Art

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Art Illustration

Fairytale Scenes Nestle Between the Covers of Isobelle Ouzman’s Altered Books

February 7, 2023

Grace Ebert

A photo of a book opened to reveal a cut-paper forest scene

All images © Isobelle Ouzman, shared with permission

Open one of Isobelle Ouzman’s books, and you’ll be transported to a whimsical world of flora and fauna. The Bratislava-based artist (previously) carves pages of found novels and other tomes into intricate paper labyrinths of forests and meadows. Often occupied by a lone hare or fox, the fairytale scenes are imbued with a quiet, calm sense of mystery about the machinations of the imagined environments and their inhabitants.

Ouzman shares that she gravitates toward mass-produced volumes in poor condition. “Book size, depth, and paper texture play a big role in my decision as well, and I often need to hold a book in my hands before I can visualise a new artwork,” she says. The carving and drawing process depends on both the physical object and the intended narrative, taking between three weeks and three months to complete.

Find an archive of Ouzman’s works and glimpses into her process on her site and Instagram, and shop prints on Etsy.

 

A photo of a book opened to reveal a cut-paper forest scene

A photo of a book opened to reveal a cut-paper forest scene

A detail photo of a cut-paper forest scene

A photo of a book opened to reveal a cut-paper forest scene

A detail photo of a cut-paper forest scene

A detail photo of a cut-paper forest scene

A photo of a book opened to reveal a cut-paper forest scene

A detail photo of a cut-paper forest scene

 

 

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Art

Anthony Theakston’s Elegant Sculptures Imbue Ceramics and Bronze with Avian Spirit

February 7, 2023

Kate Mothes

Ceramic sculptures of owls.

All images © Anthony Theakston, shared with permission

Known as silent predators of the night, owls possess the beguiling ability to swoop within inches of their prey undetected due to specialized feathers that make their flight almost completely inaudible. It’s no wonder that for millennia, the enigmatic creatures have represented wisdom, helpfulness, and prophecy in myths and folklore around the world. Lincolnshire-based artist Anthony Theakston has always been fascinated by birds and flight, and he summons the mystical beauty of the avians’ elegant wings and tender faces in ceramic and bronze.

Theakston prizes out the essence of each living being in a way that is neither purely abstract nor representational, transforming an inanimate hunk of plaster, ceramic, or bronze into a form poised to launch from its perch at any moment. “My work is as much an abstract sculpture or design that contains some spirit of life in general, and the bird form seems like a pure way to represent this to me,” he tells Colossal. “The barn owl has a particular place in my work, I think, partly because it has an obvious beauty but also because it in some way has a human quality to its facial characteristics and structure.”

To begin a new sculpture, the artist starts by discerning a mood that he wants to convey and searches for imagery that captures that feeling. After sketching loosely, he refines the idea into a formal design. “I am most happy with a simple, uncomplicated expression of the idea, and so much of my time is spent refining and altering every small detail until it seems to work perfectly,” he says. “I like to think of it as an equation which has been expressed in its simplest form.” Once the design is finalized, he sculpts the minimal lines of legs, heart-shaped heads, and beady eyes from a solid block of Herculite plaster and adds a variety of surface finishes to produce an array of patinas and patterns.

Theakston will release a new bronze edition at the end of May and is exhibiting work at Affordable Art Fair Brussels between February 8 and 12 with De Kunst Salon. Find more of his work on Instagram.

 

Sculptures of owls.

A sculpture of an owl.

 

A sculpture of an owl with wings spread.

A sculpture of a cormorant-like bird.

A minimalist sculpture of a heron.

An abstract sculpture of a bird.

 

 



Art History Illustration Science

Explore Hundreds of Exquisite Botanical Collages Created by an 18th-Century Septuagenarian Artist

February 5, 2023

Grace Ebert

A scan of a botanical collage made of paper

All images via The British Museum

At age 72, Mary Delany (1700-1788) devoted herself to her art practice, taking up a form of decoupage to create an exquisite collection of botanical collages from dyed and cut paper. She interpreted many of the delicate specimens she encountered in Buckinghamshire while staying with her friend, the Duchess of Portland, through layered pieces on black backdrops. From the wispy clover-like leaves of an oxalis plant to the wildly splayed petals of the daffodil, the realistic works are both stunning for their beauty and faithfulness to the original lifeforms.

Known for her scientific precision, Delany labeled each specimen with the plant’s taxonomic and common names, the date, location of creation, name of the donor, and a collection number, the latter of which was used to organize all 985 collages in her Flora Delanica series. Together, the works create a vast and diverse florilegium, or compilation of botanicals and writings in the tradition of commonplace books.

The British Museum houses most of Delany’s collages, which you can explore in an interactive archive that has information about the plants, artworks, and the option to zoom in on images of the pieces. You also might enjoy The Paper Garden, a book that delves into the artist’s work and what it means to foster a creative practice.

 

A scan of a botanical collage made of paper

A scan of a botanical collage made of paper

A scan of a botanical collage made of paper

A scan of a botanical collage made of paper

A scan of a botanical collage made of paper

A scan of a botanical collage made of paper

A scan of a botanical collage made of paper

A scan of a botanical collage made of paper

A scan of a botanical collage made of paper

 

 



Art Craft

Miniature Ships Sail Atop Asya Kozina’s Extravagant Baroque Wigs of White Paper

February 3, 2023

Grace Ebert

A photo of two people modeling elaborate paper wigs topped with sea scenes

All images © Asya Kozina, shared with permission

Artist Asya Kozina is known for her elaborate paper wigs that soar into the air with scenes of miniature metropolises and various botanical frills, coils, and pleats. Referencing the ominous tale of the Flying Dutchman, Kozina’s latest collection transports wearers to the sea with fleets of ships that sail across the cut-and-folded headdresses. The legend states that seeing the vessel portends imminent danger, a sense of mystery and hazard the artist juxtaposes with blossoming botanicals and butterflies full of life.

Kozina is based in Ukraine, and in a note to Colossal, she shares that Russia’s ongoing aggression has necessarily paused her practice as she focuses on volunteer efforts and caring for her family.  “We are in a state of more or less stress,” she says. “My attention is focused on air alarms and news and correspondence with relatives in other cities of Ukraine. At the same time, we pretend that we have a normal life… It’s completely surreal.”

You can find more about Kozina’s work and support her practice on her siteBehance,and Instagram.

 

A photo of a person modeling an elaborate paper wigs topped with florals

A detail photo of an elaborate paper wigs topped with sea scenes

A photo of a person modeling an elaborate paper wigs topped with a sea scene

A photo of a person modeling an elaborate paper wigs topped with a sea scene

A detail photo of an elaborate paper wigs topped with a sea scene

A photo of a person modeling an elaborate paper wigs topped with a sea scene

A detail photo of an elaborate paper wigs topped with a sea scene

A detail photo of an elaborate paper wigs topped with a sea scene

 

 



Art

Ornate Picture Frames Sprout Twisted Roots in Organic Sculptures by Darryl Cox

February 2, 2023

Kate Mothes

A wooden sculpture that fuses tree roots with an ornate picture frame.

“Winter.” All images © Darryl Cox, shared with permission

In Darryl Cox’s organic sculptures, gnarled tree roots or branches merge with the ornate grooves, patterns, and gilding of picture frames. The Bend, Oregon-based sculptor (previously) continues to explore the material possibilities of wood and its relationship to domestic interiors and the natural environment in the series Fusion Frames.

Cox begins each work by connecting pieces of reclaimed wood to the found decorative objects. “Typically—but not always—I begin the sculpting process at the point of fusion, and move in either direction from there, depending on the piece,” he tells Colossal. “Carving and modeling is a protracted process, so once I have a rudimentary joint, I work on segments at will.” To make formerly disparate pieces of wood appear as though they extend organically from one another, he spends hours meticulously carving, sanding, painting, and staining each piece. The artist retains some of the mosses or lichens that grew on the roots in the wild, further emphasizing the contrast between the finely hewn surfaces of the frames and the rough textures of the raw timber.

This summer, Cox will exhibit his sculptures at Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver in July and Oregon’s Art in the High Desert fair in August. Find more of his work on his website.

 

A wooden sculpture that fuses tree roots with an ornate picture frame.

“Flynn”

A wooden sculpture that fuses tree roots with an ornate picture frame.

Detail and overview of “Lacey”

A wooden sculpture that fuses tree roots with an ornate picture frame.

“Bond”

A wooden sculpture that fuses tree roots with an ornate picture frame.

Detail of “Bond”

A wooden sculpture that fuses tree roots with an ornate picture frame.

Overview and detail of “Jasper”

A wooden sculpture that fuses tree roots with an ornate picture frame.

“Maestro”

A wooden sculpture that fuses tree roots with an ornate picture frame.

“Jacques”

A wooden sculpture that fuses tree roots with an ornate picture frame.

Left: “Titan.” Right: “Joplin”

A detail of a wooden sculpture that fuses tree roots with an ornate picture frame.

Detail of “Jacques”

 

 



Art

Commuters Go Wild in Matthew Grabelsky’s Uncanny Subway Paintings

February 2, 2023

Grace Ebert

A painted portrait of a horse-human figure riding the subway

“Giddy Up” (2022), oil on canvas, 14 × 16 inches. All images courtesy of Thinkspace Projects, shared with permission

Urbanites know the subway is a prime location to spot the city’s oddities, and yet, a run-in with one of Matthew Grabelsky’s characters would be a particularly wild encounter. The Los Angeles-based artist has spent the last few years rendering human-animal hybrids that nonchalantly ride public transit. Sometimes snacking on a cracker or brushing up on some reading, the characters are surreal, uncanny additions to an otherwise mundane scene.

Grabelsky’s newest oil paintings, which are currently on view as part of Riders at The Brand Library & Art Center in Glendale, California, are hyperrealistic and laced with witty details similar to earlier works in the series. Set on the New York City Subway and London Tube, the portraits are narrative-driven and embedded with pop culture references. The artist shares:

My goal is to create the effect of looking at a scene on the subway as if it were a diorama at a natural history museum. The images present richly detailed moments frozen in time allowing the viewer to closely inspect every element and make connections between them to read an overall story. In this world, people are transformed into part-animal to create scenes that are strange, funny, and endearing.

Curated by Thinkspace Projects, Riders is on view through March 17. You can find an extensive collection of Grabelsky’s commuters on his site and Instagram.

 

A painted portrait of a father and son human-monkey hybrids riding the subway

“Curious George Takes A Train” (2022), oil on canvas, 16 × 20 inches

On left, a painted portrait of a woman-crow figure on the subway, on the right, a painted portrait of a woman-parrot figure eating crackers on the subway

Left: “Crow-Magnon” (2022), oil on canvas, 28 × 38 inches. Right: “Polly Wanna Cracker” (2022), oil on canvas, 24 × 36 inches

A painted portrait of a dog-human hybrid riding the subway

“Texas Hold’em” (2022), oil on canvas, 12 × 16 inches

Left: A painted portrait of a wolf-human hybrid riding the subway. Right: A painted portrait of two panda-human hybrids riding the subway

Left: “An American Werewolf In London” (2022), oil on canvas, 24 × 32 inches. Right: “Sichuan Express” (2022), oil on canvas, 14 × 20 inches

A painted portrait of a bat-human figure riding the subway

“Gotham Local” (2022), oil on canvas, 12 × 16 inches

 

 

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