Art

Figures Experience Constraint and Confinement in Bronze Sculptures by Khaled DAWWA

April 12, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Sans titre” (2020), bronze, 35 x 14 x 13 centimeters. All images © Khaled DAWWA, shared with permission

Whether folded into a box, bound by cords, or fragmented and stacked, the nondescript figures that Paris-based artist Khaled DAWWA sculpts experience some form of confinement. Their bodies are contorted into cages or squeezed into each other’s arms, and each looks down or away, a position that makes them appear to lack the power and agency to be free. Cast in dense blocks, the introspective sculptures reflect the artist’s preference for terracotta and bronze. “All that we received from the old history is by these two materials,” he says.

Most of the pieces shown here are part of the Compressed series, which were born out of the artist’s own experiences. He tells Colossal:

This project was inspired by my having lived in different places during a short period: detention and compulsory military service in Damascus for four months, then Lebanon for one year and finally arriving to France. Upon arrival in France, at first, I felt liberated from it all. Then I realized that the French live their lives in a complex system that turns them into “compressed people” and that we had this in common. This is the first series in which I look at people beyond Syria.

If you’re in Paris, you can see Khaled DAWWA’s artwork at numerous spots around the city: his piece titled “Les Passants” will be installed in a public spot in Clamart in May 2021, and he’s also participating in Beautify Paris in June of this year. Currently, he is part of Répare, Reprise at the International City of Arts, a group show that’s up through July 10, and is in the process of making a film about the artworks on display. Explore more of the artist’s compacted sculptures on Instagram.

 

“Compressé” (2016), bronze, 13 x 11 x 8 centimeters

“Liberté” (2019), terracotta, 35 x 16 x 13 centimeters

“Siége” (2019), bronze, 35 x 14 x 13 centimeters

Left: “Les mille et une nuit” (2016), terracotta and wood, 20 x 30 centimeters. Right: “Et nous resterons amis pour toujours …,” bronze, 110 x 59 x 36 centimeters

“Une cellule individuelle” (2016), terracotta and wood, 15 x 15 x 5 centimeters

 

 



Art History Photography

150,000 Hearts Representing Lives Lost to Coronavirus in the UK Line the COVID Memorial Wall in London

April 12, 2021

Grace Ebert

All photos © Henri Calderon for Colossal

Nearly 500 meters of small, red hearts will soon cover an expanse of concrete facing the River Thames in London. Now dubbed the National COVID Memorial Wall, the poignant display publicly commemorates the 150,000 lives lost to the coronavirus pandemic in the United Kingdom so far. Each heart represents one victim, with short messages of grief, love, and remembrance scribed by loved ones in their centers. It takes about ten minutes to walk by the entirety of the project, which serves as a staggering reminder of the virus’s devastation.

Coordinated by COVID-19 Bereaved Families For Justice, the two-meter-high wall is situated between the Westminster and Lambeth bridges, opposite the Houses of Parliament. According to The Guardian, Matt Fowler helms the ongoing project, which he began a few weeks ago by painting 15,000 hearts on the facade. His father died from the virus last April. “When you see all the hearts and think what each one represents, it’s absolutely frightening,” Fowler says.

Organizers still are raising money for supplies to complete all 150,000 hearts—although official government statistics currently reflect 149,000 deaths, which is the largest loss in Europe—that volunteers will continue to paint to account for all victims. Talks are also in the works about preserving the memorial to ensure that it’s a permanent fixture in London.

This past weekend, photographer Henri Calderon captured images for Colossal that document the memorial’s progress, which you can see below.

 

 

 



Design

Massive Curved Vaults Mimicking Traditional Kilns House a Jingdezhen Museum Dedicated to Porcelain Production

April 9, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Studio Zhu-Pei

Jingdezhen, Jiangxi, China is widely recognized as the porcelain capital of the world with a more than 2,000-year history of producing prized ceramics. As an homage to that tradition, architects from Studio Zhu-Pei constructed an open-air structure with towering arches mimicking traditional kilns. The expansive brick vaults now house the northern city’s Imperial Kiln Museum, which sits adjacent to the production sites used during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

To preserve and demarcate the existing ruins on the grounds, Studio Zhu-Pei configured the new building around the remnants, like courtyards and monuments embedded in the ground, in a way that brings together history and contemporary culture in a single space. Each of the curved structures, which is comprised of both recycled and new bricks, differs in volume and length, allowing light to stream in at varying angles throughout the day. The museum’s entrance is on the ground level so that the “experience of people entering it is the same as the past artisans,” the architects say in a statement.

Find more of Studio Zhu-Pei’s designs on its site and Instagram. (via Yellow Trace)

 

 

 



Art

Cosmic Nature: A Spectacular Polka Dot-Filled Exhibition by Yayoi Kusama Sprawls Across New York Botanical Garden

April 9, 2021

Grace Ebert

Now inhabiting the verdant, 250-acre campus of the New York Botanical Garden are oversized flowers sprouting in seasonal arrangements, a glowing pumpkin-packed infinity room, and a sea of 1,400 reflective spheres by Yayoi Kusama (previously). Teeming with squiggly sculptures, site-specific installations, and smaller pieces covered in the Japanese artist’s iconic polka dots, Cosmic Nature is an expansive exhibition celebrating decades of Kusama’s bold, joyful body of work.

Four new pieces are debuting during the immersive show, like the tentacled creature that marks the entrance to the grounds. Others include a 16-foot-tall dancing pumpkin, an obliteration greenhouse, and a new infinity room that reflects the lush greenery of the outdoor environment. Coupled with a variety of smaller acrylic paintings, fabric sculptures, and drawings on paper—the earliest of which dates back to 1945— the most recent works establish a broad visual trajectory of Kusama’s fixation on the natural world and never-ending penchant for polka dots.

While many of the playful blooms connect to larger themes about the human relationship to the environment, some pieces are distinctly personal, including “Flower Obsession,” which invites visitors into a space that mimics the artists’ own greenhouse. “Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos…when we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environment,” the prolific artist notably said.

Cosmic Nature opens this weekend at the Bronx venue and runs through October 31. (via Hyperallergic)

 

“I Want to Fly to the Universe” (2020), the New York Botanical Garden, urethane paint on aluminum, 157 3/8 x 169 3/8 x 140 1/8 inches. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Ota Fine Arts and David Zwirner. All images via New York Botanical Garden

“Dancing Pumpkin” (2020), view at the New York Botanical Garden, urethane paint on bronze, 196 7/8 x 116 7/8 x 117 ¼ inches. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Ota Fine Arts and David Zwirner

“Narcissus Garden” (1966/2021), view at The New York Botanical Garden, 1,400 stainless steel spheres, installation dimensions variable. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Ota Fine Arts

“Ascension of Polka Dots on the Trees” (2002/2021), view at the New York Botanical Garden, printed polyester fabric, bungees, and aluminum staples installed on existing trees, site-specific installation, dimensions variable. Collection of the artist

“My Soul Blooms Forever” (2019), view at the New York Botanical Garden, urethane paint on stainless steel, installation dimensions variable. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

“Pumpkins Screaming About Love Beyond Infinity” (2017), mirrors, acrylic, glass, LEDs, and wood panels, 59 x 59 x 83 ½ inches. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Ota Fine Arts

“Hymn of Life—Tulips” (2007), mixed media, installation dimensions variable, courtesy of the City of Beverly Hills

“Life” (2015), view at the New York Botanical Garden, fiberglass-reinforced plastic, tiles, and resin, installation dimensions variable. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Ota Fine Arts and David Zwirner

 

 



Animation

Run Forever: A Figure Undergoes Metamorphosis as It Trudges Through Myriad Environments

April 9, 2021

Christopher Jobson

The team at Universal Everything is back with its latest video artwork, “Run Forever,” that stars a now-familiar nondescript figure as it gradually changes from material to material. While previous projects in the series have focused on structure and texture, this new short was created in collaboration with Hyundai Motorstudio as a metaphor for the group’s efforts toward sustainable design and green energy. “Run Forever” seems to turn its focus toward light, both as an artistic medium and as an energy source, as the figure suddenly blooms into a mass of plants. You can follow more of Universal Everything’s digital projects on Instagram.

 

 

 



Design History

A Sleek Deck of Cards by Studio LO Honors 12 Black Figures Who've Revolutionized History

April 8, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Studio LO, shared with permission

Kansas City, Missouri-based designer Kearra Johnson of Studio LO describes her standard 54-card deck as anything but traditional: it’s revolutionary. On one side of each playing card is a raised fist, a symbol that’s synonymous with the fight against oppression around the globe. But on the K, Q, and J of all four suits are portraits of ground-breaking Black icons who have profoundly impacted history, from Michelle Obama and Thurgood Marshall to Malcolm X and Rosa Parks. “I wanted to go with the powerful figures we’ve all learned about growing up,” Johnson tells Colossal. “The ones who drove change, and the ones who we are familiar with, but also ones who aren’t as traditional as others. Those features range from Oprah Winfrey to the man with the dream, MLK Jr.”

The concept for the Revolution Card Deck was born out of a class project while the now 22-year-old designer was a student at the University of Missouri. She created a few physical decks after a professor asked to purchase some as gifts, a request that spurred Johnson to print more. Since the project was featured on both CNN and NPR, she’s sold hundreds of decks, which will remain a fixture of Studio LO’s inventory and are now available in the Colossal Shop. You also can follow Johnson’s activism-focused designs on Instagram.