Vivid Contours Conjure Hope and Resilience in Yulia Brodskaya’s Quilled Paper Compositions
In Greek mythology, the sacred phoenix, with its characteristically striking plumage in flaming yellow, orange, and red, is known for its ability to resurrect. When the bird’s long life is nearing an end, flames engulf its body, and the being is reborn as a chick in the ashes of its predecessor, giving it the distinction of resilience, regeneration, and immortality. As Yulia Brodskaya began to apply the curled and crimped tendrils of paper to her latest work, she tells Colossal that the firebird portrait “started as a visual representation of a powerful feeling rising from the deep,” adding that “it felt like this portrait has been ‘channelled’ through me.”
Brodskaya captures the subtleties of individual expression and character in her elaborate portraits (previously) and depictions of flora and fauna. Through boldly colored papers that are rolled, folded, and layered, she reveals a flurry of feathers or the contours of a face in intricate detail, like the sense of serene contemplation that permeates “Samurai Dreams.” She wants every piece to send a message, suggesting viewers “pay attention to what emotion or feeling comes up for you in the first moments you see it—until the mind begins to dissect the details and offer loud opinions about why you like or dislike it. That initial quiet voice is the whisper of intuition. That’s the place I create my best work from.”
You can find more information about Brodskaya’s work on her website, and she regularly shares videos of her process on Instagram.
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Paper Show: A Group Exhibition Highlights 14 Artists Exploring the Vast Potential of Paper
One of the most reliable communication materials for centuries, paper historically has served as a vessel, a container for notes or the foundation of an artwork. An upcoming group exhibition at Heron Arts, though, focuses on the humble medium itself and highlights 14 contemporary artists expanding its creative potential. Paper Show features an array of styles, structures, and techniques from the whimsical mobiles of Yuko Nishikawa and Roberto Benavidez’s piñatas to Julia Ibbini’s laser-cut motifs and typographic messages from Judith + Rolfe. Opening July 9, the exhibition will be up through August at the San Francisco gallery. You also might enjoy this book that looks at the artists defining the medium.
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Sensual Sculptures by Polly Verity Tease Moments of Intimacy Out of Single Sheets of Paper
Wales-based artist Polly Verity (previously) coaxes sheets of watercolor paper, canvas, and wire mesh into elegantly suggestive sculptures. The minimal works are carefully molded through a series of bends, twists, and slight folds that contour pursed lips or a rose grazing a nose, and each curve subtly alters the figure’s expression. Alongside her facial silhouettes, Verity also shapes fragmented torsos and voluptuous limbs, an expansion of her practice that connects the “sensual and yielding” material more directly to the subject matter.
“I work in the moment, perhaps imparting an initial deep crease in the paper, taken by the whim of the moment and open to any form that begins to suggest itself. I work with the paper, gently exaggerating a hint of form or gently working an area until a form feels sure and authentic,” the artist tells Colossal. There’s a delicate balance between the intimate and the erotic, though, and when the latter or a form that’s too personal emerges, she discards the piece.
Verity is currently collaborating with the sound collective Crimson Yew to create a body of work that responds to its live music—if you’re in Wales, you can catch their next performance on June 25 at Davies & Co. She also has a few pieces available in her shop and at The Old Bank Vault, and you can find much more of her practice on Instagram.
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Vegetation and Hybrid Figures Entwine in Winnie Truong’s Mythical Collaged Drawings
Canadian artist Winnie Truong recontextualizes the sleek, piecey qualities of human hair in her cut-paper collages. Constructed in layers within rectangular frames, the surreal works utilize the soft texture to depict flowers, vegetation, and strange anthropomorphic figures with elongated fingers and faces obscured by body parts or surroundings. Each piece is rooted in Truong’s drawing practice, and the colored pencil renderings add depth to the mythical compositions.
An extension of her two-dimensional works, these dioramas similarly explore the connection between women and nature. Many of the hybrid figures are entangled with foliage and their own anatomies, positioning traditional understandings of beauty alongside disorienting and more fantastic forms.
Visit Truong’s Instagram for more of her recent works and a glimpse into her process.
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Daily Newspapers by Myriam Dion Unfold into Meticulously Woven Narratives
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.
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Layers of Intricately Cut Paper Evoke Strength and Vulnerability in Christine Kim’s Elegant Collages
In intricately cut collages by Ontario-based artist Christine Kim, flowers, foliage, and crown-like adornments encompass anonymous portraits. Painted floral motifs on carefully torn pieces of paper paired with slats of wood appear like lath exposed beneath ornate wallpaper, providing a backdrop for the elegant silhouettes. The elaborate designs of the figures’ headdresses suggest wrought iron with delicate strands of plants or ribbon partially obscuring their faces. In her series Paper Thin, Kim explores myriad techniques for working with the ubiquitous material.
Inspired to examine relationships between surface, pattern, and volume, she portrays how the medium can be both fragile and solid, rigid yet flexible. She describes in a statement that the series evokes “dualities of strength and vulnerability, as stark black fences crown the regal female figures, but these barriers are, in the end, only paper-thin.”
Kim’s work is currently on view at Galerie Youn in Montréal as part of the group exhibition YOUNIVERSE until July 3. You can find more of her work on her website and on Instagram.
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