Tag Archives: environment

New ‘Eco-Surrealist’ Paintings by Josh Keyes Observe a Post-Human World 

Josh Keyes (previously) paints scenes that observe the world at the brink of destruction. His works often focus on polar bears and sharks, one species which will soon lose its home as ice shelves continue to melt, and the other which is poised to take over an Earth undersea. The animals are placed in settings that suggest a post-human existence, such as a pair of fighting horses in front of a beached ship and a solitary brown bear looking over a seemingly empty metropolis.

The hyperrealistic paintings also incorporate graffiti found in unlikely places. Tags cover satellites, icebergs, and even a shark, an allusion to the lengths at which humans are willing to leave their mark.

Keyes’ solo exhibition, Implosion, opens August 5th at Thinkspace Gallery in LA and runs through August 26, 2017. You can see more of his works on his Instagram and website. (via Juxtapoz, Arrested Motion)

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Towering Murals by Blu on the Streets of Italy Confront Environmental and Societal Woes 

La Cuccanga, 2017

From climate change to capitalism run amok, street artist Blu (previously) pulls no punches in his soaring multi-story murals on the streets of Italy. While mixed with a healthy dose of sarcasm and humor, the inspiration behind each artwork is anything but funny as he translates searing critiques into aesthetically beautiful paintings. For instance a 2016 piece criticizing housing problems in the Celadina district of Bergamo, Italy depicts cramped residents as a brightly hued rainbow but leaves a small group of authorities in the lower right completely devoid of color. Collected here is a selection of murals from the last year, you can see more detailed shots by flipping through his blog. You can also get an idea of how he works—perched on a tiny suspended seat—in this short GIF.

Porto Torres, 2016

Celadina, 2016

Catina, 2016

Alta Voracita, 2016

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Colossal x Josh Keyes Print Release: I’ll Melt With You 

We are honored to have worked with Portland-based painter Josh Keyes on an exclusive release of the print edition of his 2016 painting, “I’ll Melt With You,” available now in The Colossal Shop.

Keyes’ ability to paint realistic renderings of our world becomes uncanny when he wields his brush in the name of environmental issues. Animals, rocket ships, and icebergs fall prey to graffiti, leaving the viewer uncomfortably wondering whether this is a painting of the future or a photograph of the present.

“I’ll Melt With You,” originally painted in acrylic on a 12 x 16 inch panel is translated to print form in its full dimensions, with an additional white border for convenient framing, for a final size of 16 x 20 inches. Printed by our friends at ioLabs in Rhode Island on Epson Hot Press Bright 300 gsm archival paper and available exclusively in The Colossal Shop.

Speculative Paintings of a Graffiti-Covered Earth by Josh Keyes 

"Descent" (2016), acrylic on panel, 8"x10"

“Descent” (2016), acrylic on panel, 8″x10″

Josh Keyes' newest series features subjects both manmade and natural, their common element being several layers of graffiti that cover a space shuttle, a melting iceberg, and even a whale’s tail. For the last ten years these marks had remained in the background of Keyes’ paintings, adding detail to the supporting elements of the environment rather than being integrated into the subjects of his work.

For Keyes, the decision to place graffiti writing in the foreground questions our relationship to the natural world, and what impact we are undeniably leaving on our planet. The iceberg for instance, is marked with the words, “I’ll melt with you.” This blood red message could be the voice of both the iceberg and the tagger, a warning that we will all be melting if we continue to desecrate the Earth.

“Are there things and places that graffiti should not be?” asked Keyes to Colossal. “Who is to say what surface is to be kept graffiti clean? My personal concern is that this will be a reality some day and speaks to a larger issue of our relationship with the natural world. The satellite and space graffiti hints that even if we colonize other worlds, what mark will we leave? No matter where we go there is evidence of our presence.”

Keyes’ will exhibit his paintings later this year with Thinkspace Gallery in LA. You can see more of his works on his Instagram and website.

"Tin Can" (2016), acrylic on panel, 24"x48", all images via Josh Keyes

“Tin Can” (2016), acrylic on panel, 24″x48″, all images via Josh Keyes

"Tin Can" (2016), acrylic on panel, 24"x48"

“Tin Can” (2016), acrylic on panel, 24″x48″

"I'll Melt With You" (2016), acrylic on panel, 12"x18"

“I’ll Melt With You” (2016), acrylic on panel, 12″x16″

"Frontier 2" (2016), acrylic on panel, 12"x16"

“Frontier 2″ (2016), acrylic on panel, 12″x16”

"Frontier" (2015), acrylic on panel, 19"x24"

“Frontier” (2015), acrylic on panel, 19″x24″

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Rebirth: Artist Manabu Ikeda Unveils a Monumental Pen & Ink Drawing Nearly 3.5 Years in the Making 

Rebirth, 2016. Pen & ink, 13 x 10' (300 x 100cm). Courtesy the Chazen Museum of Art.

Rebirth, 2016. Pen & ink, 13 x 10′ (300 x 100cm). Courtesy the Chazen Museum of Art.

The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan was one of the most devastating environmental events of our time, with its overall impact rippling across the globe for years to come. But just as stated in Newton’s third law—for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction—so too did the people of Japan respond to the magnitude of the destruction in an effort to rebuild their country anew as captured in this staggering new artwork by Manabu Ikeda titled Rebirth. Starting in July of 2013, Ikeda toiled away on the 13 x 10 foot piece for 10 hours a day inside a basement studio at the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, Wisconsin. He finished work just last week.

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Manabu Ikeda at work.

A video posted by Colossal (@colossal) on

At its core, Rebirth depicts a tree rising from the debris of the tsunami as enormous waves crash nearby, but a closer inspection reveals thousands of tiny details, the individual stories of anonymous people, plants, and animals as they fight for survival and try to return their world to a semblance of order. Ikeda says that in his work he seeks to replicate the beautiful chaos of life that rarely fits a simple linear narrative. Instead, everything crashes together and interacts in unknown and unexpected ways, an idea that applies directly to his process as he often doesn’t know what each day will bring as he works inch by inch on the near endless canvas before him.

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Rebirth, detail.

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Rebirth, detail.

While Ikeda sketches broad details in pencil on the canvas beforehand, he primarily works with pen and acrylic ink using various forms of cross-hatching and brushwork to fill areas so dense with details, the true nature of the artwork isn’t revealed until staring at it from only a few inches away. Mountains of vehicles, gnarled tree branches, and train tracks sit tangled at the base of a tree, and flower blooms comprised of umbrellas and emergency tents fill the sky above. Everywhere a collision of humankind and nature, for better or worse.

“My goal is to faithfully express my view of the world in my composition, but I don’t intentionally depict detailed images,” he tells the Chazen. “Because I see details when I observe things, rather than the whole, I find pen and ink to be the best tools to express how I see them.”

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Rebirth, detail.

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Rebirth, detail.

Rebirth, detail.

Rebirth, detail.

Rebirth in progress.

Rebirth in progress.

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Rebirth in progress.

Ikeda’s time spent in Madison wasn’t without its own adversity. The artist dislocated a shoulder in a downhill skiing accident which rendered his dominant hand temporarily useless. Unable to stop work for very long, Ikeda began practicing with his other hand and after 3-4 practice drawings continued work on Rebirth unfazed.

Rebirth will be on view only briefly at the Chazen Museum of Art through December 11, 2016. If you’re anywhere near the midwest, this is well worth a trip and I strongly encourage you to stop by. You can explore it for over 30 minutes and still not see everything. You can also read more about it on Wisconsin Life.

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Manabu Ikeda at work, still from Clayton Adams.

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Manabu Ikeda at work, still from Clayton Adams.

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Ikeda Manabu’s first attempt at drawing with his non-dominant hand after a skiing accident.

Film and stills courtesy Clayton Adams.

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Members of a Brazilian Indigenous Tribe Projected Onto the Amazon Rainforest by Photographer Philippe Echaroux 

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In a gesture to draw attention to the massive deforestation ravaging the Amazon rainforest, French photographer and street artist Philippe Echaroux projected the faces of indigenous Brazilians onto the forest’s trees. The projected images demonstrate the deep connection between the rainforest and its inhabitants, acknowledging the need for the preservation of their home and resources.

The photographs focus on the Suruí tribe of Brazil which is led by Chief Almir Surui Narayamoga and was asked by the Brazilian government to help replant their section of the rainforest in order to ensure and protect its longevity. Echaroux was invited by Chief Narayamoga to bring attention to the issue, which he highlighted through his projections.

Photographs from this series will be on display in the exhibition “The Crying Forest” at Galerie Taglialatella in Paris opening November 11 and running through December 15, 2016. You can see more of Echaroux’s work on his website and Facebook, as well as a behind-the-scenes making of his work (in French) below. (via PetaPixel)

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