Tiny Human Activities Erupt into Vast Celestial Nightscapes in New Paintings by Oliver Jeffers
Whether working in acrylic on panel or illustrating a scene for one of his children’s books, artist Oliver Jeffers is fascinated by positioning. He returns to questions about perspective and finding a place in the world amidst chaotic politics and an overwhelmingly vast universe.
In The Night in Bloom, a series of ten works soon to be on view at Praise Shadows Art Gallery in Brookline, Massachusetts, Jeffers imagines explosive astronomical scenes and impeccably aligned constellations. One work shrouds an abandoned picnic in deep blues and purples before erupting into a bright nebula, cradling stars between the soft glow of city skylines. Another piece, which the artist will replicate at a massive scale on a facade at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, depicts a figure at home underneath a colorful expanse of galaxies and celestial bodies.
Each of the stellar works, which are the artist’s first rendered in acrylic, celebrates the possibilities of the unknown. He explains:
The worlds beyond our world, whose clues only reveal themselves when the light of our day grows low enough to view the dramatic and brilliantly colorful heavens after dusk, suggest a vastness we cannot possibly comprehend above our heads. These are the same heads that grow bored of looking for what to play on the radio, wonder when our internet purchase will arrive, or what activity we will use to pass the time this weekend. Perhaps there is more to this business of being alive than we give ourselves time (and perspective) to enjoy.
Jeffers, who splits his time between Belfast and Brooklyn, recently unveiled Our Place in Space, a series of sculptures that bring the solar system to Northern Ireland and Cambridge. This immersive experience complements The Night in Bloom, which will run from June 3 to July 10. Explore more of the artist’s dreamy paintings, sculptures, and illustrations on his site and Instagram.
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Neon Lights and Urban Loneliness Shroud Cities After Dark in Liam Wong’s Panoramic Photo Book
The foundational idea behind Liam Wong’s new book is that “real life is just as potent, bizarre, and interesting as things we can imagine.” Released by the crowd-sourced publisher Volume, After Dark is a follow-up to the Edinburgh-born photographer’s first monograph, TO: KY: OO, which captured the empty Japanese streets under the glow of neon lights. Now Wong similarly documents city life with his signature cinematic style, although he ventures beyond Tokyo to unveil the nightlife of Osaka, Kyoto, London, Seoul, Paris, and Rome in wide, gleaming panoramas.
The 176-page book pinpoints instances of urban solitude and reveals a universal sense of loneliness that falls on a city when most of its residents are asleep. Wong (previously) tends to frame temporarily abandoned pockets of a business district or bustling neighborhood that will likely be chaotic with passersby in a few hours, giving his shots a futuristic bent that’s more evocative of a cybernetic video game than typical street photography. After Dark captures “the eerie emptiness of London’s Piccadilly Circus at 4:00 a.m., Seoul’s late-night taxi drivers moving along hushed roads, two birds sharing the warmth of neon sign in Hong Kong’s TSM District, and a salaryman waiting on an empty subway platform in Tokyo’s Akihabara district,” a statement says.
Signed and collector’s editions of After Dark, including one packaged with print, are available to fund now on Volume’s site. You also can purchase prints in Wong’s shop, and find more of his photos on Instagram. (via It’s Nice That)
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An Eerie, Fairytale Forest and Silhouette Creatures Sprawl Across a Three-Story Mural by David de la Mano
Set against a forest in shades of blue and white, a dark, twisted fairytale lines the entrance hall of the Catholic University of Uruguay. The three-story mural by David de la Mano is titled “Cosmos” and uses the Spanish artist’s signature silhouette figures and thin, branch-like lines to create a sinister narrative consumed by mystery and disorder: hybrid creatures escape down a stairwell, an army marches along the balcony, and myriad characters twist and flail in chaotic clusters.
Completed with the assistance of artist Andrés Cocco, the large-scale piece is derived from the shared etymological root of “university” and “universe,” which means a totality or everything that exists. “Cosmos” evokes Fernando Gallego’s 15th-Century painting of constellations and the zodiac that once cloaked a vaulted ceiling at the University of Salamanca library in de la Mano’s hometown, although this new iteration is devoid of stars. “It is a work full of mystery… There is my own iconography. There is the idea of migration, a constant in my work from years ago,” the artist says in a statement. “The stars were replaced by two forests. There is a dark forest that does not let you see, and there is a clear forest in which the light comes.”
After spending years in Uruguay, de la Mano is back in Salamanca, and you can follow his works on Instagram.
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Footage from a Blackwater Dive Off the Coast of Italy Frames the Striking Marine Creatures Found in Its Depths
For marine biologists and photographers, a nighttime dive into the ocean offers an austere backdrop for capturing the myriad creatures that live below the surface: entirely devoid of light, black water creates a stark visual contrast to the iridescent, translucent, and tentacled organisms that float in the dark expanses, making rare sightings of cusk eels and or billowing blanket octopuses all the more striking. An expedition by Alexander Semenov (previously) near Ponza Island unveiled an array of marine life off the western coast of Italy, framing their unique forms and movements. The footage is part of an ongoing documentary project for Aquatilis, and you can see more from Semenov on his site.
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Nighttime Skies Serve as the Dreamy Backdrop for Sophia Ahamed’s Saturated Flowers
With illuminated slivers of the moon in the distance, a photographic series juxtaposes clusters of flowers in saturated reds and pink with expanses of cloudy, blue skies. Created by Sophia Ahamed, the dreamy works center on seasonal blooms at their peak, highlighting the soft, paper-thin petals of spring and the deep oranges associated with fall.
Despite their entirely organic subject matter and focus on naturally occurring colors and textures, each work is designed to skew perceptions of fiction and reality: Ahamed shoots all of the elements separately and then layers them into new compositions, positioning genuine images into fabricated contexts. “We associate colour with how we perceive the world around us, memories, and emotion,” she says, “Often at times, these elements can act as well as a gentle escape into something more soothing.”
Ahamed, who’s also the design director at the Vancouver-based agency Monograph & Co., shares that the Dark Night series originated from grief and loss, a theme that continues to veil the works with melancholy. “Sometimes we forget that the magic we are seeking in our day-to-day lives isn’t waiting for us on a lavish trip. That magic is all around us, all the time. We just have to be willing to pause and take a look around,” she says.
Prints are available on Ahamed’s site, and you can find more from the series on Instagram. (via designboom)
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Dramatic Brush Strokes Energize Trees in Paintings by Adam S. Doyle
Artist Adam S. Doyle (previously) is known for his paintings of birds and other animals that call attention to, rather than mask, his brush strokes. In his latest series, “Night Fall Trees,” Doyle shifts his focus to a different living entity. “By putting trees front and center as subjects, instead of relegating them to the background where they usually are, I’m saying these silent sentinels of our planet deserve our full attention and respect,” the artist shares with Colossal.
Like his other series, “Night Fall Trees” centers on Doyle’s obsession with energy. The swirling tree branches are wound tightly within each other, the tufts of leaves envelop the top branches, and the widespread roots bury themselves into the ground. Inspired by a nighttime glimpse of a well-lit tree last October, Doyle also says this series is about the seasons and the resilience the trees have.
Fall is often associated with colorful foliage, which is best seen during the day. But fall is also a season about transition, heading in for the long nights and bone-chilling cold. Winter is a hard time. Trees get through it, though. These paintings reflect on being ready for what’s to come and like the trees knowing we’ll get through it. There will be blossoming once again in the spring.
Doyle tells Colossal his creative plans include writing fiction and nonfiction. You can keep up with the artist’s latest energized paintings on Facebook. He even has another site for his children’s projects.
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