Colossal

We're Back! The Colossal Shop Is Restocked

March 3, 2021

Colossal

We just added a few fun goods to the newly reopened Colossal Shop, including these (reversible!) face masks featuring some of art history’s most iconic works. Head to the shop for pins, magnets, and pop-up greeting cards that’ll find a permanent spot on your fridge. Each purchase directly supports Colossal and independent arts publishing, and remember, Colossal Members get 10 percent off nearly everything: just log in to your account and grab the discount code before check out.

 

 

 



History

Archaeologists Uncover a Lavish Marble Floor from Ancient Rome in Southern France

March 3, 2021

Grace Ebert

Image © Bertrand Houix, Inrap . All images courtesy of Inrap, shared with permission

Developers of an apartment building in Nîmes, France, had to halt construction last month when archaeologists discovered an opulent tiled floor that once blanketed a Roman villa, or domu. Dating back to 1-2 A.D., the checkered design is comprised of marble from multiple empirical provinces that’s inlaid into the foundation, a style called opus sectile that was prevalent during ancient times. Spanning multiple feet, the multi-colored pattern is thought to occupy what once was a reception area.

During their dig, archaeologists also uncovered plaster sheets that had caved in on the impeccably preserved tiles featuring classic frescoes on red and black panels. Lines score the back of the decorative pieces, which would have helped them adhere to the earthen walls. Other findings indicate that this domu, along with another nearby, were particularly lavish and featured a private bath, a concrete floor speckled with decorative gemstones, and a large central fountain made from Carrara white marble. One room even had remains of hypocaust heating, an inventive system that sent hot air underneath the flooring to warm the home. (via The History Blog)

 

Image © Charlotte Gleize, Inrap

Sheets of decorative plaster covering the tile floor. Image © Pascal Druelle, Inrap

Image © Pascal Druelle, Inrap

Two rooms of the domu, with evidence of the heating system on the left. Image © Charlotte Gleize, Inrap

Marble gemstones decorate the concrete floor. Image © Bertrand Houix, Inrap

 

 



Art Photography

Dozens of Mushroom Characters Populate a Family Tree in Whimsically Painted Photographs by Jana Paleckova

March 3, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Jana Paleckova, shared with permission

An affinity for fleshy spores runs in the long line of ancestors laid out in a family tree by Jana Paleckova. The Prague-based artist layers antique photographs with playful oil paintings of spindly enoki or ribbed chanterelle, creating hybrid characters brimming with fungi-fueled personalities. “There are many types of mushrooms, all of which have different characteristics. Just like people,” she says.

In a note to Colossal, Paleckova says she was prompted to start the whimsical project when she was flipping through her family’s atlas of fungi. “Czech people are known mushroom hunters. It’s quite common for families to go out looking for mushrooms together,” she says. This atlas later served as a reference point for the 90 small portraits, which consist of the dozens of vintage photographs that the artist sourced from flea markets, that comprise the sprouted kin.

Paleckova’s body of work features a variety of surreal combinations, like eggheads, human-spider hybrids, and balloons shaped like children, all of which you can find on her site and Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Plants Embedded in Wax Sprout from Fragile Hands in Memory-Infused Works by Valerie Hammond

March 2, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Valerie Hammond, shared with permission

In Valerie Hammond’s series of wax drawings, protection is two-fold: the artist (previously) encases dried flowers and ferns in a thin layer of wax, preserving their fragile tissues long after they’ve been plucked from the ground. In outlining a pair of hands, she also secures a memory, or rather, “the essence of a gesture and the fleeting moment in which it was made.”

Centered on limbs lying flat on Japanese paper, the ongoing series dates back to the 1990s, when Hammond made the first tracing “partly in response to the death of a dear friend, whose beautiful hands I often found myself remembering.” She continued by working with family and friends, mainly women and children, to delineate their wrists, palms, and fingers. Today, the series features dozens of works that are comprised of either hands tethered to the dried botanics, which sprout outward in wispy tendrils, or others overlayed with thread and glass beads.

Although the delicate pieces began as a simple trace, Hammond shares that she soon began to overlay the original drawing with pressed florals, creating encaustic assemblages that “echoed the body’s bones, veins, and circulatory systems.” She continued to experiment with the series by introducing various techniques, including printmaking, Xerox transfers, and finally Photoshop inversions, that distorted the original rendering and shifted her practice. Hammond explains:

The works suddenly inhabited a space I had been searching for, straddling the indefinable boundary between presence and absence, material and immaterial, consciousness and the unconscious. For me, they became emblematic not only of the people whose hands I had traced but of my own evolving artistic process—testimony to the passing of time and the quiet dissolution of memory.

Hammond’s work recently was included in a group show at Leila Heller Gallery. Her practice spans multiple mediums including collage, drawing, and sculpture, all of which you can explore on her site and Instagram.

 

 

 



Photography

A Dazzling Series of Photos Captures the Soft Glow of Firefly Mating Season in Japan

March 2, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Daniel Kordan, shared with permission

An enchanting series by Russian photographer Daniel Kordan (previously) frames a sea of flickering fireflies as they populate a dense bamboo forest. Captured in pockets and trails of light, the insects radiate across the thick vegetation on Japan’s Kyushu Island, which Kordan visited back in 2019 during their mating season.

The beetles search for partners from about May to July, with the males first producing the flashes of light and the females generating responses. Generally swarmed together, the exchanges have a twinkling effect that emits a continuous soft glow across the area. “Fireflies are very sensitive. They need clean water nearby, warm humid air (but not rain), and no lights,” Kordan says. “Not a single photo can show how beautiful it is—shimmering and blinking forest full of little stars.”

Kordan shares technical details about his equipment and timing for the magical shoot on Instagram, and if you’re interested in adding the radiant images to your collection, pick up a print in his shop. (via designboom)

 

 

 



Art

Poetic Sculptures by Valérie Hadida Cast Composed Women with Coiffed Hair in Bronze

March 2, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Seaside,” bronze, 42 x 23 x 15 centimeters. All images © Valérie Hadida, courtesy of Galry, shared with permission

For Valérie Hadida, the deep, protective partnerships fostered between women provide the foundation for her practice. The French artist casts bronze sculptures that are poetic and nuanced, depicting female figures wearing contemplative and composed expressions. “Coming from a large family where women reign supreme and play a key role, they have established a bond of serenity, trust, and complicity with me,” she tells Colossal. “The heroines of my works are always women because I am deeply convinced that it is they who will change and save the world.”

Hadida begins with a sketch before building the figures that eventually are covered with green patina. In recent years, the size of the sculptures has grown from smaller works into those that stand more than a meter high, an expansion that brings the scale of the works closer to a human body. “I prefer to work on the curves, the flesh more than the muscles. These seem to me disabling because they are hard and violent,” she says. Most of the sculptures depict teenage years or middle age, a time that’s marked with transition and change.

Generally seated, the figures’ poses and gestures appear temporary as if the woman has just shifted or is precariously settled on a stone. Although the bodies are still, their curls often swell upward to imply movement and sometimes are embedded with smaller silhouettes like in “Nocturna.” Their locks “typify each woman in her origins, in her age… The hair moves like the branches of a tree,” the artist says, noting that the plumed strands both accentuate and stabilize the figures’ supple curves, elongated fingers, and overall shape. “These women are marked by life. I do not represent perfect or idealized figures. These silhouettes are on the contrary very marked, very cut out. But their imperfections highlight their femininity,” she says.

Hadida is represented by Galry in Paris, and you can find a larger collection of her elegantly sculpted works on Artsy.

 

“La grande zénitude” (2021), bronze, 39 2/5 × 31 1/2 × 13 4/5 inches

Detail of “Nocturna” (2017), bronze, 25 1/5 × 17 7/10 × 7 9/10 inches

Left: “La rêveuse” (2018), bronze, 32 7/10 × 8 3/10 × 10 1/5 inches. Right: “Nouvel Amour” (2020), bronze, 29 1/2 × 11 4/5 × 11 4/5 inches

Detail of “Trio de femmes” (2018), bronze, 21 3/10 × 15 × 7 9/10 inches

“Trio de femmes” (2018), bronze, 21 3/10 × 15 × 7 9/10 inches

“Jardin Secret” (2021), bronze

“Nocturna” (2017), bronze, 25 1/5 × 17 7/10 × 7 9/10 inches

Detail of “Eternel Amour” (2018), bronze, 75 x 30 x 30 centimeters

Detail of “Eternel Amour” (2018), bronze, 75 x 30 x 30 centimeters