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Art

Georgian Culture and Ukrainian Pride Highlight the 2022 Tbilisi Mural Fest

December 6, 2022

Grace Ebert

A photo of a mural portrait of a woman holding a bouquet of flowers

By Sasha Korban. All images by Tiku Kobiashvili, courtesy of Tbilisi Mural Fest, shared with permission

For the last four years, Tbilisi Mural Fest has facilitated more than 40 public artworks around the Georgian capital, and the 2022 event brought a spate of new projects to the city. Given the nation’s proximity to Russia and that country’s groundless war against Ukraine, festival organizers highlighted renowned Ukrainian muralist Sasha Korban who painted a large-scale portrait of a woman in customary clothing facing the Russian embassy. Other works include celebrations of Georgian culture and history, like a large-scale tablecloth with traditional motifs by Chertova Tina and Mohamed l’Ghacham’s dreamlike rendering of the living room of Georgian thinker and author Ilia Chavchavadze.

See some of the 2022 additions below and those from previous years on Instagram.

 

A photo of a large blue mural with ornamental white motifs

By Chertova Tina

A photo of a black and white portrait mural of a woman with colorful doodles on her face

“Circus” by Luis Gomez de Teran

A photo of a mural of a dreamlike living room

“Illia’s Room” by Mohamed l’Ghacham

A photo of a mural with two women and a plant, repeated three times vertically

“Growth” by Artez

A photo of an abstract mural on an urban building

By Kera

A photo of a mural with two figures and a portal

“M3D3A” by Vesod

A photo of a mural with two regal figures and city

By Dato Machavariani and Irakli Qadeishvili

 

 

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Art Documentary

‘China’s Van Goghs’ Documentary Explores the Industrial Scale of Art in the Village that Paints Thousands of Replicas

December 5, 2022

Kate Mothes

In the late 1980s, the village of Dafen in Shenzhen, China—home to a few hundred people—was set on an industrial course that would utterly transform the area. Over the past three decades in what is known as the “world’s art factory,” manufacturers have produced thousands of replicas of well-known paintings by Western masters like Vincent Van Gogh, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Edgar Degas. In a full-length documentary from Perspective, filmmakers render an intimate portrait of life in Dafen.

China’s Van Goghs follows painter Zhao Xiaoyong, along with family and friends, through typical days at work. Immense rolls of canvas are unloaded from a truck, a line of people add details to raw canvases tacked to the wall, and rows of paintings line-dry above their heads.  “We paint, eat, and sleep—all in this studio,” Zhao says, sharing that before he began painting, he had never heard of Van Gogh. Now, he oversees the production of hundreds of paintings each month, for which photographs or small prints are used as references.

 

A still from the film "China's Van Goghs."

Entrepreneurial trade painter Huang Jiang established the village’s art industry in 1989 after moving his business to the mainland hamlet from his native Hong Kong. Dafen is characterized by an an assembly line process that has historically relied on cheap migrant labor, where local workers were trained to paint in oil. As the manufacture of copies of paintings by Western masters expanded, so did the village. Dafen is now home to more than 10,000 residents and has become a cultural center of Shenzhen, but the relationship between yì shù jiā (artists) and huà jiā (painters or art workers) is uniquely nuanced.

Zhao grapples with the difference between the two, and an opportunity to fly to Amsterdam with his family to visit the Van Gogh Museum and meet a long-time client provides many unexpected revelations, including finding his paintings in a tourist stand and learning that the profit margin is around ten times his compensation to make the works. After a trip to Arles, France, to the hospital where Van Gogh was briefly in residence, and his burial site in Auvers-sur-Oise, Zhao returns home and reflects on the visit with mixed emotions. He and his colleagues discuss feeling a connection to Van Gogh and a profound link with the work.

The documentary plumbs universal, provocative questions of originality and significance. Zhao recounts museum staff asking if he made his own work, and he explains “Do you know how much pressure I felt? I was shocked. I don’t even have a single piece of my own. I’ve just been copying, copying… To change from a painter to an artist, to whatever it is, is very difficult.” A friend posits that labels like “artist” and “worker” aren’t useful, and Zhao continues with a question that many creators will find familiar, “Have I become an artist? Do I have anything that deserves appreciation?”

 

A still from the film "China's Van Goghs."

A still from the film "China's Van Goghs."

A still from the film "China's Van Goghs."

A still from the film "China's Van Goghs."

 

 



Art

The Art Stories Colossal Readers Loved Most in 2022

December 2, 2022

Colossal

A collaged image of five photos

As we edge closer to the end of 2022, we’re taking a look back at some of the biggest hits on Colossal throughout the year. We’ve published hundreds of articles spotlighting extraordinary work by artists around the globe who test boundaries, activate discussion, and inspire innovation.

We collected 10 of the most-read articles on the site this year, ranging from street art and embroidery to soldered teacups and mirrors with hidden images. And if you want even more of 2022’s art highlights, dive into the Colossal archive.

 

A photo of a mural on a war-torn wall

Image © Banksy

New Banksy Works Emerge Among the Destruction in Ukraine

Banksy’s signature stencils have been spotted among the rubble of bombed buildings and barricades in Borodyanka and Gorenka, both in the Bucha Region, while others are just outside the capital city of Kyiv.

 

An embroidered portrait of three people

Image © Ruth Miller

Tender Embroidered Portraits by Ruth Miller Are Tinged with Expressive Colors

Beginning with a line drawing in pencil, U.S.-based artist Ruth Miller renders hand-embroidered portraits based on photos into wool tapestries and thread drawings.

 

A photo of a colorful mosaic patching a concrete hole

Image © Ememem

Vibrant Tiled Mosaics by Ememem Repair Gouged Pavement and Fractured Sidewalks

Lyon native Ememem, aka “the pavement surgeon,” examines the streets of European cities and checks for splintered pavement and sidewalks fractured in pieces.

 

A photo of figures in sparkling suits

Image © Nick Cave

A Colossal Interview: Artist Nick Cave Unpacks Silence and Compassion Ahead of His First Retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago

A portmanteau of forevermore and for others, Forothermore is a prescient title for the first retrospective of artist Nick Cave, whose practice spanning sculpture, installation, performance, and various mediums consistently confronts racism, homophobia, and other bigotries through the alluring, affecting power of art.

 

A photo of a sculpture of stacked teacups and saucer lined with barbed wire

Image © Glen Taylor

Spikes, Rusted Wire, and Scissors Bind Shattered Porcelain in Sculptures by Glen Taylor

A visual metaphor for imperfection and the possibilities of repair, the porcelain sculptures created by Ohio-based artist Glen Taylor are steeped in contrast.

 

A photo of an ethereal coral like sculpture

Image © Mariki Kusumoto

Clusters of Diaphanous Textile Sculptures by Mariko Kusumoto Evoke the Ocean Floor

Japanese artist and designer Mariko Kusumoto shapes gossamer coral and sea creatures from soft fibers like polyester, nylon, and cotton.

 

A photo of thread stitching a seam in the earth

Image © Estelle Chrétien

Anthropomorphic Interventions in the Landscape by Estelle Chrétien Playfully Examine Rural Life

For artist Estelle Chrétien, the expansive lawns, fields, and wooded ravines around her home in Nancy, France, and other parts of Europe become sites of mischievous mixed-media interventions.

 

A photo of a mirror reflecting a symbol on a wall

Image courtesy of Cincinnati Art Museum

Cincinnati Art Museum Discovers That a Rare 16th Century Mirror Reveals a Hidden Image When Illuminated

While plumbing the archives at the Cincinnati Art Museum, curator Hou-mei Sung uncovered what appeared to be an ordinary patinaed mirror printed with the name of Amitābha Buddha. After closer inspection, though, the object revealed a surprise.

 

A photo of a bracelet made of thousands of printed pages

Image © Lyske Gais and Lia Duinker

1,400 Pages of Rembrandt’s Hand Drawings Fill a Wearable Book Bracelet

Lined with gilt edges and secured with a gold clasp, a bracelet by the Amsterdam-based duo of Lyske Gais and Lia Duinker packs a vast art historical collection within the span of a wrist.

 

A photo of a metal deer sculpture

Image © Kang Dong Hyun

Complex Networks of Metallic Branches Shape Animal Sculptures by Kang Dong Hyun

What eventually becomes a stately stag or majestically posed lion in Kang Dong Hyun’s Forest of Coexistence starts with countless metallic branches that splay in every direction.

 

 



Art Design

Thousands of Used Tea Bags Assemble in Ruby Silvious’s Delicate Full-Size Garments

December 2, 2022

Kate Mothes

A child's dress made from tea bags.

All images © Ruby Silvious, shared with permission

When we steep a cup of tea, we typically toss out the bag once it has served up its brew, but for Ruby Silvious, this humble sachet provides the basis for a distinctive artistic practice. Known for her miniature paintings that use tea bags as canvases, she has expanded her use of the material by employing it as a fabric for larger-scale works that are inspired by her family history and an interest in fashion. “It gives me a chance to do large scale work, the antithesis to my miniature paintings,” she tells Colossal. “It’s only natural that my art has always been inspired by fashion. My maternal grandmother was a brilliant seamstress. I was only 20 years old when I migrated to the U.S. from the Philippines, and my very first job was at Bergdorff Goodman in New York City.”

Silvious began making garments in 2015, spurred by an ongoing fascination with the various methods of printing, staining, and assembling the deconstructed segments together. “I have accumulated bins of used tea bags,” she says, “not just from my own consumption but also from friends and family who have generously contributed to my growing collection.” She has made more than ten full-size kimonos, each requiring up to 800 used bags to complete. Pieces in her most recent series, Dressed to a Tea, average approximately 75 to 125 sachets, each one emptied out, flattened, and ironed before being glued together into shirts, slips, or child-size dresses. “Some tea bag pieces have monoprints on them, and the simpler designs are assembled with plain or slightly stained, used tea bags, giving them a more delicate and fragile look,” she explains.

A number of pieces from Dressed to a Tea will be on view in a weeklong exhibition at Ceres Gallery in New York from December 5 to 10. Her work will also be featured in a solo exhibit at the Ostfriedsisches Teemuseum in Norden, Germany, from March 4 to April 29, 2023. You can find more of Silvious’s work on her website and Instagram.

 

A shirt made out of tea bags.

A kimono made from tea bags.

Slips made out of tea bags.

Two images of a kimono made from tea bags, shown front and back. A child's dress made out of tea bags.

Two dresses made out of tea bags.

A kimono made from tea bags.

 

 



Art

A New Book Repaints the Legacy of Street Art by Spotlighting Women Leading the Genre

December 1, 2022

Kate Mothes

A photograph of a mural of a woman wearing a scarf on the end of a building.

Medianeras, “The Crystal Ship” (2021) in Ostend, Belgium. All images courtesy of the artists and Prestel, shared with permission

For street artists, the urban landscape is an infinite canvas. Whether wheat pasted, sprayed, or layered with brushes, vibrant compositions revitalize public spaces and provide an ever-evolving barometer of the political climate and current affairs. The genre has been historically dominated by men, but a new book by journalist Alessandra Mattanza and Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art founder Stephanie Utz shifts the dial.

Women Street Artists spotlights the diverse practices of 24 graffiti and mural artists hailing from around the globe who work in a variety of styles, from large-scale public projects like Camilla Falsini’s vibrant pavement composition in Milan to striking interventions like Olek’s pink, crocheted coverlet for “Charging Bull,” Wall Street’s masculine bronze sculpture. Each finds walls, sidewalks, demolished structures, prison cells, grain silos, and other nontraditional surfaces to express ideas around feminism and empowerment, body imagery, racism, the climate crisis, and other critical issues.

You can find a copy of Women Street Artists on Bookshop.org, available now in the U.K. and scheduled for release in the U.S. on December 6.

 

A mural of Ruth Bader-Ginsberg and symbols of American democracy.

Elle, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg” (2020) in New York City

An aerial image of a colorful geometric public art piece on a Milan street.

Camilla Falsini, “Tactical Urban Planning Intervention” (2020) in Milan, Italy. Photo by Jungle Agency

A detail of graffiti featuring two women wearing hijabs with Superman logos on their torsos.

#LEDIESIS, “Superwomen” (2019) in Italy

A pink crocheted coverlet sewn over the "Charging Bull" sculpture on Wall Street.

Olek, “Charging Bull” (2010), Wall Street, New York City

A blue and black portrait of a young woman on the site of a disused diner in Miami.

Christina Angelina in collaboration with Ease One (2015) in Miami, Florida

The cover of 'Women Street Artists' book.

 

 



Art Design History

Industrial Materials Reconstruct Local History on a Monumental Scale in Public Sculptures by David Mach

November 30, 2022

Kate Mothes

A sculpture of a train made out of bricks.

“Brick Train” (1997) in Darlington. All images © David Mach

Known for sculptures and assemblages that utilize everyday objects like bricks, coat hangers, and matches, Scottish artist David Mach has embarked on numerous large-scale, public projects that draw inspiration from local history. In his monumental “Brick Train” in Darlington, he taps into regional heritage through the use of red brick and the depiction of a life-size steam locomotive. The industrial revolution of the 19th century spurred a need to move materials like coal and steel around the country, and the first railway to use steam engines to transport passengers also originated in the area. In the U.K., red bricks have prevailed as the most popular building material, constructing long rows of terraced homes that characterize the urban landscape.

Further north in Edinburgh, the architectonic “Temple at Tyre” was constructed from dozens of shipping containers and over 8,000 tires (or tyres) in the port of Leith, a critical international shipping hub. It was installed for a month and illuminated at night to rival the city’s major landmarks, like the neoclassical National Monument on Calton Hill. The containers, which are also the focus of a proposed building in an Edinburgh business park, are immense reminders of the trade and commerce that the city is built upon.

Mach currently has additional projects in the works in London, Mauritius, and Syria. Heavy Metal, a solo exhibition opening at Pangolin London in January will highlight ongoing work in a showcase of maquettes and prints. You can find more of the artist’s work on his website.

 

A public sculpture of a row of telephone boxes tipping over like dominoes.

“Out of Order” (1989) in Kingston-upon-Thames. Photograph by Mike Longhurst

A neoclassical facade made out of brick.

“Temple of Bricks,” maquette, 93.5 x 111 x18 centimeters

A photograph of a sculpture of a train made from bricks, covered in snow.

“Brick Train”

A digital rendering of a contemporary building made out of a pile of shipping containers.

Render for Mach1, Edinburgh Park, Edinburgh

An installation in a port of dozens of shipping containers with a neoclassical monument on top made out of tires.

“The Temple at Tyre” (1994) installed at Leith, Edinburgh

A sculpture of a row of telephone boxes that are falling onto one another like dominoes.

“Out of Order.” Photograph by Mike Longhurst

An installation in a port of dozens of shipping containers with a neoclassical monument on top made out of tires.

“The Temple at Tyre”