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Art

Flora and Fauna Intertwine with Strands of Hair in Miho Hirano's Dreamy Portraits

September 15, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Heart Beating” (2020), oil on canvas, 33.3 x 33.3 centimeters. All images courtesy of Gallery Sumire, shared with permission

Wrapped within the piecey curls surrounding Miho Hirano’s subjects are twigs, vine fragments, and clusters of pink blossoms. Using a cool color palette tinged with blues, the Japanese artist (previously) paints ethereal, introspective portraits of women enveloped in movement whether through small fish swimming around their torsos or branches growing from under their hair. Hirano tells Colossal that she tends to center her oil-based works around finding harmony and the inevitability of change, particularly in relation to life’s fragile nature.

Many of the pieces shown here are on view at Beinart Gallery in Melbourne, and Hirano is currently preparing for a solo show in London next year. You can see more of her dreamy paintings on Instagram.

 

“Blooming Relaxedly” (2021), oil on canvas, 41 x 32 centimeters

“Rest” (2021), oil on canvas, 41 x 32 centimeters

“My Wishes” (2021), oil on canvas, 33.3 x 33.3 centimeters

“Fragrance” (2021), oil on canvas, 53 x 45.5 centimeters

“Spring Breeze Blowing Through” (2020), oil on canvas, 33.4 x 33.4 centimeters

 

 



Photography Science

A Spectacularly Colorful Shot of an Oak Leaf Tops Nikon's 2021 Photomicrography Competition

September 13, 2021

Grace Ebert

By Jason Kirk, trichome (white appendages) and stomata (purple pores) on a southern live oak leaf. All images coutesy of Nikon Small World, shared with permission

Unless they were under a microscope, it would be difficult to see the shimmery barbs of a louse claw or cracks running through a single piece of table salt. The winning entries of the 47th annual Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition unveil these otherwise imperceptible features, showing the unique textures, colors, and shapes in stunning detail. We’ve chosen some of our favorite images below—these include the crystal-like webbing of a slime mold captured by Allison Pollack (previously), the first-prize winning glimpse of an oak leaf by Jason Kirk, and the kaleidoscopic head of a tick revealed by doctors Tong Zhang and Paul Stoodley—and you can find more from this year’s competition on the contest’s site and Instagram.

 

By Frank Reiser, rear leg, claw, and respiratory trachea of a louse (Haematopinus suis)

By Alison Pollack, slime mold (Arcyria pomiformis)

By Saulius Gugis, table salt crystal

By Martin Kaae Kristiansen, filamentous strands of Nostoc cyanobacteria captured inside a gelatinous matrix

By Sébastien Malo, vein and scales on a butterfly wing (Morpho didius)

By Jan van IJken, water flea (Daphnia) carrying embryos and peritrichs

By Dr. Tong Zhang and Dr. Paul Stoodley, head of a tick

By Oliver Dum, the proboscis of a housefly (Musca domestica)

 

 



Art Food

Mammoth Straw Creatures Populate Japanese Farmland in the Annual Wara Art Festival

September 13, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Wara Art Festival

If you visit Japan’s Niigata Prefecture during the region’s annual rice harvest, you’re likely to find enormous tarantulas, eagles, and dinosaur-like creatures stalking the bucolic landscape. The towering sculptures are part of the Wara Art Festival, a summertime event that displays massive animals and mythical creations fashioned from the crop’s leftover straw.

Traditionally, the byproduct is used as livestock feed, for compost that revitalizes the soil, and to craft household goods like zori sandals, although farmers increasingly have found themselves with a surplus as agricultural technology and culture changes. This shift prompted a partnership between the people of the former Iwamuro Village, which is now Nishikan Ward, and Tokyo’s Musashino Art University (known colloquially as Musabi) in 2006. At the time, Department of Science of Design professor Shingo Miyajima suggested that the unused straw be used in a collaborative art project between the university and local farmers, resulting in the first Wara Art Festival in 2008.

Today, students design the oversized characters—you can see previous year’s creations in this gallery—and artisans from Nishikan Ward construct the wooden armature and thatched bodies. The monumental figures stand as high as 30 feet, looming over the green landscape in a playful celebration of local culture.

Although the festival paused in 2020 because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s back for its 13th edition at Uwasekigata Park. This year’s motley cast includes insects, animals, and even legendary monsters like the Amabie, all on view through October 31. (via Hyperallergic)

 

 

 



Art

Innumerable Metal Leaves and Flowers Cloak Intricately Sculpted Animals by Taiichiro Yoshida

September 3, 2021

Grace Ebert

“The Dog in the Night Fog”

Japanese artist Taiichiro Yoshida (previously) continues his surveys into the possibilities of metalsmithing with a new series of elaborately layered sculptures. Spending between two and six months on each work, Yoshida meticulously molds copper, bronze, silver, and other materials by hand, creating countless metallic pieces with intricately impressed textures and edgings. Once wrapped around an armature of a dog, chick, or stuffed teddy bear, the fragile components ripple across the form, or as is the case with “The Dog in the Night Fog,” they appear as dozens of butterflies poised for flight. Explore a larger collection of Yoshida’s wrought sculptures on his site.

 

“Shell.” All images © Taiichiro Yoshida, shared with permission

Detail of “The Dog in the Night Fog”

“Red chick no. 6”

“Vessel”

“Calico”

“Doppel”

“Mottled rabbit”

 

 



Art

Bizarre Wide-Eyed Hybrids Reflect Imagined Landscapes in Naoto Hattori's Miniature Paintings

September 3, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Green Walk.” All images © Naoto Hattori, shared with permission

At once adorable and unnervingly surreal, the fantastical creatures rendered by Naoto Hattori (previously) seamlessly meld the myriad textures and colors found in nature into unusual hybrids. They’re often fluffy, equipped with horns in surprising spots, and bear eyes so inordinately large and glassy that they reflect full-scale landscapes. Whether a furry sea horse-like character or a large bulbous head floating mid-air, the figures are musings on Hattori’s experiences. “When I (am) lucid dreaming, I imagine myself as a floating hybrid creature or something in harmony with nature,” he tells Colossal.

Primarily working in acrylic, the Japanese artist keeps his paintings small in scale, opting for miniature boards that generally don’t stretch more than six inches. He welcomes the technical challenge of such tiny spaces, although the size constraint originally developed when he was diagnosed with severe cervical spondylosis about 10 years ago. “When I tried to draw with my elbows and shoulders, my fingertips became numb and I couldn’t control the brush,” he says. “If it’s about the size of a notebook, I can draw without moving my neck or shoulders… So currently, I’m painting a smaller size that allows me to draw freely with the movements of my wrists and fingertips.”

Hattori, who lives in his hometown of Yokohama, Japan, will be part of The Blab Show opening at Santa Monica’s CoproGallery on September 11. You can glimpse his process on Instagram, and shop originals and prints on his site.

 

“Regeneration 3”

Left: “Floating.” Right: “Regeneration 2”

“Mind Pollinator”

“Lucid Dreamer”

Left: “Rooster.” Right: “Sing for Joy”

“Baby Fungus”

“Inner Sound”

 

 



Photography

Origins: Striking Photos Document the Sights of Contemporary Conservation Efforts

September 1, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Ice Waterfall” by Paul Nicklen. All images courtesy of Hilton Asmus Contemporary, shared with permission

Spanning the icy downpours of the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard to the intimate portraits of the people of Papua New Guinea, the profound photographs that comprise an exhibition at Hilton Asmus Contemporary in Chicago are a perceptive consideration of the issues at the center of today’s conservation efforts. Titled Origins, the show brings together the work of artists and marine biologists Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen, who pair their creative practices with their work at the nonprofit Sea Legacy.

Co-founded by the duo in 2014, the organization is dedicated to preserving the oceans, using “their inspiring imagery to convert apathy into action and to drive powerful conservation wins across the globe,” a statement reads. A testament to the landscapes and ecologies worth preserving, the stunning photos document global crises and the tender, joyful moments of people around the world, and their subjects range from a Lisu woman in China’s Yunnan Province carrying her pet duck to the crumbling icebergs of Antarctica.

Origins is up through October 2 both virtually and in-person at the Bridgeport gallery. You can find more from Mittermeier and Nicklen on Instagram.

 

“Bubblegum” by Cristina Mittermeier

“Lady with the Goose II” by Cristina Mittermeier

“Megaptera” by Paul Nicklen

“Adrift” by Cristina Mittermeier

“Frozen Highway” by Paul Nicklen

“Alone Together” by Cristina Mittermeier

“Leap Of Faith” by Cristina Mittermeier