narrative

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Art

Daily Newspapers by Myriam Dion Unfold into Meticulously Woven Narratives

June 8, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Des collines arborées sont ravagées par le Dixie Fire en Californie, Le Monde, 28 août 2021” (2021), collage of newspaper and Japanese paper cut with precision knife (x-acto), paper weaving, paper folding, drawing, gold leaf, 41 x 26 inches. All images © Myriam Dion, shared with permission

Thin, interlaced strips of Japanese paper, gold leaf, and the occasional watercolor detail extend the life of a broadsheet when in the care of French-Canadian artist Myriam Dion (previously). Through slicing, weaving, and gluing, the daily publications find new meaning and relevance as the artist overlays their pages with intricate lace patterns. These precise motifs obscure much of the text, leaving only a prominent headline or single image entirely visible. Painstakingly constructed, Dion’s works question the notion that news is inherently fast-paced and fleeting and instead, offer visual depth, dimension, and intricacy that mirrors the nuance of the stories she highlights.

Using pages from Le Monde, The New York Times, and other organizations, Dion draws on both historical and current events in her most recent pieces. A winding, pleated form responds to the unyielding destruction of the Dixie Fire in California with cuts evocative of flames emerging from its folds. Another accordion-style piece commemorates the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg and her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993, with black-and-white photos of the justice trimmed in gold.

“The revaluation of the handmade and the contemporary dimension of the craftsman are intrinsic to my approach,” the Montréal-based artist tells Colossal, likening her process to cultivating flowers or a vegetable patch. “There are many parallels to be drawn between gardens and my practice, especially in regards to contemplation, mediation, temporality, and the idea of beauty.”

Dion’s solo show Material Knowledge, which runs from June 30 to August 13 at Arsenal Contemporary in New York, will include a new work featuring a 1929 article announcing MoMA’s opening paired with references to women textile artists and crafters. She’s also preparing for an exhibition at Blouin-Division that will expand on the gardening metaphor and emerge from vintage botanical books. Until then, follow her latest projects, which will include a few upcoming public works, on Instagram.

 

Detail of “Amerian Museum, New cases of rare and curious birds, New-York Spectator, Wednesday October 22, 1810,” (2021) collage of newspaper and Japanese paper cut with precision knife (x-acto), paper weaving, drawing, watercolor, and gold leaf, 23 x 20 inches

“Mrs. Isabella Goodwin, The First Woman To Be Appointed To New York Detective Force, Wednesday August 23, 1911” (2021), newspaper glued on Japanese paper and cut with a precision knife (x-acto), paper weaving and gold leaf, 33 x 34 inches

“Amerian Museum, New cases of rare and curious birds, New-York Spectator, Wednesday October 22, 1810,” (2021) collage of newspaper and Japanese paper cut with precision knife (x-acto), paper weaving, drawing, watercolor and gold leaf, 23 x 20 inches

“Trees burning in Kirkwood, California, Thursday September 2, 2021,The New York Times” (2021), collage of newspaper and japanese paper cut with precision knife (x-acto), paper weaving, paper folding, drawing, gold leaf, 47 x 35 inches

“Mrs. Isabella Goodwin, The First Woman To Be Appointed To New York Detective Force, Wednesday August 23, 1911” (2021), newspaper glued on Japanese paper and cut with a precision knife (x-acto), paper weaving and gold leaf, 33 x 34 inches

Detail of “Ruth Bader Ginsburg, New York, Tuesday June 15, 1993” (2021), newspaper glued on Japanese paper and cut with a precision knife (x-acto), paper weaving and gold leaf, 17′ x 17 inches

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg, New York, Tuesday June 15, 1993” (2021), newspaper glued on Japanese paper and cut with a precision knife (x-acto), paper weaving and gold leaf, 17′ x 17 inches

Detail of “Des collines arborées sont ravagées par le Dixie Fire en Californie, Le Monde, 28 août 2021” (2021), collage of newspaper and Japanese paper cut with precision knife (x-acto), paper weaving, paper folding, drawing, gold leaf, 41 x 26 inches

“Des biches errent parmi les véhicules détruits par le Dixie Fire en Californie, Le Monde, 28 août 2021” (2021), collage of newspaper and Japanese paper cut with precision knife (x-acto), paper weaving, drawing, gold leaf, 32 x 30 inches

 

 



Art

Wildflowers, Trees, and Quaint Cabins Spring From Su Blackwell’s Book Sculptures

May 19, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Nature in Britain” (2012). Photo by Jaron James. All images © Su Blackwell, shared with permission

The enchanting, imaginative narratives usually bound between the covers of a book burst from the page in the sculptures of Su Blackwell. Often sourcing materials from secondhand shops, flea markets, and library sales, the British artist, who’s based in Hastings, constructs lush gardens of birds and wildflowers and quiet cottages in the midst of evergreens that appear to emerge from vintage volumes.

Imbued with movement in the form of wind or waves, the whimisical works tend to revolve around the fleeting and finding refuge during times of loneliness and mundanity. Blackwell shares with Colossal:

I take my inspiration from fairytales and folklore and use these well-known tales as conduits for modern-day experiences. I often search for stories that relate to my life, whether that be Little Red Riding Hood meeting the big bad wolf or a princess given an impossible task of spinning straw (or in my case ‘words’) into gold, as in the Brother Grimm’s story “Rumplestiltskin. “The themes I explore have a universal appeal, and overall, there is a sense of hope pervading the works.

Blackwell is participating in a group show opening this August at Gustav Lübcke Museum in Hamm, Germany, and has solo exhibitions scheduled for 2023 and 2024 at The Last Tuesday Society and Long and Ryle in London. You can shop prints, cards, and her illustrated book of fairytales in her shop, and follow her practice on Instagram. (via Women’s Art)

 

“Migrating Words” (2014)

“Blue Butterflies” (2022)

“The Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage” (2014). Photo by Yeshen

Left: “The Painted Lady” (2019). Photo by John Reynolds. Top right: “Weeds.” Bottom right: “Weeds (How to Control and Love Them” (2021)

“To Kill a Mockingbird” (2020)

“The Ship” (2020)

 

 



Art

Jewelry Boxes Encase Curtis Talwst Santiago’s Elaborately Constructed Narratives of Nostalgia and Identity

April 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

“The Apprentice, the fish, the cat, the crow, and the oranges” (2018), mixed-media diorama in a reclaimed jewelry box, 5.7 x 7.6 x 6.4 centimeters. All images © Curtis Talwst Santiago, shared with permission

Within the confines of a tiny jewelry box, Canadian-Trinidadian artist Curtis Talwst Santiago (previously) nestles miniature scenes imbued with in-depth narratives of home and intimacy, diasporic identity, and memory. The elaborately built dioramas are part of Santiago’s ongoing Infinity Series, which he began in 2008 and has since expanded to include dozens of pieces replete with lush foliage, architectural features, and minuscule figures preserved in time.

In recent years, the artist has referenced his childhood and family life in the mixed-media works, including in the “Soca in the Suburbs” collection that incorporates replicas of his parents’ basement complete with thick shag carpeting and a distinctly ’70s aesthetic. These environments, Santiago explains in a statement, reflect on the necessity of private gatherings in 2020 and the importance of sharing histories across generations:

This theme of ‘Soca in the Suburbs’ emerged during Covid with the closure of clubs in the contemporary sense, dancing at home, and quarantine discos at home started popping up, and I started thinking of the family members I couldn’t see, and the parties from my memory… I’m also thinking about what I want to pass forward to my son when photographs fail. I want him to have an archive of his family history, of his cultural heritage. I want him to know where his family came from, not just ancient ancestors but his grandparents, and see the clothing they wore, and those polaroids that a lot of Caribbean people have from their rumpus room adult activities.

Some of Santiago’s works are on view as part of the Atlantic World Art Fair through May 5. You can follow his practice that spans painting, sculpture, and drawing and see more of his process on Instagram.

 

“Artist as Knight (self-portrait)” (2018), mixed-media diorama in a reclaimed jewelry box, 5.7 x 5.1 x 6.4 centimeters

“Party Can’t Done” (2020), mixed-media diorama in a reclaimed jewelry box, 9 x 8 x 8 centimeters

Detail of “Party Can’t Done” (2020), mixed-media diorama in a reclaimed jewelry box, 9 x 8 x 8 centimeters

“Olokun in Fancy Dress” (2018), mixed-media diorama in a reclaimed jewelry box, 5.7 x 5.7 x 6.4 centimeters

“Visions of Touba 1” (2021), mixed-media diorama in a reclaimed jewelry box, 5 x 10 x 5 centimeters

“Modern Nubian enjoying Ancient Dogon technology” (2021), mixed-media diorama in a reclaimed jewelry box, 7.6 x 14.6 x 14.6 centimeters

“Soca in the Suburbs” (2021), mixed-media diorama in a reclaimed jewelry box, 7.6 x 14.6 x 14.6 centimeters

Detail of “Soca in the Suburbs” (2021), mixed-media diorama in a reclaimed jewelry box, 7.6 x 14.6 x 14.6 centimeters

“March of the Jab Jabs” (2021), mixed-media diorama in a reclaimed jewelry box, 5.1 x 5.7 x 6.3 centimeters

 

 



Art

Anthropomorphic Oil Paintings by Richard Ahnert Envision Satirical and Nostalgic Narratives for Bears

April 13, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Guider” (2022), oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches. All images © Richard Ahnert, courtesy of Modern Eden Gallery, shared with permission

Infused with wit and metaphor, the oil paintings of Toronto-based artist Richard Ahnert imagine the glum, peaceful, and rambunctious lives of animals. His new collection, on view through May 6 as part of Bear With Me at San Francisco’s Modern Eden Gallery, centers on the eponymous mammals, which are shown in the midst of relatable, deeply human activities. Rendered with soft, hazy edges in subtle colors, the anthropomorphized characters are caught in the rain, slouched over a bar, and enjoying a mid-day reprieve on the water. The narratives also tend to be veiled in nostalgia, shown through garments, the ubiquity of tobacco, and in the case of “Swear Bears,” a satirical twist on a 1980’s animation.

Ahnert’s body of work spans the animal kingdom, and he has a few limited-edition prints available. Explore more of his contemplative pieces on his site and Instagram. (via Supersonic Art)

 

“Shore Leave,” (2022), oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches

“Swear Bears” (2022), oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches

“Waiting Game” (2022), oil on canvas, 24 x 18 inches

“Patchwork” (2022), oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches

 

 



Art

Found Text Weaves New Narratives in Sculptures of Common Objects by Cecilia Levy

March 14, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Lena” (2015). All images © Cecilia Levy, shared with permission

Artist Cecilia Levy (previously) carves individual words and phrases from vintage books that she then refashions into Mary Janes, fringed boots, and classic tea sets. As thin as a single sheet of paper, her fragile, pasted sculptures weave blocks of texts into new patterns and contexts that add intrigue and depth to their everyday forms. The sourced material “carries several narratives at the same time, both in the content itself and by the passing of time, for instance where light and age have turned the edges of the paper brittle and brown. My works are also about this. They reflect my inner stories and memories,” she tells Colossal.

Levy models many of her pieces after items found around her home or by casting objects in a silicone mold, though it’s not only the shape that guides the work but often the prose itself. Words like “poësie,” for example, nestle into the center of a teacup piece by the same name, while other sculptures like “Lena” or “Rosa” could be likened to narrative mazes that require navigating an array of words and phrases strung together in non-linear manners.

Based in Sigtuna, Sweden, Levy has two pieces available in her shop and several shows slated for this spring: her works will be on view at Homo Faber in Venice and two venues in Malmö, the Form/Design Center and at Southern Sweden Design Days. She’s currently working on a series involving paper maché clay that she’ll exhibit next year at Konsthantverkarna in Stockholm. You can see more of Levy’s process and works on Instagram.

 

“Hobo – Homeward Bound” (2012), book pages, paste, string. 40 x 30 x 30 centimeters

“Rosa” (2015)

“Rosa” (2015)

“Tea for two,” book pages, wheat paste, concrete base, 15 x 40 x 40 centimeters. Photo by Alvaro Campo

Detail of “Hobo – Homeward Bound” (2012), book pages, paste, string. 40 x 30 x 30 centimeters

“Hobo – Homeward Bound” (2012), book pages, paste, string. 40 x 30 x 30 centimeters

“Poësie” (2016), book pages and wheatpaste, 9-centimeter cup, 13-centimeter saucer

 

 



Art

Drawings and Paintings by Pat Perry Reinterpret American Stories with Tender Absurdity

October 15, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Recital XII” (2021), acrylic on panel, framed, 26 x 48 inches. All images courtesy of Hashimoto Contemporary, shared with permission

In Pat Perry’s Sensemaking, there’s no rubric for telling a story. In quiet scenes framed through roadside vantage points and performances of costumed figures and contemporary symbols, the Detroit-based artist (previously) considers the deeply American tendency to configure the world with single, flat narratives. Perry takes an opposing approach, though, and instead layers his pieces with contradiction, complexity, and unusual details that reflect the current moment.

Rendered in subtle color palettes, his drawings and paintings pull from the visual lexicon of Midwestern life (i.e. children playing on pipe abandoned in a field or a lone figure sitting at a card table on the sidewalk), although they contain imaginative twists and nuanced social commentary: swimming pools sit below an underpass, banners display Craigslist ads, and fleeting social media trends are printed on large posters. “These paintings and drawings offer a joyful glimpse into an invented world; one that’s closely related to the one right in front of us; one that we so often struggle to see clearly and make sense of,” a statement about the series says.

 

Sensemakers” (2021), acrylic on panel, framed, 48 x 57 inches

In a lengthy essay published by Juxtapoz back in August, Perry elaborates on the impetus for his latest works, which center around a broad theme of flawed logic. He revists his attempts to understand the world through the lens of his religious childhood in Michigan and later, the anarchic ideologies that guided his early adult years, and the two conflicting narratives profoundly impact the artist’s approach today. “Chapter Three of my life so far has had something to do with recognizing that truly lessening suffering maybe has less to do with understanding the world, or playing an oversized role in it. It may not be about constantly ‘using my voice,'” he writes.

Sensemaking, which features dozens of new paintings, charcoal drawings, and works in acrylic and pen, is on view from October 6 through November 16 at Hashimoto Contemporary in New York, and you can follow Perry’s work on Instagram.

 

“Recital XIII” (2021), acrylic on panel, framed, 48 x 54 inches

“River Friends” (2021), acrylic on panel, framed, 49 x 64 inches

“Black Square” (2021), acrylic on panel, framed, 42 x 48 inches

“Video Wishing Well” (2021), acrylic on panel, framed, 20 x 20 inches

“NPC Melek Taus” (2021), acrylic on panel, framed, 29 x 54 inches

“Indexers 1” (2021), acrylic, pencil, and pen, framed, 22 x 30 inches

“Glossary” (2021), acrylic, pencil, and pen, framed, 22 x 30 inches

“Indexers 2” (2021), acrylic, pencil, and pen, framed, 22 x 30 inches