Jarmila Mitríková and Dávid Demjanovič are a fascinating artistic duo adding spice back into a traditional form of art-making. They hail from Slovakia and employ a technique called pyrography, which involves burning into plywood and shading the images with wood stains. This particular way of mark making was popular with people mostly during socialism in former Czechoslovakia. A style with is linked with folk art, domestic crafts and cultural traditions, the pair tap into their own history and national identity.
In their hybrid style you can see christian traditions, folklorism, pagan rituals, superstitions, myths, local legends with links to WWII and socialistic history, all with the backround of real slovak scenery. (Source)
Mitríková and Demjanovič play to their strengths of storytelling and creating very strong, personal images. We see very graphic scenes being played out – hunting rituals, exorcisms of some type, sacrificial set ups, and masked people involved in cult-like activities. With titles like Guardians of National Spirituality,Procession With Nazi, Cult of Goddess Morena, Dance Plague and Evacuation of Slovakian Elites, they focus on a time of secret societies and unknown mysterious behavior; they speak of a time when not everything was understandable, or explainable.
Typical for their practise is working with mystification and creating thematic series, where they focus their attention on one subject from our present or history….. when they work with real slovak subjects, using their style of storytelling, they create absurd, comic situations and new contextual reading. (Source)
This talented couple manage to recreate a sense of wonder, secrecy, ambiguity and riddles. They put a contemporary spin on an ancient art of wood burning and telling campfire-stories.
Scott Bisson is an Oregon-based glass blowing enthusiast. Ever since he bent a piece of glass over a flame in his high school Chemistry class when he was seventeen, Bisson has been passionately creating beautifully colorful hand-blown glass creatures. Working as a flame and furnace worker, he is well accustomed to the world of heat and molten materials and works prolifically. He has been creatively active for nineteen years, and now specializing in borosilicate flame-work, Bisson has created work for over 80 galleries across America. These snakes, octopuses, lizards and squids are but a small sample of his many endearing pieces.
Bisson creates whimsical representations of the animal and natural world around him – including many different types of flowers, reeds, corals, reptiles, insects and bugs. Each are a labor of love and have an incredible amount of detail to them. The artists explains his obsession with getting it just right:
I put a little bit of myself into every work of art I create. That is how I breath life into each piece. If I don’t lose a piece a day from getting in over my head, then I am not pushing myself hard enough. Skill is the raw material of a great piece, and drive and energy make it take shape. (Source)
His perseverance, dedication and risk-taking shows in each piece. To see more of his curvaceous, elegant designs, visit his website here. (Via Bored Panda)
For over 4 years, Indian artist Valay Shende put together his politically-loaded sculpture, now on show as a part of the group exhibition Migrating Histories of Molecular Identities at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai. Transit is a life size truck with 22 people standing on the back of it and has intensity to it, with a very moving back story. The structure is an intricate piece, made up out of thousands of metal disks all soldered together, and printed with the faces of the farmers who committed suicide from the Vidharba region and their families on them. The wing mirrors on either side of the cab have video footage of London, Mumbai and Dubai playing, to give the impression the truck is literally in transit. Shende says:
It gives a feeling that the truck is moving, but the people are actually not going anywhere, just like in real life. (Source)
Aimed at raising awareness of the increase in farmer suicide and starting a conversation about the larger political issues in India, Shende has created a powerful visual statement. This social awareness is the backbone of his practice.
Valay’s works are in subtle ways, his attempts to question the maladies afflicting urban societies and humans today. He is a keen and sensitive observer of his surroundings and is concerned about the common’s mans trials and tribulations of day-to-day life. He feels an artists owes a responsibility to the society and firmly believes an ideal world can be re-created. He wishes the audience to reflect upon the social issues plaguing man today. (Source)
A strange new campaign has started in St Pauli, the party district of Hamburg in Germany. In order to deter drunken party goers who have a habit of peeing on walls, doorsteps, playgrounds and in alley ways, local activists have coated the surfaces in a substance that will change where visitors go to the toilet. This wonder substance is a superhydrophobic coating which causes any substance to hit it to rebound and splash back more than it normally would. Some areas are marked with warning signs, some are not. Most importantly they don’t mean to be unfriendly toward tourists, it acts more as a strong message.
Such a simple, novel idea thought up by a community group will have such a wide reaching impact, and will make a whole lot of local businesses happier, cleaner and a lot less stinky.
The group also plans to roll out a program in which people using the restroom at bars can get a stamp on a special card that can be redeemed for a shot on the house after the sixth restroom trip. One thing is for certain: if you pee in public in St. Pauli, “urine” trouble. (Source)
The campaign is a tongue-in-cheek approach to a serious issue for the area. And proves that St Pauli can defend itself. So far the idea has made waves around the internet and perhaps will encourage other areas to do the same. (Via Bored Panda)
Chinese artist Ye Hongxing tries to bridge the gap between the ideas of East and West; traditional and contemporary; spirituality and commercialization. She plays these different ideas off of each other in her new work called Prajñāpāramitā. This new piece is a reinterpretation of the traditional art form of a Mandala, but made from mass-produced plastic toys, beads and stickers. The title Prajñāpāramitā actually means the Buddhist concept of Perfection of (Transcendent) Wisdom, and is a fitting cynical commentary on just how bizarre our worlds have become, filled with shopping and consuming commodities and objects.
Hongxing’s stickers are otherwise seen as disposable and ephemeral objects—a comment on the disposable nature of contemporary culture. The sheer volume of the stickers echoes the overload of information that we are presented with on a daily basis. (Source)
Based in Beijing, Hongxing is frequently reacting to the ever-changing culture surrounding her, and the pace of which it happens. Using opposing traditions and systems to comment on each other, she draws our attention to our own actions. By methodically placing thousands of plastic, secular, pop-cultural, commercial objects down in a systemic fashion to build a spiritual motif, she brings two very different practices together in a head on collision. We are reminded of the Buddist traditions of meditation and repetition, but instead of being geared toward serenity and peace, this time it is in the name of glitz, glamor and garishness.
Hongxing’s other projects include fusing Chinese and Western artistic practices together – creating luscious oil paintings filled with decorative Chinese porcelain patterns; making marble sculptures of kitschy blow up animal balloons; and layering hundreds of glittery stickers on each other to form surreal, OTT interpretations of modern day life. (Via The Creator’s Project)
American artist Robert Wechsler is a bit of a trickster. He takes everyday objects and transforms them into unexpected oddities and puzzling sights. He alters things and spaces, changing our understanding of the most understated and mundane item/place. His latest ‘practical joke’ Money was commissioned by The New Yorker and involves him cutting notches into different coins and slotting them together to look like atoms or complex cube shapes.
He has a fine sense of humor, and has practiced it extensively through previous projects. He has welded nine bikes together to create a giant carousel, re-plumbed a public drinking fountain that fooled thirsty members of the public, and instead of quenching their own thirst, watered nearby plants. Wechsler has also worked with currency before – he has cast a penny 30,000 times it’s size and replaced a manhole cover with it. He explains his motivations:
My focus is necessarily on the familiar. Comfortably accustomed to everyday objects and spaces, we are blind to their unseen beauty and elegance. Who looks at a shopping cart or a toaster for the object itself? This state of static expectations is fertile ground for surprise. It is a conscious re-examination of my subjects that re-instates the novel back into the familiar. This is the moment of surprise, the moment we discover what is unseen in what is always seen. In reverence for what initially appears modest we get a small glimpse of the boundless elegance of our world. (Source)
Adding another conceptual layer to the project, the Money series is exhibited on Cointemporary – the online gallery where you can purchase artworks with bitcoins. (Via Fubiz)
Even though Judith Schaechter was immersed in her artistic career as a painter, she was drawn to the traditional practice of stained glass window making. She has managed to lift the centuries-old skill into the world of contemporary art by treating it with a new vision. She turns something that is usually associated with stuffy old churches into something macabre, tragic, yet beautiful. Schaechter says she doodles in front of the TV, and in meetings, to come up with a preliminary design, but still works spontaneously and improvises until she reaches the final stage.It seems she is quite happy to let accidents and mishaps guide her hand. She speaks a bit more the art of turning something gruesome and unpleasant into a thing of wonder:
It seems my work is centered on the idea of transforming the wretched into the beautiful in theme as well as design. For me, this means taking what is typically negative — say, unspeakable grief, unbearable sentimentality, or nerve-wracking ambivalence, and representing it in such a way that it is inviting and safe to contemplate and captivating to observe (to avoid ending with preposition) (Source)
Schaechter says glass is the perfect medium to support the conceptual idea of transforming ugly and difficult subjects into radiant, transparent, glowing figures. Ordinary, ‘earthly’ beings are now ‘supernatural’ and elevated.
They seem to be caught in a transitional moment when despair becomes hope or darkness becomes inspiration. They seem poised between the threshold of everyday reality and epiphany, caught between tragedy and comedy. (Source)
She is a firm believer of the power of stained glass windows – and the effect they can have on somebody’s mood. To be further enlightened, see more of her work after the jump.(Via Hi Fructose)
Erik Jones paints a blend of vibrant, colorful, graphic-orientated paintings with hyper realistic, disconnected parts of women’s bodies. Originally from St Petersburg, Florida he moved to New York with $81 and took different jobs in the comic industry – an influence to which he owes his distinct graphic style. They are a original mix of pop styling with hard lines and distinct patterns, sporadic mark making and illustrative details of the female form. High fashion magazine-style renderings of faces, breasts and limbs are broken up and disjointed by digital-like patterns.
Realizing his passion for illustration and figure rendering, Jones initially was drawn to animation and creating stimulating visuals. Not completely satisfied by just animating, he applied the techniques he learnt to painting. He starts his creative process with a photoshoot, or various inspirational photos, then adds the figure reference and refines it digitally. He explains more:
I build on top of the figure as if they were wearing these shapes. I’ll also create patters with the shapes to move your eye around in a structured way. Despite all the clutter and chaos in these newer works, there is something soothing and comfortable in each piece, at least I feel there is. I believe it’s the patterns that you’re subconsciously finding that keep it from being completely chaotic and overwhelming to look at. (Source)
Jones uses several different types of media to build up a textured, layered, collage look. Even though his work is a blend of so many different elements, he tries to give equal weighting to each of them. He says most importantly for him is to keep a harmonious balance, and not to glorify the figure.