John Bisbee envisions his sculptures as drawings in which the 12-inch nails he hammers and welds act like lines in three dimensions. Since his serendipitous discovery of nails’ sculptural potential 30 years ago, Bisbee has been working with the unusual industrial material. His body of work includes organic shapes and architectural constructions alike. The nails act as uniform building blocks that allow him to create rhythmic patterns that echo through much of his work, whether it’s a snake-like floor sculpture, a bird’s nest of bent nails, or a precariously high pyramid.
Erika Sanada’s canine sculptures are both endearing and unnerving. There’s something sweet about her ceramic puppies (featured in Hi-Fructose Vol. 31) despite their zombie eyes and pale, hairless skin. The dogs play, wrestle, and cuddle, but the ambiguous details in each sculpture make it possible to interpret their gestures as either tender or malicious, or perhaps a bit of both. Sanada began creating these creatures as a way of coping with anxiety. She says they represent dark elements of her mind she’s had to tame. The latest installment of her ongoing, autobiographical body of work will debut in her upcoming solo show, “Odd Things: Daydreaming,” which opens November 28 at Antler Gallery in Portland and runs through December 31.
When he was a young artist in the 1970s, Chun Kwang Young left Korea and came to New York with a fantasy of the American dream. He was immediately culture-shocked by the materialistic society he witnessed and struggled to forge a unique voice as an artist. Struck by a bout of inspiration (which he describes at length in his artist statement), he began using newspapers as a sculptural medium. Young folds their pages into triangular prisms, aggregating them into crater-like shapes that evoke the surface of the moon. His style is inspired by Abstract Expressionism. Though his work recalls the free-flowing movement of Jackson Pollock’s paintings, his process is far more hands-on and meticulous than splashing paint.
Jonathan Owen’s interdisciplinary work toys with the definition of authorship in the spirit of Marcel Duchamp. His sculptures and works on paper start out as other, found artworks, which he alters through a process of subtraction. To create his surreal 3D pieces, he carves directly into 19th-century marble statues and busts. These sculptures were created as imitations of Classical works from the Renaissance, which themselves were inspired by Ancient Greek art and mythology. Owen adds yet another layer of appropriation, carving into the pristine bodies of David and Mercury to dissolve them into abstract, geometric shapes. He mixes Baroque and Minimalist aesthetics in a way that would make purists cringe.
Little is known about Japanese artist trio three. The young, anonymous artist collective utilizes toys and other childhood ephemera to create provocative installations and sculptures. Action figures and rubber figurines are melted into fleshy masses. The artists create complex, geometric forms out of the liquified toys, forming them into patters that alternate distinguishable characters’ faces and anonymous, tan blobs where limbs and bodies used to be. Micro elements accumulate into overwhelming conglomerations that challenge the viewer’s eye to distinguish their many details.
Korean artist Choi Xooang (whom we previously featured here) creates hyperreal, resin sculptures that shock with their unexpected, violent manipulations of the human body. His latest body of work features couples and doubles grappling with each other’s flesh. In one piece, a woman’s fist penetrates the back of another’s skull while in another, a masked woman is strapped with a male torso like a backpack, carrying the weight of another’s mutated and mutilated body. Choi adds eroticism to these graphic visions. The bodies he chooses to manipulate are graceful and model-esque, yet each one contains its own set of disorienting details that provoke our collective anxieties.