Category: Art

New Mixed Media Landscapes and Still Lifes That Merge Photography and Impressionism by Stev’nn Hall 

Stev’nn Hall (previously) blends photography and painting together in an impressionistic style, often focusing his works on the rural landscapes of his Canadian home, or images of flowers he takes in his studio. The pieces are built from images shot with a 35mm camera, and feature gestures on the surface in the mediums of acrylic, ink, and pastel. These markings serve as both compliments to the landscapes and abstract bits of scrawl, simultaneously pushing the underlying photograph to appear more like a painting, and Hall’s painted additions to seem like photographic errors. You can see more of his mixed media works on Tumblr and Instagram.

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Minimally Painted Wood Sculptures That Highlight Environmental Decay by Willy Verginer 

Italian sculptor Willy Verginer (previously) creates figurative sculptures from wood, pieces that allow his carving skills to stand out with minimal additions of monochrome bands of paint. The oranges, greens, and blues he adds places his subjects into unseen environments, like his sculpture of a small child who appears to swim through detritus covered in dark blue paint. Other sculptures also point towards environmental decay, such as a figure that clutches a leaking gas can, and a stag that is altered by the oil canisters that serves as its base.

Verginer’s newest work is included in the group exhibition After Industry at Wasserman Projects in Detroit through April, 8 2017. You can see more of his minimally painted sculptures on his Instagram. (via Fubiz)

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The Vanishing Stepwells of India: A New Book by Victoria Lautman Documents the Fading Relics of Subterranean Wells 

Van Talab Baoli. Amer, Rajasthan. c. 1600/19th Century.

Scattered across India’s vast landscape of ancient architecture including temples, mosques, and palaces are an often overlooked relic of historic infrastructure called stepwells. These subterranean buildings, once numbered in the thousands, were originally dug into the landscape so residents could easily access water. Over time, stepwells grew increasingly elaborate in their construction, morphing from modest rock-cut holes into fully functional Hindu temples with ornate columns, stairwells, and shrines. Each well now serves as a fading structural fingerprint, diverse and unique as the communities that designed and built them.

Chicago journalist Victoria Lautman first peeked over the edge of a stepwell some 30 years ago and was immediately transfixed at the idea of staring down into an architectural wonder as opposed to looking up. She has since dedicated much of the last five years criss-crossing India over several years to locate and photograph as many wells as possible. We first mentioned Lautman’s discoveries back in 2015, after which she resumed trips to India to locate an additional 60 wells, bringing the grand total to over 200 sites she’s personally visited and documented.

“Descending into the earth is a profound experience, one in which sweltering heat turns to enveloping cool, and noises become hushed,” she writes about encountering the wells.

After centuries of neglect some stepwells are in perilous condition or have vanished altogether, while others have been thoughtfully maintained by surrounding communities or governments who recognize their significance and possess the will (and funding) to restore them. In an attempt to preserve their legacy, Lautman has gathered a visual tour of 75 of the more unique and interesting wells in a new book titled The Vanishing Stepwells of India. The book includes not only her original photography, but also her impressions about each well and the precise GPS coordinates of their locations.

It remains to be seen if the renewed interest in stepwells, as well as the accompanying tourist dollars, will drive the change to save them. “In the long-run,” Lautman tells Colossal, “I think the most helpful thing for stepwells is simply acknowledging their existence in history and guidebooks, through classes and specialized tours, and finally just seeing them up close, embedded in the landscape.” Another way to explore the wells is through the Atlas of Stepwells, a website where enthusiasts can share their own discoveries.

The Vanishing Stepwells of India with a foreword by Divay Gupta, is published by Merrell and is available now.

Ramkund. Bhuj, Gujarat. Mid-18th Century (c. 700 CE).

Mukundpura Baoli. Mukundpura, Haryana c. 1650.

Ujala Baoli Mandu. Madhya Pradesh. Late 15th/early 16th century.

Chand Baori. Abhaneri, Rajasthan. c. 800 ce/18th Century.

Batris Kotha Vav. Kaoadvanj, Gujarat c. 1120.

Dada Harir Vav. Asarwa. c. 1499

Navghan Kuvo. Junagadh, Gujarat. 4th/6th/Mid-11th Century.


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Ephemeral Rugs Formed From Oklahoma’s Red Earth by Rena Detrixhe 

Oklahoma-based artist Rena Detrixhe creates installations from finely sifted dirt, ephemeral rugs that she stamps with ornate patterns. The dirt used for the works is collected by hand from her surrounding Oklahoma landscape, bringing an important context to the earth-based faux textiles.

“This rich red earth is the land of the dust bowl, the end of the Trail of Tears, land runs and pipelines, deep fault-lines and hydraulic fracturing,” said Detrixhe in her artist statement. “There is immense beauty and pride in this place and also profound sorrow. The refining and sifting of the soil and the imprinting of the pattern is a meditation on this past, a gesture of sensitivity, and the desire for understanding. It is a meticulous and solitary act.”

By using this fleeting form Detrixhe questions the permanent decisions that have been made to the region’s environment. One of her red dirt rugs is currently a part of the group exhibition Shifting Landscapes at Form & Concept in Santa Fe, New Mexico through May 20, 2017. You can view a time-lapse video of Detrixhe installing one of her rugs in the video below. (via Colossal Submissions)

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Miniature Displays of Contemporary Urban Buildings by Joshua Smith 

Working at 1:20 scale, artist Joshua Smith builds in-depth works that capture the layered existences of urban environments in cities such as Hong Kong, Sydney, and Los Angeles. His miniature buildings showcase the details and detritus left by the diverse population of each city, bringing in elements of the city’s workers, inhabitants, and street artists. These marks can be seen through heavily graffitied exteriors, and thoughtful additions like a small table on the roof of one building with takeout food from the tiny Chinese restaurant below.

Smith has been working on this series for the last two years, after stints as both a stencil artist and gallerist. Using several reference photos from a building’s actual site, he utilizes MDF, cardboard, and plastic to create the base of the work, and chooses paint and chalk pastels for the exterior’s details. Smith’s newest four-story work took him three months to complete, often working 8-16 hours a day.

The Australian artist recently exhibited his miniature buildings with Muriel Guepin Gallery at VOLTA Art Fair in New York City from March 1-5. You can see more of his work on his Instagram and Facebook. (via My Modern Met)

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A Fold Apart: A NASA Physicist Turned Origami Artist 

In 2001 NASA physicist Robert Lang quit his job to focus on his one true passion: creating original origami designs. With a deep understanding of mathematics and materials, Lang’s folding designs have been incorporated into everything from spacecraft to airbags. His works aren’t limited to functional objects, he’s also produced a wide range of original artworks that have been exhibited around the world. The Great Big Story recently sat down with Lang for this brief interview. (via Uncrate)

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