The New Contemporary Art Magazine

Author: Roxanne Goldberg

With a focus on light and perspective, Olafur Eliasson’s installations have a transformative capacity that allows the viewer to experience the illusion of a supernatural environment. In an interstitial space of the Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul, Gravity Stairs is composed of glowing spheres which, attached to the ceiling and bathed in warm yellow light, resemble the sun. The otherworldly light and a mirror on the ceiling present an impression of floating through space and among celestial bodies.
Demonic goddesses and amorphous love children dominate the compositions by Japanese-born, San Francisco-based artist Junko Mizuno (featured on the cover of HF Vol. 23). Mizuno has an expansive oeuvre, which spans such media as graphic novels and television animation. Her original paintings, in addition to wood, giclee and silkscreen prints, will for the first time be seen in London during the artist’s retrospective, "Belle: The Art of Junko Mizuno," opening October 20 at Atomica Gallery.
London-based illustrator and artist Martin Tomsky turns the dancing line of the pen into dynamic sculpture with his multi-layered woodcuts. In one artwork, several wood pieces in varying degrees of brown are cut into swooping arabesques and lain over one another to create the essence of a whirlwind. At the center, a cube is trapped inside a slightly larger box. A larger-than-life insect with menacing fangs watches over the heart of the piece, as if protecting Pandora’s box. In his illustrations, Tomsky invents fantasy worlds where good and evil battle one another in nature. The same thematic oppositions can be seen in his woodcuts. Trees and clouds meld into one another to create a single ominous sky-canopy. In the darkness below, owls hide in trees, supposedly from the giant bearded millipede that wraps itself around a central tree trunk. The ground below, sprouting with mushrooms and speckled with unknown creatures, is as petrifying as the sky above.
Images of an infant’s face marked with a plastic surgeon’s pen and an elderly woman with wrinkled skin that glows green under the light of a tanning bed are just some of the deeply disturbing images that will be displayed at Gusford Gallery as part of Oliver Jones's solo exhibition, “Love the Skin You’re In,” opening September 12.
An iconic Renaissance roundel depicting the Virgin Mary with Baby Jesus is taken out of its sacred context, and pasted in the most unlikely of places. Situated within the urban fabric, amid rubble and rust, the circular image is severed in half by a thick, painted pink stripe. The lower piece seems forcefully pushed to the foreground, and the viewer is drawn to typically overlooked details, such as the ornate blue sandal worn by the Virgin. Abstracted lines jut across the composition with a shocking force similar to that with which the Archangel Gabriel delivered the news of the Annunciation. The artwork is part of San Francisco-based artist Poesia’s latest exhibition, "Reflexive," which opened at Shooting Gallery in San Francisco on August 16.
Creepy creatures, spindly figures and quirky narratives compose the illustrations of Bill Carman. Pigs in suits and yin-and-yang armored headgear stare at one another – snouts pressed together – with eyes wrinkled with age of wisdom. An angry bronze-faced rabbit sits in the foreground holding a screwdriver, gazing at the viewer and threatening to unscrew the boars’ masks. Though Conunganger has an Animal Farm aesthetic, They have My Eyes evokes a Tim Burton sentiment.
Known for his wheatpastes and murals that dot the California landscape, Eddie Colla explores the primitive instincts present in all people in his upcoming solo exhibition “Atavisms” at Ian Ross Gallery in San Francisco.
Anachronistic worlds painted by Mike Worrall are charming enough to convert the ardent historian into a romantic dreamer. Dressed in a severe Rococo-style, a woman holds a dial telephone and with a stiff neck, gazes purposefully at a pug sharing the cobblestone pathway. In the background, a peculiar golden glow emanates from behind a tree. Titled It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow, the painting prompts the viewer to believe this curious character traveled forward in time. Other works in the UK-born artist’s oeuvre are more explicit in their treatment of the surreal. In The Portal of Intoxication, Worrall borrows the visual vocabulary of René Magritte by using the painted image of a picture frame within the pictorial frame to create and complicate layers of universes within a single composition.
Valentin Leonida (Valle) is a Bucharest-born 3D modeler and illustrator whose characters haunt imaginations. In his most recent series, “Heads,” Valle created five images revealing the interior of the human face as it makes emotional expressions. Titled “No.1 Rhinocerus (after Dürer),” “No.2 Melancholia,” “No. 3 Restless,” “No. 4 Concentration,” and “No. 5 Serpent Mind,” the drawings and their evocative labels prompt curiosity. One wonders if the furrowed tension in “Concentration” is revealed on one’s own face, or if the emotional state is only made visible when Valle's golden medical contraption pulls back the skin like a veil.
Argentinian-born artist Nicola Constantino pushes the controversial issue of animal rights and the relationship between birth and mortality in her sometimes graphic, always peculiar sculptures of animals. Whether a pig hanging from a conveyor belt, or birds compressed into perfectly round balls, the sculpted animals in Constantino’s works are manipulated in ways that feel forced and staged for human needs.
Brothers Christoph and Florin Schmidt, formerly known as Qbrk and Nerd, have come together yet again as Low Bros, to create a new mural for Urban Spree, one of Berlin’s most treasured open-air venues for art, music, cinema and most recently, screenings of the World Cup.
Recently exhibited at Michael Fuchs Galerie in Berlin and Borusan Contemporary in Istanbul, Marco Brambilla’s 3D video collages use Hollywood’s spectacular visuals and monumental soundtracks to predict an apocalyptic end to the current environment of media saturation.
Pastel-colored, emotionally-driven monsters challenge boldly-outlined, mechanical robots in “MUTUALLY ASSURED DESTRUCTION: Dima Drjuchin vs. Homeless Cop” (Dima Drjuchin was featured in our brand-new issue, Hi-Fructose Vol. 32). The exhibition opens at BUCKBUCK Gallery in Cleveland on July 5. Its title derives from the political science term, which theorizes that in a world of nuclear weapons, the use of such forces will undoubtedly result in the complete annihilation of both the attacker and defender.
Currently on view at BC Gallery in Berlin, “VINCULO,” opened last Friday after the Argentinian artist JAZ (Franco Fasoli) completed his wildly affecting mural of a muscled, hunch-backed Minotaur crying out in what appears to be more likely help or defeat rather than glory. The two-story exhibition space is divided into two sections: in the basement, four-legged animals in various iterations – solo, running in packs, melded into a single abstract form – on blue backgrounds; and on the ground floor, larger-format paintings of ordinary men with animal heads fighting one another within the same monochrome settings.
In his upcoming solo exhibition at Backwoods Gallery in Melbourne, Australia, James Reka examines the transition in a city from winter to spring. Perhaps no other city experiences such a drastic change during this time, than does Berlin, which come April is flooded with people riding bikes, picnicking in parks and soaking up the sunshine. Earlier this year, Reka came to Berlin as the inaugural artist-in-residence at the Urban Nation Workspace in the former West Berlin neighborhood of Schöneberg. His abstract paintings of women pulse with a dynamic spirit that captures not only the city’s newfound spring life, but also Berlin’s struggles with gentrification. Working in Schöneberg, an area noted for both its upscale residences and regular prostitutes, Reka is no stranger to this paradox of imported poshness and crude authenticity.
Inside a run-down building off Berlin’s Nollendorfplatz, an area known historically for both its gay culture and punk community, 12 artists from eight countries (Fernando Chamarelli, João Ruas, Alexis Diaz (La Pandilla), NoseGo, Word to Mother, Curiot, Low Bros, Andrew Schoultz, Glenn Barr, C215, Dabs Myla, and JBAK) worked for two days to create original artworks for the facades and windows of the currently unused site (exciting news about the future of this space to come).
Lori Nix’s first solo exhibition in Germany recently closed. Exhibited at Galerie Klüser in Munich, "The City" featured photographs of spaces left abandoned and in chaos. Though the photographs look convincingly like documentation of real spaces, they are snapshots of miniature, doll house-like dioramas the artist builds in her studio. The series, in which each staged photograph represents a snapshot of a destitute city, appears to have been captured long after an unnamed apocalyptic moment.
The 10th Annual Pictoplasma Conference and Festival recently closed in Berlin. To celebrate a decade of innovative and progressive graphic arts, more than 100 of the project’s most influential artists, designers, illustrators, and filmmakers created portraits for “The Pictoplasma Portrait Gallery.”
Photographic portraits by Ukranian-born artist Nathalia Edenmont invert traditional poses and motifs to create controversial images that reveal a perverse side to desire. At first glance, Humble presents a young girl with wild hair who wears nothing but a cream colored collar. She cocks her head and engages the observer in a deep, inquisitive stare. Upon closer examination, one realizes the ornate neckpiece is made of condoms, creating an uneasy feeling that makes one wonder if the message is political. Child subjects and sadomasochistic contexts characterize much of Edenmont’s works, which often use placement and dress reminiscent of Dutch Golden Age portraiture to create haunting and disturbing, yet crisp and alluring images. Photographs like Outsider, where a woman sucks back a snake, and Revelation, which depicts a nude girl on a carousel pony, are successful because though they are thematically paradoxical, their aesthetic is without tension and appears entirely natural.
Have you ever wondered who paints the pictures used in movies? For his recent film The Grand Budapest Hotel, director Wes Anderson commissioned contemporary British figurative painter Michael Taylor to paint a fictional Renaissance portrait titled Boy with Apple. The film’s plot builds from the artwork, which features a stately, pre-pubescent boy in sumptuous fabrics, holding a plump, if not slightly bruised green apple. The charming intrigue of the subject is underscored by a slightly hesitant darkness in the boy’s expression and the less than perfect condition of the fruit of sin. This thematic element makes the subject present and vigilant, inciting anxiety and curiosity within the viewer. In many ways, this is Taylor’s signature.
The work of architect and photographer Dionisio González focuses on the chaos caused by both man and nature. Using art as social action, González reveals economic disparities, and ultimately uses the power of architecture for an antidote to the world’s problems. Traveling to far corners of the world, such as Ha Long Bay in the Gulf of Tonkin and Busan in South Korea, González, who was born in the autonomous Spanish province of Gijón, makes hypothetical interventions within communities largely isolated from the developed world, which have been ravaged by natural or economic disaster.
Submerged in water and veiled by murky fog, nude bodies float, fight, and fly to the surface in Ramona Zordini’s provocative photographs. Though on the surface, the artworks are driven by an undeniable sexual energy, they are laden with sentiment. In her recent series Changing Time III, Zordini creates narratives by posing nude couples in a variety of positions. A man wraps his arms around a woman who curls up, head down, under water. In another photograph, a man with an undercut wraps his arms around his nude partner who faces upwards and appears to be pushing against a confining force. Their legs intertwine and one feels their desperation, their need to cling and hold on to one another.
Heels fly high in Isabelle Wenzel’s surrealist photographs of women awkwardly positioned within office spaces and against arranged backdrops. In each thematically unique series, the female body contorts into geometric forms in which the head is always concealed. The abstract shapes separate any association from the human personality and present the individual as an object. Some works make this separation explicit, such as the 2011 series, “Models of Surfaces.” In these photographs, the focus is not on the unnaturally placed bodies, but instead on the textures of the fabrics that clothe the raised legs.
Like modern Aphrodites, the subjects of Meriem Bouderbala’s photographs exist in dynamic, sensuous forms. Draped in sheer cloth and elegantly posed, the women in Bouderbala’s photographs are subsumed in engulfing fabrics that mask their bodies while evocatively suggesting their contours. Despite the still nature of the photograph, the mysterious figures appear caught in motion, as tensions within the fabric become tactile and in some places, the fabric splits so a small segment of skin is exposed. The carnal overtones of the subjects fall into the background as apprehension takes the forefront.
The whimsical illustrations by Japanese artist Sae Tachimori are clever curiosities that use a children’s book charm to explore the complex issue of the East constructing new identity through fantasies of the West, as well as global nostalgia for the early 20th century. The focal point in “Journey” is a standing bear, whose face contorts into a sharp grimace as he cradles a clock, presenting to the viewer the reality of lost time. In addition to a myriad of decorative elements, several vintage suitcases and a host of imaginative creatures, two women dressed in bohemian-chic clothing occupy the middle ground. The composition is rendered in an Art Nouveau palette of muted blues and pinks. However, one of the women is drawn in black and white with golden hair. She stands on a ladder and reaches inside a bucket of paintbrushes. Perhaps she represents the contemporary woman painting her future and her identity, while the bears yearn for a more traditional past.
For her upcoming exhibition at LA’s Gusford Gallery, “Complex Candy,” Dorielle Caimi depicts nudes that evoke the Dutch Golden Age and High Renaissance posing with snakes and contemporary props like donuts. Her humorous compositions place a psychological lens on the societal pressures that confront women in today’s society. In Concave, a stern-looking woman with disheveled red hair, strong shoulders, and prominent raised eyebrows clasps her hands around the head of an enormous screaming child. Set against a vibrant yellow background, the portrait forcefully presents the complexities of motherhood. Similar themes of childbearing are present in The Weight, in which a giant stork sits atop a young woman’s head while she solemnly gazes at the viewer with tired eyes.
Drawing inspiration from the natural sciences, Dutch still lifes and human curiosity about both beauty and death, Jennifer Trask creates installations using such found materials as bones, antique frames and gems. Her materials and subject matter make clear art historical references to the Dutch Golden Age tradition of Vanitas, which often juxtaposed skulls with objects from nature to comment on man’s vacuous material existence. However, instead of placing oppositional forces next to one another, Trask collapses them in a symphony of natural and man-made elements.
Beth Hoeckel’s collages playfully manipulate perspective and scale to create compositions that evoke a sense of wonder. Her current exhibition at the University of Tennessee Knoxville borrows its name, “Hypnotist Collector,” from the Bob Dylan song “She Belongs to Me.” Though the singer is not a direct influence for Hoeckel, who describes herself as a collector, the lyrics are fitting for her composite artworks that use cutout figures from magazines of earlier decades to create mythical scenes that mesmerize. Read more after the jump.
Nature and the domestic sphere comingle in Sage Vaughn’s ethereal artworks that evoke a sense of nostalgia and serenity. In his current solo exhibition at Lazarides Rathbone in London, “Sage Vaughn: Nobody's Home,” Vaughn sets birds within empty living rooms and deserted kitchens, and superimposes butterflies onto hollow crowds and lonely individuals, to investigate the phrase “nobody’s home.” Read more after the jump.
Thanks to Owlbert the Mustachioed Cat and other viral cat videos, furry felines have become hipster chic. 101/exhibit in LA celebrates the feline form in a new exhibition, "Cat Art Show Los Angeles," opening January 25 at the gallery's new location on Santa Monica Blvd. In this large-scale group show of more than 60 artists, viewers will see photographed portraits of white tigers by Charlotte Dumas and Marc Dennis’s monumental painting of a gold-framed portrait of a wide-eyed cat, revered and protected by a security guard who bears a striking resemblance to Snoop Dogg. Curated by journalist, art consultant and cat owner Susan Michals, "Cat Art Show Los Angeles" pays homage, through both humor and pensiveness, to the mysterious world of cats.

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