images were created to evoke the history of the Wynne Home Arts Center, a 19th century mansion located in Huntsville, Texas, 70 miles north of Houston. Wynne is now a performance and gallery space and its history serves as a counterpoint to the contemporary works it exhibits.
Imagining what life must have been like in a small town over 100 years ago, Lane collaborated with dancers in capturing photographs that invoke the memory of the past inhabitants of Wynne House while also utilising the unique characteristics of the house as a backdrop. Stairways and attics provide opportunities for the dancers to tell stories while floating in mid-air.
These photographs, developed specifically for site specific project were created in collaboration with NobleMotion Dance choreographers Andy and Dionne Noble, lighting designer David J. Deveau, and dancers: Alexis Anderson, Mark Chaves, Jennifer Mabus, Brittany Thetford-Deveau, Tristin Ferguson and Travis Prokop. Lynn and Dionne co-choreographed a dance in response to the work that was performed in the gallery space as well.
Based in Houston, Lane works primarily in the arts shooting performance as well as documentary and fashion work for designers. He is the official photographer of the Houston Grand Opera and has worked with opera companies across the US and dance companies around the globe. His work is regularly featured in magazines and newspapers internationally including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Opera News, Dance Magazine and many more.
We’ve featured the paintings of German artist Martin Eder before, such as his portraits of female warriors and erotic kitsch. Another notable work of his is an installation known as “Hallucination,” which was shown in the Dimensions Variable exhibition at Berlin’s Galerie Eigen + Art in May 2013. The installation features a massive sculpture (6m x 10m x 10m) made of twisted black metal that appears to hover above the ground prior to impact. Like an ominous void, the object resonates with stillness and terror, unsettling the psyche with its violent yet silent presence.
The press release for “Hallucination” likens the object to Plato’s Cave, an allegory in Western philosophy that centers around the development of cognition and one’s sense of reality. Eder’s structure resembles a cave, a negative cavity that produces tension between abstraction and reality. Its liminal status (not falling, not making contact) makes it an object of infinite reflection; it becomes a symbol of a distant threat while also operating as a source of knowledge. Our physical relationship to the object—standing in a room or a hallway with it, for example—shapes how it manifests itself in our imaginations.
Brooklyn based artist Matt Phillips creates colorfully complex paintings that act as vibrant odes to the ordinary. Phillips’ practice meditates on his comprehensive observance of classic aesthetics, including modernist abstraction, folk art, and African textiles. Drawing notes from these traditions, his paintings meld low and high brow art, creating contemporary pastiches that are just as colloquial as they are clever.
Phillips’ uses notions of pattern, textile, and the decorative to hint at referential codes that allow the abstract to take on tangible, even comforting forms. It is the moment in which each work switches from foreign to recognizable, that invites in humor and endearing relatability. For example, his piece Bungalow (Spring) depicts a warm tonality along soft river blues on a overtly sunny day, and hums the delicate, independent flow of a melodic riddle.
The artist paints with a pigment and silica blend — this mixture results in each brush stroke becoming dry instantaneously. Due to the lack of forgiveness within this process, his work not only speaks about the traditional observation of light, but also to economical choices and purposeful mark making. Although each painting begins as a mapped geometrical formation, his method of building composition pushes through routine constructs of painterly semantics and becomes playful with common structures such as the grid. Phillips has a true touch for quiet beauty and perfected moments of yearned memories.
Check out Matt Phillips’ spectacular solo show, Comfort Inn, at Steven Harvey Fine Arts Projects in New York, running until February 6th. The exhibition is taking over both of the gallery’s two locations located at 208 Forsyth Street and 237 Eldridge Street.
In a series titled Future Fatigue, photographer Bryn DC explores feminine power and the battle against gender inequality. Collaborating with a group of female filmmakers, writers, artists, and activists, he portrays “girl gangs” in post-apocalyptic, war-torn environments. Each one is garbed in ways that challenge conventional notions of femininity; wearing ragged clothes, armed with deadly weapons, and their faces streaked with dirt, they manifest and critique a world polarized by violence and identity binaries.
Bryn’s images are color-drenched and cinematic. Blending composition and costume together in story-filled images, he elucidates his themes in ways that are visceral and metaphorical. A lot of his work derives from personal anxieties about the destructive power of hyper-masculinity, in the way it is portrayed in contemporary culture; as he explains in a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay, he fears a world “where violence and blind progress are seen as necessary, and are often celebrated.” In the fictional apocalypse of Future Fatigue, gender binaries are opened to public discourse while the feminine is empowered as its own mode of influence.
Visit Bryn’s website to view more of his works, which often breach on his fascination with the pulls between mythology and reality, life and death. His Instagram profile is also a good resource to learn more about his projects.
Sculptures made out of moss and lichen. The organic foam that grows on rocks and trees and that are usually considered repellant. Lina Hsaio uses these unwanted and rejected elements to create fantasy faces. Whether painted or textured, the portraits depicted by the artist seem to always be comprised of flora.
The face shapes are perfectly balanced. The major features appear distinctly; nose, mouth and cheeks. It almost seems like the plants grew directly onto the human faces. The fuzzy components were perhaps not chosen coincidently by Lina Hsaio. Moss and lichen are different in their form of life. One is a plant, breathing and living; the other is a composite organism but not a plant. Intertwined together, they symbolize life and death.
The purpose of Lina Hsaio is to question the human condition. According to her work, it’s all being summarized in the green, bushy portraits. Behind each individuals is hidden a force stronger than themselves.“Lina’s series of mixed media portraits displaying erratic forms of the human condition with elements that are not to be confined to universals symbols”