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Art Craft

Classic Cartoons Suspend Tense Moments of Sabotage in Embroidery

April 5, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Performance Anxiety.” All images © Peter Frederiksen, shared with permission

From Looney Tunes and Mickey Mouse to The Simpsons, cartoons have a long history of imagining the most ridiculous, chaotic moments possible and dramatizing them into absurdity. The animated characters and their hijinks are rooted in humor, and yet, as artist Peter Frederiksen recognizes, they also have a more sinister side. “Violence is a shorthand for conflict, confrontation, fears,” he tells Colossal, noting that many iconic cartoons were created post-war or have been produced during times when “violence was in the ether… I don’t put guns in embroideries because I like guns. I put guns in embroideries because they’re an escalation. They’re overcompensation. They’re anxiety and fear.”

Frederiksen has spent the last few years zeroing in on the antagonism in these classic scenes and preserving their short-lived nature in dense embroideries. He renders knives piercing a closed door, tied bedsheets pulled taught as they drop out of a window, and hands twisting into knots while attempting to play the piano. Tightly stitched onto a canvas with a machine, the works are true to their original source in color and style, although Frederiksen precisely crops each scenario from its surroundings.

Decontextualized and infused with action, the nostalgic works are simultaneously familiar in their imagery while unrecognizable in the scope of a larger narrative. “They tell a story in as ominous a way as I’m aiming for, maintaining the sort of tension I’m building with a scene,” he says. “I also enjoy thinking about rendering these tight little scenes as a mirror to what I’m physically doing, using my hands in small little ways to make something happen.”

The Chicago-based artist has a number of shows scheduled for this year, including at Postmasters Roma in May and a solo exhibition at New York’s Massey Klein in September. Until then, follow his work on Instagram. (via The Guardian)

 

“Set Up For Failure”

“Won’t Hold Forever”

“You Don’t Need a Reason”

“Some Time Outside”

“The Trap Has Been Set”

“What Have I Done?”

“It’s Exactly As Bad As You Think”

“All My Suspicions Confirmed”

 

 



Art Design

‘Real Time’ Uses Amusing Manual Techniques To Track the Passage of Each Minute

March 18, 2022

Grace Ebert

Part of a series of performances centered on cumbersome and surreal timekeeping devices, Maarten Baas’s “Sweeper’s Clock” chronicles two men as they track each passing moment with heaps of garbage. The aerially shot film follows the pair as they push lines of trash representative of the minute and hour hands around a large circle faintly defined in the landscape, keeping time as they go.

Released in 2009, the video piece parallels other clever works in Baas’s Real Time series, including a painter manually unveiling a digital display and another showing the Dutch artist trapped inside a grandfather clock. Visitors to the international terminal of the Amsterdam airport in 2016 were also greeted with “Schiphol Clock,” an analog device suspended from the ceiling in which a man adjusted the time by hand. “The worker’s blue overalls, yellow rag, and red bucket pay homage to the famous Dutch artist, Mondrian,” Baas writes.

Watch more of the artist’s works at the intersection of art, film, and design on Vimeo. (via Laughing Squid)

 

 

 



Art

Ironic Self-Help Titles Painted by Johan Deckmann Cure Existential Woes

March 15, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Johan Deckmann, shared with permission

A trained psychotherapist, Johan Deckmann (previously) has stacks of books to remedy our most painful emotional struggles and existential dread. His collection includes the massive “Your chances of changing the world,” the much slimmer “Your chances of changing yourself,” and the dismally timely “How to take a deep breath and go on even though everything feels so wrong.”

Often painted on soft, cloth covers evocative of vintage self-help manifestos, Deckmann’s ironic titles are steeped in our culture of incessant improvement and tend to be brutally honest about human limitation. His straightforward messages are not unlike those found in a therapist’s office and harness the power of simple language to confront contemporary dilemmas. “The idea of writing on books comes partly from my work as a psychotherapist, a music composer, and lyricist. I like the idea of distilling words to compress information, feelings, or fantasies into an essence, a truth,” said the Copenhagen-based artist.

Deckmann is participating in a group exhibition up through May 15 at Sala Amós Salvador in La Rioja, Spain, and will be at the Venice Biennale next month with the Gervasuti Foundation. He also has a solo show later this year at San Francisco’s Modernism, and you can find an expansive collection of his poignant messages on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Absurd and Unlucky Scenarios Unfold in Levalet’s Site-Specific Street Art

March 14, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Levalet, shared with permission

French artist Charles Leval, who works as Levalet (previously), is attuned with the nonsensical and hapless, which he translates into clever site-specific works in craft paper and India ink. Often built off of public architecture like windows and sidewalks, his streetside wheatpastes either typify a bad day or find humor in the odd and absurd: new works feature an angry pack of dogs, a construction worker planting an already blooming flower in concrete, and a golfer putting into a drainpipe. Levalet’s characters tend to be life-sized and depicted with earnest expressions that capture their unwarranted concentration or surprise at a situation gone awry.

Currently, the artist is adding to his narrative-based Odyssée project and will open a solo show at Dorothy Circus in London on March 25. Until then, find more of his works on Instagram, and pick up a print from his shop

 

 

 



Animation

After Her Brain Short-Circuits, A Young Girl Tries on a Second Head in a Lighthearted Stop-Motion Animation

March 10, 2022

Grace Ebert

The saying goes that two heads are better than one, except in the case of a young girl named Matilda. The titular character of a playful stop-motion short by Lithuanian animator Ignas Meilunas, Matilda is on track to be the smartest girl in the world when suddenly, mid-study session, her mind goes haywire. She recognizes that she can’t stuff a single fact more into her already packed brain and to remedy the issue, her mother decides to order her daughter a second head from a department store. Of course, this quick fix is really no solution at all, and Matilda soon realizes that there’s more to life.

According to Short of the Week, Meilunas hadn’t worked with puppets prior to “Matilda and the Second Head,” which retains all of the charm and detail of his previous pieces—you might remember him from “Mr. Night Has a Day Off.” The character-driven short already has been shown at a variety of festivals including Annecy and helped him win the Best Animation for Young Audiences award from the 2020 Ottawa International Film Festival. Meilunas recently shared an in-depth look behind-the-scenes of the project, and you can watch more of his short comedies on Vimeo.

 

 

 



Art Photography

A Daily Project by Tatsuya Tanaka Turns Everyday Goods into Quirky Miniatures

February 16, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Tatsuya Tanaka

A scroll through Tatsuya Tanaka’s Instagram chronicles the everyday happenings of a cleverly designed world in miniature. The Japanese artist (previously) has spent the last decade reimaging life-sized objects like pencil sharpeners, sponges, and slippers as tiny sets for his cast of characters: a “P” key rests on a painter’s easel, bobsledders barrel through a bowl on a hot pepper, and ice skaters race across a white surgical mask.

Released daily as part of his ongoing Miniature Calendar project, the works often correspond with current events and cultural moments, including Tanaka’s recent scenarios referencing the Winter Olympic Games. “The theme of my work is ‘mitate’… to replace something around us with something similar or that looks like it. It is important to use something that everyone knows as a motif for my work,” he writes.

For a look behind-the-scenes, click through each day on Tanaka’s site, where he shares multiple perspectives of every work.

 

 

 

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