After picking up a copy of Japanese artist Sanzo Wada’s A Dictionary of Color Combinations a few years ago, Charles Young decided to divert the course of his otherwise monochromatic body of work. The Scottish artist, who is currently based in Edinburgh, has accumulated an extensive archive of tiny buildings, transportation, and public architecture all created in white paper. The stark structures number well into the thousands and together, sprawl into massive miniature metropolises. They’re now joined by similarly sized creations in full color.
Published around 1930, Wada’s reference manual groups pigments into complementary combinations of two, three, or four, and Young uses these pairings as the foundation for his latest models of office buildings, churches, factories, and stations. He finished all of the four-color studies back in 2021 and has since moved on to those with three, a set he plans to wrap up in the new year. “The whole project is like a journal or sketchbook, and not much planning goes into each piece before I start work,” he says. “The project is really about the process and the massing of individual parts rather than each individual building.”
After formulating a general idea of the intended piece, Young prints each hue onto a single sheet of watercolor paper. “I’ll choose one of the colours to be the main feature, used in the walls, and others as accents or for the roofs. It’s a kind of intuitive process where there just seems to be a right way to do it,” he shares. Once cut and assembled into their final three-dimensional shapes, the works are either left as standalone structures or animated in whimsical, stop-motion movements, like a train spinning on its platform or an excavator dipping its bucket.
As mentioned, Young’s three-color studies are ongoing, and you can follow his progress on those on Instagram.
Share this story
A wooly sweater returns to its material roots in the latest creatures to spring from Helga Stentzel’s clothesline menagerie. The London-based artist captivated audiences last year with her whimsically strung farm animals that appeared to put old shirts and jackets out to pasture. Now, Stentzel’s collection of characters includes a dinosaur of bleached white undergarments, a sweatpants camel, and the aforementioned sweater sheep. Positioned against expansive views of deserts and mountainous areas, the stylish illusions take a playful approach to laundry day.
Alongside these creatures, Stentzel has been creating 3D works, some of which are on view from November 18, 2022, to March 1, 2023, at CXC Art Museum in Seoul. Pick up a print in her shop, and follow her on Instagram to keep an eye on the additions to what the artist terms “household surrealism.”
Share this story
Throughout the Jim Crow era, Black people were often barred entry to recreation spaces like public swimming pools and amusement parks. As these sites of leisure and joy were officially desegregated following the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case, those who continued to champion separation imposed new restrictions to control access to such areas. This included charging high fees to even enter the parks rather than smaller prices per ride, a practice that’s still widely in use today and has proliferated to other cultural arenas like museums.
Artist EJ Hill considers the racialized legacy of such entertainment through Brake Run Helix, the Los Angeles-based artist’s largest solo show to date and first at an institution. On view through January 2024 at the Massachusettes Museum of Contemporary Art, the exhibition revolves around the roller coaster as a way to excavate the history of identity, recreation, and pleasure. Through sculptures, installations, paintings, and smaller works, Hill considers the rides “public monuments to the possibility of attaining joy,” a feeling that is necessary for creating an equitable society.
The center of Brake Run Helix—this title references the mechanisms that slow or stop the cars and the 360-degree turn within the track—is a 260-foot bubblegum pink roller coaster. “Brava!” allows for a single rider, who emerges on a bright blue cart through a velvet curtain before plummeting a few feet and riding the undulating architecture through the Building 5 gallery.
Hill sees these rides as a sort of solo performance by museum visitors, who are propelled by gravity around the course before halting on a wooden stage in front of viewers. “I’m no longer interested in being the one to perform for a ravenous audience who wants to either celebrate me or consume me,” the artist told The New York Times in reference to earlier projects that involved him standing or lying atop an artwork for long periods. “I’m making this elaborate stage for other people to perform while I collect myself and recharge.”
Hill’s manner of inhabiting the world as a Black, queer person is also reflected in the pastel pink that runs throughout the exhibition, considering the pigment is traditionally associated with the feminine. “I feel like I understand bodily threat in a very real way. Every day when I leave my place, the threat to my bodily existence is palpable,” he said in that same interview, sharing that the interactive installation is a way “to bring people as much as I can to understanding what that feels like, but in a space of joy, of being a human in the world.”
Share this story
The diverse world of plants and flowers is a source of fascination for ceramic artist Avital Avital, who crafts delicately detailed vessels from porcelain. In her studio in Ramat Gan, Israel, the artist sculpts slender petals, fragile spikes, and orbs dabbed with confectionary-like dots. She is interested in the relationship between functionality and decoration, drawing on the rich history of clay as a medium and mingling technical skill with conceptual ideas.
Inspired by nature’s boundless variety of forms and colors, her choice of material complements her subject matter: “I am interested in balancing between the delicacy of the porcelain and its strength and to use its potential transparency by sculpting colorful petals that are skin-like when directed to a source of light.”
You can find more of Avital’s work on Instagram.
Share this story
In April of this year, Swedish architect and artist Ulf Mejergren and Finnish artist Antti Laitinen gathered fallen branches from a forested area outside of Nykvarn, a small city southwest of Stockholm. The duo used those wooden scraps to weave a structure around a tree, building a cozy refuge among the thawing spring landscape.
That construction was the first part of an ongoing project titled One Tree Four Seasons, in which the artists gather natural materials from the surrounding area to create site-specific land art. Summer saw the inclusion of hay from a nearby field that insulated the walls and floor and created seating inside the enclosure, while the lush treetop served as roofing. In fall, those same leaves wrapped the facade in an upward swell and piled into a colorful path that led into the structure’s round opening.
Mejergren tells Colossal that the fourth and final iteration is slated for completion in December, although that, of course, depends on the weather. Keep an eye on his and Laitinen’s Instagrams for updates. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
Share this story
Following a series of fantastic steampunk busts, Tomàs Barceló continues to sculpt figures that infuse classical foundations with otherworldly, mechanical visions. The Cala Millor, Mallorca-based artist shapes faces and limbs from fragmented shards of ceramic and plaster, which are often cloaked with symbols, patterns, and filigree rendered in shellac, acrylics, and chalk and iron paints. Barceló is broadly concerned with establishing a unique presence in his works, which tend to confront the viewer with a steadfast stare or calm, spiritual aura, and each sculpture appears as a relic from a futuristic past.
The artist generously shares a timelapse of the process behind the polychromatic tomb-like work “Naar Keizar” shown below, along with other behind-the-scenes glimpses on YouTube. Find a larger archive of his sculptures on his site and Instagram.
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.