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Art

Anatomical Paintings by Lily Mixe Connect Flora and Fauna Through Textured Motifs

October 7, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Curious Collection” (2022), acrylic paint on wooden box assemblage, 33 x 31.5 centimeters. All images © Lily Mixe, courtesy of Saatchi Gallery, shared with permission

In The Butterfly Effect, French artist Lily Mixe illustrates the textured patterns of beetles, shells, cells, and birds through stark black and white. Working in acrylic on found wooden boxes and furniture panels, Mixe accentuates the lush motifs of scales, branches, or feathers in renderings devoid of color. Each work juxtaposes the artist’s elegant graphic style against the worn backdrops, which reflect a past of human intervention through splattered paint, scratches, and printed text. Whether presented as symmetric tableaus as in “Dragon Flying Birds” or an anatomical assemblage of flora and fauna in “Curious Collection,” the specimens detail the similarities and interconnected nature of all earthly life.

The Butterfly Effect, which will feature an on-site mural, opens on November 3 at Saatchi Gallery in London. Until then, find more of Mixe’s works on Instagram and her site.

 

“Bird of Pray” (2022), acrylic paint on a wooden box, 40 x 27.5 centimeters

“Fauna and Flora” (2022), collage on a wooden box, 42.5 x 28.5 centimeters

“Cuckoo Bee On A Platter” (2022), acrylic paint on a wooden box, 35 x 25 centimeters

“Dragon Flying Birds” (2022), acrylic paint on a wooden box, 106 x 30 centimeters

“No Feather Left Behind” (2022), acrylic paint on a wooden box, 57 x 27.5 centimeters

 

 

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Art

Bordalo II Combines Salvaged Neon Tubes, Industrial Materials, and Other Waste into Lively Trash Animals in a New Retrospective

October 7, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Bordalo II, shared with permission

A seven-meter-tall squirrel made of railway dividers, decommissioned industrial hoses, and shopping carts in disrepair opens a massive retrospective from Portuguese artist Bordalo II (previously). Spanning ten years of his career, EVILUTION reflects the environmental themes the artist has been drawn to for at least the last decade that are reflected through his signature Trash Animals, creatures comprised of entirely salvaged materials. Spray-paint cans are slotted into an abstract mosaic of a raccoon, while neon tubing illuminates a range of sculptural creatures including a fox, spider, and even a snail strapped to an electric scooter.

EVILUTION, which opens this weekend at the Edu Hub of Lisbon, exposes the incredible array of material humans discard and how such waste affects the environment and biodiversity. The show also marks Bordalo II’s first foray into neon, which he describes in a statement:

It’s unbelievable what people throw away. Many of our sculptures use obvious household trash, but we want to show that there’s a whole ecosystem of junk laying around out there that is threatening nature. That includes things like generations of broken neon tubes, which most people wouldn’t ever think about…EVILUTION is a kind of retrospective of everything I’ve been doing over the last ten years and also a way of looking towards the future.

Head to the artist’s Instagram for a preview of the exhibition, which runs from October 8 to December 11.

 

 

 



Photography

Expressive Snake Portraits by Ben Simon Rehn Capture Serpentine Elegance in Brilliant Hues

October 4, 2022

Kate Mothes

All images © Ben Simon Rehn, shared with permission

More than 3,000 species of snakes can be found on our planet, slithering through vastly different ecosystems and exhibiting an extraordinary range of colors, patterns, and sizes. Regarded in myth as guardians of the underworld, cunning spirits, or wielders of magic, they have long been dreaded, revered, and eyed with suspicion by cultures around the globe. German photographer Ben Simon Rehn, who is interested in drawing connections between humans and nature, kindles empathy in a series of expressive serpent portraits.

While Rehn has previously trekked to destinations around the world to capture landscapes and wildlife, these images were taken at a snake refuge close to his home in the Harz Mountains. Capturing the often misunderstood creatures in a range of vivid hues, supple textures, and intense gazes proved a bit of a challenge, as even in captivity, the creatures could be elusive. “It wasn’t very easy to capture the snakes as some of them are really small—it doesn’t seem like it in the pictures—and moved fast,” he tells Colossal. “Also a few are venomous so you have to keep a distance, and a long lens helps here.” Portraying them close-up not only highlights the vivid details of their scales, mouths, and eyes, it also brings us face-to-face with the creatures to engender a different understanding.

You can explore more work by Rehn on his website and Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Science

Energetic Avians Peer from Vintage Book Pages in Detailed Paintings by Craig Williams

October 4, 2022

Kate Mothes

“Green Rosella” (2022), acrylic on vintage page from ‘Atlas of Tasmania’ (1965). All images © Craig Williams, shared with permission

Peering out from the pages of vintage atlases, textbooks, and field guides, Launceston, Tasmania-based artist Craig Williams assembles a menagerie of vibrant avians inspired by Australia’s vastly diverse wildlife and ecosystems. Spurred by an interest in the natural world, his past work in a wildlife park and as an illustrator with a regional museum specializing in spiders and insects amplified his interest in drawing and painting the natural world. The accuracy of scientific illustrations translated into a flourishing interest in birds, which he began to pair with diagrams, text, and sheet music to draw connections between geography, wildlife, and science.

Williams carefully chooses the pages for their connection to each specimen, such as a map of Tasmania that provides the background for a green rosella, a species endemic to the island. “There will always be a relationship between the bird and the page,” Williams tells Colossal. “[It is] sometimes direct, like the use of the field guides, but even these pay homage to the work of the artists and researchers who create these guides both presently and in the past.” In another piece, a peregrine glides in the foreground of a dictionary’s architectural illustrations, recognizing how the falcon has adapted to urban environments by using tall buildings as nesting places instead of cliffs.

In addition to historical connotations, Williams explores the physics of sound and light. Music pages reference passerines, the order of perching birds to which songbirds belong, emphasizing “the use of song by the birds for breeding, socialisation, territory control, etc., but also bringing our relationship with music and song to these recognisable birds that frequent our gardens,” he says. “Other examples include using old physics textbook pages on light, relating to the color in birds as well as light wavelengths in terms of iridescence, or sound wavelengths in terms of song.”

In collaboration with the podcast “The Science of Birds,” Williams paints a species mentioned in each episode, which are available for sale on the podcast’s shop with half of the proceeds donated to BirdLife International’s conservation efforts. You can find more of the artist’s work on his website and on Instagram.

 

“Superb Fairy-Wren Pair” (2022), acrylic on vintage page from ‘The Popular Encyclopaedia or Conversations Lexicon’ (1851)

“Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo” (2022), acrylic on vintage page from ‘What Bird is That?’ by Neville W. Cayley (1956)

Left: “Superb Fairy-Wren” (2021), acrylic on vintage page from ‘A Handbook of Tasmanian Birds and it’s Dependencies’ (1910). Right: “Orange Chat” (2022), acrylic on vintage page from ‘What Bird is That?’ by Neville W. Cayley (1956)

“Peregrine Falcon” (2022), acrylic on vintage page from ‘Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language’ (1933)

“Scarlet Robin” (2022), acrylic on vintage page from ‘Leider Ohne Worte’ by Mendelssohn (1800)

Left: “Fairy Penguin” (2021), acrylic on vintage page from ‘A Handbook of Tasmanian Birds and it’s Dependencies’ (1910). Right: “Splendid Fairy-Wren and Banksia Flower” (2022), acrylic on vintage page from ‘What Bird is That?’ by Neville W. Cayley (1951)

“Kookaburra” (2021), acrylic on vintage page from ‘What Bird is That?’ by Neville W. Cayley (1953)

 

 



Photography Science

Sunlight Illuminates a Full Spectrum of Color As It Filters Through Hummingbird Wings in a New Photo Book

September 30, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Opal Wings.” All images © Christian Spencer, shared with permission

Poetry in the Sky is a fitting title for a book of the elegant images of Australian photographer Christian Spencer. Slated for release next month, the volume gathers approximately two decades’ worth of birds Spencer encountered during visits to the Atlantic Forest in Brazil and also in Australia, including macaws, emus, and the species he’s perhaps most notable for documenting: the hummingbird.

Taken when the creatures are mid-flight and beating their wings at incredible speeds, Spencer’s striking photos capture sunlight as it filters through their feathers, emitting a full spectrum of color. The opalescent phenomenon is caused by diffraction and transforms their limbs into tiny, ephemeral rainbows.

Poetry in the Sky contains several photos of the prismatic birds—many of which we’ve featured previously on Colossal—in addition to dozens of additional images of avian life. Pre-order a copy from Bookshop, pick up a print,  and find more of Spencer’s work on Instagram.

 

“Stardust”

“Sundance”

“Hummingbird Rain”

“Holy Water”

“3 Amigos”

 

 



Art Craft

A Menagerie of Contemplative Animals by Mila Zemliakova Weave Textile Traditions and Nature

September 29, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Mila Zemliakova, shared with permission

Using vintage textiles from both her personal and her family’s collection of bedspreads and home decor, artist Mila Zemliakova sews plush animal sculptures that connect various traditions of her Belarusian heritage. She draws correlations between her chosen creature and each pattern, color, and type of fabric, capturing the essence of a deer in floral brocade or that of a bison with tufted gray wool.

Largely oversized and perched in chairs, the anthropomorphic characters are expressive and often photographed outdoors in states of contemplation and solitude. In a note to Colossal, the artist shares that she sees the growing menagerie as embodying “the connection of Belarusians with their nature, as well as with their traditions, which are now in a dangerous position and under repression.”

Some of Zemliakova’s sculptures are available for purchase from Art Center or on Instagram, where you can also watch her at work.

 

 

 

 

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