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Art Craft

A Thick Braid Cascades Down a Marina Abramović-Inspired Porcelain Collection

April 1, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Aylin Bilgiç

Despite lacking any distinct facial features, porcelain figures by Istanbul-based ceramicist Aylin Bilgiç have one unmistakable, defining characteristic: The lengthy braid resting on their oversized bodies evokes performance artist Marina Abramović, who is known for donning similarly styled locks. In another of Bilgiç’s pieces, two heads are back-to-back with their hair wound together, resembling Abramović’s 1978 collaboration with Uwe Laysiepen.

The monochromatic collection was designed specifically for Akış / Flux, an exhibition surveying Abramović’s work and offering 15 live performances. It is now on hold because of the global coronavirus pandemic. If you’d like to purchase one of the figurative pieces or a square pin, they’ll only be available in Sakıp Sabancı Museum’s shop, although they aren’t online just yet. See more of Bilgiç’s work on Behance and Instagram.

 

 



Art

26 Contemporary Chinese Artists Explore Materiality in ‘Allure of Matter’

February 13, 2020

Grace Ebert

Zhu Jinshi, “Wave of Materials” (2007), Xuan paper, cotton thread, bamboo, and stones. Installation view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, image © Museum Associates/LACMA

CHICAGO—Containing a massive paper wave, a tower of leftover fat, and a tiger-skin rug of 500,000 cigarettes, The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China encompasses 48 works from 26 contemporary Chinese artists in an exhibition on view now in Chicago. Focused on the materiality of seemingly every day objects, the exhibition prompted artists to explore how substances like tobacco, plastics, and Coca-Cola could be fashioned anew. “Taken together, the works introduce a broader framework for understanding global contemporary art, which I call ‘Material Art’ or caizhi yishu, where material—rather than image or style—is the paramount vehicle of aesthetic, political, and emotional expression,” said co-curator Wu Hung.

The Allure of Matter is an extension of a trend artists in China began in the 1980s as they experimented and “exploded fireworks into paintings, felted hair into gleaming flags, stretched pantyhose into monochromatic artworks, deconstructed old doors and windows to make sculptures, and even skillfully molded porcelain into gleaming black flames,” a statement about the exhibition says.

Today, artists involved in the project, like Ai Weiwei (previously), Hu Xiaoyuan, and Cai Guo-Qiang (previously), are engaging with that provocative tradition through their multi-media works that often fill entire rooms, like gu wenda‘s human hair structure that is suspended from the ceiling. “Their monumental works represent a multifaceted phenomenon that inspires us to ask big questions about our relationship to the everyday material world around us as well as the interrelationship between Chinese art and broader trends in contemporary art globally,” co-curator Orianna Cacchione said.

If you’re in Chicago, make sure to check out the exhibition at both the Smart Museum and Wrightwood 659 before it closes on May 3.

gu wenda, “united nations: american code” (2019), human and synthetic hair. Installation view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, image © Museum Associates/LACMA

Ai Weiwei, “Tables at Right Angles” (1998), Tables from the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). Stockamp Tsai Collection, New York

Liu Jianhua, “Black Flame” (2017), 8,000 flame-shaped black porcelain pieces. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Pace Gallery. Installation view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, image © Museum Associates/LACMA

Gu Dexin, “Untitled” (1989), melted and adjoined plastic. Installation view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, image © Museum Associates/LACMA

Song Dong, “Water Records” (2010), four-channel video projection. “Traceless Stele” (2016), metal stele, water, brushes, and heating device. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Pace Gallery. Installation view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, image © Museum Associates/LACMA

Shi Hui, “Float” (2000/2007/2013), wire mesh and xuan paper pulp. Installation view at China Academy of Art, Hangzhou

Ma Qiusha, “Wonderland: Black Square” (2016), cement, nylon stocking, plywood, resin, iron

Xu Bing, “1st Class” (2011), 500,000 “1st Class” brand cigarettes, spray adhesive, and carpet. Installation view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, image © Museum Associates/LACMA

Xu Bing, “1st Class” (2011), 500,000 “1st Class” brand cigarettes, spray adhesive, and carpet. Installation view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, image © Museum Associates/LACMA

Liang Shaoji, “Chains: The Unbearable Lightness of Being” of Nature Series No.79 (2002–7), polyurethane, colophony, iron powder, silk, and cocoons. Installation view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, image © Museum Associates/LACMA

 

 



Craft

Miniature Seascapes and Cities Top Elaborate Paper Wigs by Asya Kozina and Dmitriy Kozin

February 10, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Asya Kozina and Dmitry Kozin, shared with permission

Saint Petersburg-based paper artists Asya Kozina and Dmitriy Kozin situate miniature worlds atop their towering paper wigs. The detailed headdresses combine contemporary themes with historical elements, resembling the extravagant hair and head pieces of the Baroque period. A recent series crafted for Dolce & Gabanna features a whale and lobster with fins and claws woven through and sticking out from the tops of the elaborate pieces. Both have ships, as well, to add a human element. “We did this work and had (the) idea to do works with various marine monsters,” Kozina says. “In the old times, sailors believed in gigantic sea monsters… All characters are taken from folk myths.”

Since Kozina last spoke with Colossal, the scale and complexity of their monochromatic creations have changed, in addition to their public perception. “Our works fell into collections of museums, became symbols of some events related to the history and history of art and fashion,” she writes. “Our work is perceived not as photo props, but as artworks, sculptures, exhibition objects.” Head to Instagram or Behance to check out more of the artists’ sky-high creations.

 

 



Art Photography

AfroArt Photo Series Challenges Beauty Standards with Young Black Models

August 10, 2019

Andrew LaSane

All Images: Kahran and Regis Bethencourt. Styling by LaChanda Gatson, Shanna Thomasson and Angela Plummer

Husband and wife photography duo Regis and Kahran Bethencourt of CreativeSoul Photography capture images of children that celebrate the beauty, culture, and heritage of afro hairstyles. Often dressed in ornate African-inspired garb, Black girl and boy models are crowned with afros, twists, and braids as symbols of strength and grace.

The Bethencourts, based in Atlanta, have been working together for 10 years and began photographing children with natural hair in 2013. The “AfroArt” series began when they noticed a lack of diversity in the industry. The way the children in the series are styled and posed against warm backgrounds recalls the regal oil portraits painted of upper class men and women during the Renaissance movement. “We decided to showcase kids with natural hair to empower them (and others in the industry) to embrace it and for the kids to be proud of their culture and natural curls,” the photographers tell Colossal.

“When we first started out we were primarily working with child models, but now more than half of the kids have never modeled before,” they added. “Many parents hire us so that their child can get the experience of feeling empowered for the day. We will typically guide them on set to make them feel comfortable. Most of them just see it as a fun experience, but they usually leave the studio feeling a little more proud and self-confident.”

CreativeSoul Photography has an online shop where images from the AfroArt series can be purchased as prints, calendars, and other products. They also recently signed a book deal, so keep an eye out for that at your local bookstore. In the meantime, follow CreativeSoul Photography on Instagram for more striking images and future updates.

 

 



Art

Textural Installations by Shoplifter Immerse Visitors in Furry Neon Caves

June 7, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Icelandic artist Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, who goes by Shoplifter, cites her primary medium as hair. But rather than working with the expected range of browns and blondes that naturally grow on humans and animals, Shoplifter uses a range of hair that seems to draw its color palette from Muppets. Neon yellows and pinks, deep blues, and vivid greens commingle in massive installations that coat gallery walls, floors, and ceilings. Shoplifter’s immersive works often create cave-like spaces where visitors explore around, under, and through her textural worlds.

Shoplifter, whose moniker stems from a stranger’s mishearing of her given name, cites themes of vanity, self-image, fashion, beauty and popular myth as inspiration for her work. In an interview with artnet, she shared, “It started out with my fascination with humans and the things we mass produce for obscure reasons. Hair extensions are trying to beautify yourself and be unique. I noticed that layering the hair together and having it flow around created a very painterly tapestry feeling.”

Shoplifter exhibits widely and most recently showcased her work as Iceland’s representative to the  the Venice Biennale. Her solo show Nervescape VIII is also on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma in Helsinki, Finland through September 15, 2019. Explore more of Shoplifter’s work on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Head-Turning Historical Portraits by Ewa Juszkiewicz

May 13, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Ewa Juszkiewicz subverts the traditional notion of female portrait sitters as passive, simple subjects in her subtly unusual oil paintings. The artist constructs each painted portrait using familiar tropes from European art history, sometimes even citing specific paintings as inspiration. Female subjects with smooth, pale skin and luxurious apparel are placed in front of abstract or generically bucolic settings, sometimes with a “gender-appropriate” item in hand, like a paint brush, small book, or feather.

But in place of the beautiful face a viewer would expect in the center of these pleasant trappings, Juszkiewicz has turned the subject’s head 180 degrees to show an elaborate hairstyle, or filled the face with unruly plants or ribbons. A statement on the artist’s website explains, “Through the deconstruction of historical portraits, she undermines their constant, indisputable character and tries to influence the way we perceive them. Juszkiewicz experiments with the form of the female figure and face, balancing on the border between what is human and inhuman.”

The artist lives and works in Warsaw, Poland. She is represented by Galerie Rolando Anselmi in Berlin, where she will have a solo show on view in November and December, 2019. Juszkiewicz shares updates from her work and travels on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Craft Design

Elaborate Historical Wigs Formed From Copper Wire by Bespoke Sculptor Yasemen Hussein

April 8, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Mixed media bespoke sculptor Yasemen Hussein explains that her art career was originally pointed in the direction of glass, but she found her passion for metalwork while working toward an MFA at Illinois State University. Now well established in her metal practice, Hussein uses copper electrical cable to form elaborate and sinuously lifelike hairdos. The video below, from London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, takes a look inside Hussein’s studio as she created wigs used by the V&A for their exhibit Opera: Passion, Power and Politics.

Hussein works in a coverted stable house in south London, where she manipulates the thin metal cables to simulate elaborate styles ranging from carefully coiled curls to the sweeping fan-like shapes of a geisha’s coif. Rather than creating exact replicas of realistic hair in every wig, Hussein incorporates artistic license to suggest the volume and gesture of each historical look.

In addition to her dramatic wigs, Hussein also creates geometric sculptural installations and delicate copper feathers. You can explore more of the sculptor’s work on her website.

 

 

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