Balance, symmetry, and the geometries of proportion create a distinct visual lexicon for Louise Despont. Working in graphite and colored pencil on antique ledger paper, the French American artist practices an alchemy of pattern and color, fusing the two into intricate, contemplative renderings that evoke natural elements. “I think my work has always attempted to bridge the worlds of plant wisdom and healing with a language of architecture,” Despont tells Colossal. “I’m interested in drawing the invisible, in attempting to represent the unseen but nonetheless powerful forces and systems that surround and inhabit us. I’m interested in art-making as a co-creative experience, a bit like gardening. I plant the seeds and tend to the work, but what grows comes from its own source.”
Inspired by the homeopathy and alternative medicine practiced by the artist’s mother, Despont’s works often hearken back to botanical forms as she renders petals and writhing stems in pastel hues. Her sculptural drawings utilize bamboo and string to perfectly mirror the sweeping lines and circular shapes on each side of a three-dimensional form, and this desire for engineered precision is a nod to her grandfather, father, and partner who all have backgrounds in architecture. Whether on paper or dyed fabric, her works illuminate nature’s organic harmonies and are tinged with a reverence for its more mystical properties, focusing on the energies and expressions of the world around us.
Before moving to her current home in Mallorca, Despont was featured in three Art21 films in New York and Bali that offer insight into her earlier practice. The artist’s drawings will be on view at Art Basel in Miami this December with Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, and she is currently working on a book slated for release next year. For glimpses into her studio and process, head to Instagram.
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It’s generally understood that terrestrial plant life evolved from algae, one key to its successful adaptation being roots that sprawled underground to absorb important nutrients and water. Billions of years later, the fibrous networks are essential to life across the planet as they ensure the growth and health of individual specimens, help prevent erosion, and capture carbon from the air.
A collaborative project of the late botanists Erwin Lichtenegger and Lore Kutschera celebrates the power and beauty of these otherwise hidden systems through detailed drawings of agricultural crops, shrubs, trees, and weeds. Digitized by the Wageningen University & Research, the extensive archive is the culmination of 40 years of research in Austria that involved cultivating and carefully retrieving developed plant life from the soil for study. It now boasts more than 1,000 renderings of the winding, spindly roots, some of which branch multiple feet wide.
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Bringing a design-based approach to indoor gardening, Terraplanter ensures that even those lacking green thumbs will be left with a beautiful, minimalist vessel if their plant-care skills aren’t quite adequate. When it’s in use, roots grip the lattice-like outside, which imprints their dense entanglements with a geometric pattern. The vegetation reveals its tessellating design when it’s removed.
The soil-free growing system has four planting methods: rubbing spores onto the surface, germinating seeds in the grooves, wrapping an already blooming vine around the pillar, or propagating a rooted plant by attaching it to the side. Water stored in the center of the vessel then diffuses through the porous material, hydrating the roots and ensuring they require little maintenance.
Because of its unique design, Terraplanter exposes root growth as it occurs, while securing it on the exterior. “We believe in nature-inspired-technology, we love plants, and we see things differently. Bound together with a passion for natural material, plants, and ecological products, we combined our knowledge and experience to create a user-friendly product and an optimal solution for plants to thrive indoors,” the New York-based company said in a statement.
Terraplanter already has raised more than $2,800,000 on Kickstarter, and there are a few rewards still available. To see more examples of the hydroponic propagation, check out Instagram, and the video below, which was directed and animated by Kobi Vogman.
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What’s a road trip without checking out the scenery? Chris Helzer, aka The Prairie Ecologist, has put together a new guide for those who want to know a little bit more about the wildflowers they see along the roadside but don’t want to leave their moving vehicles.
What about the silent majority who prefer to experience wildflowers the way General Motors intended – by whizzing past them in a fast, comfortable automobile? How are nature-loving-from-a-distance drivers supposed to learn the names and habits of the wildflowers as they speed blissfully past them at 65 (85?) miles per hour?
“A Field Guide to Roadside Wildflowers at Full Speed,” which is available for free download, is a satirical take on the classic handbook that describes the plant, says when it’s in bloom, and gives a hint about where to find it. For Helzer’s project, though, each habitat is listed as “roadsides” and similar flowers tend to include descriptions like “anything yellow.” The photographs identifying each species are blurred to “appear as they actually look when you see them from the road.”
A scientist for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska, Helzer began his blog in 2009 intending to serve as a resource for people interested in managing and restoring prairies. He tells Colossal he created this parody as a joke for his regular 4,500 readers who come to his site for his wildflower photos.
If you want to take this guide for a spin, be sure to heed Helzer’s warning: “Always use a designated passenger to look up flowers.” (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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Italian glass artist Lilla Tabasso captures the vitality of flowers in her delicate and precise botanical sculptures. Though a first thought would be to celebrate that Tabasso’s glass creations have the decorative advantage of never wilting, the artist depicts the full life cycle of blossoms and includes fading flowers alongside fresh ones. She often includes the word “Vanitas” in the titles of her sculptures that show decaying blossoms, a reference to the 17th-century Dutch still life painting genre that represents transience and death through symbolic objects. The artist crafts collapsed carnations with the same care that she renders seemingly perfect peony blossoms.
Tabasso’s scientifically accurate artwork is rooted in her background as a biologist. (You might also be interested in the scientific glasswork of 19-century father-son duo the Blaschkas.) In addition to her vase-based pieces, Tabasso also crafts jewelry and small installations, and has created work for Design Miami Basel and Vogue Italia. She is represented by Caterina Tognon gallery in Venice, Italy. You can see more of her work on Instagram.
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Glass artist Kim KototamaLune creates ethereal sculptures that resemble abstracted organic shapes and faces. She builds delicate glass grids without molds, which she then works into sculptural form and displays in darkened rooms. This presentation allows light to permeate, which both illuminates the sculptures from within and casts dramatic shadows on the surrounding walls.
The artist was born in Vietnam and now lives and works in France, and has studied multiple languages. Cultural identity, the origins of life, and in-between spaces play into her inspirations. KototamaLune shares with Colossal that she seeks to create an “uncharted territory in order to engage in a silent dialogue with the ‘strangers’ living in us. Those sculptures arise from the will to recover within each of us what is common in our fetal origins.'”
KototamaLune is represented by Da-End Galerie, with whom she’ll be showing work at the ASIA NOW art fair in Paris from October 17 – 21, 2018. You can also see her work through September 15, 2018 at Villa Tamaris Art Center in southern France. Discover more sculptures in KototamaLune’s portfolio on her website.
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