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Art

Textural Sculptures by Artist Jessica Drenk Use Junk Mail, Book Pages, and Q-Tips to Explore Materiality

October 22, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Dendrite” (2019), Q-tips and plaster. All images © Jessica Drenk, courtesy of Galleri Urbane, shared with permission

Montana-born artist Jessica Drenk (previously) employs simple materials, like shopping flyers and standard No. 2 pencils, to create organic sculptures that are chaotic and arresting explorations of the substances themselves. Bundled Q-tips spread across a site-specific installation like the roots of a tree, a carved section of plywood reveals concentric patterns, and strips of junk mail are plastered together in long waves.

While Drenk’s latest series, titled Transmutations, is diverse and ranges from wall pieces to cavernous sculptures, each artwork explores materiality and how disparate shapes and textures combine to create forms that are new both physically and conceptually. The artist explains in a statement:

In treating everyday objects as raw material to sculpt, I practice a form of conceptual alchemy: through physically manipulating these objects their meanings become transmuted. Each piece is a direct response to material—a subversion of the meanings associated with it, and a reference to the life cycle of objects through time.

If you’re in Dallas, Transmutations is on view at Galleri Urbane through October 31. Otherwise, follow Drenk’s textural works on Artsy, and watch an interview with the artist at her studio below.

 

“Contour 3” (2020), carved plywood, 47 x 38 x 3 inches

“Implement 68” (2020), pencils, 22 x 18 x 17 inches

“Cerebral Mapping” (2020), books and wax, 132 x 80 inches

“Compression 3” (2020), books, wax on wood panel, and wood frame, 44 x 38 x 2 inches

“Dendrite” (2019), Q-tips and plaster

Top: “Aggregate 3” (2020), junk mail, 28 x 130 x 2.25 inches. Bottom: “Aggregate 2” (2020), junk mail and plaster, 20 x 78 x 2.5 inches

Left: “Circulation 18” (2020), books and wax, 31 x 29 x 1.5 inches. Right: “Circulation 19” (2020), junk mail and cardboard, 36 x 36 x 1.5 inches

 

 



Design Photography

A New Book Compiles Photos of Idiosyncratic, Quirky Destinations that Look Just Like Wes Anderson Films

October 21, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Wally Koval, shared with permission

Devotees of Wes Anderson’s films can spot the pastel architecture and simple signage synonymous with the American director’s aesthetic anywhere, a notion that’s proven in a newly released book by Wally Koval. Buoyed by an Instagram account with more than 1,200 images from all seven continents, Accidentally Wes Anderson showcases international destinations with the likeness of the Grand Budapest Hotel or the heavily wallpapered train cars of The Darjeeling Limited. The 368-page edition is teeming with charm, quirky compositions, and picturesque settings and even includes a foreword written by the famed director himself, who previously had no ties to the endeavor.

Based in Brooklyn, Koval began collecting photographs in 2017 and has since amassed an incredible archive, which he’s categorized by location, theme, and color palette on his site. Further explore the idiosyncratic locales by picking up a copy of Accidentally Wes Anderson on Bookshop. (via Fast Company)

 

 

 



Illustration

A Curious Whale Explores Dry Land in Quirky, Melancholic Illustrations by Xuan Loc Xuan

October 19, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Xuan Loc Xuan, shared with permission

In a whimsical narrative by Xuan Loc Xuan, an adventurous whale named Lucille traverses a bustling urban center, densely populated forest, and other dry-land locales on her search for a new home. The Ho Chi Minh City-based illustrator renders the marine mammal in a range of playful and melancholic scenes, either resting on a bed of flowers or trapped alone in a city as the sun sets. Titled The Whale Gets Stuck, the vivid series chronciles the whale’s journey that’s ripe with nostalgia and longing for her ocean home, a tale Xuan tells in her book Babà la balena in città, which is printed in Italian.

Shop prints of the illustrator’s quirky pieces on Pinlze or at Toi Gallery, and find two of her other children’s books, Giant: A Panda of the Enchanted Forest and Snowy: A Leopard of the High Mountains, on Bookshop. Head to Behance and Instagram to keep up with Xuan’s latest story-based projects.

 

 

 



Design

The Sm;)e Book Celebrates the Decades-Long, Eclectic History of the Smiley Face

October 9, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of DB Burkeman and Rich Browd, shared with permission

From plastic grocery bags to original emojis to household goods and paraphernalia, the yellow smiley face is an iconic mark of modern culture. A new book funding on Kickstarter celebrates the symbol’s decades-long history as it dives into the eclectic uses that range from fine art to graffiti to Hollywood. In 60 pages, The Sm;)e Book compiles work from 70 artists, including Banksy, the Chapman Brothers,  Alicia McCarthy, and James Joyce.

Despite the smiley’s well-known status throughout the mainstream culture, the book is particularly personal to co-creators DB Burkeman and Rich Browd. Burkeman shares with Colossal that his mother was fascinated by the hippie movement and plastered surfaces with smiley face stickers and adorned her clothing with grinning patches and pins. As he grew up and later became a DJ, he noticed the symbol flourishing in the punk and rave scenes as a new kind of countercultural mark. Browd had a similar childhood experience, growing fascinated by the icon in “graffiti, skate graphics, and the Pop Art collection of a wealthy friend’s parents.”

Today, the duo remains enamored with the evolution of the smiley face and its prevalence in seemingly contradictory spaces. “In the history of graphic design, I can think of no other symbol that has ever held such a duality—used simultaneously as both a positive mainstream driver and a counterculture subverter of that very mainstream,” Burkeman writes. He explains further:

Now retired from nightlife and mostly confused by a lot of today’s popular culture, I’ve watched the smiley return with a vengeance. Partly fueled by the prolific use of emojis, but also by the insatiable consumption and recycling of pop culture’s logos and tropes. Today’s youth love and reuse them, regardless of whether the new users know the logos’ origins or not: little girls and celebrities wearing the Thrasher logo who have never read the magazine or skated in their lives, hip-hop kids wearing hair-metal or post-punk band shirts. Does it even matter that they have no idea what these bands sounded like or represented? It’s all part of this strange cultural cannibalism.

Browd and Burkeman are sharing glimpses intoThe Sm;)e Book on Instagram, where you also can follow the collection’s funding progress during the next month. (via It’s Nice That)

 

 

 



History Photography

Eerie Photographs Reveal the Unseen Ruins of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in a New Book

October 6, 2020

Grace Ebert

A tame fox poses in front of the sign pointing the way to Pripyat from the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. All images © Darmon Richter/FUEL Publishing, shared with permission

After embarking on both permitted and illegal ventures into the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, British writer and photographer Darmon Richter was able to document the ghostly ruins and abandoned structures throughout the hazardous region. He captures eerie Cold War-era relics in a series of mysterious photographs, including a paint-curling mural venerating Soviet heroes and the room where the initial malfunction, which decimated an area now part of Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia, occurred in 1986. Decades later, the nuclear disaster still is considered one of the worst catastrophes throughout history.

Published by FUEL, Chernobyl: A Stalkers’ Guide encompasses Richter’s unprecedented access to the mysterious zone in its 248 pages. The volume is available from the publisher or for pre-order on Bookshop. Keep up with Richter’s travels on Instagram, and check out his blog for further dives into abandoned history. (via Hyperallergic)

 

Control Room 4, the room where the 1986 disaster originated. Now stripped of many of its fittings and cleaned of dust, it has been declared safe for visitors. Since autumn 2019, the power plant authorities have included it on official tours.

Mural on a residential building, Heroes of Stalingrad Street, Pripyat. This Socialist-realist mural depicts virtuous citizens (a farmer, a firefighter, a police officer, and a Young Pioneer) under a radiant Soviet crest.

Control Room 3, Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. This room and the associated Reactor 3 remained in use until 1995 when they were put out of service following an agreement with the EU. Now, along with Reactors 1 and 2, it is undergoing a decommissioning process.

202: Control Room 3. The top left of these cube-shaped shielded buttons marked A3-5 – or ‘AZ-5’ – was the ‘scram’ kill switch. This manually operated control would immediately terminate the fission reaction by inserting all the control rods at once. In neighboring Control Room 4, on 26 April 1986 at 1.23.40 a.m., this switch was flicked and a malfunction occurred, causing the meltdown.

Post Office, Pripyat. The mural illustrates the evolution of communication, from stone tablets and scrolls, to mail trains and finally a Soviet cosmonaut.

Izumrudniy’ (‘Emerald’) Holiday Camp, near Chornobyl. Once a popular spot for summer holiday breaks, these rustic wooden chalets, painted with characters from cartoons and fairy tales, were completely destroyed by forest fires in April 2020.

Kindergarten No.7 ‘Zolotoy Klyuchik’ (‘Golden Key’), Pripyat. Discarded artifacts are arranged into unlikely dioramas by visitors.

Abandoned trolleybus, Kopachi, Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. This highly contaminated village was mostly bulldozed after the disaster. In April 2020 this vehicle was severely damaged by forest fires.

 

 



Photography

A New Volume Compiles Five Decades of the Pudgy, Curious, and Drowsy Pups in Walter Chandoha's Photographs

September 21, 2020

Grace Ebert

Mixed-breed and the photographer’s daughter Maria, Long Island, New York, 1956. All images © Estate of Walter Chandoha, courtesy of Taschen, shared with permission

Dubbed the 20th century’s greatest pet photographer, the late Walter Chandoha was renowned for capturing the unique personalities of furry companions. From black-and-white candid shots to those posed in the studio, Taschen’s new volume, Dogs, compiles five decades worth of capricious, curious, and playful pups. The 296-page book is a sequel to Cats, which similarly collected hundreds of the iconic photographer’s images, and is edited by Reuel Golden.

In his early years, Chandoha served as a combat photographer during World War II. He went on to be prolific across mediums, having written dozens of books and captured more than 225,000 images during his lifetime, many of which were used in magazines and advertisements.

Check out some of our favorite shots of pudgy bulldogs and blue-eyed Weimaraners below, and pre-order a copy of Dogs, which will be released in October, from Taschen or Bookshop.

 

Pugs, Long Island, New York, 1957

Weimaraner, Long Island, New York, 1955