Artist Susanne Ussing (1940–1998) was a Danish visual artist and architect who worked in a variety of different mediums from photography and ceramics to large-scale installations and sensory exhibitions. One of her most impactful pieces was this 1980 installation titled I Drivhuset (In the Greenhouse) that was installed at the Ordrupgaard Museum in Copenhagen. The sculpture depicts a female figure who has seemingly grown too large for (or has become trapped by) a very tall glass greenhouse. Constructed from newspaper clippings, wood, and metal chimney vents, the figure is so large that her feet seem to penetrate the brick floor below. If Colossal had a physical manifestation, I imagine it would look almost exactly like this.
Using dismembered plastic parts from old dolls and other toys, artist Freya Jobbins assembles these exceedingly strange portraits of people and pop culture icons. Chances are when viewing these you fall firmly into one of two camps: the highly amused or the highly disturbed. Regardless, it’s hard to deny the incredible amount of labor that goes into each piece, from the exploration of form and the use of color to make each anatomical amalgamation.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa and raised in West Sydney, Jobbins is influenced in part by Guiseppe Archimboldo’s fruit and vegetable paintings as well as Ron Mueck’s oversized humans. I first encountered Jobbins’ work close-up at the Toy Cycle exhibition in Tel Aviv back in December courtesy of Kinetis, and despite the mild case of heebie-jeebies it was impossible to look away as I tried to figure out how each piece came together.
This week Kansas-based artist Kris Kuksi (previously) opened his fourth solo show, Revival, at Joshua Liner Gallery. Kuksi continues his use of ornate assemblage to create wildly complex sculptures that comment on history, life, death, and spiritual conflict. In the words of director Guillermo del Toro:
“A postindustrial Rococo master, Kris Kuksi obsessively arranges characters and architecture with an exquisite sense of drama. Instead of stones and shells he uses screaming plastic soldiers, miniature engine blocks, towering spires and assorted debris to form his landscapes. The political, spiritual, and material conflict within these shrines is enacted under the calm gaze of remote deities and august statuary. Kuksi manages to evoke, at once, a sanctum and a mausoleum for our suffocated spirit.
Revival will be on view through January 18, 2014 and you can see many more pieces from the exhibition in this gallery.
When looking at these perfectly assembled sculptures by French artist Edouard Martinet (previously) it’s difficult to believe the raw materials he used ever existed in another form. Yet every head, thorax, leg, wing, and eye from these assorted creatures was once part of a car, bicycle, typewriter, or other found object. Reading through his material lists it becomes clear how completely thorough and judicious Martinet is in selecting the perfect objects to realize his vision, truly a master of his craft. Via Sladmore Contemporary:
His degree of virtuosity is unique: he does not solder or weld parts. His sculptures are screwed together. This gives his forms an extra level of visual richness – but not in a way that merely conveys the dry precision of, say, a watchmaker. There is an X-Factor here, a graceful wit, a re-imagining of the obvious in which a beautifully finished object glows not with perfection, but with character, with new life. Martinet takes about a month to make a sculpture and will often work on two or three pieces at the same time. It took him just four weeks to make his first sculpture and 17 years for his most recent completion!
If you want to see these new pieces up close, Martinet opens a new exhibition at Sladmore Contemporary in London, November 27 through January 31, 2014. You can see several additional new works on his website.
Chinese artist Xu Bing has several works currently on view as part of an exhibition at Mass MoCA in Massachusetts. Among the works are two 12-ton birds titled Phoenix that fill the museum’s football field-sized Building 5. Two years in the making, the birds were constructed from materials collected at various Chinese construction sites including demolition debris, steel beams, tools, and assorted remnants of migrant laborers. The male Phoenix titled Feng measures 90 feet long, and the female, Huang, is nearly 100 feet in length from beak to its steel tail feathers. Both birds are illuminated from within through a network of lights.
Somewhat similar to artists Yao Lu and Ai Weiwei, Xu Bing seems to be commenting on China’s rapid commercial development that is drastically altering the physical and cultural landscape within the country. Phoenix will be on view October 27th. (via junk culture, hyperallergic, my modern met)
Using the smallest components from repurposed antique pocket watches and other time pieces, New-Jersey based artist Sue Beatrice of All Natural Arts assembles curious sculptures of animals and human figures. Given the nature of watch movements I can’t help but want to see each one of these things spring to life. See much more here. (via my modern met)
Artist Jeremy Mayer (previously) just completed this beautiful set of swallows using assembled typewriter parts. The pieces required Mayer to find multiple sets of identical parts adding a significant amount of time to sourcing materials, but as a happy accident the artist also discovered his design allowed for the wings to partially retract. If you’re unfamiliar with Mayer’s work it might surprise you to know that he doesn’t use solder or glue (or even objects that haven’t originated from a typewriter), but instead assembles everything using only native parts. You can follow his progress for this and other projects over on Tumblr.