Hanging from the ceiling like candy-colored droplets, the paper-pulp mobiles by Yuko Nishikawa turn a stark gallery into a whimsical dreamscape. The Brooklyn-based artist fashions wide, sloping vessels and punctured rings from recycled packages, old diaries, sketches, and other waste materials, forming individual pods that attach to sprawling metal armature. Ephemeral in material and design, each piece is created with the intention that it will be unassembled and reverted back to its muddled form for resculpting.
With a background in ceramics, Nishikawa switched to paper last year because it’s lightweight, doesn’t require firing in electricity-dependent kilns, and is more durable once dry. The pastels and subtle hues she gravitates toward are inspired by the natural pigments of wool yarn, although she likens her process to mixing paints, saying:
I blended blue paper pulp and red paper pulp, and a bit of yellow paper pulp to make a muted purple paper clay. I combined them at their different blended stages, too ,to make varying textures and color effects. Mushy pulps would make homogeneous colors, while crumbly pulps would have a stippled effect. Finely blended pulps would become a smoother surface when dry, while coarser pulps would become bumpier like oatmeal cookies.
Designed as an invitation to imagine new ways of finding joy, Nishikawa’s works all derive from the idea of piku piku, “a Japanese onomatopoeia that describes involuntary movements caused by unexpected contact,” she writes. “I want my work to make you feel piku piku, tickling something deep down inside you.”
This fall, Nishikawa will open a solo show at Kishka Gallery & Library in White River Junction, Vermont, and will also have work at Main Window Dumbo. Some of her mobiles are currently available through Room68, where she’ll present a new collection later this year. Until then, see more of her pieces and works-in-progress on Instagram.
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Entangled Figures Grasp a Small Footbridge Above a Philadelphia Street in Miguel Horn's New Installation
Clinging to a concrete footbridge in Philadelphia are two groups of figures in tangled clusters. The striking installation is attached to a 20-foot walkway arched over 1200 Cuthbert Street in City Center and is the latest work of artist Miguel Horn, who is known for his fragmented sculptures and large-scale installations comprised of CNC-cut plates. Each of the forms in “ContraFuerte” features topographic layers constructed with thousands of stacked aluminum pieces—Horn shares much of his process from initial sketches to clay prototypes on Instagram—which fuse together to create figures that appear in the midst of struggle. Similar to the artist’s previous works that directly respond to their location, the oversized piece is designed to “grapple with the task to sustain, or raise up a bridge that spans the width of the street,” Horn says. (via Streets Dept)
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Through Totemic Sculptures and Sound Art, Guadalupe Maravilla Explores the Therapeutic Power of Indigenous Ritual
In 1984, eight-year-old Guadalupe Maravilla left his family and joined a group of other children fleeing their homes in El Salvador. The Central American country was in the midst of a brutal civil war, a profoundly traumatic experience that’s left an indelible impact on the artist and one that guides his broad, multi-disciplinary practice to this day.
Now based in Brooklyn, Maravilla works across painting, sculpture, and sound-based performances all veiled with autobiography, whether informed by the Mayan architecture and stone totems that surrounded him as a child or his cancer diagnosis as a young adult. His pieces are predominately therapeutic and rooted in Indigenous ritual and mythology, recurring themes the team at Art21 explores in a new documentary.
“Guadalupe Maravilla & the Sound of Healing” follows the artist as he prepares for his solo exhibition on view through September 6 at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City. Titled Planeta Abuelx, or Grandparent Planet—Maravilla expands on the often-used idea of Mother Nature to broaden its scope—the outdoor show is comprised of the artist’s trademark Disease Throwers, towering headdresses and shrines made of recycled aluminum. Allusions to Central American culture bolster the monumental works, with imprints of corn cobs, wooden toys, and other found objects planted throughout.
Covering the surrounding grass are chalky white markings, a signature component of the artist’s practice that delineate every space where he installs a piece. The abstract patterns evoke Tripa Chuca, one of Maravilla’s favorite childhood games that involves players drawing lines between corresponding numbers to create new intertwined motifs.
In Planeta Abuelx, Maravilla pairs his visual works with meditative performances that are based on the sound baths he used for pain management while undergoing chemotherapy. These healing therapies are designed to reduce anxiety and tension that often trigger stress-induced diseases. Using gongs and glass vessels, the palliative remedy has been the foundation of workshops the artist hosts for undocumented immigrants and others dealing with cancer that more deeply connect his totemic artworks to the viewers.
“Having a community that has gone through similar experiences can be really empowering,” he says. “Making these elaborate Disease Throwers is not just about telling a story from my past, but it’s also about how this healing ritual can continue in the future, long after I’m gone.”
If you’re in New York, Maravilla is hosting a sound bath to mark the close of Planeta Abuelx on September 4, and you can see more of his multivalent projects on Instagram. For a larger archive of documentaries exploring the lives and work of today’s most impactful artists, like this visit to Wangechi Mutu’s Nairobi studio, check out Art21’s site.
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A diverse collection of life-size candles occupies the renovated rotunda of Bourse de Commerce in Paris, where it will spend the fall and winter slowly melting into pools of wax. The realistic sculptures are part of Untitled (2011), a redesigned installation by Swiss artist Urs Fischer (previously)—see some of the original works on Artsy—and were lit on the first day of the exhibition. Now partially melted, the ephemeral works are a “monument to impermanence, transformation, the passage of time, metamorphosis, and creative destruction,” a statement says.
At the center of the installation is an exacting replica of Giambologna’s marble “The Abduction of the Sabine Women” (1579-1582), with an effigy of Fischer’s friend and fellow artist Rudolf Stingel nearby. The figurative works are surrounded by seven chairs, four of which are modeled after seats from Mali, Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Ethiopia that are part of the collection at Musée du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac. Paired with an airline bench, rolling office chair, and mass-produced garden seat, the eclectic array speaks to the ongoing effects of colonization and globalization.
Untitled (2011) will burn daily through December 31, 2021, or until the wicks disintegrate. (via Ignant)
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A deceptively trippy installation by Chicago-based duo Luftwerk (previously) immerses viewers in a distorted environment of color and sound. Relying entirely on physical properties for its illusions, Open Square connects two spaces that are painted with clean, angled blocks of color in cool and warm tones. Prismatic LED lights flash across the rooms, skewing their boundaries and creating perpetually changing settings that appear to emerge and fade over time.
The abstract installation is part of Factory Installed 2021, a group exhibition at Mattress Factory on view now through November 14. One of five projects, Luftwerk’s Open Square transforms the historic building into a kaleidoscopic experience that’s “designed to mesmerize and shed the outside world, holding limitless possibilities for exploration,” a statement says. “Developed throughout the Covid-19 lockdowns of 2020, the exhibition reflects on the habitat that defines our everyday experience.”
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Renowned architect Kengo Kuma (previously) amplifies the already magical nature of Antoni Gaudí’s Casa Batlló in Barcelona with layers of shimmering curtains. Lining a staircase that stretches from the coal bunkers in the basement up eight flights, the immersive installation suspends 164,000 meters of Kriskadecor’s aluminum chain, positioning the lighter shades on the upper floors and black on the lowest level to emulate the gradient in the Casa Batlló courtyard. The billowing drapes reflect light in kaleidoscopic patterns around the museum and stand in contrast to the otherwise colorfully whimsical architecture, which Kuma describes:
We have imagined this space dressed in aluminum link curtains, which with their meticulous materiality catch the light, as if they were fishing nets, and show it to us in all its forms: brightness, silhouettes, shadows… this way, by omitting the use of any other materials, and erasing the presence of this blind box and its staircase using these chains, we are able to speak of light and light only.
Because of the material, the ceiling of Casa Batlló was outfitted with special acoustic panels to muffle any noise produced by the chains clanking together. The photos shown here were taken by Jordi Anguera, and you can find more of his shots and stay up-to-date with Kuma’s designs on Instagram.
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Highlights below. For the full collection click here.