Scent, memory, and emotion are inextricably bound together in the human brain, making it possible that a single sniff evokes feelings of delight, comfort, and calm associated with an experience. Pallavi Padukone uses this inherent connection in Reminiscent, a series of 11 fiber-based works infused with naturally derived fragrances, all of which the textile artist and designer equates with her hometown of Bangalore, India.
Part aromatherapy and part nostalgic stimulus, the fiber pieces hang from the ceiling as delicate, sheer curtains that are accessible from all sides. Padukone weaves and embroiders using thread that’s covered in a wax-and-resin substance she developed through trial-and-error. “The testing phase for the coated yarn involved sampling weave structures and embroidery techniques that were best suited for the yarn. I kept a record of swatches as a test of their durability and how long the scent and color last when exposed to heat and light,” she says.
Infused with clove, vetiver, jasmine, citronella, sandalwood, or rose, the cotton yarns also are hand-dyed naturally, pulling out the golden color of turmeric and rusty tones from cutch and beets to pair with a corresponding aroma. “It’s ironic that I happened to choose scent during a time when wearing masks is the new normal,” Padukone tells Colossal. “While the beauty of olfactory art is that it has to be experienced in person, I use textiles, patterning, and color as a way to visually represent my depiction of the fragrance’s personality.” A yellow and green patchwork, for example, emits the grassy, lemon-like aroma of citronella, while sweet, musky sandalwood is paired with thick, abstract coils of yarn on sepia-toned silk.
Although the scents are embedded in many of the works, tiny accessible pockets cover the undyed organza in “Jasmine II,” ensuring Padukone can replace the flower buds. She’s currently exploring other methods that allow replenishment considering most fragrances last between one and three months. The transience of sent, though, is part of its appeal. She explains:
I find beauty in impermanence and how each textile’s color, structure, fragrance changes over time. In this collection, I have incorporated handspun recycled sari silk and cotton for my weaves and embroider on organza silk. I am drawn to the sheerness of the fabric, the way it interacts with light to visually evoke the ephemeral experience of fragrance.
Share this story
2021 marks ten years since the launch of Saatchi Art’s The Other Art Fair in London. From immersive art dining experiences to faux art vandalism performances, the fairs have showcased art in a number of different creative forms across the U.S., U.K., and Australia, as well as kickstarted the careers of thousands of talented artists.
Created by Ryan Stanier, the concept of The Other Art Fair is simple: to give artists the opportunity to grow their businesses and sell their works independently to buyers from all backgrounds and to further democratize the art-buying process by connecting buyers directly with artists.
In celebration of and to shine a light on the artist community that is the beating heart of the fair, the team asked 400 of their featured artists what drew them to their career path as part of a new “Why am I an artist” video series. Here we spotlight five:
- Watson Mere is an artist of Haitian descent based in Brooklyn. Using Microsoft Paint as his primary medium, Mere finds inspiration from the love, struggles, happiness, and pain of the people of the African diaspora. “Art puts passion and purpose within my life. It’s something I’m extremely grateful for,” he says.
- Mexico City-based artist Yanin Ruibal creates vibrant and lush illustrations and paintings that capture the unique Mexican understanding of vivid color. “I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else… Being an artist is a huge part of my identity,” she says.
- Austria-born, Alabama-based Barbara Kuebel is inspired by the dynamics of crowd and group behaviors. Full of action and felt movement, she wants to tell stories of emotions without words. “Art gave me that certain type of stability throughout my entire life,” she says
- London-based mixed-media artist Kay Gasei explores symbolism, myths, and narratives with characters set in timeless spaces. Hedonism and pleasure are strong themes running through his recent works, as well as current socio-political turmoil. “I use art as a tool for understanding other fields of my interests,” he says.
- Serena Singh’s vibrant work embodies color and texture inspired by different cultures and her own background as the daughter of an Indian father and a Swiss mother. Often containing powerful ﬁgures reminiscent of Greek gods and portraits of strong women, her latest work explores the topics of identity and self-discovery. “I can’t help it. Painting gives me peace of mind,” she says.
Watch the full “Why am I an artist” video and find out how you can join this global artist community and exhibit at theotherartfair.com. It’s free to apply, and applications are now open for 2021 fall fairs, including in Chicago, which runs from September 30 to October 3 at Revel Fulton Market.
Share this story
Enchanting Scenes Combine Multiple Precisely Carved Woodblocks into Full-Color Prints by Tugboat Printshop
Valerie Lueth, who’s behind the Pittsburgh-based Tugboat Printshop (previously), continues to cultivate dreamy scenarios painstakingly printed with intricately carved woodblocks. Her recent creations include a distant truss bridge peeking through vegetation, a whimsically intertwined pair of trees—now in full color, this piece began as a black-line woodcut commissioned for an edition of Jean-Claude Grumberg’s The Most Precious of Cargoes—and a web of vines dripping with rain and jewels evoking a dreamcatcher.
After sketching with pencil on plywood blocks, Lueth hand-carves the meticulous designs with knives and gouging tools and often cuts multiple panels with slight variances for each print. In addition to building depth of color, Lueth’s sequential process yields greater highlights, shadows, and overall detail to the completed work. The lush, leafy scene comprising “Blue Bridge,” for example, is the product of four blocks coated in black, blue, green, and purple oil-based inks, which are pressed in succession to create the richly layered landscape.
Prints are available on Esty or from Tugboat’s site, and you can see more of Lueth’s process and a larger collection of her works, including a glimpse at a new floral relief in black-and-white, on Instagram.
Share this story
Can you tame the Lizard Infinity Puzzle? New from the brilliant designers at Nervous System is a vibrant gradient jigsaw made of 216 reptile pieces that tile in thousands of combinations. Because each individual lizard varies in shape and color and only pairs with specific mates, assembling even the wonkiest reptile shape is an impressive feat.
Try your hand at piecing together the cunning critter by picking up one of the puzzles from the Colossal Shop. We also have a few of Nervous System’s other infinity designs in stock, including a star-studded galaxy, lunar landscape, and sprawling world map. If you’re a Colossal Member, everything is 10% off. Just use the discount code in your account.
Share this story
Bulging hunks of glaze and smooth, speckled drips flow from Brian Rochefort’s chunky ceramic sculptures. The Los Angeles-based artist continues his signature abstract style in a newer series of paint cans and oozing vessels, many of which resemble the crusty remnants of volcanic eruptions. Rochefort builds each piece from a combination of clay, glaze, and glass fragments through multiple rounds of firing in the kiln. The final assemblages are literally overflowing with speckles, gloopy lumps, and delicately cracked patches all layered in a kaleidoscope of color and texture.
In a note to Colossal, the artist describes his process as multi-faceted with a diverse array of influences that range from visual to intellectual and historical. The most important, though, are from travel and experiences outside of his studio or gallery spaces. “My work is generated from numerous trips to remote areas in Latin America and Africa such as the Bolivian Amazon, Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia. I think of myself as an authentic abstract artist and place importance behind the criticality of experiencing these environments in person,” he says.
Share this story
Spread across the 1,700 acres at The Morton Arboretum just outside of Chicago are five enormous figures by Cape Town-based artist Daniel Popper (previously). Constructed of wood, glass-reinforced concrete, fiberglass, and steel, the looming sculptures stand out against the verdant landscape and pay homage to nature’s endurance and diversity, particularly the 220,000 individual specimens growing on the grounds. Human+Nature is Popper’s largest exhibition to date.
The female figures, four of which are shown here, vary in pose, material, and overall aesthetic. “Hallow,” which stands at the arboretum’s entrance, is a poetic sculpture evocative of the fern-canopied installation the artist unveiled late last year in Fort Lauderdale. “Sentient,” on the other hand, surrounds a central bust with a surreal assemblage of facial features depicted on angled hunks of wood. Each is constructed at a monumental scale, standing up to 26 feet tall and weighing multiple metric tons.
Human+Nature opens May 28 at the arboretum and will remain on display for at least one year. Find more of Popper’s massive artworks in addition to glimpses into his process on Instagram.
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Science
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.