Art

A Short Film Chronicles Mural Fest Kosovo, Void Projects' Initiative to Infuse a War-Torn City with Public Art

January 20, 2021

Grace Ebert

“At that time it wasn’t easy for me to be in the public with my camera because the country was very sensitive to reporters like me,” photojournalist Hazir Reka tells a group of muralists. “Being in the public with a camera was no different to being in public with a weapon because of how much it could affect reality.” Reka’s referring to a tumultuous time in Kosovo’s history when the region was in the midst of war, an experience he shares with the artists who traveled to the region in September 2020 for Mural Fest Kosovo.

Organized by the art collective Void Projects (previously), which is helmed by Axel Void, the initiative sought to revitalize the public spaces within Ferizaj, a small city desolated by war. Fifteen international muralists—the list includesAruallan, Emilio Cerezo, Doa Oa, Alba Fabre, Maria Jose Gallardo, and Zane Prater—gathered for the project that U.K.-based filmmaker Doug Gillen documents in a new short film.

Throughout “Change,” Gillen follows ten of the artists as they immerse themselves in local life and engage with the city’s youngest residents through workshops and school initiatives that directly involved the children and teens in the creative process. Their resulting artworks are a reflection of these interactions and large-scale depictions of the area’s ecology, citizens, and cultural milieu. While each is distinct in aesthetic—Aruallan and Void produced a photorealistic rendering of an 11-year-old boy they met on the street, while Fabre’s ethereal mural depicts an unknown woman lying in the water in traditional clothing, for example—they’re all infused with themes surrounding the city’s unique environment and more universal understandings of shared humanity.

“The greater this connection, the more effective the work. Exploring the human stories of Ferizaj in this way, at this very unique moment in time, felt like an important opportunity to document meaningfully,” Gillen said.

Watch the full film above to dive further into Kosovo’s history, and see all of the murals and glimpses into the artists’ experiences collaborating with Ferizaj residents on Void Projects’ Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Surreal Scenes and Pixelation Overlay Vintage Artworks in Hybrid Oil Paintings by André Schulze

January 20, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Paradigm Gallery

André Schulze scours dusty thrift store bins and private advertisements for vintage paintings and photographs created in the first half of the 20th Century. The German artist restores the found artworks and then dramatically alters them by working directly on the canvas, layering each rendering with boldly new scenes: a stodgy bookworm finds himself in a sea of fish, an elderly woman peers out her window only to see a neighboring home ablaze, and a vintage portrait is transformed into a feathered hybrid creature. The surreal additions are steeped in the artist’s distinct wit and humor that expand the decades-old narratives or that shape a rich and complex account within his original non-vintage pieces.

Schulze’s whimsical paintings are included in Salvage, a group exhibition curated by Colossal’s Founder and Editor-in-Chief Christopher Jobson at Paradigm Gallery + Studio in Philadelphia. Examining how artists are revitalizing fragments of tradition and culture that were destined to be lost, relegated to the periphery, or buried forever, Salvage opens on January 22 with a live talk with Jobson, Schulze, Debra Broz (previously), and Yurim Gough—tickets are available on Eventbrite—and runs through February 20.

Explore more of Schulze’s revisionary pieces on Instagram and Singulart.

 

 

 



Illustration

Elegant Figures Inhabit the Surreal Dreamworlds of Thanh Nhàn Nguyễn's Sublime Illustrations

January 20, 2021

Grace Ebert

Season of silence.” All images © Thanh Nhàn Nguyễn, shared with permission

Populated with low clouds, oversized peonies, and birds covered in fish scales, Thanh Nhàn Nguyễn‘s dreamscapes merge fantasy and tradition in a celebration of Vietnamese culture. In his series, Season of Life, the artist digitally renders demure figures who wear áo dài, a long, split gown that’s tied to ideas of feminine beauty. The women are enveloped by the magical environment and depicted with pale tendrils grasping their ankles or cloaked by a fiery, plant-filled mass.

“I have relied on the color of flowers and leaves, the surrounding nature combined with the motifs from the Vietnamese culture where I was born,” Nguyễn writes. “What’s important (is) the fact that they come from the feelings inside me—the emotions inside each of us.”

Nguyễn recently moved to Can Thơ, which is in southern Vietnam, and shares a collection of his ethereal works on Behance and Instagram. Prints of Season of Life and other illustrations are available from Society6.

 

“Season inside season”

“Season under the light”

“Season in bloom”

 

 



Art Design

Rael San Fratello's Pink Teeter-Totters at the U.S.-Mexico Border Win Beazley Design of the Year

January 19, 2021

Grace Ebert

The three neon pink seesaws that slotted through the U.S.-Mexico border were just named the 2020 Beazley Design of the Year. Conceived by Oakland-based artists Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello (previously), the playful, subversive project was installed in July 2019 between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez and physically connected the two communities despite the 20-foot barrier. The prestigious, annual award comes from London’s Design Museum.

Rael and San Fratello spent a decade working on “Teeter-Totter Wall” before its installation at the border during a particularly divisive time under the Trump administration. Although it was in use for less than an hour, the interactive work intended to foster and display unity between children and adults from both countries as they physically lifted each other up. In response to the administration separating families at the border, Rael wrote about the project:

The teeter-totters represented the kind of balance necessary for any two people, two nations, to achieve equality, with the understanding that the actions on one side have direct consequences on the other. The teeter-totter is the physical manifestation of the Golden Rule—treat others as you would like others to treat you—a maxim that is shared by all cultures and religions. To experience joy on a teeter-totter, you must allow the other person to experience joy as well.

Among the other winners are a 3D rendering of SARS-CoV-2 by Alissa Eckert and Dan Higgins for the CDC and Social Design Collaborative’s “ModSkool,” a moveable building that can be easily assembled and taken down in response to evictions of farming communities in India. Check out all the top designs through the museum’s virtual exhibition that runs until March 28, and head to Rael San Fratello’s site and Instagram to see more of the duo’s socially minded projects.

 

 

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Art Craft

Duplicate Limbs and Unusual Mashups Revitalize Vintage Ceramic Creatures by Artist Debra Broz

January 19, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Paradigm Gallery

Simultaneously adorable and bizarre, Debra Broz’s porcelain creatures breathe new life into antique knick-knacks. The Los Angeles-based artist (previously) carefully gathers discarded figurines that she separates and reassembles into humorous and unusual sculptures: an entire flock of ducklings balances on just two feet, a hooved cat carries its equine baby, and tree branches sprout from a lounging ballerina.

Broz’s hybrid animals are included in Salvage, a group exhibition curated by Colossal’s Founder and Editor-in-Chief Christopher Jobson at Paradigm Gallery + Studio in Philadelphia. Through the work of three artists and pieces from the Recycled Artist in Residency Program, Salvage examines how artists are revitalizing fragments of tradition and culture that were destined to be lost, relegated to the periphery, or buried forever. The show opens on January 22 with a live talk with Jobson, Broz, and artists Yurim Gough and André Schulze—tickets are available on Eventbrite—and runs through February 20.

 

 

 



Art

A Tiled Wave Ripples Across Olafur Eliasson's New Installation in Downtown Chicago

January 19, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Atmospheric wave wall” (2021), 30 x 60 feet. All images courtesy of CNL Projects, shared with permission

Last week, artist Olafur Eliasson (previously) unveiled a massive, wave-like artwork that mimics the rippled surfaces of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Comprised of 1,963 curved tiles, “Atmospheric wave wall” sits between the two bodies of water at Willis Tower and shifts in appearance based on the sunlight, time of year, and position of the viewer. It’s the Danish-Icelandic artist’s first public project, which was curated by CNL Projects and commissioned by EQ Office, in Chicago.

Speckled with orange pieces, the blue-and-green motif is constructed with powder-coated steel and based on Penrose tiling, a design with fivefold symmetry, which fills the undulating border. At night, a light shines through the street-side work, emitting a glow through the tile seams and further altering the appearance of the textured facade. Eliasson says about the work:

Inspired by the unpredictable weather that I witnessed stirring up the surface of Lake Michigan, ‘Atmospheric wave wall’ appears to change according to your position and to the time of day and year. What we see depends on our point of view: understanding this is an important step toward realizing that we can change reality.

Follow Eliasson’s latest projects on his studio’s site and Instagram.