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Despite being a couple of years old, José Manuel Ballester’s artworks feel eerily familiar in the time of COVID-19. The Spanish artist recreates classic paintings like Goya’s “The Third of May 1808,” Vermeer’s “The Allegory of Painting,” and Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus,” except he leaves out one central aspect: humans. Some of Ballester’s digital versions retain remnants of the former subjects, showing blood-covered ground marking the spot of a gruesome battle or even a faint outline of the sitter in an unfinished portrait. Other works, however, seem to exist simply on their own, offering a view of an empty gallery or a wreckage on rough waters.
In an interview with Bored Panda, Ballester said that while his Concealed Spaces series often is regarded as humorous, it has multiple meanings. “After a deeper look it’s not difficult to find transcendence and the multiple possible interpretations, both as new images and as related to their original counterparts,” he said.
One of the clearest aspects in this series is the way we can understand art from the point of view of each period, which has a unique way of looking and understanding reality shared by artists, who develop their creativity inside those period’s values and connect with ideas and universal precepts extended in time.
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As travel slows due to the global coronavirus pandemic, a new advertisement released by Apple provides an expansive view of one of St. Petersburg’s most-visited institutions that’s accessible without having to venture into crowded spaces. Clocking 5 hours, 19 minutes, and 28 seconds, the single-shot video spans the Hermitage Museum in the nation’s cultural center. It includes a look at 45 galleries, 588 works, and even has live performances from Russian composer Kirill Richter and a ballet duet from the Hermitage Theater.
The ad was shot to showcase the iPhone 11’s battery life but also offers an impressive view of artworks by Rembrandt, Raphael Loggias, and Caravaggio. “This video to me is all about connection through time,” filmmaker Axinya Gog told ArtNet. “Art that is timeless meets modern life and state-of-the-art technology.” Using a complex system of handheld stabilizers, cranes to span rooms, and even a custom app to control the camera, Gog and the group behind the ad created the single-shot take during the course of six hours in the museum.
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A Parade of Earthly Delights: Floating Bosch Parade Celebrates Painter Hieronymus Bosch in Spectacular Aquatic Event
A floating parade dedicated to painter Hieronymus Bosch (previously) honors the artist’s fascination with the fantastical and absurd in an annual event that embodies his philosophy and aesthetic. The 2019 occurrence of the Bosch Parade included a musical performance played on a partially submerged piano and a scene with two people straddling enormous horns, just two of fourteen vignettes devoted to an evolving story about “power and counterforce, battle and rapprochement, chaos and hope.”
Bosch is known for his symbolic paintings often tying in gruesome representations of the afterlife and human desire and fear. He is also regarded as one of the earliest genre painters, depicting common people and their everyday experiences. The annual Bosch Parade is described by organizers as “a theatrical and musical art spectacle on water,” drawing thousands of visitors to the southern city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands, where Bosch was born and eventually got his name from.
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“ME: An Exhibition of Contemporary Self-Portraiture” asks 22 contemporary artists to explore who they are and how they present themselves. Curated by Sugarlift and Juxtapoz contributing editor and Colossal contributor Sasha Bogojev, the exhibition presents each artists’ understanding of themselves and of the history of self-portraiture. Cesar Piette’s abstract blue face resembles dripping paint partially masked by glasses, while Prudence Flint portrays a woman napping on a pink bed next to a guitar. Many of the artists created their first self-portraits in years, if not ever, specifically for the show, which includes work from Aleah Chapin, Cesar Piette, and Christian Rex van Minnen, among others.
In a conversation with Colossal, Bogojov answered a few questions about contemporary culture and self-awareness, how they influence self-portraiture, and the ways current conceptions of identity show up in ME.
Colossal: How have perceptions of the self changed since the creation of such a selfie-obsessed culture?
Bogojev: Oh, that is a tough one and I’m certain there are papers if not books written on that subject. But I do feel that a selfie-obsessed culture created more self-awareness on different levels. For this show, in particular, I feel like lots of artists wanted to fight against the popular idea of “self” or what we know now as selfie, by presenting themselves imperfect, flawed, caricatured, even grotesque in some cases.
Colossal: Could you talk a little more about the intersections between psyche, mirror, and others that you see in contemporary self-portraiture?
Bogojev: Modern-day takes are rarely realistic renderings of one’s mirror image and are often including elements that suggest qualities beyond that. Whether playing with light, formatting, color scheme, or simply going away from realism completely, they often focus on the author’s character, emotions, and such. I like to believe that this show encompasses that really well with the variety of approaches and visual languages presented.
Colossal: So many conversations about identity center ideas of multiplicity, of people not having a singular self. How do you see that relating to the face and to self-portraits?
Bogojev: Exactly! I think this is what most artists nowadays are fully aware of and that is why they struggle to find the “right way” to create self-portraits or they create multiple versions of it. Again, I feel it’s the superficiality of selfie-culture that made them extra wary of how they present themselves without jeopardizing their integrity and practice. With their artwork being the most direct and honest way of communicating with the world, it is not easy for an artist to pick one image, or even concept, as a single representation of oneself. I think this is why the artists in ME built their self-portraits by layering different visuals (Van Minnen), assembling a variety of elements (Shiqing), creating an atmosphere they connect to (Flint, Toscani, Chapin), captured an intimate moment that describes them best (Erheriene-Essi, O’Brien).
ME is on view from January 16 to 30 at High Line Nine in New York. If you’re in the city on January 21, stop by for “The Self-Portrait: Antiquity to #Selfie,” a talk by art and culture critic and author Carlo McCormick, historian and Sotheby’s VP of Old Masters Painting Calvine Harvey, and contemporary painter Jenny Morgan.
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Artist Daniel Arsham (previously) re-envisions some of the most well-recognized sculptures of classical antiquity in Paris, 3020, his recent series of replications marred with lightly pigmented crystals. Both “Vénus de Milo” and Michelangelo’s “Moses” find their heads, arms, and torsos eroded in patches by blue calcite.
The New York-based artist spent a year inside the Réunion des Musées Nationaux – Grand Palais, a 200-year-old French studio known for reproducing iconic European works, where he gathered molds and scans of busts, sculptures, and friezes from the collections of the Musée du Louvre in Paris, Acropolis Museum in Athens, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, and the San Pietro in Vincoli. Arsham cast each recreated work in hydrostone—similar to wax casting—in order to produce the nearly exact replicas. The artist then chiseled the pieces, adding in his signature crystallization with volcanic ash, blue calcite, selenite, quartz, and rose quartz.
Paris, 3020 portrays Arsham’s exploration of the relationship between time and historically significant artifacts. “Making use of classical and ancient objects, this new body of work experiments with the timelessness of certain symbols,” said a release from Perrotin, where the exhibition will be on view from January 11 to March 21, 2020. Each sculpture is surrounded by series of graphite drawings depicting Ashram’s process in order order to “compress time, at once referencing the past, informing the present, and reaching towards a crystallized future.” Find more of Arsham’s time-warping projects on Instagram.
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Featuring 200 prints by 89 artists, Taschen’s new book Japanese Woodblock Prints (1680- 1983) is a journey through two centuries of the art form. Ranging from depictions of everyday life to kabuki and erotica, the XXL edition is a 622-page art history lesson and a high resolution visual compendium rolled into one.
For this tome, Taschen spent three years reproducing woodblock prints from museums and private collections from around the world. Written by Andreas Marks, head of the Japanese and Korean Art Department at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the book is divided chronologically into seven chapters beginning with the 17th century early masters and concluding with the Shin-hanga movement. Large, vibrant images of demons, villages, confidants, and landscapes fill the book’s pages, complemented by essays and captions that reveal more about the artists and techniques. There are 17 fold-outs, as well as a full appendix listing the artists, the titles of the woodblock prints, and editorial notes.
To add this comprehensive edition to your art book library, head over to Taschen.
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