A songbird soloist accompanied by choruses of toads, turtles, and hedgehogs are conducted by a squirrel in Maestro, a delightful new animated short by Illogic. Set in a moonlit forest, the wild symphony performs a war anthem from Vincenzo Bellini’s opera Norma. In an interview with Vimeo, the team explained that they sought to balance imaginativeness with believability within the confines of their realistic universe. Illogic is based in Montpellier, France, where they recently opened an animation studio called Bloom Pictures. Take a behind-the-scenes look at how Maestro was made in the video below, and see more from Illogic, including the Oscar-nominated Garden Party, on Vimeo.
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The sweet and the sinister commingle in Rebecca Stevenson‘s wax sculptures that depict humans and animals bursting open to reveal flowers and fruits. Classical busts and seemingly deceased animals are surrounded by ribboning cascades of plants. To create her sculptures, Stevenson starts by modeling the animal or figure in clay, and then moulds and casts the model with layered resin and wax. Stevenson then cuts open and reworks the sculpture, a process both surgical and artistic, as she decides which elements to dis- or re-figure, and which to leave alone. “These actions supplant or corrupt the object’s original meaning…a desire both to reveal and to mask the inside of things derives from my student experiences of drawing from cadavers and dissections,” the artist explains.
“Creating ‘wounds’ or openings in the work undoes the sense of a clear boundary between object and viewer,” says Stevenson. “The viewer may be invited to gaze deep inside the object, a ‘non-sculptural’, intimate experience of looking.” This experience subverts the traditional narrative of sculpture as a vessel for heroism, crafted from the hard media of stone and metal and meant to be admired from afar.
Stevenson tells Colossal that she began working in wax as a student, fascinated by its translucence and its ability to closely mimic other materials and textures. “Over time, its material properties of fluidity and mutability, as well as its historical associations, have become intrinsically linked to the meaning of my work,” she says.
“Wax is traditionally associated with the creation of doubles or stand-ins for the human body,” the artist explains. “Whether used to create votive objects, funeral effigies or life size simulacra of contemporary celebrities, wax is so explicitly visceral that it not simply represents flesh: it is transubstantial.” Stevenson cites the anatomical wax figures of La Specola, Florence’s zoology and natural history museum, as a particular influence on her early practice.
As her work progressed, Stevenson also began to draw inspiration from Baroque sculpture and Dutch still life painting. “While remaining fascinated by the interplay between interior and surface, I also began to explore the visual experience and the meaning of excess, of sensual overload, of ornament and detail as a means to attract and repel the viewer.” The initially alluring decorations become somewhat sickly upon closer examination, sparking reflections on transformation, generation and decay.
If you’re in Berlin, catch her work through October 31, 2019 as part of a group exhibition at the Wunderkammer Olbricht. The artist also has work on display at Kunstmuseum Villa Zanders as part of the 50 Years of the Kraft Collection, and in So Beautiful it Hurts at James Freeman Gallery in London. Explore more of Stevenson’s sculptures on her website and Instagram.
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Winged elephants, multi-eared rabbits, and carrot-legged babies ready to be dipped in hummus: recent sculptures by Debra Broz (previously) continue to expand her collection of odd mashups formed from found ceramics. By carefully sourcing, separating, and re-fusing juxtaposed components of otherwise unremarkable ceramic knick-knacks, Broz forms entirely new creatures that are equal parts bizarre and humorous. The Los Angeles-based artist tells Colossal that she finds inspiration in absurdity:
I think a lot of us are frequently telling ourselves that the world is this very serious place, and that our lives as adults require careful consideration—and to a degree that’s true—but we also need to take time to realize that the world is also wildly full of nonsense, and that aspects of our lives are incredibly ridiculous. And I think it’s completely fair for us to recognize that, and laugh about it.
Broz also sees surprise as an important element in her work. Creating the opportunity for viewers’ expectations to be upended and their planned narrative disrupted makes her small sculptures uniquely memorable. She tells Colossal that acquiring a prank wooden outhouse built by her grandfather (not life-size) that explodes when a quarter is dropped in helped her articulate the importance of the unexpected in her practice. “For me, that object—the exploding outhouse—is weirdly inspirational in the way it takes something unassuming and makes it into something that surprises or bewilders people,” Broz explains. “It’s funny how that theme is so prevalent in my sculpture, but I had never thought about it in the context of my grandpa’s exploding outhouse until recently.”
In addition to adding to her ceramic-centric body of work, Broz has been experimenting recently with stuffed animals and balloons. The malleable materials make it easier to stretch her imagination and try out new ideas. She’s also been working in multiples, creating different variations on the same animal: the two white rabbits shown here were a part of that series. “It was a really interesting process to see how many ideas I could think of to alter that one particular form. That also got me interested in the idea of how much you can change a form before it stops being what it was and becomes something else,” Broz explains.
On November 16, 2019, you can see some of Broz’s iterative rabbits at the Track 16 Gallery Anniversary Show, and will have a piece up for auction in a fundraiser supporting Monte Vista Projects, an artist space and curatorial collective of which Broz is a part. Follow along with the artist’s latest creative endeavors on Instagram.
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Using a combination of pencil, crayon, and gouache, Bristol-based illustrator Rosanna Tasker creates evocative illustrations that convey lively energy and fantastical nostalgia. In Tasker’s illustrations, female figures are often the protagonists, with animals and plants playing supporting roles. Strong geometric shapes, concentrated mark-making, and carefully considered negative space in tightly controlled color palettes form dynamic imagery.
Tasker, who is 25, studied illustration at University of the West of England, Bristol. In an interview with Irina & Silviu, the artist explained that she found her artistic voice by “unlearning everything I was told at school and college about how I should draw. That stuff is important too, and I do believe in learning the rules before breaking them, but to find your own unique style you definitely have to return to your uninhibited childhood roots and rediscover what comes naturally to you,” she shared.
Tasker works full-time as an illustrator, with a roster of editorial and publishing clients including The New York Times, The Guardian, and Tangent Books. Her prints and greeting cards are available from Etsy and Toi Art Gallery, where a selection of works are in the gallery’s Unstoppable Women show. Take a peek inside Tasker’s studio in this interview, and follow along with her latest projects on Instagram.
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Solitary female figures command the canvas in oil paintings by artist Miho Hirano. The Japanese artist creates detailed portraits of her human protagonists, who avoid direct eye contact with the viewer. Hirano’s women stare off into the distance as fish and butterflies swarm and flower blossoms and vines seem to grow from the figures’ hair. In a statement on Gallery Sumire’s website, Hirano describes the mission of her work as “to express the changing situation of life’s ugliness and maturity.”
Hirano draws inspiration from her upbringing, noting that her mother cared for plants and animals, and those motifs have continued in her work even though she does not currently reside in a nature-filled place. She also explained to WOW x WOW that she has long found painting a resonant medium to express her thoughts, explore ideas, and escape reality.
Hirano graduated from Musashino Art University’s department of Oil Painting and currently resides in Chiba, Japan. The artist had her first solo show in the U.S. at Corey Helford Gallery in 2017. Hirano’s newest body of work, Recollection, is on view in a two-person show at Corey Helford in Los Angeles from November 2 to December 9, 2019. See more of Hirano’s ethereal paintings on Instagram.
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Stunning Shots Take Top Prizes in the 2019 Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year Contest
This week, London’s Natural History Museum announced the winners of its 55th Wildlife Photographer of the Year showcase. More than 48,000 amateur and professional photographers from 100 countries shared their best shots and a jury of nine experts selected the winners. Some of this year’s jurors included Kathy Moran, Senior Editor for Natural History at National Geographic Magazine; nature photographer Theo Bosboom; Melissa Dale, Acting Director of Photography at The Nature Conservancy; conservation photojournalist Paul Hilton; and writer and editor Rosamund ‘Roz’ Kidman Cox OBE, who chaired the committee.
The nineteen winners were selected across categories including animal behavior of mammals, birds, and invertebrates, along with animal portraits, plants and fungi, earth’s environment, and special categories for youth and emerging photographers. We’ve included 10 of our favorites here, including a golden eagle about to land by Audun Rikardsen, a life-or-death duel between a marmot and a fox by Yongqing Bao, and a hummingbird hawkmoth caught mid-sip by Thomas Easterbrook. To see more of the top finishers, check out our September coverage of this year’s finalists, and see the full show at the Natural History Museum in London now through May 31, 2020. Submissions for the 2020 competition open on October 21, 2019.
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Charming new illustrations by TRÜF Creative (previously) combine a conservative color palette with wildly imaginative interpretations of animals. An ongoing passion project by the Santa Monica-based design studio, the series’s latest chapter is titled “Animals Strike Curious Poses,” (which is a reference to Prince, for fans who are wondering). The TRÜF team describes the project as “our minimalistic and strange interpretation of the animal kingdom that only exists in our heads.” If you’d like to make one of their geometric birds, whales, or fish your own, find prints in their online store.
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Editor's Picks: Photography
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.