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Art

Ethereal Light Suffuses Domestic Interiors with Surreal Hues in Alfie Caine’s Paintings

January 31, 2023

Kate Mothes

A painting by Alfie Caine of a surreal architectural space in a landscape lit by uncanny light.

“House through the Ferns” (2022), vinyl and acrylic paint on canvas, 120 x 90 centimeters. All images © Alfie Caine, shared with permission courtesy of the artist and JARILAGER Gallery

Imbued with otherworldly light and a jewel-toned palette, Alfie Caine’s dreamscapes tuck domestic architecture into the idealized surroundings of manicured neighborhoods, country gardens, and lush woodland. The East Sussex-based artist draws on his formal training in architecture to render homes and their environs in vivid hues, playing with perspective and the relationship between light and shadow in an interplay of interior and exterior.

In Caine’s vignettes of domestic life, clues to the inhabitants are found in details like a potted plant propping a door open, a pet awaiting attention, or a glimpse of a figure in the corner, nearly out of view. The precision of linear perspective and bold contrasts meet the surreal, organic forms of wispy flora and streams of chimney smoke in scenes that emphasize small moments of pleasure in everyday life, such as taking a hot bath, strumming a guitar, or lighting a candle. These instances of familiarity are often countered by uncanny light sources, which illuminate bouquets of flowers, cast long shadows, and portend an incoming storm or some mysterious, unknown event.

Caine’s solo show titled Moments of Calm is on view through February 23 at JARILAGER Gallery. Find more of the artist’s work on his website and Instagram.

 

A painting by Alfie Caine of a surreal architectural space in a landscape lit by uncanny light.

“Before the Storm” (2022), vinyl and acrylic paint on canvas, 120 x 170 centimeters

A painting by Alfie Caine of a surreal architectural space in a landscape lit by evening light.

“Foxglove Farmhouse” (2022), vinyl and acrylic paint on canvas, 120 x 90 centimeters

A painting by Alfie Caine of a surreal architectural space in a landscape lit by uncanny light.

“Bath by Candlelight” (2022), vinyl and acrylic paint on canvas, 120 x 170 centimeters

A painting by Alfie Caine of a surreal architectural space in a landscape lit by uncanny light.

“Bathroom off the Corridor” (2022), vinyl and acrylic paint on canvas, 152.4 x 121.9 centimeters

A painting by Alfie Caine of a surreal architectural space in a landscape lit by uncanny light.

“Entrance Overlooking the Bay” (2022), vinyl and acrylic paint on canvas, 177.8 x 203.2 centimeters

A painting by Alfie Caine of a surreal architectural space in a landscape lit by uncanny light.

“Lacquer Staircase” (2022), vinyl and acrylic paint on canvas, 177.8 x 152.4 centimeters

A painting by Alfie Caine of a surreal architectural space in a landscape lit by uncanny light.

“Red Dining Room” (2022), vinyl and acrylic paint on canvas, 152.4 x 121.9 centimeters

A painting by Alfie Caine of a surreal architectural space in a landscape lit by uncanny light.

“Riverside Porch” (2022), vinyl and acrylic paint on canvas, 120 x 90 centimeters

A painting by Alfie Caine of a surreal architectural space in a landscape lit by uncanny light.

“Two Blue Trees” (2022), vinyl and acrylic paint on canvas, 120 x 90 centimeters

 

 

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Art

From Chicago to Detroit, Yashua Klos Presents Black Resilience, Defiance, and Tenderness

January 30, 2023

Grace Ebert

A photo of a portrait of a woman bisected by blocks of wood

“You See Through It All” (2021), paper construction of woodblock prints and graphite on archival paper, 41 x 54.5 inches. All images © Yashua Klos, shared with permission

Chicago continues to rank among the most segregated cities in the United States, with Black and brown populations living across the south and west sides that lack the investment and resources of the white-dominated northern neighborhoods. Caused by more than a century’s worth of inequitable governance, redlining, and various forms of discrimination, this enduring racial separation has irrevocably shaped the city and its residents, impacting those who came to the area during the Great Migration and those who call it home still today. It’s often said that the history of Chicago is also the history of segregation.

This infamous legacy is an essential component of Yashua Klos’s evolution as an artist. “I’m from the city of Chicago, and Chicago’s urban planning was designed for segregation, to separate Black and white,” he shares with Colossal. “That segregation is baked into the ‘redlining’ housing ownership policies and the geography of the city.”

 

A photo of a collaged portrait of a man with blocks bisecting his face

“Your Strength Is In Your Shadow” (2021), paper construction of woodblock prints and graphite on archival paper, 41.5 x 51 inches

Now based in the Bronx, Klos frequently reflects on his hometown and brings the gridded structure of its streets into his works. A 2021 solo show at UTA Artist Space exhibited portraits bisected by angular blocks textured like wood, brick, and cinder, allowing fragments of the uniform roadways to emerge through facial features. “In art history, the grid is a kind of tool for optical democracy. There’s no visual hierarchy in a grid—you can enter any space at any time. So, I’m interested in that grid’s proposal of democracy and how that’s failed Black folks, especially where I’m from and how Chicago is constructed,” he says.

The collaged portraits evoke the ways identities are an amalgam of both genetics and surrounding influences. They mimic three-dimensional forms that surface from the flat plane of the paper, and Klos portrays the subjects as breaking free from constraint or relying on the structure for support. “I’m considering Black folks who are forming a defiant sense of self in order to survive in an often unjust environment. This is why these head forms often appear built of construction materials and suggest that they are sculptures or even monuments,” the artist writes, referencing the art historical use of statues and portraits to convey value and respect.

 

A wood-like rendering of an upturned hand holding blue flowers

“Vein Vine” (2021), paper construction of woodblock prints, graphite, spray paint, and Japanese rice paper on stretched canvas, 84 x 60 inches

While Klos spent his upbringing in Chicago, his father’s family has ties to Detroit, particularly the car industry and Ford plant where many relatives worked. Like his portraiture, the artist’s woodblock prints of singular, upturned hands allow this personal history to converge with broader themes of familial love and political resilience. The appendages grasp botanicals native to Michigan and blocks floating nearby as they deny “work in order to hold flowers,” he says. “Here, I’ve found (an) opportunity to explore themes of nurturing, tenderness, generosity, and self-care.”

To explore an archive of Klos’s works, visit his site and Instagram

 

A photo of a framed collage of a hand grasping blue flowers

“Your Roots Hold On To You” (2022), paper construction of woodblock prints on muslin and Japanese rice paper, acrylic paint on paper, 60 x 75.5 inches

A photo of a colalged portrait of a man with wood blocks bisecting his face

“You Built Your Shelter From Shadows” (2021), paper construction of woodblock prints and graphite on archival paper, 42 x 50.5 inches

A photo of a collaged hand holding blue flowers

“We Hold The Wildflowers”

A photo of a collage of a hand holding blocks

“Diagram of How She Hold It All Together” (2021), paper construction of woodblock prints and graphite on archival Japanese rice paper, 52 x 53 inches

 

 



Art Craft

Jennifer McCurdy Harnesses an Island’s Natural Rhythms in Captivating Porcelain Vessels

January 30, 2023

Kate Mothes

A porcelain vessel photographed on a black background.

“Gilded Wind Vessel,” porcelain, 12 x 12 x 10 inches. All images © Jennifer McCurdy, shared with permission. Photos by Gary Mirando

The natural patterns of turning tides and changing seasons illuminate the delicate porcelain sculptures of Martha’s Vineyard-based artist Jennifer McCurdy. Responding to the shifts of island life—and “island time”—she draws inspiration from the surrounding environment and organic forms, like  “the cracked conch shell on the beach revealing its perfect spiral to the milkweed pod burst in the field, its brilliant airborne seeds streaming into the sunlight,” she explains in a statement. Her wheel-thrown porcelain vessels capture both subtle and dramatic shifts in light and shadow, mimicking waves, gales, smoke, and flames.

In 2020, when, like many, McCurdy was obliged to slow down and approach her studio practice under the constraints of canceled exhibitions, she seized the opportunity to re-evaluate her own work, telling Colossal that “once my panic receded, I settled into the mindset of the sabbatical, exploring new forms and testing different carving patterns in the porcelain for optimal movement in the firing.” She broadened the questions she asked of her process and the influence it took from nature, such as how the rocks and shoreline met the surrounding sea or whether she could generate the energy of constant movement in her sculptures. “I think the direction of my work did not change, but it gained clarity from focusing on the space between and around each form,” she says.

McCurdy uses a translucent porcelain that she first shapes on a potter’s wheel and then manipulates, slices, or molds to create a sense of motion, often with a swirling or spiraling effect. A series of “pattern studies” highlight dynamic cuts that extend and slump with the assistance of gravity when fired upside-down in a kiln heated to cone ten—or 2,350 degrees Fahrenheit. With the addition of gold or platinum leaf on the interior, which is applied by the artist’s long-time collaborator, former sign painter, and husband Tom McCurdy, the vessels reflect light and evoke warmth, as if formed around a heat source

McCurdy’s work will be on display in Florida at Art Wynwood and The Palm Beach Show with Steidel Fine Art from February 16 to 19. In May, she will also exhibit in the Smithsonian Craft + Design Show in Washington, D.C. Find more on her website and Instagram.

 

A porcelain vessel photographed on a black background.

“Gilded Chrysalis Vessel,” porcelain and gold leaf, 16 x 11 x 10 inches

A porcelain vessel photographed on a black background.

“Ripple Vessel,” porcelain, 13 x 10 x 10 inches

A porcelain vessel photographed on a black background.

“Smoke Vessel Family,” porcelain, between 4 and 21 inches tall

A porcelain vessel photographed on a black background.

“Gilded Halo Vessel,” porcelain, 24-karat gold leaf, and palladium leaf, 16 x 11 x 10 inches

A porcelain vessel photographed on a black background.

“Sunrise Vessel,” porcelain, 18 x 10 x 10 inches

A porcelain vessel photographed on a black background.

“Pair of Gilded Fire Vessels,” porcelain and gold leaf, 16 x 10 x 10 inches

A porcelain vessel photographed on a gray background.

Overview of “Gilded Lotus Nest,” porcelain, gold leaf, and platinum leaf, 8 x 16 x 16 inches

A porcelain vessel photographed on a black background.

“Gilded Lotus Nest,” porcelain, gold leaf, and platinum leaf, 8 x 16 x 16 inches

 

 



Art Illustration

Folk Art and Bold Geometric Shapes Flourish in Lisa Congdon’s Joyful Paintings

January 26, 2023

Grace Ebert

A photo of a vibrant folk art painting with ships and animals on a white gallery wall

All images © Lisa Congdon, courtesy of Chefas Projects, shared with permission

A sense of lively optimism permeates Lisa Congdon’s work. Through vibrant palettes of yellows, pinks, and blues, the Portland-based artist pairs bold geometries with folk art symbols, rendering abstract compositions or minimal scenes that capture a joyful outlook. Her acrylic paintings are on view now at Chefas Projects as part of The Opposite of Sorrow, a solo show that considers what it means to be positive.  “One cannot know joy without also knowing darkness,” Congdon says, sharing that her practice originated as an antidote to depression. “It was through art that I began to see and feel the beauty of life and to feel happy for the first time.”

The Opposite of Sorrow is on view through February 11. If you’re in Portland, Congdon runs a shop with originals, prints, and other goods. Otherwise, find more of her paintings and illustrations on her site and Instagram.

 

A photo of a vibrant folk art painting with birds and flowers on a white gallery wall

A photo of two paintings of minimal figures with flowers

A photo of a vibrant folk art painting with birds and flowers on a white gallery wall

A photo of two vibrant geometric paintings with flowers and shapes

A photo of a vibrant painting with clouds and colorful lines on a white gallery wall

A photo of a vibrant folk art painting with flowers and an eye on a white gallery wall

 

 



Art

Memories Emerge in Stephen Wong Chun Hei’s Paintings as Vivid Saturated Landscapes

January 25, 2023

Grace Ebert

A painting of a natural landscape in vivid saturated colors

“MacLehose Trail Section 4” (2022), acrylic on canvas, 150 x 200 centimeters. Photos by Bonhams HK, all images © Stephen Wong Chun Hei

Vivid palettes of blues, greens, and pink saturate Stephen Wong Chun Hei’s landscapes, which translate memories of travel into dream-like paintings in acrylic. The artist considers each work a vessel for the impressions of places he’s traveled or hiked. “I never try to capture just one moment in a landscape. The colours are ever-changing through time,” Hei tells Colossal. “This is the reason that the colours in my paintings are not realistic or naturalistic in appearance. I would like them to be more subjective.”

Many of the paintings originate in a sketchbook, which the artist brings along on his adventures and back to his Hong Kong-based studio. “When I work on canvas, I also got the feeling of travel with every brushstroke and colour used,” he shares.

Hei is currently preparing for a show in May at Tang Contemporary, and one of his works will also be on view with Gallery Exit for Art Basel Hong Kong. He’s currently traveling to multiple countries to explore their landscapes, which he hasn’t been able to do since before the COVID-19 pandemic. Follow those excursions on his site and Instagram. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

A painting of a natural landscape in vivid saturated colors

“MacLehose Trail Section 2” (2022), acrylic on canvas, 150 x 200 centimeters

A painting of a natural landscape in vivid saturated colors

“MacLehose Trail Section 5” (2022), acrylic on canvas, 150 x 150 centimeters

A painting of a natural landscape in vivid saturated colors

A painting of a natural landscape in vivid saturated colors

“MacLehose Trail Section 6” (2022), acrylic on canvas, 150 x 120 centimeters

A painting of a natural landscape in vivid saturated colors

“MacLehose Trail Uphill at Section 5” (2022), acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30 centimeters

 

 



Art

A New Monograph Follows the Evolution of Wangechi Mutu’s Mythologizing Practice

January 24, 2023

Grace Ebert

A photo of a woman-mermaid sculpture in a gallery

“Water Woman” (2017), bronze, 91 x 165 x 178 centimeters. All images © Wangechi Mutu, courtesy of Phaidon, shared with permission

A new monograph published by Phaidon delves into the multi-faceted work of Kenyan-American artist Wangechi Mutu (previously). The first of its kind, the volume packs hundreds of artworks, glimpses into Mutu’s Nairobi studio, and her own writings within its 160 pages. Known for mythologizing, the artist often incorporates found, organic materials like soil, feathers, bone, and ephemera into her collages and sculptures. The works broadly explore gender, sexuality, politics, and the natural world through expressive, hybrid figures imbued with otherworldly lore.

To coincide with the book’s release, Phaidon has a limited-edition print available featuring Mutu’s dreamlike “WaterSpirit washed Pelican.” Explore an archive of her works on Instagram.

 

A photo of a woman-mermaid sculpture in trees

“Water Woman” (2017), bronze, 91 x 165 x 178 centimeters. Installation view at The Contemporary Austin – Laguna Gloria, 2017

A photo of an open book spread

A collaged work of two figures

“You Are My Sunshine” (2015), collage painting on paper, 61 x 91 centimeters

A photo of an open book spread

A photo of a woman-creature sculpture

“Mamaray” (2020), bronze, 165 x 366 x 488 centimeters

A photo of three figurative sculptures with colorful hair

From left: “Mirror Faced I” (2020), soil, charcoal, paper pulp, wood glue, emulsion paint, gourd, brass beads, mirror, teak base, hair, wrought iron stand, 174 x 37 x 34 centimeters, bust 58 x 28 x 31 centimeters; “Mirror Faced II” (2020), soil, charcoal, paper pulp, wood glue, emulsion paint, desiccated baobab fruit, brass beads, mirror, teak base, hair, wrought iron stand, 168 x 31 x 36 centimeters, bust 50 x 25 x 28 centimeters; “Mirror Faced III” (2020), Soil, charcoal, paper pulp, wood glue, emulsion paint, brass beads, rose quartz, mirror, teak base, hair, wrought iron stand, 176 x 43 x 37 centimeters, bust 60 x 27 x 33 centimeters

A photo of the artist and a sculpture

Wangechi Mutu, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, 2021

A photo of a book cover

 

 

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