Breathtakingly colorful textures pop out when viewers first witness Dylan Gebbia-Richards’s large-scale paintings which appear to escape from their canvas. His rugged works mirror the structure of natural forms such as molten rock or coral. “I see my works as their own landscapes,” Gebbia-Richards tells Colossal. “I allow chance, the driving force behind all natural phenomena, to sculpt the structures of my paintings.”
Gebbia-Richards gains his inspiration from the vastness of the natural world and his artworks explore aesthetics that merge between the microscopic and macroscopic. “I find the enormity of the natural world awe-inspiring,” he esplains. “Landscapes which are immense seem intimate simultaneously; counter-intuitively these large spaces create the feeling of an embrace.”
While Gebbia-Richards’ paintings vary in size, all are built to engulf the viewer. “Sometimes this is very literal like in my room-sized installations which encompass those inside,” he says. “But even with my smaller pieces, I’m looking for the work to expand outwards, attempting to generate the feeling of a place which is much larger.” Like observing a mountain range, the scale of his paintings inspire and delight, while his use of a bold color palette adds a hint of magic to each creation.
The artist’s works appear as if they have been created through a volcanic eruption. To imitate this process, he constructs his paintings by using colored pigment and droplets of melted wax. “I initially found dripping and splattering melting wax very satisfying,” says Gebbia-Richards. “I was interested in the qualities of the marks the melted wax produced, specifically the chaotic patterns of the splatters which sprung from the drip’s impact with the paper I was melting over.”
His paintings emerge by separating the dripping marks from their splatter. It is these random interactions between the various pigments, drip gestures, and the splatter which creates Gebbia-Richards’s layered textures that are signature to his practice. You can see one of the Colorado artist’s paintings at Looking For U at Unit London which runs until August 26, 2018. To view more of his work visit his website and Instagram.
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In an untitled photograph from 1937, a black disc surreally floats upon the subject’s face, obscuring the features hidden beneath the circular void. In another, a black circle hovers next to a tilted house, creating an eerie scene pulled straight from science fiction. At first glance, you might think a contemporary artist had altered the images, drawing jet-black voids as an intervention with photographs from rural Depression-era America. In reality, these images are discarded photographs from a bygone project that produced a pictorial record of American life between 1935-1944. The photographs, which are currently exhibited in The Killed Negatives: Unseen Images of 1930s America at Whitechapel Gallery in London, produce a snapshot of the crippling poverty and backbreaking jobs lower class Americans faced during the Great Depression.
The story of these photographs begins in 1935, when Roy E Stryker, the head of the Information Division of the Farm Security Administration (FSA), undertook a photographic project that commissioned famous American photographers such as Russell Lee, Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans to photograph farmers and farmland during the Great Depression. The FSA aimed to encourage poverty-stricken Americans to partake in self-sustaining programs where they could gain farm loans to buy seeds, equipment, livestock, and partake in homestead schemes which provided both education and healthcare. The project was to demonstrate the results of financial assistance that the FSA offered, in addition to outsourcing images of America life during this time.
Each photographer was given specific directives, for example, “farmer dumping milk at home,” “worried farmer,” or “federal government shot.” Over 270,000 photographs were produced during the project, yet only a few were picked to be part of the final collection. This included imagery featuring transient families, the unemployed, and drought-stricken fields. One of the most famous images was Lange’s 1936 Migrant Mother, which became a popular portrait long after the project’s conclusion.
Stryker deployed a specific editing process where himself and his assistants would choose photographs they believed were true to the brief; the other images were rendered unsuitable and punctuated with a hole puncher. These ruthlessly “killed” photographs were left unpublishable. Today the found works appear to have black discs floating upon them, a visual mark of rejection which accidentally focus the viewer’s attention.
Killed Negatives at the Whitechapel Gallery runs up until August 26, 2018 and exhibits some of the photographs, photographers’ personal records, and FSA administration documents associated with the project. You can learn more about the exhibition, including information about associated events, on the gallery’s website.
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Chilean freelance photographer Francisco Negroni captures nature at its most rambunctious, with a particular focus on volcanic eruptions and lightning storms. In his work, bright orange and red streaks of lava burst from mountains, enormous plumes of smoke overtake the horizon, and dramatic lightning strikes connect the earth and sky. The photographer originally studied advertising photography and tourism, but once he witnessed his first volcano, he knew that it would be his focus going forward.
Colossal spoke with Negroni about his strategies for braving the elements and capturing just the right moments:
When I go outside to take photographs, I try to leave with the images in my mind: I imagine what I am going or want to achieve that day in that place… Although many times I don’t get what I imagined or thought would be a good photograph, and I get others that I couldn’t have imagined and they are much better, it’s strange. But almost always I work in a direct documentation, with an idea in base, but trying to always obtain an understanding of something more difficult for the spectator.
Due to the expenses and difficulties of traveling in the Chilean backcountry, Negroni carefully tracks upcoming eruptions and risk factors to maximize the potential of each trip. He travels light, only with a backpack containing a laptop, camera, tripod, and three lenses, and he camps in his car for longer excursions. Presently, Negroni shoots for reporters and journalists, and has published his work with National Geographic, the Associated Press, and Terra. You can see more of his weather and landscape photographs, which are also available as prints, on his website. For the adventurous, Negroni also leads personalized tours and workshops.
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Meticulous Acrylic Paintings by Shawn Huckins Erase Historic Works from the White House Art Collection
At first glance, Colorado-based artist Shawn Huckins’ “Erasure” series looks like a collection of images that have been altered using a digital eraser tool to reveal the empty checkered pattern layer beneath. A closer look reveals that the works are actually meticulously detailed acrylic paintings, recreations selected from the White House Art Collection. Superimposed on the works are hand-painted erasure marks that serve as a commentary on the ideas of history, legacy, and whether or not those things can be wiped away in the present.
While the patterned marks range from measured and uniform to seemingly haphazard flourishes, for Huckins the resulting “obliteration” of history is the same. “The underlying works chosen for this series originally served as testaments of those who came before us and the indelible mark they left on the world, in a very short time, not so long ago,” the artist said in a statement. “In an era where the internet makes everyone a publisher, and digital editing tools bestow the power to create realities out of pixels, The Erasures forces us to examine our assumptions regarding the longevity of individual influence and institutions, thus raising enormous questions concerning the fragility of legacy.”
Huckins shares with Colossal that the collection of paintings are his “response to the current US administration’s policies and ethics surrounding a divisive country.” In his statement he poses several questions to the viewer about one person’s ability to “erase the impact of another,” whether or not longstanding ideals are more easily erased than recent progress, and how the events of today will be “recorded, judged and preserved when anyone can create, or re-create, his or her own reality with a keystroke, or a mouse-swipe, or a dead-of-night tweet?”
Shawn Huckins will debut 18 paintings from the Erasure series as a part of an upcoming solo exhibition titled Fool’s Gold, which opens at Modernism Gallery’s new space in San Francisco on July 11, 2018.
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The Kei Truck, or kei-tora for short, is a tiny but practical vehicle that originated in Japan. Although these days it’s widely used throughout Asia and other parts of the world, in Japan you’ll often see them used in the construction and agriculture industries as they can maneuver through small side streets and easily park. And in a more recent turn of events, apparently they’re also used as a canvas for gardening contests.
The Kei Truck Garden Contest is an annual event sponsored by the Japan Federation of Landscape Contractors. Numerous landscaping contractors from around Japan participate by arriving on site with their mini trucks and then spending several hours transforming the cargo bed into a garden.
Other than using the kei truck there are very few limitations and landscapers have incorporated everything from benches and aquariums to elements of lighting into their designs. Judges then rank the entries based on planning, expression, design, execution and environment.
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Daniel Mercadante has a slate of unique films under his belt, made in partnership with his wife Katina, as The Mercadantes, including Ball and Breathe. More recently, Daniel has been exploring the still image in a colorful series called Rainbow Road. The Mercadantes were based in California for many years, but after a move to rural Connecticut, Daniel looked for a way to add some warmth to the chilly blue hour during the Northeast’s long winters.
Using long exposure photography and a custom built lighting rig covered in colored gels, the process of creating the images is surprisingly simple: the roads are created by Daniel running around with the lighting rig. No other post-production manipulation occurs, other than basic color and exposure balancing. The photographer explains to Colossal, “after so many years focused on the moving image, I’ve struggled with singularly caught moments in still imagery—so I love how this project still requires images to be captured over 15sec-1 minute, so in some way they require the same passages of time that a shot in one of our short films might.”
In addition to their Connecticut Rainbow Roads (which Daniel divulges may have a distant relation to the Mario Kart pathways of his youth) the Mercadantes have taken this colorful project to Guatemala, where local kids chose the photo shoot locations. Daniel reports that they hope to continue traveling with their low-tech, high-color Roads. You can see more from the Mercadantes on Instagram and Vimeo.
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Russian photographer Daniel Kordan is a master of photographing the cosmos. In 2016 we covered his journey to the Salar de Uyuni, where he captured millions of brilliantly hued stars reflected in the world’s largest salt flat. Recently, Kordan returned from a trip to Namibia where he mapped swirling trails of stars above the Deadvlei, a white clay pan speckled with the 900-year-old tree skeletons, and other sites across the Namib desert.
The images feature vortexes of multi-colored stars streaked across the sky like post-impressionist paintings. The Milky Way’s warm and cool tones intermix to create a kaleidoscopic vision of the sky above, and illuminate the barren desert landscape below. To capture such images yourself, Kordan suggests creating a time-lapse with a wide angle lens, and utilizing an app like PhotoPills which allows you to easily predict the position of the stars.
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Editor's Picks: Painting
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.