Art

Elegantly Sculpted Busts by Massimiliano Pelletti Interpret Art History Through Imperfection

September 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

Detail of “Venus de Medici” (2020), pink onyx, 67 x 34 x 45 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti

Italian artist Massimiliano Pelletti (previously) gravitates toward imperfection, and his practice revolves around transforming presumed defects like impurities, cracks, or chips into elegantly carved figures. Pink marble sliced to reveal the stone’s pillowy, crystalline insides bisects the artist’s interpretation of Venus de Medici, while in “Blue Venus,” marbled sodalite and Mexican white onyx are spliced together into a fully formed bust. Contrasting smooth segments with the rough texture of unpolished stone, Pelletti evokes art history and ancient sculpture traditions through the lens of flaw and fallibility.

This focus on the material determines much of the artist’s work—his studio is conveniently located in Pietrasanta near caves filled with the precious stones he utilizes—in addition to the way green onyx or black marble, for example, interacts with light. Understanding absorption, reflection, and illumination has grounded his practice and is a skill he’s developed for decades. He explains:

When I was a child, I used to go downstairs to my grandfather’s studio, and I could find him working marble, always next to the same window; from there, during certain hours, a magical light entered that could make the sculpture almost alive, with a soul. When I pointed it out to him, he answered me: “My dear, the light is so important. There are some works that should be sold with the window that lights them up”. 

Pelletti is currently working toward a solo show slated for May 2023 in London, in addition to a series of sculptures set for display in a public square in Italy. Until then, follow his practice on Instagram.

 

“Blue Horizon” (2022), sodalite and Mexican white onyx, 64 x 33 x 40 centimeters, 16-centimeter iron base. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti and Bowman Sculpture, London

“White Venus” (2022), Mexican white onyx, 173 x 31 x 43 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti and Galerie Bayart, Paris

“Green Hermes” (2022), green onyx, 177 x 26 x 26 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti

“Le due Grazie” (2019), Mexican white onyx, 65 x 65 x 48 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti

“Venus de Medici” (2020), pink onyx, 67 x 34 x 45 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti

Detail of “Blue Horizon” (2022), sodalite and Mexican white onyx, 64 x 33 x 40 centimeters, 16-centimeter iron base. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti and Bowman Sculpture, London

“White Venus” (2022), Mexican white onyx, 173 x 31 x 43 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti and Galerie Bayart, Paris

 

 



Art History Illustration

A 500-Page Book Explores the Japanese Folkloric Tradition of the Supernatural ‘Yōkai’ Entities

September 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of PIE International, shared with permission

Translating to “strange apparition,” the Japanese word yōkai refers to supernatural beings, mutant monsters, and spirits. Mischievous, generous, and sometimes vengeful, the creatures are rooted in folklore and experienced a boom during the Edo period when artists would ascribe inexplicable phenomena to the unearthly characters. Japan’s Miyoshi Mononoke Museum in the Hiroshima Prefecture houses the largest yōkai collection in the world with more than 5,000 works, and a book recently published by PIE International showcases 60 of the most iconic and bizarre pieces from the institution.

Encompassing a range of mediums from painted scrolls and nishiki-e woodblock prints to kimonos and metalworks, Yōkai is a massive volume of 500-plus pages of colorful illustrations, paired with text by author, collector, and curator Koichi Yumoto. The book reproduces rarely seen works by artists like the renowned ukiyo-e printmaker Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, showcasing the pieces in incredible detail and contextualizing their role in the broader tradition and art history.

Yōkai is currently available on Bookshop.

 

 

 



Design

Carved Gemstones Embed Intricate Patterns from Ancient Symbols, Architecture, and Nature

September 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images by Jeff Mason, © Bryan D. Drummond, shared with permission

Fractals, grids, religious symbols, and ancient architecture are among the eclectic patterns translated into elaborately engraved gemstones by Bryan D. Drummond. The Las Vegas-based artist carves naturally occurring motifs and geometric designs into jewels like blue topaz, citrine, and tourmaline, adding depth to the glimmering surfaces.

Whether displaying the hexagonal configuration of honeycomb or imagery referencing the sun’s rays and stars, most of Drummond’s patterns are produced with custom equipment—he modified a 16th-century-style woodworking machine designed to carve rosettes and epicycloids so that it handles the precious materials, for example. The artist shares that the surface area and color help to determine the motif, which once carved, embeds the light-catching jewel with additional layers of shadow.

Currently, Drummond is cutting Californian amethyst and sunstone from Oregon that he mined himself. See more of his designs in his shop and check out his process on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Milkweed, Cypress Spurge, and Other Native Plants Soar into the Sky in Mona Caron’s Poetic Murals

September 27, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Balsamorhiza” (2022), Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek, California. All images © Mona Caron, shared with permission

Towering far above their real-life counterparts, the wild specimens that populate Mona Caron’s murals emphasize nature’s inherent beauty and resilience. Clusters of pink petals peek out from behind curled milkweed leaves in Denver, while the wispy stalks of a euphorbia plant sprout flowering tendrils on an apartment complex in Bellinzona, Switzerland. Many of the botanic murals shown here are part of the San Francisco-based artist’s ongoing Weeds series, which places flourishing plants among largely urban environments as a metaphor for the endurance of the natural world.

Caron (previously) has been prolific as of late, having worked in several cities around the world, and you can find glimpses into her process and information about her subject matter on Instagram.

 

“Milkweed” (2022), in Denver, Colorado, for Broadstone Kendrick

Detail of “Balsamorhiza” (2022), Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek, California

“Euphorbia” (2021-2022), Bellinzona, Switzerland

“Euphorbia” (2021-2022), Bellinzona, Switzerland

“Milkweed” (2022), in Denver, Colorado, for Broadstone Kendrick

Detail of “Milkweed” (2022), in Denver, Colorado, for Broadstone Kendrick

“Quebra-tudo, Abre Caminhos” (2022), in collaboration with Mauro Neri

“Quebra-tudo, Abre Caminhos” (2022), in collaboration with Mauro Neri

 

 



Craft

Mottled, Marbled, and Speckled Glazes Ooze Over Ceramic Vessels in Thick Pastel Drips

September 27, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Brian Giniewski, shared with permission

Philadelphia-based ceramicist Brian Giniewski (previously) is behind the playfully textured vessels known as Drippy Pots. Referencing a melty summertime ice cream cone or icing on a cake, the glossy material in mottled pastels, speckles, or single colors trickle down the exterior of mugs and cups. To contrast the neutral-toned earthenware of the base vessels, Giniewski throws simple shapes and then dunks the functional objects into a thick glaze.

The ceramicist recently restocked the Drippy Pots shop and also started wholesaling with SSENSE. You can peer into his process and follow updates on future releases on Instagram.

 

 

 



Photography Science

Paul Nicklen Photographs the Colorado River as It Etches Itself Like Veiny Branches into the Landscape

September 27, 2022

Gabrielle Lawrence

“Written in Water.” All images © Paul Nicklen, shared with permission

It is a common understanding in writing studies that to recount a disastrous event in literal and graphic detail may damper the purpose of the story by pushing the reader away. In order to elicit experiential feelings, writers often learn to employ tools and strategies such as metaphor, poeticism, and structure. This could also be understood as an exercise in empathy because rather than force the reader to feel by summarizing the experience for them, the writer creates an environment where one can reach for closeness and camaraderie in their own ways.

Paul Nicklen, pioneering conservation photographer (previously), calls nature “the first and greatest artist” in his latest collection, the Delta Series. To expand Nicklen’s statement across disciplines, nature may also be the first and greatest writer. In the series, he captures the vestiges of the Colorado River that trickle, roar, and finally, crawl their way down to Baja, Mexico. Though the silt itself is the site of tragedy, traces of freshwater gorgeously spread like branches, or fingerprints, or lungs, or as Nicklen writes, like veins.

 

“Arbol de Vida”

These lines not only tell the story of the “megadrought,” a term scientists use to describe the impact of the climate crisis since the year 2000 on an already dry West—as of June, both the U.S. and Mexican governments have agreed to release water from irrigation canals and restore the ecosystem in Baja—but they also craft the effects of reduced snowpack, thirstier soil, and higher temperatures into a grand metaphor for the interconnectedness of life. Even in the midst of ruin, nature speaks in symbols. With its last breath, the river reaches for its kin: the ocean. Unable to meet that immense body, the water carves its final words into the landscape. The familiar shape of its sprawl reminds us that we are inseparable, intimately woven into each other, and share responsibility for every living thing around us until the very end.

Nicklen’s Delta Series is on view as part of Evolve, which opens on October 1 at Hilton-Asmus Contemporary in Chicago. See more of the photos on his website and Instagram.

 

“Arterial Shadows”

“Amber Crossroads”

“Painted Forest”

“Arterial Poetry”