In The Boatman and Other Stories, Belgian artist Hans Op de Beeck (previously) reflects on the fleeting stages of life through an evocative series of vignettes in uniform gray. The vast exhibition, which is on view through January 6, 2022, at Galleria Continua in San Gimignano, Italy, features imagined subjects amidst their typical environments: A shirtless man steers his small rowing boat carrying a dog, chicken, and baskets of food through lily pads, a Brazilian dancer with feathered headdress rests on a tufted chair, and two hand-holding teenagers silently sit on a rocky cliff. Although the lifelike figures have vastly different identities and backgrounds, a universal theme of transition and impending change runs through each narrative.
Alongside the larger scenes, Op de Beeck presents still lifes comprised of disparate and anachronistic items, like the coral and candle-laden “Vanitas Table” and the oversized skull, fruit, and bottles tableau in “Vanitas XL.” Most of his works are entirely monochromatic, although minuscule cherry blossoms in “Wunderkammer (12)” disrupt the strict color palette with small, pink petals. Despite portraying seemingly banal moments, the artist’s sculptures and installations are imbued with a sense of wonder and mystery, serving as an entry point into the unknown histories behind the pieces.
In addition to The Boatman and Other Stories, Op de Beeck’s life-sized carousel “Danse Macabre” will sit in front of the Saint Walburga Church in Bruges until October 24 as part of the Bruges Triennial 2021. See more of his works spanning installation, sculpture, and watercolor portraits on his site and Instagram. (via ArtNet)
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Thousands of Fresh and Artificial Flowers Overrun an Abandoned Convenience Store in a Small Michigan Town
Port Austin, Michigan, is a picturesque village on the Lake Huron shoreline lauded for its beaches, water sports, and vegetable-shaped rock formations. With a population in the hundreds, the small community relies heavily on tourism to fund its economy, a reality Detroit-based botanical artist Lisa Waud contended with in a recent pop-up installation in one of the town’s abandoned convenience stores.
Titled “Party Store”—this colloquialism refers to a small shop selling snacks, alcohol, lottery tickets, and other cheap staples—the immersive project transforms a dilapidated space into a lush garden of fresh-cut flowers grown in Michigan and artificial replicas sourced from resale shops around the state. A water-damaged drop ceiling, stained carpeting, and wood paneling peek through the colorful botanicals, which envelop a commercial coffee machine, crawl across shelving, and bulge out of dimly lit coolers.
Similar to her other site-specific works like her 2015 transformation of a condemned duplex in Detroit, Waud describes “Party Store” as a “cleansing reset,” one that uses the tension between life and decay as a prompt to consider cultural understandings of permanence and disposability. She references pieces like Robin Frohardt’s grocery store stocked with plastic food and Prada Marfa as influences, two large-scale projects that criticize consumerism through their satirical imitations of common and luxury goods. “In spending time in Port Austin, I recognized a similarity between its tourism culture and that of my hometown of Petoskey,” Waud writes in a statement. “The local economy relies on the tourists, but often the folks who come can have a ‘disposable’ quality to their visit, exemplified in the increase of consuming convenient items—often packaged in single-use plastic.”
“Party Store” was dismantled after its July 16-18 run, when many of the materials were recycled or reused. “By installing flowers that will ultimately be composted into a space that historically sells items that cannot be biodegraded, I hoped to bridge a connection for responsible choice-making in its visitors’ future,” the artist says.
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Temporarily seen hovering above small European towns or balancing on a river in floating canoes are elaborate bridges designed to be constructed and demolished in a matter of days. The ongoing work of Olivier Grossetête, the cardboard-and-tape pieces are entirely hand-built by the French artist and local residents. Each ephemeral installation, which Grossetête refers to as “utopian building(s), temporary and useless,” appears for only a day or two before it’s taken down and the public is asked to stomp on and destroy the cardboard. “This is an integral part of the project,” the artist says in a statement. “This symbolic moment is fun.” While they’re on display, the architectural works are often tethered between hot air balloons and existing buildings, which makes them appear dream-like as they float above the urban landscape.
Grossetête has been utilizing the cheap, flexible material for more than ten years because it’s easy to manipulate, allowing the installations to spring up and be removed relatively quickly. “Despite its appearance, it has quite extraordinary capacities and is very light. It doesn’t scare anyone, and it allows me to open my practice to the greatest number of people,” he says, explaining that it’s also emblematic of cultural signifiers. “It is the symbol of the false and of the appearance! I like to make this parallel between architecture, an instrument of power, and the false, the appearance.”
Currently living in Jausiers in the Alpes de Hautes Provences, Grossetête is headed to 23 Milhas in , Portugal for his next installation, which will be up from July 31 to August 1. You can explore more than a decade of his works on his site.
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Artist Sui Park (previously) zips together simple nylon cable ties to create sprawling biomorphic sculptures and site-specific installations that resemble heaving nighttime seas, prickly moss, and vibrant amorphous creatures. Park, who was born in Seoul and currently lives in New York, started hand-dying the uniform fasteners a few years ago to deepen the contrast between the mass-produced material and her spiky organic masses. “Each has a subtle difference in shape and angle, and when grouped and connected together to develop into a larger form, the subtlety creates a dynamic and a characteristic of my work,” she says.
Whether suspended in a gallery or staked into a patch of grass, Park’s abstract pieces are porous, each revealing the surrounding environment through its body. This focus on permeability “opens the inner space of my work and makes the inside visible. At the same time, I think it opens and creates a moment to pause, reflect, and ponder personal imageries surrounding nature. Different shapes and angles of modules provide various perspectives of the inner space,” she shares.
Park has multiple upcoming exhibitions, including shows running August 11 to November 27 at Cahoon Museum of American Art, September 7 to December 11 at Suwon Museum of Art, September 2021 to August 2023 at the Site-Responsive Art Biennale at I-Park Foundation, and another at Poikilo Museot starting in September. Until then, explore more of her sprawling installations and standalone pieces on Behance and Instagram.
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An unlikely sight was spotted hovering over Tokyo earlier this month in a disorienting installation by the Japanese collective 目 (Mé). Titled “Masayume” or “prophetic dream,” the eerie artwork featured a giant human face printed on a balloon, which launched above the city on July 16 as part of the Tokyo Tokyo Festival, an event organized to coincide with the start of the Olympics.
Bizarre and unexpected for most passersby, the single-day piece was derived from a dream Mé artist Kojin Haruka had as a teen. “‘Masayume’ will be carried out suddenly and without prior notice nor a clear reason, just like an image a 14-year-old Japanese girl saw in a dream, momentarily disabling the ordinary,” a statement reads. “The face will be gazing back at us from the sky in the midst of this pandemic. It is as though we are a part of the spectacle.”
“Masayume” is a follow-up to a 2013-2014 project titled “Day with a Man’s Face Floating in the Sky” (shown below) that floated a similar black-and-white balloon over Utsunomiya City, Tochigi. Each of the anonymous figures depicts a real person, and about 1,400 people applied to have their faces loom over Tokyo this round.
Mé’s work is on view at the Towada Art Center in a three-part group exhibition that runs through May 29, 2022. Check out the collective’s Instagram for more of its large-scale projects, including a massive wave sculpture rippling through a museum. (via Spoon & Tamago)
Update: “Masayume” took to the air again on August 13, 2021, as it floated above eastern Tokyo.
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A Dizzying Carpet of Crystals Blankets a Salon in the Royal Palace Amsterdam with Prismatic Patterns
The latest installation by Dutch artist Suzan Drummen (previously) masks a stately salon in the Royal Palace Amsterdam with a gleaming carpet of crystals placed in psychedelic swirls. A response to the Golden Age-era architecture, the bright colors of Drummen’s work are intended to clash with the rich, muted hues of the furniture and walls. Because each individual crystal is laid by hand and left unsecured, the labor-intensive process took a team of four nine days to complete.
Equally mesmerizing and disorienting, Drummen’s elaborate installations often rely on a combination of patterns, reflection, and a three-dimensional texture that creates a dizzying effect. Much of her work is informed by the overwhelming amount of information in today’s world that can spark confusion and uncertainty, which she explains:
Phenomena like these alarm me as a person, but as a maker, I’m inspired by that dizzying multiplicity. I‘m interested in things that dazzle us, and in my work, I try to ramp that up. It’s an ongoing quest, with a constant interplay between seriousness, fear, playfulness, and hope. Above all I want it to be vibrant and vital.
Drummen’s piece is on view through October 3 as part of Trailblazers, a group exhibition inviting past recipients of The Royal Award for Modern Painting to show their works within the palace’s halls. Explore a larger collection of the Amsterdam-based artist’s projects on her site and Instagram.
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