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Jo Seub

Dad, I Want to Live until I marry seub!, 2000

Dad, I Want to Live until I marry seub!, 2000


Sort of in the same vein as cultural greats like Cindy Sherman, Korean artist Jo Seub explores self portraiture. But he often gives the effect that Ren & Stimpy had on me as a child who had yet to find humor in the grotesqueness of human (animated mangy animals) condition. An article by art critic Moon Young-Min on the artist’s website explains the “reason for his aesthetics of the frivolous, for his use of comedy as an art form; today’s younger generation understands comedy. Jo demonstrates clearly that one can communicate seriously while at the same time being funny…Jo Seub is not only skeptical about the ideology and religion that he is satirizing but he is also rebelling against the excessive weight and seriousness of the doctrinarian teaching and its rigid methodology. In fact, anti-Communism under the military dictatorship in South Korea, which took place in the context of South-North confrontation, is not much different from the anti-imperialism inculcated in North Korea.”

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Palestinian Artists Transform Photographs Of Rocket Explosions Into Powerful Human Images

Image credit: Belal Khaled

Image credit: Belal Khaled

Image credit: Tawfik Gebreel

Image credit: Tawfik Gebreel

Image credit: Bushra Shanan

Image credit: Bushra Shanan

Images and news of the Israel-Palestine conflict have been circulating media for a few weeks now. The photographs that emerge out of this war are tragic and graphic. A handful of Palestinian artists have been transforming images of smoke and fire from the attacks on Gaza into portraits that reveal the very real and human cost of these rocket explosions. By inscribing faces and bodies onto images of destruction, these artists are reminding people from all sides that war takes its toll on an individual, human level, a fact that is often erased when the media creates its narratives. These simple, yet powerful, illustrations give these Palestinian artists a voice that they might otherwise not be given, a voice that tells a different story than the ones represented in the original photographs. (via demilked)

Featured artists: Tawfik Gebreel, Bushra Shanan, Belal Khaled

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Best of 2011: Ray Young Chu

Ray Young Chu makes beautifully detailed paintings that don’t take themselves too seriously. Cute animals and laughter are always a good mix in my book.

Stephan Balkenhol Carves Minimalistic Everyday Figures From Tree Trunks

Stephan Balkenhol - wawa wood, paintStephan Balkenhol - wawa wood, paint Stephan Balkenhol - wawa wood, paintStephan Balkenhol - wawa wood, paint

German sculptor Stephan Balkenhol‘s carved, expressionless wooden figures and reliefs have many critics wondering just what they are about. Balkenhol sculpts stoic characters standing on top of plinths with minimal detailing, wearing basic, unfussy clothes and who are often staring off in space. His figures are everyday people, caught in a disengaged daydream. Working in African Wawa, Oak, or Lebanese Cedar wood, Balkenhol uses a hammer and chisel to reveal the figure, choosing to leave bits of shavings, knots, grains and cracks visible in the finished piece. The rough hewed sculptures are then painted over in bright block acrylic color, emphasizing the plainness of their shape. Balkenhol manages to remove all personality and emotion from his figures, effectively turning them into a blank canvas, ready for the viewer to project their own story, and interpretation onto them. The artist explains:

I’m perhaps proposing a story and not telling the end, just giving a beginning or fragment. There is still a lot for the spectator to complete… (Source)

Balkenhol has been carving the human form for a few decades now, and has shown it in many different forms. He has figures dancing on top of plinths, carrying out various dance steps; a lady in a green dress with an animal head, standing still with her hands on thighs; a man in black trousers and a white shirt with his hand slouched in his pocket. But all are as nondescript as the next. One critic dissects his work:

In the crowd, the individual is freed from the tyranny of distance and transcends the limits of his own person. If Balkenhol’s heads remain anonymous individuals, it is because they have a memory of the crowd embedded within them. (Source)

Blankenhol’s figures are a little bit of all of us – humans as individuals, and humans as a mass group; the everyday people.

Vik Muniz And Three Other Artists Who Use Unusual Materials To Create Stunning Portraits

Vik Muniz

Vik Muniz

Andrew Myers

Andrew Myers

Ben Durham

Ben Durham

Christian Faur

Christian Faur

A highly traditional artistic activity, portraiture is given new perspective through the eyes of the four artists below.  Each of these artists seeks unconventional means to create a subject’s likeness.

Vik Muniz incorporates quotidian objects and materials, such as diamonds, sugar, thread, chocolate syrup and garbage into his works to create unique portraits.  Often the medium will imply something about the subject, as with his iconic portraits of catadores, self-designated pickers of recyclable materials.  Muniz photographed the catadores in Jardim Gramacho, which is the largest garbage dump in the world, located just outside Rio de Janerio.  He photographed them and then re-created their portraits out of garbage. This process is documented in the film Waste Land

Ben Durham creates portraits of alleged criminals, all of whom attended the same high school as him in Lexington, Kentucky.  Knowing none of the subjects personally, Durham ignites a viewer’s imagination by offering no clue as to their alleged crimes.  The images, sketched on paper Durham handmade, are composed of text and titled after the subject’s name.  Streams of gibberish, the text captures contours and texture impeccably.

Laguna Beach-based artist Andrew Myers creates distinct, expressive and tactile portraits made of mixed media, mainly screws.  In the displayed portrait, Andrew depicts filmmaker Benjamin Pitts using approximately 8,000 screws, oil paint, and phonebook pages. The piece was an experiment in expressing movement with static objects.

Christian Faur’s interest with art lies in the idea that the medium can become the message.  Intertwining form and function Faur’s more recent work incorporates crayons to create mesmerizing portraits.  Three-dimensional and abstract up close, the portraits flatten and emerge the further away from them a viewer gets.

THE SLAP Is A New Social Experiment Where 40 Random People Hit Each Other In The Face

Max-Landis-Video-1 Max-Landis-Video-2 Max-Landis-Video-3

The Slap, a totally fresh video by filmmaker Max Landis, is a clever response to the famous First Kiss video that went viral three months ago and has been making all of us go awwww up until now. Landis’ video features 40 randomly paired people in a fairly uncomfortable situation – the goal for them was to slap each other in the face. Even if it’s the first time they had met.

According to the author, none of the participants were pressured to do so and all of them were “hit as hard as THEY asked to be hit”. The beauty of this project lies in the contrast between a somewhat violent action of hitting other person and the intimate feeling the participants develop towards each other.

Though Landis really was aiming to mock the famous First Kiss video (which is obvious from the black and white color palette and similar upbeat music), he did go beyond just that. His explanation video called Point Of Impact explains the reasons for him to make “The Slap” in the first place.

“What is violence? It’s really just a label, isn’t it, if you let your mind go to a dark place. I decided to define violence as “non-consensual physical interference;” <…> What is trust? Do you trust someone not to hurt you? Are you even thinking about it? Do you care if they hurt you if you trust them? <…> The theory was: A slap, robbed of its violating context, is more intimate than a kiss. My theory, as it turned out, was right.”

Btw, did you notice the cherry on top? At 1:48, there’s Haley Joel Osment (yup, the kid from The Sixth Sense) being slapped straight into his lush beard.