Antonius-Tín Bui Carves Spaces for Diverse Histories in Their Meticulous Paper Artworks
Intricately cutting single sheets of paper by hand, Antonius-Tín Bui (previously) reveals intimate portraits of friends, family, and the diverse narratives that shape identity and community. The Vietnamese-American artist’s subjects are delineated by elaborate geometric and botanical patterns evocative of Southeast Asian decorative motifs and are often portrayed among clusters of traditional porcelain vases, some of which contain large voids as if a piece has broken off. Among the vessels and patterns, Bui details figures enmeshed in their surroundings as words and interiors tenderly acknowledge the queer Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
Bui describes their identity as “ever-glitching” queer, non-binary, and Vietnamese-American, and as a child of refugees who immigrated to New York, they are interested in the narratives of displaced communities, the enormity of transition and transformation, and false dichotomies in geography, culture, and gender. The artist was struck by the focus that cultural institutions place on vessels—and Asian ceramics, in general—in their collections, confronted by the way that many Western museums have historically erased Southeast Asian cultural narratives, resulting in fragmented, siloed representation of an antiquated, overgeneralized Orientalist perspective of the past.
Pieces like “There’s Fluency in Forgetting,” which is part of a series of exploding vessels, mark the transformational nature of the passage of time, visualizing the relationship between past and present to construct what Bui describes as “hybrid identity and histories.” For each figure, the artist carefully carves the details of tattoos, jewelry, and messages that reveal aspects of their stories. Each work is a meditation on presence and absence, memories, inter-generational trauma, and beauty, “metaphorically carving out space for the narratives that are so often omitted from recognized histories.”
moniquemeloche will present a solo exhibition of Bui’s work at Independent Fair in New York next month, and you can see more on the artist’s website and Instagram.
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Jukhee Kwon Revives Abandoned Books in Elaborate Paper Sculptures and Installations
In elaborate sculptures that range from a few inches to several feet, South Korean artist Jukhee Kwon explores the duality of destruction and recreation to give new life to abandoned books. Painstakingly manipulating old tomes by hand, she constructs intricate tendrils and chains of paper still attached to the spines, cutting between the lines so that the text remains legible and merges into new narratives.
Currently based in Italy, Kwon finds books published in Italian like Guerra e Pace—or War and Peace—to provide the starting point for her work. In others, the title of the book is obscured completely by loops and curls of paper. The artist repetitively twists, ruffles, weaves, or links the pages, creating a variety of meshes and draping forms that cascade from the binding and vary greatly from one piece to the next. In “Meditation,” she incorporates the craft tradition of jong-i jeobi, the Korean word for origami, and the original marker ribbon provides a focal point in “Red Circle Book.”
Kwon suggests there are numerous ways to comprehend what we see. A flower could also be a medallion; a series of curtain-like columns mimics waterfalls; and woven webs form baskets or provide the shelter of nests. Paralleling the way great writing contains multiple layers of meaning, the artist is interested in exploring different interpretations, visualizing how thoughts and experiences metaphorically unfurl and blossom.
If you’re in London, you can explore Kwon’s solo exhibition Liberated at October Gallery through April 22, and follow her on Instagram for updates.
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Expressive Portraits Emerge from Pieces of Cardboard in Josh Gluckstein’s Wildlife Sculptures
Since childhood, London-based artist Josh Gluckstein has been fascinated by the incredible diversity of our planet’s wildlife and inspired to make sculptures of animals from found materials. He often uses discarded or recycled materials like clothing from thrift shops or wood from old furniture, and an important aspect of his practice is concern for the environment. “I have travelled through Asia, Latin America, and East Africa, and have been fortunate enough to have some incredible wildlife encounters,” he says. “However, on my travels, even in the most remote locations, I was shocked by the huge amounts of plastic waste.”
Much of the garbage that washes up on shorelines around the world is due to an unregulated system in which richer countries export waste to developing countries because it is often cheaper than developing better infrastructures to handle it. Many of the thousands of shipping containers exported each year are often dumped illegally. Gluckstein shares:
I remember going to the Galapagos Islands and visiting a beach famous for a large population of sea lions. It was indeed incredible to see them in the wild, but on every inch of sand not covered by sea lions, there were plastic bottles and cans. It was a heartbreaking sight. I knew I wanted to create artwork that didn’t create waste and harm our planet.
Gluckstein fashions life-like portraits of elephants, primates, pangolins, and big cats out of cardboard by tearing, cutting, and gluing pieces together into expressive visages, sometimes applying thin washes of paint for added depth and detail. He often works on multiple sculptures at a time, and a piece can take between a week or several months to complete depending on the scale or amount of detail. “In lockdown, at home and out of my studio, I was very keen to get to work, but didn’t have the access to the materials I would usually use,” he says. “That’s when I discovered cardboard, which was readily available, and I found it to be an incredibly versatile medium.”
A new series called Gold focuses on trafficked animals by applying gold leaf to their bodies, highlighting the reasons they are poached. The pangolin, for example, is critically endangered because it’s illegally hunted primarily for its meat and unique scales. Gluckstein plans to show these works next month at Woolff Gallery in London, with a portion of sales donated to the WWF. Follow updates on Instagram, and see more of the artist’s work on his website.
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Giana De Dier Introduces Anonymous Women of the African Diaspora in Bold Collaged Portraits
The mystique of anonymity is a powerful presence, exemplified by a common fascination with family albums and historical archives in which we try to recognize unknown faces. Who were they? What are their stories? In bold, mixed-media portraits, Panama City-based artist Giana De Dier is driven by the enigmatic quality of early photographs centering on women of the African Diaspora. Her subjects are often portrayed wearing patterned fabrics, large earrings, and elaborately plaited hairstyles, situated in front of photographed landscapes or domestic interiors that incorporate African masks and decor and tropical plants.
When she first began to make collages, De Dier culled imagery from glossy magazines like Vogue and Elle, incorporating materials and textures from clothing and textiles. Her recent work looks further back in time, drawing inspiration primarily from depictions of women in the 19th and 20th centuries. “I’m interested in who the person photographed was, why they were photographed, and who took the photo,” she says, sharing that even when she comes across a newer image she likes, she manipulates it to make it appear as if it’s from the past. “My intention when using these images is to create new meaning and stories and find ways to connect these with my own.”
De Dier’s collages depict individuals seated in a traditional portrait posture or interacting and conversing with one another in interior settings. The relaxed atmosphere offers a counterpoint to a legacy of those who migrated to Panama in the early 1900s to build the Panama Canal. De Dier examines the “struggle, failed expectations, and heritage of a displaced people” that are informed by interviews and collected stories, remembering a period of grueling labor and challenging living conditions in the segregated Canal Zone.
Combining paper, woven African fabrics, and swatches of denim cut from jeans to make dresses, cloaks, furnishings, and architectural details, De Dier highlights “racial, religious, and language disparities within Panamanian society and culture” while emphasizing individuals’ powerful presences and contributions to the fabric of daily life, both literally and metaphorically. “Denim has always been present in some way,” she says. “It’s also one of the most worn textiles in Panama—where I was born and currently live—even with our warm and humid weather. Denim, to me, is connected with labor and serves as a way of placing these people and events from the past in a context that’s current.”
Find more of De Dier’s work on her website, and follow updates on Instagram.
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Daniel Agdag’s Playful Rollercoaster Takes a Miniature Approach to Monumental Amusement
Although riders aren’t able to board Daniel Agdag’s rollercoaster, the Australian artist (previously) ensures that his recreational design is structurally sound. Agdag recently completed his largest project to date, a nearly ten-foot big dipper with an elaborately cross-hatched base that mimics the rides. Created during a two-year period, “Lattice” is a miniature rendition of the monumental pastime, built from vellum and “897,560 individual hand-cut cardboard members in the truss section alone,” a component that took about eight months to complete.
The intricate sculpture—which was a commission from the New York City Department of Education and NYC School Construction Authority Public Art for Public Schools in collaboration with the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art program—references Luna Park, a now-defunct chain that began in Coney Island before expanding to locations worldwide. “In fact, the Melbourne Luna Park still has one of the oldest wooden rollercoasters in the world, and this work was very much inspired by a wooden rollercoaster. I thought that was a nice way to link the work’s origin and its destination,” Agdag shares, noting that the “House of Mirrors” section is an ode to the Peter Wiederer Mirror Company that originally occupied the Staten Island site.
Now permanently housed at the Evelyn Lewis Campus—given its location on school property, there’s no public access to view the work—”Lattice” engages with the metaphor of life as a rollercoaster, perpetually moving forward through a series of twists, turns, dips, and peaks. “But this is but one metaphor,” Agdag tells Colossal, explaining that the piece also references a collective spirit. He says:
To me, the representation speaks of systems hidden within the amusement, a considered structure. Constructed of many individual stems and beams, I interpret it as the many people that need to contribute to making society not only function but thrive. The individual structural elements laced together to form a beautiful lattice of strength. Independently they carry little weight, but together they are strengthened and resilient against the forces that try to tear them down.
Agdag shares glimpses into his process and studio on Instagram, where you can follow along with his latest projects.
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Paper Sculptures by Lyndi Sales Rupture into Vibrant Masses to Explore Life’s Fragility
Cape Town-based artist Lyndi Sales translates life’s vulnerability and fleeting nature into colorful sculptures that appear to burst and rupture in vivid forms. Using painted strips of blank paper or fragments of printed maps, Sales layers abstract compositions that splay outward, mimicking the structures of ice crystals or the cell replication process. The tension between the ephemeral and durable and the microscopic and macroscopic manifest in the large-scale works—all the pieces shown here stretch more than 4.5 feet—a relationship the artist teases out as “a way to locate myself in this universe.”
Despite the vibrancy and expansive qualities of Sales’ sculptures, much of her practice centers around dying, a theme that emerged during her childhood and which has been influenced by her father’s death in the Helderberg airplane crash of 1987. She tells Colossal:
The Buddhists believe that if you die peacefully you enter into a tunnel of light whereas if you die in fear you enter into a dark tunnel. Documented near-death experiences, mortality, and the moment of transition from the physical to the spiritual realm became fascinating subjects for me after my research around the Helderberg plane crash. Although my recent work is not specifically about the crash anymore, it has evolved from this core interest. I’m intrigued by the ability to see beyond the veil of the everyday into a realm that is a hair’s breath away from the reality we are familiar with, yet often difficult to access.
Sales has a solo show slated for May at Galerie Maria Lund in Paris. You can find an archive of her work on her site, and head to Instagram for a peek inside her studio. (via Hyperallergic)
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