Artist Wilfried Grootens paints extraordinary figures comprised of dots and tendrils sandwiched between dozens of laminate glass layers. These strangely precise optical float paintings take on the form of some fantastic microscopic creatures and are sometimes reminiscent of the photos depicting the milliseconds before a nuclear explosion. The design of each cube is so precise, the thin layers of paint appear to completely vanish when viewed from a side angle.
At the age of 15 Grootens first apprenticed as a glass painter at the Derix Company in Germany where he learned to restore antique stained glass windows. Four years later he left on a near decade-long adventure to travel the world, play music, and experience the cultures of Asia and South America before eventually returning to his work with glass. In 1988, he received a Master Craftsman’s Diploma in Munich and by the following year had opened his own studio in Kleve.
When European settlers arrived throughout the 18th and 19th centuries and rapidly expanded their territory across North America, the prevalent belief was that of Manifest Destiny. Specifically, that American settlers were destined to expand throughout the continent by any means necessary regardless of cost, environmental impact, or the devastating harm to Native American populations. The artwork of the period, primarily sweeping landscapes influenced by the European pastoral tradition, did well to capture the pristine beauty of the previously undocumented continent, but completely glossed over the reality of what was really happening.
In her log paintings, artist Alison Moritsugu faces that strange juxtaposition head-on by choosing a literal meataphor—the remains of downed trees—as a canvas for her bucolic oil paintings of the countryside where that very tree may have once originated. A fantastic collision of art history and environmental awareness. The rough edges of the cut branches and trunks appear like windows into the past, telling a story that the tree’s rings alone cannot. She shares via her artist statement:
Painters throughout art history from the Northern Song, Baroque, Rococo and Hudson River School tailored their depictions of nature to serve an artistic narrative. Today, photoshopped images of verdant forests and unspoiled beaches invite us to vacation and sightsee, providing a false sense of assurance that the wilderness will always exist. By exploring idealized views of nature, my work acknowledges our more complex and precarious relationship with the environment.
It should be noted that Moritsugu uses salvaged log segments from naturally fallen trees, or trees that would otherwise be turned into mulch. You can see a collection of new work starting November 12th at Littlejohn Contemporary in New York. (via My Modern Met)
Here’s a lovely series of swimming figures painted by Colombian illustrator and painter Pedro Covo. Covo splendidly captures the obscuring nature of water as splashes are rendered in frenetic splatters of paint, and the sinuous lines of bodies seem to evaporate into brush strokes. The artist most recently exhibited at Río Laboratorio, and has also worked as an illustrator for the Walt Disney company. You can see a bit more over on Instagram and at the Colagene Creative Clinic. (via The Daily Blip, Empty Kingdom)
With origins that date back as far as the Tang Dynasty (around the year ~700), the Chinese craft of Dongyang wood carving is regarded by many to be one of the most elegant forms of relief carving in the world. The craft is still practiced in a few workshops in the region of Dongyang, China, and most commonly appears as ornate decoration on ‘everyday’ objects such as cases, cabinets, stools, desks and tables.
Perhaps the most ambitious manifestation of Dongyang wood carving is seen on enormous mural-like panels intended to be hung as artwork as seen here. You can see a few more examples via Lustik, Orientally Yours, Michael Lai, and XDYMD.COM
Chicago-based photographer Freddy Fabris has worked for years on commercial projets for clients like Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Ogilvy & Mather, but it was a recent decision to focus on a personal project exploded into a bevy of awards and accolades. Fabris, who has a background in painting, had long been ruminating about how to pay tribute to the works of classic painters like Rembrandt and Da Vinci using his camera. While accompanying a friend to a cluttered auto repair shop, inspiration suddenly struck. Fabris would pose the mechanics in the style of classical portraits, and in tableaus reminiscent of Philippe de Champaigne’s The Last Supper and Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. As he shared the idea with colleagues and collaborators, everyone quickly jumped on board and the Renaissance series was born.
While the photos are admittedly absurd, the staggering amount of craft and skill present in each shot is undeniable. From the careful composition of bodies to the striking use of light to illuminate the face of each subject, the portraits in particular are strangely dignifying. The photos have since won the 1st Place International Color Award, the One Eyeland Silver Award, and an APA Conceptual Award. You can explore more of Fabris’ work on his website.
When flipping through these prints by Netherlands-based printmaker Jaco Putker it’s difficult to pintpoint the exact emotion one should feel, but generally, if it’s somewhere between amused and terrified, that’s just what the artist intends. Putker combines both digital preparation with traditional photopolymer (solar plate) etching to create collages that can be both highly ridiculous and downright frightening. He refers to the artworks as “illustrations to fables which don’t exist, but hopefully take shape in the beholders’ minds.”