Within the vast collections of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a trove of dried specimens that once were juicy seeds and fruits primed for reproduction. Now gnarled, fractured, and blanketed in tiny, dehydrated bristles, the individual pods have been preserved as part of the carpological archive at the Scottish institution, a resource photographer Levon Biss (previously) spent hours sifting through in preparation for a stunning new series of macro images.
Spanning from the rampant clusters of the Ko Phuang to endangered rarities like the Coco de Mer, the photographs reveal the inner details otherwise enclosed within the specimens’ shells. Texture and subtle color differences are the basis for most of the shots, which frame a cracked or sliced pod in a manner that centers on their unique components.
The botanic garden’s collection is global in scope and boasts about 100 individual pieces per species, meaning Biss sorted through hundreds of thousands to choose the final 117 that have culminated in his new book The Hidden Beauty of Seeds & Fruits. Initially culled based on aesthetics, the resulting selection encompasses all processes of seed dispersal, along with information about morphology, location, and history. “I tried to make sure all methods were included in the overall edit so that the work becomes an educational tool, not just pretty pictures,” Biss tells Colossal, further explaining the research process:
Each specimen is contained within a small box, and sometimes, you would find a handwritten note on a scrap of paper where the botanist provided a visual description of the surroundings where the specimen was found. Some of these specimens are over 100 years old, and reading these very personal notes made me wonder what the botanist had to go through to find that specimen. What were their traveling conditions like? What did they have to endure to bring the specimen back to Edinburgh? Reading these notes gave me a connection with the botanist and was certainly one of my personal highlights of the project.
On view in the same space as the original specimens, Biss’s photos are up at the Royal Botanic Gardens through October 31. The Hidden Beauty of Seeds & Fruits, which is published by Abrams, is available now on Bookshop, and you can find prints from the series on the photographer’s site. Keep up with his biological snapshots, which include a striking collection of iridescent beetles, on Instagram.
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A Poetic Book Illustrated by Tiffany Bozic Explores the Vast Diversity of Trees with Childlike Curiosity
In her first body of work geared toward children, artist Tiffany Bozic (previously) showcases the naturally occurring whimsy and wonder of the outdoors through saturated color, texture, and unusual perspectives: An upward glance frames towering redwoods with rugged bark, elusive flying squirrels cling to a branch, and dried leaves, fungi, and berries form a thick, colorful layer of groundcover. “I wanted to inspire children to notice how beautiful and important nature is and recognize that we are also animals, a part of nature. We only protect what we love. Trees are a great place to start because everyone has access to them, even in urban areas,” she tells Colossal.
In the last two decades, the Marin, California-based artist has created hundreds of paintings on maple panel, often leaving the wood grain fully exposed or peeking through a thin veil of acrylic. Bozic’s detailed interpretations highlight the singularity of individual plants and animals as she adeptly applies a surreal twist to her otherwise faithful portrayals—her earlier books Drawn by Instinct and Unnatural Selections show the breadth of this style—while Trees relies on a more realistic approach. Paired with a lyrical story written by Tony Johnson, the illustrated book is a reminder to celebrate the earth’s diversity with a sense of childlike admiration and curiosity.
Trees is available for pre-order on Bookshop. You can follow Bozic’s new works, some of which will be informed by her research into the ways fire affects biodiversity in Tahoe earlier this summer, on Instagram. Find limited-edition prints and originals on her site.
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Human progress and the insurmountable force of nature converge in Camille Kachani’s overgrown sculptures. The Lebanese-Brazilian artist (previously) is known for his furniture, tools, and other practical objects that are overrun with new plant growths and gnarly roots, rendering the seemingly functional items like stools, hammers, and books humorously impractical.
Whether a text bursting with vegetation or dresser drawers housing young sprigs, Kachani’s works highlight the futile attempts humans undertake to control the environment. This relationship has been central to his practice in recent years, and his goal is to showcase the conflicts that arise from their intersections especially in relation to life in Brazil—the South American country is more frequently experiencing the effects of the climate crisis like the worst drought its seen in decades and rampant deforestation that’s only intensifying the ongoing devastation—which he explains:
When we speak human and nature, we mean culture and nature, an (un)stable and unpredictable relation. We depend on nature but also see it as a major obstacle to our complete mastery of the planet. But in fact, it is impossible to talk about nature and culture as two distinct subjects, as they are so intertwined and contaminated from each other that I come to believe that everything is nature and culture at the same time.
Kachani is based in São Paulo and is preparing for a forthcoming book chronicling 20 years of his practice, which will be published in 2022. You can follow his work on Instagram.
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An XXL-Edition Compiles All of Frida Kahlo's 152 Artworks in an Extensive Celebration of Her Life and Work
An enormous new book from Taschen explores the life and work of famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907–1954). Widely recognized as a groundbreaking figure in contemporary understandings of gender and sexuality, Kahlo’s now iconic image—particularly derived from her more than 50 self-portraits showing her bold brow, braided hair, and range of floral adornments—has secured her legacy as one of the most influential and profound artists of the 20th Century.
Spanning 624 pages and weighing nearly 12 pounds, Frida Kahlo. The Complete Paintings compiles all 152 of her works paired with diary pages, letters, drawings, an illustrated biography, and hundreds of photos taken by Edward Weston, Manuel and Lola Álvarez Bravo, Nickolas Muray, and Martin Munkácsi that glimpse moments from Kahlo’s life with her husband and muralist Diego Rivera and of the Casa Azul, her home in Mexico City. Many of the pieces included haven’t been exhibited publicly in more than 80 years.
Edited by Luis-Martín Lozano with contributions from Andrea Kettenmann and Marina Vázquez Ramos, the volume contextualizes Kahlo’s paintings by offering an intimate and wide-reaching exploration of her oeuvre that was so profoundly impacted by her experiences with a lifelong disability and an unending need to question politics and notions of identity. Lozano describes her unparalleled contributions in a conversation with It’s Nice That:
Her uniqueness in art history is not only based in a feminist agenda as it has been stressed out in recent years, but mostly in her capacity to engage in ideological and aesthetic discussions of her time and contemporaries, in subjects such as public art and surrealism, and make them part of her core as an artist.
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Stephen Doyle describes his interconnected book sculptures as “miniature monuments, testaments to the power of language and metaphors of imagination.” Featuring angled scaffolding and interlocking constructions that appear to grow directly from the bound pages, the sprawling sculptural forms that comprise his Hypertexts series are unruly and enchanting reimaginings of how information is communicated.
The New York City-based artist lobs off parts of sentences, tethers phrases together with an unrelated word, and generally obscures the author’s intended meaning, producing arbitrary and striking connections within the text. Although the paper sculptures are tangible manifestations of language, Doyle tells Colossal that he originally envisioned the spliced works as satirical commentaries on digital diagramming. “I first started when ‘hypertext’ was a novel term of the internet: blue underlined text was a portal, linked to another document in the ether. Linking one text to another seemed rather DADA in intent, abstract, random, and capricious,” he says, explaining further:
I conjured sculptures in which the lines of text shook off the shackles of the page, leapt up, out of the book, and started conferring with their neighboring lines of text, creating an aerial network of language, turning text into synapse, circulation… I soon realized that these three-dimensional diagrams seemed to have a poetic power of their own, recontextualizing language and ideas into sculptural forms, inspired by the books themselves.
A graphic designer by day, Doyle has spent the last few years expanding his Hypertexts series, which has been featured in The New Yorker, Wired, The Atlantic, The New Republic, and other publications. If you’re in New York City, you also might have seen the triptych he created for the subway a few years back. You can follow his works on Instagram. (via swissmiss)
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Tobi Shonibare, aka Tobi Shinobi, has an eye for the symmetry and surreal illusion within urban architecture and landscapes. Often turning his camera upward or peering down from above, Shinobi transforms familiar structural elements like transit lines and buildings into strange scenarios: a stairwell appears like an M.C. Escher woodcut, sand dunes riddled with tracks obscure a roadway, and a seemingly endless array of plant-filled tubes dangle from the ceiling in hypnotizing rows. Shinobi abstracts and decontextualizes much of his subject matter, which shifts attention to shape, texture, and shadow.
More than 80 of his shots are compiled in Equilibrium, a new edition in Trope’s Emerging Photographer Series. The 144-page book is available on Bookshop, and you can follow Shinobi’s travels around the world, including to his native London and around his current residence in Chicago, on Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.