The fantastic wire creations of Walter Oltmann seem both alien and familiar. The artist often calls upon the natural world and images from human history to explore themes of hybridism and mutation while referencing the rich traditions of South African craft-making. Born in 1960, Oltmann spent his childhood living in remote parts of the KwaZulu-Natal region, where he was first exposed to local handicrafts such as weaving and basket-making. Using wire as his preferred medium, the artist has become an expert on wire working and devotes himself to studying the influence of cultural traditions on contemporary South African art.
The laser-cut digital prints and pins that comprise works by David Adey, an artist based in San Diego, can be pulled from hundreds of Web or print outlets. Yet, together, they create cohesive, kinetic pieces like the powerful “Starbirth,” consisting of lips bursting out from the piece’s epicenter. All of the individual pieces are painstakingly pinned to a foam board.
Rebecca Hastings‘ art is a family affair. The Australian artist uses herself and her children as the focal subjects in her highly realist oil paintings – yet noticeably absent from these portraits is the sentimentality one would expect an artist-mother to insert into her depictions of family life. Instead, Hastings subverts these idealized expectations to reveal the more complex realities of child rearing that is rarely touched upon in glossy advertisements or family portraits.
Simply stated, “carving bones” may sound like a morbid activity. Yet, there’s both an elegance and hypnotic nature to the work of Jason Borders, an artist who creates intricate patterns and designs on animal skulls by hand. Borders was last featured on HiFructose.com here, and he appeared in Hi-Fructose Vol 40. The artist currently has a solo show at Screaming Sky in Portland, titled “The Art of Jason Borders.” The show kicked off on July 28 and runs through Aug. 22.
Kent Monkman is a Canadian artist of Cree ancestry whose subversive and oftentimes controversial paintings explore issues concerning the exploitation and misrepresentations of the First Nations in North America. His eclectic mash-up of art historical references, role reversals and revised narratives challenges the Western art canon head on — from the romantic landscape paintings of Thomas Cole and Albert Bierstadt to the cubist works of Pablo Picasso. Monkman has exhibited at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto, and is represented in numerous public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Canada and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.
Nora Keyes, artist and lead singer of art-rock acts like Fancy Space People, The Centimeters, and Rococo Jet, combines painting and collage for intricate, multidimensional pieces. The absorbing work can be scrutinized from feet or inches away, maintaining the viewer’s gaze at every corner. The work can feel otherworldly, yet entirely human in their contemplation and introspection.