In Mulyana’s Fragile Ecologies, two figures cloaked in coral and algae tower over beds of fiber-based sea creatures. The Indonesian artist continues his playful and eccentric approach to marine life conservation in his solo show on view through March 4 at Sapar Contemporary, which brings some of his life-sized costumes and an array of woolen specimens to the gallery. Each piece is knit or crocheted with recycled, brightly colored yarn, which the artist fashions into sprawling ecosystems and immersive installations that dangle from the ceiling.
Mulyana puts a fantastic twist on the natural lifeforms, especially when crafting his signature Mogus character: most recently, the reimagined octopus is outfitted with a mustache in leopard print, innumerable eyes all over its body, and polka-dotted horns. Lighthearted in presentation, the works are rooted in more urgent issues like the effects of the climate crisis, isolation, and how we collectively configure identities that are always evolving. A statement about Fragile Ecologies says:
On a macro level, Mulyana’s profound concern for the eroding environment and our collective lack of care for the natural world parallels the importance of self-care on a micro level. His message encourages a holistic path to self-preservation amidst a chaotic and uncertain post-pandemic world. While Mulyana does not overtly reference gender and sexuality in his intricate installations, the diversity of his colorful environments and spectacular costumes allude to the fluidity of human identity.
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A cellist since childhood, Auckland-based photographer Charles Brooks spent twenty years performing with orchestras around the world, an experience that incited curiosity about the inner workings of the instruments surrounding him. “I never really knew what was going on inside. That was a realm reserved for the luthier. Occasionally, when an instrument was being repaired, you’d get a rare glimpse inside, which was always a thrilling experience,” he shares with Colossal.
This interest culminates in Brooks’s ongoing Architecture in Music series, which peers inside pianos, winds, brass, and strings to unveil their hidden anatomies. Structural and often flanked by repeating elements, the composite images frame the shadows cast by a cello’s F holes, the seemingly endless rungs of a flute’s sound chamber, and a piano’s row of hammers, all of which appear more like buildings or public infrastructure than musical components. “I was always interested in the psychology of how our mind interprets scale in a two-dimensional image. I’d been fascinated by the tilt-shift effect, which made big things look small by blurring part of the image, and I wanted to know if I could make small things look big by keeping everything sharp,” he says.
In order to preserve each instrument while photographing, Brooks used a probe lens with a “minimum aperture of just f/14, which means you need a tremendous amount of light. It also has a very shallow depth of field at that aperture, less than a centimeter when you’re focusing close to the lens.” Each foray into an instruments’ body revealed a similarity between brands—the Steinway and Fazioli grand pianos were nearly identical—and many contained markings and residue from repairs that dated back centuries. “Some instruments really surprised me,” he shares. “I’d never thought to look inside a Didgeridoo before and was astonished to find out that it was carved by termites, rather than by hand!”
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Blending sturdy metal with the soft warmth of wool, Joshua Adokuru winds vibrant fibers around precisely placed nails that anchor his expressive and abstract portraits. The Abuja-based artist always incorporates strings in shades of blue, which fill amorphous shapes highlighting the subject’s face or defining the checkered pattern of a sweater. It’s “a natural color, a color of the sky, a color of the sea,” he says, noting that he gravitates toward bold, fantastical hues for skin tones. “Blue has this feeling of peace, a feeling of serenity.”
Formally trained in computer science, Adokuru has been experimenting with different mediums since secondary school, but it wasn’t until spring of 2020 that he started working with thread. His pieces, which are often larger than life, begin with a photograph of a child or friend, which are then translated into a simple sketch on a wooden board. Adokuru accentuates the figure’s silhouette, facial features, and any motif on their clothing or in the backdrop with nails that are glued in place, sprayed with black paint, and finally covered in taught thread. Because the artist is most concerned with capturing his subjects’ exact expressions, he always completes the eyes last.
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Stars, Circles, and Symbols in Primary Colors Form Astrological Maps and Coded Works by Shane Drinkwater
As a child, Australian artist Shane Drinkwater (previously) was fascinated by maps, astronomical charts, and ciphers. “This possibly relates to my dyslexia: images and shapes had a strong attraction whereas words on paper were a difficult subject,” he tells Colossal. “I found maps on paper quite appealing, coloured shapes and unraveling a code to find a path in the real world.”
This cartographic interest permeates the artist’s current body of work, which features dots, stars, dashes, and concentric circles arranged in vast systems and imaginary cosmic charts. Rendered in acrylic on paper or canvas, the hypnotizing works rely mostly on neutral tones similar to that of weathered parchment combined with reds, blues, and yellows. This influence comes from medieval illuminated manuscripts, which used “primary colours for maximum visual impact,” he says.
Drinkwater, who was born in Tasmania and currently lives in Queensland, has pieces available at Cavin-Morris Gallery, Pulp, and Copenhagen Outsider Art Gallery, along with a solo show slated for June at Boom Gallery in Victoria. He recently collaborated with the clothing brand indi + ash to create patterns for some of its garments, which you can see more of on Instagram.
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One hundred colors and 6,000 strips of masking tape later, Tokyo-based French architect and artist Emmanuelle Moureaux (previously) has constructed an elaborate installation of intersecting lines in Kurashiki, Japan. The immersive work, which was a commission from the brand mt, extends from the factory floor to ceiling in a crisscrossing mishmash of diagonals and pigments. To complete the piece, which is part of Moureaux’s 100 Colors series, the artist fastened 15-millimeter tape in a vibrant, rainbow gradient throughout the space, leaving a tunnel-like walkway for visitors to pass through and experience how perspectives shift depending on the angle.
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Set against a backdrop of dried grass, rusted tanks, and debris, a photo series by Dmitry Kokh centers on a small group of polar bears that had taken over an abandoned meteorological station last fall. The dilapidated structures are located between Russia and Alaska on Kolyuchin Island in the Chukchi Sea, a remote tundra the Moscow-based photographer visited on a 1,200-mile expedition in September 2021. “We expected to meet (the polar bears) mostly on Wrangel Island, famous all around the world for being home for many bears. Not this year, as we found out later—maybe because of the very cold summer,” he writes.
Russians built the weather center on Kolyuchin in 1932 before retiring it in the 90s, and it now sits unoccupied along with the rest of the area, which is devoid of residential life. When Kokh and his companions passed the island that’s just 2.8 miles at its longest stretch, they saw the white animals moving through the vacated buildings. The site’s chipping paint, exposed support beams, and generally worn features make the resulting images appear almost post-apocalyptic as the photographer captures the bears wandering the rundown property, poking their heads through the windows, and lounging on the grass.
Kokh’s shot of a bear resting its front legs on a window sill won a National Geographic-organized contest last year, and he also filmed a short video of his visit, which you can watch below. Shop prints of the series on his site, and follow him on Instagram for more wildlife photos.
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