If you think carving a pumpkin is challenging, wait until you see the “prayer nuts” made by Dutch artists in the 16th century. These small, neurotically detailed treasures were carved from a single nut to resemble religious scenes. Each nut holds a spectacularly complex scene that contains a numerous amount of characters to construct religiously important events such as the crucifixion. All of this amazingly crafted imagery is inside a nut that is only a few inches in diameter! Not only are the interiors of the nuts carved into a fine detail, but the outsides are elaborately carved as well. The exterior shell of each nut features a decorative design carved into it, which is revealed once the prayer nut is closed. This way, whether the nut is open or closed, it shows off its stunning design.
Artisans created these delicate masterpieces during the Middle Ages so that individuals could use them privately when they pray. They were small enough to be carried in a person’s pocket and beautiful enough to hang on a rosary. Because the prayer nuts such took incredible skill, not to mention an unbelievably steady hand, only the wealthy and powerful could afford them. Because of this, they also became a social status of wealth. The same thing can be said about many products in contemporary society. Possessing something expensive that creates a convenience to you and can also fit in your pocket – this is not unlike the modern day smart phone. Valuable and beautifully crafted items are still in high demand today. However, these 16th century prayer nuts are much more rare than the latest iphone. They can be found in museum collections all over the world including the British Museum in London and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.(via Juxtapoz)
The incredibly multifaceted and complex sculpture by artist Sterling Ruby is in a realm between veins filled with dripping blood and stalagmites forming inside a cave. Sterling creates massive and intricate installations using ceramic, paint, collage, and urethane to form his uncomfortably oozing sculptures. Although the striking reds combined with the system of lines used primarily in his work resemble veins and arteries, they possess an attractive quality that draws the viewer in. It’s seemingly endless drips demand your constant attention as it keeps your eye moving across the entirety of the installation. Often installed along with his sculptures are red drops referencing blood created from Formica, wood, spray paint and fiberglass.
This Germany born artist, currently based out of Los Angeles, has a wide range of influences that are apparent in his all-encompassing body of work. Influenced by graffiti and street art, many of Sterling’s sculptures are purposely defaced with “graffiti” by the artist himself. He also pulls inspiration from the punk movement, accounting for the chaotic and bold nature of his work. Sterling has a wide range of style, as he does not always create dripping installations. Many of his sculptures are modeled after soft, plush items resembling everyday objects such as a stack of pillows. His soft sculptures are no doubt the influence of infamous and controversial artist Mike Kelley, who Sterling worked under during his graduate studies. His unique take on installation allows him to completely transform a space, taking the viewer into another world. Sterling’s talent has made him widely successful as he continues to exhibit his work both nationally and internationally in galleries, festivals, and biennales.
Artist Takahiro Iwasaki is a master when it comes to constructing elaborate, miniature landscapes. However, these small-scale scenes are not formed from Lego’s, but from much more unlikely and unstable items such as cloth fiber, dust, and human hair. This Japanese artist takes the most miniscule, seemingly insignificant materials and uses them to create something incredibly complex and enchanting. His newest installations, which are part of the series titled Out of Disorder, contain mini-scenes of recognizable landmarks such as Coney Island, ferris wheel and all. Inspired by painted landscapes on Japanese folding screens, Iwasaki comments on his work in relation to its inspiration.
“Just as the artist of the screens did, I would like to revisit a commonplace everyday scene from today’s Japan, and just as the screens embody a smooth flow from one season to the next, I hope to capture, in my work, the graceful transition of a Japanese landscape from past to present.”
Each tree, building, factory, and rollercoaster in Iwasaki’s work are brightly colored and fragile, as many of them are enclosed in a glass case. This glass reveals one of the most captivating elements of the landscapes; the layers of clothing that make up the earth in many of the installations. Each cloth is filled with diverse colors and clashing patterns, revealing a mishmash of layers that resemble section of sediment in the soil. They form the rolling hills and steep slopes that make up the miniature environments. However, not all of the artist’s creations are constructed from recycled cloth, but from toothbrushes, as well. Telephone towers sprout out of Iwasaki’s toothbrush bristles in this strange yet familiar installation. Out of Disorder is on display now at Takahiro Iwasaki’s first solo show Takahiro Iwasaki: In Focus at the Asian Society Museum in New York. (via Spoon & Tamago)
Spanish photographer Eugenio Recuenco has taken the timeless and iconic work of the notorious artist Pablo Picasso and translated it into contemporary photography. He models each photograph in this series after a single Picasso painting, recreating it as a seductive, contemporary photograph. Each painterly photograph is taken in such a way that even these real life women seem to be painted onto a canvas. Having had his hand in commercial and fashion photography, the influence from modern high fashion can be seen. Because Picasso’s work contains such vivid colors and a strongly recognized cubist style, the model’s make-up and clothing are a vital part of what allows the photograph to imitate Picasso’s paintings.
Cubism, the artist’s most famous stylistic period, is achieved by dissecting parts of the subject in the painting, and breaking them down into geometric forms. In this case, the subjects in the photos are women covered in geometric patterns imitating Picasso’s paintings. Recuenco brilliantly achieves this reference to Cubism not only by the women’s clothing, but also by the perfectly placed photo fragments. Several of the photos in this series are altered so that there is an abrupt crop in the image, with extra limbs on the other side. This cleverly recreates Picasso’s ever-popular figures with extra legs, arms, or eyes. Some may say that there are just some things you can do in a painting that you cannot do in a photo. Recuenco proves this wrong with his incredible and imaginative use of make-up to mirror Picasso’s fractured portraits and misplaced facial features. In one photo, an entirely new eye is created, while in another, a sharp, black line dissects a woman’s face. Intelligent and original creativity is of no shortage in this photographer’s unbelievably beautiful series paying homage to a fellow Spanish artist.
Make sure to check out Eugenio Recuenco’s new project, a short film titled “A Second Defeat.”
In the depths of East London, artist Lucy Sparrow ambitiously converted an abandoned, rundown store into a majestic, playful and fully functional corner shop. The only catch is that every single object in this store, including the cash register and the functional pricing gun, is made out of felt! Everything has been stitched and created by Sparrow herself out of nothing but felt, thread, and the occasional stuffing. Last year, when The Cornershop was “opened” it was filled to the brim with normal, everyday items that a grocery shop may have in stock, but instead, made of felt. The items included ice cream, cans of soup, Doritos, beer, and even cigarettes, just to name a few. The variety of items that were sold at the store was endless. The best part about this corner shop is that it functioned as a real store. A customer could enter the store, shop, purchase the felt items, and take them home. Sparrow’s felt creations became so popular that she even opened up an online shop where anyone in the world can purchase his or her own soft food and cigarettes.
Each grocery store product looked impressively similar to its real-life counterpart, in spite of being made out of felt, with the exception of Sparrow’s vegetables with eyes, of course. While The Cornershop was opened, it contained over 4,000 soft, plush items. The painstaking task of creating each individual grocery item out of felt and embroidery speaks volumes to the artist’s patience and artistic talent. (via The Jealous Curator)
Photographer Eolo Perfido’s series Clownville is a place where nightmares are real. In this series, Perfido photographs a hodgepodge group of bloody, cackling, and all together demented-looking clowns. What makes this set of clowns so horrifying is the incredible attention to detail the photographer has taken into account when developing such a dark, desolate atmosphere. We are able to see each crusty hair on the clown’s body, every white, chalky flake of skin. They have become just as grotesque as they are unwanted. The clown, who can be thought about in a cheery, amusing way, is often a subject that many people fear. Among all of the classic, cult horror films lies the infamous and terrifying clown. It has been appropriated to suit every child’s nightmare. Still, there is something incredibly sad about the clown, even in some of the characters in Clownville. Although frightening, many of Perfido’s clown seem worn out and used, as if they are just misunderstood and unfortunate. This sense of hopelessness can be seen in the photograph exhibiting a fairly large-sized clown smoking on a couch. Another representation of this is found in the face of the big, teary-eyed clown staring straight into the viewer, with no smile. The entertainers are perhaps tired of entertaining us.
Eolo Perfido’s heavily stylized approach to photography is very apparent in his series Clownville. Many of his photos have a very staged look, almost like a play, while at the same time feeling genuine. Others have an old, classic flavor due to their grainy quality and black and white tones. There is something different that can be found in each clown as their creative make up and poses reveal bits of their character. As unnerving as this series may be, we cannot look away from these unforgettable, chilling faces.
Artist DarkAngelOne has taken a collection of sculptures created by different artists and brought them to life! Using photos of these sculptures, the artist transforms them into stunning, moving GIFs full of energy. The variety of sculptures is incredibly eclectic, ranging from artistic fashion to bronze. Even more diverse and unique, is what part of the sculpture is moving in each photograph. In one photo, buttons seem to endlessly skid across a woman’s face. In another, a crystallized substance is exploding from a person’s body. Sometimes, the fabric of the sculpture itself transforms and morphs back and forth between patterns and materials. What is so impressive about this series is how seamless the editing seems to be. The sculptures really do seem to have gold dripping up continuously or have safety pins eternally sliding across a face. This transformation has truly taken some incredible skill from the artist that created the GIFs.
The movement created in this series not only transforms the sculpture itself, but the mood and the meaning as well. A new sensation emerges from each of these photos as they now pulsate and flow with a new life right in front of our eyes. They become more surreal, magical, and in some cases, a bit unnerving. Several of the sculptures take on a new feeling of anxiety or perhaps fear as they now have new elements added to it due to the movement. For example, one sculpture now has a fluttering iris that moves back and forth out of her skull. Another simulates a threaded face with black string moving across the eyes. Each sculpture is amazingly transformed into a new image full of life and meditative movement. (via Fubiz)
Spain based artist Paco Pomet paints colorful clouds of pink and blue that consume and take over vintage scenes of landscapes. A skilled painter, Pomet uses oil paints to create surreal landscapes where his vibrant colors transform each image into something out of the ordinary. He paints his transformative palette like a wave that will eventually consume everything in its path. Pomet’s work starts out looking like vintage photos of tranquil wilderness in black and white or sepia tones, but then a burst of colored slime oozes and covers the scene. His fluffy pinks and fiery reds cut through the composition to reveal new elements, changing the situation and meaning of each image. Not only does this now distort the circumstance of the painting, but also the setting has become a whole different world where anything is possible. This is a place where tree trunks can glow, the sky can drip, and mountains can break in half. Each color is placed cleverly and adds a bit of humor and curiosity to his work.
Pomet’s paintings show influence of traditional western paintings and landscapes, with their inclusion of desert scenes, covered wagons, and cowboys. His choices of misfit colors do not only break up this traditional imagery, but ads a contemporary, dream-like quality not unlike that of contemporary pop-surrealism. His paintings hint at analogue photography, but with elements of modern design.
Paco Pomet is represented by Richard Heller Gallery in Santa Monica, CA and currently has a solo exhibition on view until February 15th. Make sure to see the artist’s incredible work in person while you have the chance!