The New Contemporary Art Magazine

Author: Danny Olda

Artist Katsuyo Aoki primarily uses ceramics to create his sculptural work.  However, the ceramic is more than simply a material he uses to build the work.  The clean white color resembles old sun bleached bones, perfect for the pieces' skull like shapes. Aoki also relies on the the historical language and connotations of the material.  The extremely ornate ceramic is reminiscent of keepsakes, knick-knacks, and home furnishings of a well decorated home.  These light weight associations are juxtaposed against the existential heaviness of the object's shape: a human skull.  In his statement Aoki relates the contrasting feelings he intends his work to inspire: "Their existence in the present age makes us feel many things; adoration, some sort of romantic emotions, a sense of unfruitfulness and languor from their excessiveness and vulgarity.  And on the other hand, they make us feel tranquility and awe that can almost be described as religious, as well as an image as an object of worship." Aoki was also featured in Hi-Fructose Vol. 21 - check it out here. See more of Katsuyo Aoki's sculptures after the jump.
The artwork of painter Zachary Walsh is firmly rooted in a portraiture tradition.  His graceful paintings seem to have a classical sensibility as his subjects are faithfully rendered.  However, Walsh also employs many contrasts which makes his work decidedly contemporary.  His delicately worked oil paintings are adorned with cut out and collaged images.  The smooth well worked brushstrokes are coupled with expressive painterly strokes and flowing dripping paint.  Also, his subject matter mixes old and new, mythical and Biblical themes with modern scenes and people. See more of Zachary Walsh's paintings after the jump.
Plastic Jesus is a Los Angels based street artist.  While also known for his spray painted stencil work, his street installations are especially conspicuous.  His work is executed with a sense of humor and a touch of sarcasm.  Both his stencils and installations touch on controversial social, economic, and political issues.  The street art brings attention to wider issues such as debt in America.  Yet it also provides commentary on current events such as scandals involving Governor Chris Christie or Lance Armstrong, even the controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A and gay marriage. See more street installations from Plastic Jesus after the jump.
A feeling of sinking is something artist Ivan Puig explored in his installation Hasta las Narices and revisited in the installation Crecimientos Artificiales.  In Hasta las Narices a white Volkswagen Beetle appears to be nearly fully submerged in a white liquid, perhaps milk.  Nearby, a life size but two dimensional man is similarly sinking, maybe struggling to keep his face above water.  The same installation finds the drama playing out on an entirely different scale, in a glass of milk-like water.  For Crecimientos Artificiales, Puig installs a a group of chairs, a class room's-worth, in front of a school.  Despite the solid block-covered ground, the chairs appear to be in various stages of sinking, a commentary on a sinking and antiquated educational system. See more images of both installations after the jump.
Los Angeles based artist John Espinosa works primarily in sculpture and installation.  Much of his work often involves nature and animals in general.  Thus it can be easy to tie his art to ideas of ecology and the environment.  However, Espinosa's artwork also really seems to be rather personal.  In his artwork he is often concerned with ideas of knowledge and belief, but particularly the way in which they exist between people.  Several of his sculptures depict animals joined by a jagged electric-like structure, as if communicating or interacting through it.  At times the animals seem frightened or aggressive and other times as if in the middle of a trance.  Yet they are all still joined, perhaps a reference to shared belief systems.
Berlin based artist Dario Puggioni paints in a style balancing the classical contemporary.  Frequently depicting singular portraits or pairs of sitters, Puggioni's figures seem to be a nod toward classical posing and chiaroscuro.  However, there is a certain darkness, almost a hint of nihlism, peculiar to contemporary life that the images are filtered through.  This interesting balance is found in the techniques he uses as well.  For example, many of his paintings are characterized by painterliness that somehow seems to float somewhere between the canvas and the figure, not quite on the surface nor the subjects face.  The technique is intriguing while further blending classical and modern painting styles. See more of Dario Puggioni's paintings after the jump.
Artists Octavi Serra and Mateu Targa in collaboration with Daniel Llugany and Pau Garcia created this series of street interventions appropriately titled Hands.  The artists molded sculptures of variously posed hands and installed them throughout the city of Barcelona.  The hands interact with the surrounding architecture and at times directly with people in the neighborhood. Striking in its simplicity, the hands have the potential to communicate complex and serious messages.  The installations comment on socio-political and economic issues specific to Spain yet still able to touch on a broader scale. See more images of the hands after the jump.
The artwork of Korean artist Gwon Osang is a unique blend of photography and sculpture.  He begins by extensively photographing his subjects, then attaching the photographs to plaster sculptures and molds.  The result is a strange mix of two and thee dimensions.  Also, while the sculptures may point to classical bronze and marble statues, the photos and poses are much more reminiscent of fashion photography.  Thus, the sculptures seem simultaneously heavy and light in physical weight as well as seriousness.  They're especially fitting for a time marked by the abundance of images and hyper-documentation. See more of Gwon Osang's sculptures after the jump.
Artist Sipho Mabona says he folded his first paper plane at just five years old.  He never really stopped folding, but instead moved on to ever more complex origami.  As Mabona moved into complex folding he also moved from hobby toward art form.  His styles are widely varying from small pieces to elephant-sized sculptures (as the piece above) and room-filling installations.  Though only his animal work is featured here, Mabona also shapes paper into humans, inanimate objects, and even abstract art. See more of Sipho Mabona's origami after the jump.
These 'beings' are part of artist Dustin Yellin's series Psychogeographies.  The figures are life size - six feet tall - and pinned between several layers of glass.  Yellin pieces together thousands of old clippings onto layers of glass to create a sort of three dimensional collage.  When the layers are stacked together a figure seems to emerge and float within the block of clear glass.  The sculpture clearly requires an immense amount of work and is lovingly constructed.  However, there is also a certain cold taxonomy to the series.  The figures appear to be sunken into the glass to be studied as biological curiosities, alien specimens.  Psychogeographies strikes an interesting balance in this way between inside and out, the personal and objectivity. See more of Dustin Yellin's sculptures after the jump.
Pictured is Korean artist Hyungkoo Lee's series of photographs and wearable sculptures known as The Objectuals.  The series, dominated by a helmet-like object, merges the worlds of sociology and biology into a strange and unnerving mix.  Lee's 'helmet' contains spaces for interchangeable lenses which can alternately emphasize or minimize various facial features.  The lenses can produce disturbingly exaggerated facial expressions, faces that are cartoonishly demure or aggressive.  Lee's series underscores the body's important role in social life and everyday flows of power. See more images from Hyunkoo Lee's series after the jump.
I can only imagine the surprise and disorientation of coming upon a piece created by Leandro Erlich by chance, without warning.  Approaching the work, familiar with the Argentinian born artist, one suddenly becomes suspicious of reality, not so trusting of what your senses are reporting.  Whether it's a floating windowsill at the end of a ladder, an elevator stuck between floors in the middle of an art gallery, or a seemingly filled pool that allows viewers to walk around and within it, Erlich uses preconceptions of space to turn expectations on their head.  Erlich has been creating such artwork since the late 1990's, these four installations just a small sampling of his mind-bending practice. See more of Leandro Erlich's installations after the jump.
The sculptural work of artist Ben Foster can not be separated from his home and life in New Zealand.  The varying landscapes of his home - from the mountains to the beaches - feature prominently in his work.  Often his sculptures are placed within the context of these natural surroundings.  His subjects are the animals of his daily life and others that share the land.  The sculptures' polygonal shape betray their man-made origin and contrast against the natural backdrop.  The juxtaposition brings to mind the larger impact humans have on the environment of their home and perhaps the possibility of a peaceful coexistence.  Appropriately Foster comments in his statement, "My works are a culmination of the natural and the man-made - a careful balance of form and motion." See more of Ben Foster's sculptures after the jump.
Scott G. Brooks is an especially versatile artist and illustrator.  While creating illustrative works for a large number of high-profile clients, his fine-art paintings are particularly impressive.  Brooks' scenes are often elaborate, filled with detail and unnervingly surreal.  However there is also a subtler characteristic to his style which creates an unsettling effect.  A slightly stylized way of depicting people - their large heads, distance between their eyes - adds an additional level of peculiarity to his compositions.  The over all effect is a painting with a strange and detailed story to tell. See more of Scott Brooks' artwork after the jump.
Through simple means artist Mark Powell tells a story that, in a way, unfolds over decades.  Often wielding only a basic ball point pen, Powell draws extremely detailed portraits, attempting to capture what his statement calls "a certain beauty that is a step away from the image of beauty fed to society."  His subjects are frequently older men and women, pensive, hinting at a long life story.  Appropriately, Powell's portraits are executed on vintage maps, old documents and other ephemera of a time long past.  Together, they suggest the unfolding story that led to the present moment, a context perhaps easily taken for granted. See more of Mark Powell's portraits after the jump.
Italian artist Noumeda Carbone works in fields as diverse as fashion, street art, illustration and painting.  Her sculptures retain a certain colorful vividness that characterizes much of her work.  However, their material is quite interesting: pills (or more accurately empty pill capsules.)  Carbone assembles the pill capsules into undulating three dimensional shapes.  While the shapes are vaguely organic, reminiscent of cellular or molecular structures, the colors emphasize their synthetic nature.  These sculptures along with her Wearable Pills series playfully blur the line between fashion, art and biology. See more images of Noumeda Carbone's sculptures after the jump.
Artist Federico Pietrella is perhaps best known for his peculiar acrylic paintings.  For this work Pietrella foregoes a traditional brush for a rubber date stamp.  Thousands of carefully placed stamps come together to form a highly realistic scene, like Pointillism, becoming clearer as you back away from the piece.  While creating his work Pietrella uses the current date to stamp his painting into creation.  These pieces can often take several months to create.  Thus, the painting not only is a depiction of his chosen subject but also a documentation of the time that elapsed in its creation. See more of his paintings after the jump.
Artist Bruno Catalano's rather large series of life size bronze sculptures is poetically titled Travelers.  The group of sculptures depict very different people but each walking with suitcase or bag in hand, a few sitting on their luggage.  However, large swath's of each person's body is missing as if disappearing or torn away, the sculpture somehow still able to stand.  While the subjects are clearly literal travelers, they also to appear be traveling in some symbolic sense.  The sheer number of sculptures almost resemble a human migration, a sort of shared journey.  It may be that Catalano's Travelers search for a personal fulfillment illustrated by a literal emptiness. See more of Bruno Catalano's sculptures after the jump.
Chilean artist Iván Navarro creates sculptures that often make use of common objects or, as the pieces featured here, electricity and light.  Many of Navarro's sculptures use neon or fluorescent lighting in conjunction with one-way mirrors.  The pairing creates an infinite line of reflections that stretch off into darkness, creating the illusion of an endless tunnel or hall.  The effect is frequently unsettling and corresponds to the socio-political issues behind much of his work.  They can serve as comments on the recent history of dictatorship in his own country and a personal working out of memories of that period. See more of Iván Navarro's sculptures after the jump.
Artist Julien Spianti creates oil on canvas paintings that carefully balance between abstraction and figuration.  Realistic details are contrasted against emphatic brushstrokes and untouched portions of canvas.  Using this style, Spianti often appears to capture scenes that feel ambiguously violent or frightening, any one aspect of a composition difficult to focus on.  Indeed his artwork can seem to be painted depictions of repressed memories - vaguely haunting, existing somewhere between creation and erasure.  This dreamy atmosphere is underscored by the mix of clothed and nude subjects, scenes dipping in and out of color, and perpetually obscured faces. See more of Julien Spianti's paintings after the jump.
The work of the street artist known as Fra.Biancoshock can be witnessed all over Europe as well as a few places beyond.  The artist has a very specific and recognizable style of street art.  Fra.Biancoshock's work is typically temporary, only lasting for a moment, and often very humorous.  While a few pieces caused me to laugh out loud, it soon becomes clear that the work isn't shallow or entirely carefree.  Rather, Fra.Biancoshcok uses his artwork frequently to address issues such as class, poverty, urban life, commercialism and modernity.  The temporary installations, performances, and sculptures offer a fresh and at times absurd perspective of the city and life in it. See more of Fra.Biancoshock's art after the jump.
London based artist Jan Manski conjured this eerie world, this sculptural and installation work known as Onania.  Onania, an archaic word for 'masturbation', explores physical pleasure and vanity taken to disturbing ends.  Manski's installation appears to depict some future (or perhaps present day) civilization in which self-image, plastic surgery, physical augmentation, sexual pleasure and fulfillment all intertwine to the exclusion of other concerns.  A shade of pink pervades Onania that is at once fleshy and recalls sterile medical environments.  The installation is somehow simultaneously natural and synthetic, gory and plastic. See more of Jan Manski's installation after the jump.
The sculptural work of Korean artist Dongwook Lee is disturbing yet curious on multiple levels.  Lee most often sculpts the nude human body.  However, it's executed with a certain grotesqueness and on a small scale.  The sculptures' diminutive size encourages viewers to look at the bodies as things or objects, as if they were insects.  However, this stands in contrast to a natural empathy we have with the human form we share that lends the art a distressing atmosphere.  Lee's work identifies and exploits a general uneasiness many have with the physical body, the carnal, and the fleshly - a hyper-awareness of the body and its delicate nature.
The artwork of Valerie Hegarty almost seems to hover between two worlds: those of art and real life.  Much of Hegarty's work appears to begin with a classically styled piece of "fine art": a still life painting, or presidential portrait for example.  In some way, then, the real world begins to impose itself on the work.  Some frames and stretchers begin growing branches and sprouting leaves.  Other paintings are riddled with bullets or burnt by fire.  The story inside the painting violently mingles with a story outside of it. The painted world and the lived world meet to tempestuous result. See more of Valerie Hegarty's artwork after the jump.
The oil paintings of Alex Roulette are highly detailed and often especially realistic.  Still, there is something off, similar to that vague feeling that eventually betrays a dream.  Roulette explores subtleties in imagery that reflect memories and even dreams.  His paintings are virtually a collection of various images in much the same way a dream is  frequently a collage of ideas and memories.  He explains his process in his statement saying, "I begin each new work by gathering a large collection of source material. I meticulously photograph environments and collect found images such as vintage postcards. In constructing the painting, I use combinations of these reference images, to fabricate an open-ended narrative with the emotion of a memory." See more of Alex Roulette's paintings after the jump. is a site specific installation created by the art and design group SOFTlab.  Colorful tunnels spread throughout the gallery suspended from the ceiling.  The largest opening engulfs the front window and is accompanied by four other apertures. is created using 4,416 uniquely colored panels held together by 17,000 binder clips.  The installation was sponsored by a crowdfunding project, each contributor's name laser etched on the back of a panel.  After the end of the installation's exhibit, the structure was dismantled and each panel mailed around the world to the contributor whose name is etched on it. See more images of the installation after the jump.
The gory new work of Andrea Hasler is half of the joint exhibit Embrace the Base currently at Britain's New Greenham Arts.  The gory sculptural works are primarily tents that appear to be made of flesh and other bodily material.  Blood even appears to seep from the entrance of one of the tents (don't worry - she actually creates the sculptures from wax).  Beyond her art's shocking initial impact, it also references a local historical context. "Metaphorically I am taking the notion of the tents which were on site during the Women’s Peace Camp, as the container for emotions and ‘humanise’ these elements to create emotional surfaces", she says.  In the early 1980's the area saw a huge peace protest involving tens of thousands of women.  At one point up to 70,000 protesters set up several peace camps, some lasting for years, protesting the American nuclear weapons stored there. See more images of Andrea Hasler's work from the exhibition after the jump.
One thing that is especially clear about the work of artist Dan Webb is that he enjoys sculpting.  Working with a raw block of wood, Webb seems to cull images and objects directly out of the material.  He often leaves large portions of the wood unaltered providing some insight into his process.  He says in his statement: "Like probably every artist out there, my intention is simply to make the stuff that I would most like to see. For me that means making objects most of the time, because making objects strikes me as badass. Furthermore, it means carving a lot of those objects, because carving strikes me as being extra badass.  And that really about does it for any kind of artist statement."  Of course, Webb goes on to say much more about his medium and has given it considerable thought.  Still, the above quote and his work reveal the joy from the simple act of carving. See more of Dan Webb's sculptures after the jump.

Artist Mario Martinez, also known as Mars-1, creates overwhelmingly detailed otherworldly paintings. Martinez' work seems to capture alien space-scapes or complex biological structures.  Not a single detail appears to be missing. To tell the truth, though, while shapes and patterns feel familiar not a piece is terrestrial.  His paintings work at the edge of being understood, the border between natural and foreign.  Similarly, the paintings seem to explore ideas such as physics and architecture as well as spirituality and the supernatural.  If you like the work of Mario Martinez be sure to check out Hi-Fructose Collected Vol. 2 - he's one of several awesome artists featured in the hardcover collection. Also, see more of his paintings after the jump.

The paintings of artist Chris Stevens have a subtlety surreal air about them.  Backgrounds often fade in and out of abstraction as items and people seem strangely placed.  However, it is really the people that populate his paintings which capture much of the attention of both viewers and the artist.  Steven's says regarding his work, "The underlying idea of societies stereotyping and bigotry is a constant theme in my work and has been since the early eighties."  This can be seen through much of his work as his paintings feature a wide variety of people, especially depicting often marginalized ethnic, cultural, and social groups. See more Chris Stevens' paintings after the jump.

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