Kenyan-American artist Wangechi Mutu was commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to create four bronze sculptures of African women collectively titled “The NewOnes, will free Us.” The seated women are nearly 7 feet tall and each weigh more than 840 lbs. The sculptures are the first works of art to fill the niches of the museum’s Fifth Avenue facade since the building’s completion in 1902.
Mutu’s sculptures, individually titled The Seated I, II, III, and IV, are dressed in coiled garments and feature polished discs on different parts of their heads. This ornamentation references the jewelry and lip plates worn by women in some African tribes. They also reference the West African and Greek tradition of caryatids, female figures carved out of wood or marble that were depicted as structural or metaphorical supports.
“Caryatids throughout history have carried these buildings to express the might and the wealth of a particular place,” the Nairobi-born artist said in a video interview on The Met’s website. Looking to use her sculptures as a way to stage what The Met calls a “feminist intervention,” Mutu added that she wanted to “keep the DNA of the woman in an active pose, but I didn’t want her to carry the weight of something or someone else.”
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Textile artist Amanda Browder collaborates with the communities she’s working in to built site-specific architectural interventions. Using hundreds of yards of donated fabric with bright colors and patterns, Browder and her volunteer teams stitch together enormous panels that resemble crazy quilts. The panels wrap around bell towers, sheath elevated walkways, and drape from gables and eaves to give passersby a new experience of familiar buildings. In a statement on her website, Browder describes her work:
A state of betweenness – ‘twixt soft sculpture /’tween orchestrated public object installation with a studio affinity for abstraction and minimalism”. I am in love with the transformative nature of materials, and how the combination of the familiar creates abstract relationships about place. This relational objectivity generates an open-ended narrative, ambiguous situations defined by the choice of materials and work ethic. Central to the psychedelic experience, I am drawn to reinventing Pop-Art colors by exploring shifts in scale and sculptural perceptions.
The Montana-born artist received a B.A. in studio arts as well as two master’s degrees in sculpture and installation art. Browder is now based in Brooklyn and frequently travels to create new work. She was recently awarded an opportunity with the prestigious ArtPrize organization in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The multi-part work, titled Kaleidoscopic, is currently on view at locations around Grand Rapids. Keep up with Browder’s projects on Instagram, and watch the video below for a time-lapse of a previous installation in Las Vegas and an interview with the artist.
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Graffiti artist Vile leaves his mark on the walls of occupied and abandoned buildings around Europe, using masterful techniques to create the illusion of depth in his painted interventions. The Portuguese artist has simulated letter-shaped gaps in crumbling bricks, galaxies pulsating behind concrete walls, and even entire imagined buildings. Vile, who lives in his hometown of Vila Franca de Xira, started writing graffiti at the age of 14, and studied cartooning and animation for films as well as drawing and illustration. Follow Vile’s illusory exploits on Instagram. (via Laughing Squid)
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Continuously evolving his style from early surreal comic-like renderings, to subdued portraits, all the way to abstract assemblages, Catalan artist Aryz has built his reputation as a multi-talented muralist. More recently, Aryz has reduced the quantity of new mural projects and has focused his imagery on figurative compositions built from seamlessly integrated elements.
Often leaving the brushwork as visible as possible and mixing vibrant, sometimes clashing colors, he is now fully focused on creating work that aims to translate the unmediated feel of sketching into large-scale murals. “I think, with time, you need to get rid of the technique and at the end go to the basic and go to the essence of the composition of the colors,” Aryz shares with Colossal about his unique manner of building images. “I don’t know if I’m succeeding on that, but that’s my goal at the moment.”
One recent mural, painted earlier this summer in Angers, France, depicts a shirtless man working with a large mallet. The image is constructed from various elements taken at different moments, with loose limbs suggesting energetic action. Sourcing his inspiration from propaganda posters and classical paintings, Aryz is reinventing this imagery with his own style. “I feel comfortable with it, because I like that aesthetic, instead of maybe portraying a contemporary character with jeans and piercings,” the artist explains.
A similar concept was used for a new mural in Berlin, where he conveyed a dynamic scene of wrestlers fighting. “It’s all about painting these humans that are fighting against humans as a reflection of the nowadays society,” Aryz tells Colossal. While having the rough, almost careless aesthetic of pencil drawing on paper, this four stories-tall composition is broken up by the existing window on the building. With fists, legs, and even bones appearing unexpectedly inside the composition, and expressive brushstrokes filling up the surface, the image freezes a moment of great tension.
Aryz is showing his work in several places around France this fall, including in Rouen, France at Temple Saint-Eloi through September 22, 2019, and then through November 24, 2019, in partnership with Hangar 107. In Paris, the artist’s new work is on view starting November 8, 2019. Aryz’s final French stop is at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nancy, opening 14 Novembre 2019, and closing February 16, 2020. Follow along with Aryz’s whirlwind tour and see more of his fresh work on Instagram.
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Old Books Become Craggy Mountains and Waterway Channels in Otoniel Borda Garzon’s Mixed Media Sculptures
Colombian artist Otoniel Borda Garzon (previously) manipulates outdated volumes of maps, reference texts, and newspapers to form abstract sculptures. The multi-part artworks juxtapose the paper pages, carved into topographical shapes that allude to cliffs and mountains, with geometric wooden trusses and smooth, water-like glass channels. You can explore more of Garzon’s wide-ranging art projects, which often incorporate reclaimed materials, on his Behance portfolio.
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New York-based painter Robin F. Williams captures figures—often women—in powerful poses. Her canvases usually center on one figure, whose broad shoulders and dramatic gestures fill the frame. Williams works with a range of painting styles, including more gestural, layered techniques as well as building slick, flat fields of color. In an interview with Juxtapoz (she is also on the cover of their Summer 2019 issue), Williams shared her approach to creating her unique paintings:
I am interested in micro-expressions and how we read each other’s cues. There seems to be a lot of illiteracy around body language and not enough acknowledgment that non-verbal cues can be, and sometimes have to be, very complicated. I want to compress time in these paintings by using multiple markers within one piece, either through form or narrative. The goal is not to make a painting that feels timeless, but to make a painting that feels outside of time. It’s a way to discuss how images of women have consistently been so problematic.
Williams’ solo show, With Pleasure, recently opened at Various Small Fires in Los Angeles, and runs through October 26, 2019. In addition to creating her own work, the artist has been an adjunct faculty member at the School of Visual Arts since 2013. If you enjoy Williams’ intimate, dynamic approach to female portraiture, also check out Hope Gangloff and Kathryn Engberg. Follow along with Williams on Instagram. (via this isn’t happiness)
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REWILD: A Short Film by Splash and Burn and ESCIF Chronicles Rainforest Restoration Efforts in Sumatra
To draw attention to the ecological devastation wrought by palm oil farming in Southeast Asia, the Splash and Burn project (previously) creates and documents large and small-scale art activations. The initiative’s most recent endeavor, titled REWILD and executed with Spanish artist ESCIF, involved carving a rewind symbol into a palm oil plantation in Sumatra, Indonesia, and creating a short film documenting the effort. ESCIF explains, “the idea of going back, of rewinding, is an invitation to reconnect with ourselves; to recover awareness and respect for the earth, which is the ecosystem of which we are a part.”
The land art intervention took place on an acquired plantation within a new forest restoration site made possible by the Sumatran Orangutan Society. After clearing the palms, diverse vegetation has been re-planted. In a release about the project, Splash and Burn explains that the restoration site is located on the borders of the Leuser Ecosystem, one of the most biodiverse places on earth. Sumatra’s forests—and the wildlife populations within—have shrunk by 40% in the past two decades, replaced by palm oil, paper pulp, and rubber plantations. Though not commonly known in the U.S. as a cooking oil, palm oil is the most widely consumed oil on the planet, found in everything from chocolate and instant noodles to lipstick and laundry detergent.
You can watch the trailer of REWILD below. It features an abstract soundscape by Indonesian composer Nursalim Yadi Anugerah. If you are interested in contributing, head to moretrees.info, and follow Splash and Burn (comprised of Ernest Zacharevic and Charlotte Pyatt) on Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Art
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