“ME: An Exhibition of Contemporary Self-Portraiture” asks 22 contemporary artists to explore who they are and how they present themselves. Curated by Sugarlift and Juxtapoz contributing editor and Colossal contributor Sasha Bogojev, the exhibition presents each artists’ understanding of themselves and of the history of self-portraiture. Cesar Piette’s abstract blue face resembles dripping paint partially masked by glasses, while Prudence Flint portrays a woman napping on a pink bed next to a guitar. Many of the artists created their first self-portraits in years, if not ever, specifically for the show, which includes work from Aleah Chapin, Cesar Piette, and Christian Rex van Minnen, among others.
In a conversation with Colossal, Bogojov answered a few questions about contemporary culture and self-awareness, how they influence self-portraiture, and the ways current conceptions of identity show up in ME.
Colossal: How have perceptions of the self changed since the creation of such a selfie-obsessed culture?
Bogojev: Oh, that is a tough one and I’m certain there are papers if not books written on that subject. But I do feel that a selfie-obsessed culture created more self-awareness on different levels. For this show, in particular, I feel like lots of artists wanted to fight against the popular idea of “self” or what we know now as selfie, by presenting themselves imperfect, flawed, caricatured, even grotesque in some cases.
Colossal: Could you talk a little more about the intersections between psyche, mirror, and others that you see in contemporary self-portraiture?
Bogojev: Modern-day takes are rarely realistic renderings of one’s mirror image and are often including elements that suggest qualities beyond that. Whether playing with light, formatting, color scheme, or simply going away from realism completely, they often focus on the author’s character, emotions, and such. I like to believe that this show encompasses that really well with the variety of approaches and visual languages presented.
Colossal: So many conversations about identity center ideas of multiplicity, of people not having a singular self. How do you see that relating to the face and to self-portraits?
Bogojev: Exactly! I think this is what most artists nowadays are fully aware of and that is why they struggle to find the “right way” to create self-portraits or they create multiple versions of it. Again, I feel it’s the superficiality of selfie-culture that made them extra wary of how they present themselves without jeopardizing their integrity and practice. With their artwork being the most direct and honest way of communicating with the world, it is not easy for an artist to pick one image, or even concept, as a single representation of oneself. I think this is why the artists in ME built their self-portraits by layering different visuals (Van Minnen), assembling a variety of elements (Shiqing), creating an atmosphere they connect to (Flint, Toscani, Chapin), captured an intimate moment that describes them best (Erheriene-Essi, O’Brien).
ME is on view from January 16 to 30 at High Line Nine in New York. If you’re in the city on January 21, stop by for “The Self-Portrait: Antiquity to #Selfie,” a talk by art and culture critic and author Carlo McCormick, historian and Sotheby’s VP of Old Masters Painting Calvine Harvey, and contemporary painter Jenny Morgan.
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Artist Daniel Arsham (previously) re-envisions some of the most well-recognized sculptures of classical antiquity in Paris, 3020, his recent series of replications marred with lightly pigmented crystals. Both “Vénus de Milo” and Michelangelo’s “Moses” find their heads, arms, and torsos eroded in patches by blue calcite.
The New York-based artist spent a year inside the Réunion des Musées Nationaux – Grand Palais, a 200-year-old French studio known for reproducing iconic European works, where he gathered molds and scans of busts, sculptures, and friezes from the collections of the Musée du Louvre in Paris, Acropolis Museum in Athens, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, and the San Pietro in Vincoli. Arsham cast each recreated work in hydrostone—similar to wax casting—in order to produce the nearly exact replicas. The artist then chiseled the pieces, adding in his signature crystallization with volcanic ash, blue calcite, selenite, quartz, and rose quartz.
Paris, 3020 portrays Arsham’s exploration of the relationship between time and historically significant artifacts. “Making use of classical and ancient objects, this new body of work experiments with the timelessness of certain symbols,” said a release from Perrotin, where the exhibition will be on view from January 11 to March 21, 2020. Each sculpture is surrounded by series of graphite drawings depicting Ashram’s process in order order to “compress time, at once referencing the past, informing the present, and reaching towards a crystallized future.” Find more of Arsham’s time-warping projects on Instagram.
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Iranian mixed-media artist Golsa Golchini combines impasto and digital painting techniques to create miniature worlds of water and ice. Textured mounds of acrylic paint form three-dimensional waves and slopes. Digital paintings of tiny figures are added to the abstract landscapes via ink transfers, with additional details applied by hand. The paintings are simple by design because that is what the artist says the world needs right now.
Shadows added beneath the flat transfers, as well as the natural shadows on the raised paint, give the illusion that the swimmers and skiers physically are entering Golchini’s isolated environments. The limited color palette and similar character poses give the body of work a fun, unifying theme. “My artworks are my way of communicating with the observer about the things of everyday life that we all have in common,” Golchini said in a statement. “Although the artworks are simple, they are usually expressing challenging situations.”
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Laughable High-jinks of Cartoon Rivals Tom and Jerry Are Recreated Perfectly in Sculptures by Taku Inoue
Japanese artist Taku Inoue isn’t letting anyone forget the most outlandish moments of Tom and Jerry’s notorious cartoon feud. Through his sculptures showing Tom Cat flattened from sliding underneath a door and Jerry Mouse molded into the shape of a cheese slice, the artist recreates the iconic animated pair’s most painful and hilarious accidents. In the American cartoon series that premiered in 1940, Tom most often finds himself in unfortunate mishaps as he tries and regularly fails to capture Jerry. Many of Inoue’s pieces center the show’s slapstick humor, featuring Tom’s contorted body as he’s stuffed into a water glass or duplicated to resemble bowling pins. Follow all of the artists’s comical sculptures depicting the forever rivals on Twitter and Instagram. (via deMilked)
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Iranian painter Salman Khoshroo uses a palette knife and sizable layers of paint to create the emotive portraits in his recent series, “White on White.” In contrast to his previous work that relied on swirling reds, blues, and yellows, Khoshroo’s latest impasto pieces are monochromatic. Starting with a hunk of paint, the artist then forms the portrait’s outline before shaping the rest of the face that lacks distinct physical features. Viewers can follow his creative process step-by-step by looking at the edges of each stroke.
Khoshroo tells Ignant that he hoped “to capture a human spark with minimal intervention,” and create portraits of “people that make you feel something, people you didn’t even know you were looking for.” Stay up to date with the artist’s lively work on Instagram and check out his available pieces on his site. You also might enjoy taking a peek at Joseph Lee’s colorful portraits.
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In “Spatial Bodies: Hong Kong & Shenzhen,” the self-described “mysterious nature/tech cult” AUJIK imagines a Hong Kong and Shenzhen with architecture that shifts and moves seemingly on its own just like live organisms. Using AI and AR technologies, artist and AUJIK founder Stefan Larsson created the short film that depicts a futuristic cityscape with contracting and expanding buildings that are far from resembling typical rectangular skyscrapers. AUJIK’s creature-like structures often have an element similar to limbs or tails, in addition to facades with rounded edges that mimic moving bodies. It is a sequel to a previous project that centered Osaka.
The group says the concept for this project is based on open-source software, which theoretically would allow users to shape the architecture based on their needs and in a collaborative, public manner. Spatial Bodies was commissioned by the Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture and premiered in December 2019. The film features music by Japanese electronic artist Daisuke Tanabe. More of AUJIK’s futuristic conceptions can be found on Behance and Vimeo. (via designboom)
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Calligrapher and fiber artist Han Cao repurposes old photographs by stitching brightly colored flowers and landscapes directly onto each black and white image. Based in Palm Springs, the artist works with found photographs that are 5×7 inches or smaller, attaching multi-colored threads that she hopes alter the old narrative and give new meaning and life to each piece. Often, Cao covers people’s faces, adds tiny, repetitive details to their clothes, or blurs a landscape with her stitches.
Cao writes to Colossal that she purchases most photographs from the flea markets and antique shops she visits while she’s traveling.
There’s thousands upon thousands of vintage photos stuffed inside dusty boxes at these markets—long lost and forgotten by their families, so my work is an attempt to bring them back to life and renew their stories. I’m particularly drawn to images that offer a deeper story—photographs with haunting faces and figures, simple landscapes that can be magically transformed with added dimension and color.
The artist says her plans include creating larger-scale works that use “alternative photograph reproduction methods where I will have more space to explore texture and create extended narratives for these images.” You can follow her mixed-media projects on Instagram and purchase her work on her site.
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