A 35-meter tower looming over Gien, France, is the site of a new mural by Taquen that celebrates the inherent life-giving properties of water. Set against a deep blue backdrop, the massive artwork titled “Eau de Loire” features a flock of ospreys, herons, and common terns, which often are spotted near the banks of the Loire River that runs through the area, as they fly around the tank in an endless loop. “Water has always been synonymous with life,” the Madrid-based artist says, noting that the source is as vital to the city’s inhabitants as it is the region’s wildlife.
Broadly focused on change, Taquen’s works explore the complex relationships species have with each other and the larger environment, a recurring theme that manifests in this recent project through the birds’ perpetual motion. “For me, movement is a basic form of knowledge, to get to know myself and my environment and learn to respect it,” he says. “Birds are great symbols of freedom, animals that migrate thousands of kilometers each year with no one who can stop them.”
Taquen just completed a piece in Vigo, Galicia and is headed to Camprovin, La Rioja, Spain next. In September, he’ll be at Mostar Street Art Festival in Bosnia and Eternelles Crapules at Briançon, France, before heading to a residency in Saint Palais and later to Bayona. Follow along his travels on Instagram. (via Street Art News)
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At the heart of Matt Small’s practice is the idea that “there’s always potential within everything.” The British artist gravitates toward an overarching theme of disregard in both subject matter and material, choosing oxidized hunks of iron, bits of patinaed copper, and crinkled aluminum strips that have been relegated to the trash to construct his metallic portraits.
Expressive and emotionally charged, the corroded mosaics link rampant overconsumption and widespread tendencies to throw away what’s deemed obsolete or undesirable to the ways adolescents are marginalized and subsequently not seen as viable members of society. “Because of the social backgrounds they come from, young people find themselves overlooked, disregarded, and left uninvested in,” the artist says. “Marrying the discarded item and painting a portrait of a young person on it or utilizing the material to construct a mosaic face, I hope that the viewer sees that everybody and everything has a right to be viewed as valuable and of worth. It’s just up to us to see that.”
In a conversation with Colossal, Small references Marcel Duchamp’s urinal and the way that readymade sculpture upended long-standing notions of worth as a foundational concept he draws on his own practice. By turning debris and seemingly useless materials into works of significance, he hopes to prompt questions about the arbitrary values assigned to objects and people alike, explaining:
The scrap metal has worth because of what I did with it, not because I say it is of worth. The rusted tin can becomes a tone in the face. The shiny metal brings out a highlight on the forehead. All these worthless items have been incorporated into something that someone may now appreciate, and the potential of this scrap item can now be realized.
Small, who lives in his hometown of Camden, currently has work on view as part of Vanguard, which is considering the role of Bristol-area artists who’ve had an outsized impact on British street art since the 1980s. The extensive exhibition, which includes memorabilia and dozens of originals works, is open at M Shed through October 31. If you’re in London, watch for a large-scale mural portrait of the young British entrepreneur Jamal Edwards that Small is working on in Acton, and follow the artist on Instagram to stay up to date with his latest projects.
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In his brilliantly hued murals, Brazilian artist Thiago Mazza recreates the dense foliage and thick, fleshy petals he encounters in tropical forests and other verdant areas. Prickly thistles, striped leaves, and seemingly endless varieties of flowers spring up in wild masses that crawl down sidewalks and engulf entire buildings.
In a note to Colossal, Mazza shares that all of his large-scale projects start with a carefully arranged photograph of the flora he finds during his forest excursions. “When I photograph the compositions with real plants, I do under a strong natural light so I can capture the light and the shadow, the contrast that I search in my compositions,” he says. The resulting works bring the otherwise remote plants to urban areas, transforming stark facades into lush gardens celebrating nature’s diversity.
Based in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil, Mazza is currently painting an installation in the middle of a field as part of a residency at Campidarte in Sardinia, which rounds out a months-long expedition around Europe where he completed murals in Sintra, Lisbon, and Civitacampomarano. Keep an eye on his Instagram for his upcoming works, which are slated for Foz do Iguaçu, Tbilsi, and Madrid this fall. (via Street Art News)
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On a 34-day expedition around the Phoenix Islands Archipelago, marine scientists from the Schmidt Ocean Institute captured exceptionally rare footage of the elusive glass octopus. With a speckled, iridescent membrane, the aquatic animal is almost entirely transparent—only its optic nerve, eyes, and digestive tract are visible to humans—and sightings like these are so infrequent that scientists previously resorted to studying the species only after pulling it from the stomachs of its predators.
Along with successfully capturing this footage, the research team also identified new marine organisms and recorded the sought-after whale shark swimming through the Pacific Ocean during the expedition. For similar underwater reveals, check out a blanket octopus unveiling her membrane.
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An exhibition opening this weekend at the Art Institute of Chicago plunges into the vast archives of renowned Japanese ukiyo-e artists Katsushika Hokusai (previously) and Utagawa Hiroshige (previously). Fantastic Landscapes brings together the vivid scenes created by the prolific printmakers through the first half of the 19th Century with a particular focus on their innovative uses of color. Peach skies, grassy bluffs in chartreuse, and their extensive applications of Prussian blue—Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” famously layers the chemical pigment—mark a broader shift in the artform. Today, the pair are largely attributed with sparking a worldwide fascination with Japanese prints.
Explore some of the woodblock works on view as part of Fantastic Landscapes below, and see them in person between July 17 and October 11. You also might enjoy this monumental book compiling Hokusai’s Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji and Hiroshige’s delightful shadow puppets.
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In his series Base Quantities, London-based photographer Greg White elucidates the abstract and fundamental concepts of physics. His minimal, graphic images document all seven components (i.e. mass, electric current, temperature, length, luminous intensity, amount of substance, and time) of the arbitrarily defined system used in measuring physical properties. Vividly composed, the visuals include a radiant electric current flowing in a coil, the tonal spectrum of thermodynamic temperature, and a trio of illuminated beams conveying length.
White tells Colossal that the series was born out of a desire to experiment with photographic techniques in a playful, accurate way and is inspired by Berenice Abbot, who dedicated much of her practice to presenting complex scientific principles to the public in a simple and accessible manner. “Researching within the realms of science it quickly became apparent that everything has rules and quantities and so I chose to visualize the quantities. Rules might be next,” he shares. Each representation is derived entirely in-camera, a process he describes:
I wanted the images to only show something through a technique, so for instance without the motion of an object it would appear completely different or without the strobe again it would be different and not be representational of the concept. A lot of the techniques involved (the) motion of an object captured over a long exposure. Some additionally have a strobe effect during the long exposure, others use multiple exposures while shifting the lens for instance, or simply incorporating simple props/fx to distort or reveal a notion.
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Editor's Picks: Art
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