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Art

Paper Sculptures by Roberto Benavidez Reenvision Common Birds and Fantastical Creatures as Metallic Piñatas

April 21, 2022

Grace Ebert

‘”Javelina Girl (Illumianted Piñata No. 14).” All images © Roberto Benavidez, shared with permission

At once fantastically imaginative and embedded in tradition, the shimmering piñatas that comprise Roberto Benavidez’s body of work expand the boundaries of the conventionally festive object. The Los Angeles-based artist (previously) cuts skinny, triangular strips of material that he attaches to paper mache forms in the shape of birds, hybrid animals, and otherworldly creatures. His metallic works often address questions of identity—the artist speaks about this further in a Colossal interview—particularly considerations of gender and sexuality through the lens of his layered forms.

Benavidez’s gynandromorphs series, for example, reenvisions the phenomenon in common bird species by splicing male and female bodies together into a mirrored sculpture—three of these pieces will be on view through June 14 at The Loft at Liz’s in Los Angeles. He’s also continuing his renditions of Hieronymous Bosch characters and illuminated manuscripts, the latter of which includes the polka-dotted wildcat and portly, tusked “Javelina Girl” shown above. While drawing on centuries-old works, narratives, and myths in these series, each piñata is the artist’s reinterpretation of the classic iconography and themes into an inventive, contemporary form.

In the coming months, a few of Benavidez’s birds will be on view at Heron Arts, and the group exhibition devoted to piñatas that opened last fall at Craft in America will be traveling to the Mingei International Museum in San Diego. Follow news about upcoming opportunities to see his sculptures in person on Instagram.

 

“Illuminated Piñata No. 19”

“Scarlet Glossy Ibis (Halfbreed No. 1)”

“Spotted Wildcat Piñata (Illuminated Piñata No. 17)”

“Pug on Pig”

“Gynandromorph Phainopepla”

“Oyster or Snail? (Birdr No. 1)”

Detail of ‘”Javelina Girl (Illuminated Piñata No. 14)”

“California Quail”

 

 



Art Illustration Science

Clusters of Marine Life Rendered by Zoe Keller Illuminate the Incredible Biodiversity of the Ocean

April 15, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Octopodes.” All images © Zoe Keller, shared with permission

From her studio in South Portland, Maine, Zoe Keller (previously) continues to work at the intersection of art and science with her ongoing Ocean Biodiversity Print Series. The digital illustrations are evidence of Keller’s meticulous technique and attention to anatomical detail, and each piece highlights a vast array of marine life, with dozens of species of octopuses, jellyfish, and other sea creatures congregating in dense crowds—she also pairs every work with a key to easily identify each specimen.

Made in collaboration with PangeaSeed Foundation, a nonprofit working toward ocean conservation through art, the series is the result of in-depth research, Keller says, and she often references organizations like the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and the Schmidt Ocean Institute to focus on the species most at risk. She explains:

Something that is definitely challenging about tackling marine subjects is that we simply do not understand ocean life as intimately as life on land. With this series, I take as much information as I can, and combine it with a bit of artistic license, to—hopefully!—inspire wonder for all of the incredible species living beneath Earth’s waves.

Keller’s most recent addition to the series is “Deep Sea,” and there are still a few of those prints available in the PangeaSeed shop. The next release is slated for fall, so keep an eye on her Instagram for updates. You can also see the artist’s work in person this June at Antler Gallery in Portland, Oregon, and in September at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming, and Nahcotta Gallery in Portsmouth, New York.

 

“Medusozoa”

Detail of “Deep Sea”

“Syngnathidae”

Detail of “Medusozoa”

Detail of “Syngnathidae”

“Deep Sea”

Detail of “Octopodes”

 

 



Craft

A Collection of Paper Sculptures Studies the Wild Diversity of 88 Different Bat Species

April 12, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Guardabosques, shared with permission

Evoking the biological illustrations of Ernst Haeckel (previously) and photographic portraits of Merlin Tuttle, an ongoing project explores the incredible diversity of bats through geometric paper sculptures. Juan Nicolás Elizalde, who is half of the creative team behind the Buenos Aires-based studio Guardabosques (previously), began the series in 2019 after discovering variances in the animals’ ear shapes, fur patterns, and other distinctive characteristics. He’s since crafted 88 different species with scored and folded paper and is currently in the process of photographing each piece, from the wide-eyed flying fox to the speckled Cuban flower bat.

Titled Amiguitos de la Oscuridad, the collection has a dedicated Instagram account, where Elizalde is in the process of sharing every portrait and additional information about the species. “The project is called Little Friends of Darkness because they are nocturnal animals that I want to be friends with,” he writes, “but also because they helped me to spend the nights of the last few strange and dark years, with a little anxiety about what was happening.”

 

 

 



Craft

Sinuous Tentacles and Intricate Spider Legs Sprout from Glass Symphony’s Miniature Creatures

March 24, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Glass Symphony, shared with permission

Kyiv-based artist Nikita Drachuk (previously) is behind a delicate menagerie of translucent octopuses, striped spiders, and mottled slugs exquisitely crafted in glass. Elaborately shaped with curling tentacles and segmented legs, the miniature creatures are the product of lampworking, which involves melting the colorful material with a lamp or torch. Drachuk works under the moniker Glass Symphony and has hundreds of pieces available on Etsy.

 

 

 



Craft

Vibrant Paper Strips Swirl into Energetic Circles of Scales and Feathers by Lisa Lloyd

March 15, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Abel.” All images © Lisa Lloyd, shared with permission

Streaming from a beak or bodily mass, the thin paper strips that compose a new series of sculptures by Lisa Lloyd (previously) are infused with movement. The U.K.-based artist shapes the individual pieces into wide curves, mixing a variety of materials and hues from flat graphic colors to shimmering metallic. Abstract and energetic, the resulting sculptures contain a chaotic blend of emotion within circles of feathers and protective scales.

Lloyd shares that the pieces respond to personal and political strife, which manifests in the lively nature of each creature. She explains about the antagonistic avians in “Ritual”:

When I looked at birds being aggressive with each other, I noticed that a lot of the pictures I was looking at were actually of birds mating, or fighting for territory to mate. I was fascinated by how similar they are in nature. Aggression and fighting, passion and pain. I think our mating rituals are not that different.

Prints of Lloyd’s creations are available in her shop, and she documents much of her process on Instagram.

 

“Ritual”

“Heron”

“Ukraine”

“Pangolin”

Detail of “Pangolin”

 

 



Art

Black Ink and Watercolor Bleed into Hazy Creatures in Endre Penovác’s Paintings

March 11, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Endre Penovác

Serbian artist Endre Penovác (previously) wrangles the bleeds of black ink and watercolor in his shadowy renderings of domestic and wild animals. Sometimes delineating a talon or ear with thin markings, Penovác primarily allows the medium to run across the paper, transforming a housecat or chicken into a dreamy, phantom-like character. Many of the works frame the central animal with negative space and utilize the soft, hazy edges to evoke fur and feathers. Originals and prints of his paintings are available from Saatchi Art, and head to Instagram to explore an extensive archive of his ghostly creatures.