Discarded paperbacks become the site of a scientific experiment in Alexis Arnold’s “Crystallized Books” sculpture series. Inspired by the ways that ebooks and websites have replaced the way many people consume information, Arnold began scavenging thrown-away books and periodicals. She grows Borax crystals on old novels, National Geographic issues, and manuals, turning the functional objects into fragile artifacts. As the crystals form, they re-shape the books’ pages, forcing Arnold to relinquish control of how the final product turns out.
A self-described b-boy, Japanese sculptor Taku Obata creates colorful wooden sculptures that pay homage to breakdancing and hip-hop culture. In his latest body of work, dancers clad in neon sweat suits assume exaggerated stances that evoke the athleticism and freedom of expression break dancing celebrates. Elonaged hats, glasses, and folds in the characters’ clothing convey a sense of movement, as if we’re seeing the forms captured in a long-exposure photograph. For these works, Obata uses traditional Japanese carving techniques, invoking his heritage through the way he approaches his contemporary subject matter.
Illinois based artist Anne Harris has a Renaissance-inspired technique, but there’s an emotional realism in her portraits. One of her primary interests as a painter is to portray the complex relationship between other’s perceptions versus our own. Her 21st century women evoke a certain self awareness in this respect. This may result from Harris’ process which involves studying her own features in the mirror while she paints. Since her early work, her style has become progressively softer and more simplified.
On March 5, Seattle’s Roq La Rue Gallery will present two solo shows from artists with distinct aesthetic sensibilities. Sam Wolfe Connelly (who was featured in HF Vol. 32) continues his exploration of the subtly sinister with a new series of drawings and paintings called “And Here I Lay.” Often set in (nearly) empty houses in remote locales, his work takes on the quality of a mysterious shadow one sees in the corner of one’s eye. It has an ambiance of foreboding that can’t be easily explained. The cityscapes in Liz Brizzi’s concurrent show, “Anagrams,” are desolate as well, but her busy mixed-media work departs greatly from Wolfe’s sparse paintings. Brizzi combines digitally manipulated photography, collage, and painting on wood panel to create portraits of unpopulated metropolises that look familiar yet alien because of their stillness.
Using grid-like patterns that snake and spiral into organic shapes, Peter Kogler creates installations that make viewers feel like they just entered the matrix. Sometimes painted directly on the walls and sometimes in the form of projections, Kogler’s futuristic aesthetic transforms spaces into illusory environments with a disorienting effect. The artist has created his installations on the walls of galleries and museums all over Europe. In the photos documenting his pieces below, viewers become subsumed in patterns as they navigate Kogler’s altered spaces.
Aaron Johnson isn’t afraid of the profane — in fact, he almost always goes there. The Brooklyn-based artist has a solo show at Stux and Haller Gallery in New York titled “Pisockophilia.” The show features his reverse painted acrylic polymer peel paintings as well as his sock paintings, which are, in essence, hand-painted assemblages made of the discarded footwear. Johnson’s work is maniacal and frenzied. It throws propriety out the door and its characters, with their gnawing teeth and hungry eyes, act on a wide variety of carnal desires. Johnson’s humor is almost slapstick and his paintings are tactile and action-packed. The title of the show comes from one of Johnson’s recurring characters, Pisocko — a warped, unhinged Picasso-esque artist made out of socks. “Pisockophilia” is on view at Stux and Haller through March 21.