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Art

Flora and Fauna Converge as Fantastic Hybrid Creatures in Jon Ching's Oil Paintings

June 7, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Mother Mycelium.” All images © Jon Ching, shared with permission

Artist Jon Ching strikes a balance between texture and color in his meticulously detailed oil paintings that make fantastic creatures—owls with plumes of mushrooms and fuzzy molds, seahorses sprouting leafy twigs, and fish with striped tulip fins—appear natural in their environments. This vague distinction between the realistic and surreal saturates Ching’s body of work, which imagines a magical ecosystem that visualizes the symbiotic relationships between flora and fauna. “I am inspired by the worldview of many Indigenous cultures that revere the natural world and see god in every aspect of our living world,” he tells Colossal. “I believe that perspective is key to their sustainable societies and one that must be reawakened in our colonized societies.”

While he dreams up the hybrid forms, the Los Angeles-based artist still roots each piece in the existing world. He has a keen sense for finding the enchanting and unusual in his own experiences, whether from watching David Attenborough documentaries or spending his childhood in Kaneohe, Hawaii. “My more surreal creatures, where the line between flora and fauna are blurred, is in part my attempt at depicting some of this unseen magic,” he writes. “By placing them in a realistic setting among species we’re familiar with, I’m envisioning them into the real world. Maybe if we look close enough or long enough, we’ll catch a glimpse of them and my work won’t seem surreal anymore.”

You can see Ching’s paintings at Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles starting August 14 and find prints, stickers, and postcards in his shop. Check out his Instagram for glimpses into his process and the real-life animals and plants that shape his works. (via Iain Claridge)

 

“Sheila Ann”

“Razzle Dazzle”

“Sprite”

“Aquaria”

“Homestead”

“Nectar”

“Chasing Summer”

“Puhpowee”

 

 



Photography

A Resilient Kangaroo, Exploding Volcano, and School of Barracuda Take the Top Spots in the 2021 BigPicture Competition

June 3, 2021

Grace Ebert

“New Kid in School” by Yung-Sen Wu. All images courtesy of BigPicture, shared with permission

Encompassing plumes of mushroom spores, preying venus flytraps, and an opportunistic leopard seal, the 2021 BigPicture Natural World Photography contest showcases the beautiful, peculiar, and resilient flora and fauna across the globe. Now in its eighth year, the annual competition, which is held by the California Academy of Sciences, is centered largely around conservation and humans’ impact on the environment. The 2021 contest garnered entries showing the profound changes to the planet in recent months alone by documenting the desolate landscape following Australian bushfires and a disposable face mask floating off the coast of California. See some of the winning shots below and all finalists on the competition’s site. (via Kottke)

 

“Hope Amidst the Ashes” by Jo-Anne McArthur

“Ice Bears” by Peter Mather

Top left: “Sign of the Tides” by Ralph Pace. Top right: “Boss” by Michelle Valberg. Bottom left: “Another Planet” by Fran Rubia. Bottom right: “Facing Reality” by Amos Nachoum

“Nutritional Supplement” by Nick Kanakis

Left: “Rain Dance” by Sarang Naik. Top right: “Running Atta” by Petr Bambousek. Bottom right: “Beak to Beak” by Shane Kalyn

“Taking a Load Off” by Nicolas Reusens

“Down the Hatch” by Angel Fitor

 

 



Photography

Natural Light Illuminates Flowers in Full Bloom in Otherworldly Photographs by Xuebing Du

May 17, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Xuebing Du, shared with permission

Xuebing Du finds the balance between light and shadow in her photographs that cast flowers and plants in a dreamy, refined manner. Currently based in Sunnyvale, California, Du scouts the botanical subject matter as the forms reach peak bloom, using only the natural glow from the sun to capture their vivid color. The resulting images are elegant and otherworldly and frame the soft, silky petals in a way that creates “a tone that is almost surreal and illuminated by a strong yet delicate touch of light,” she says in a statement.

Du’s photography focuses on the organic textures and supple forms of the natural world, and you can explore a larger collection of her works on Behance, Tumblr, and Instagram. Prints are available in her shop. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

 

 



Craft

A Painstakingly Crafted Village Perches Atop a Wooden Tower in Ognyan Stefanov's Miniature Utopia

May 5, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Ognyan Stefanov, shared with permission

Bulgarian artist Ognyan Stefanov pairs his day job as an aviation photographer with an equally lofty practice of crafting lavish architectural miniatures that soar high in the air. One of his creations is this utopic village, aptly named “Skyville,” which was designed as a self-sustaining enclave complete with shops, farms and gardens, a library, and a few homes, including the main house with the individually tiled pitched roof. Posted atop a latticed tower, the heavily landscaped town was designed to mimic real functionality with a water drainage system, pulleys, and walkways that climb from level to level.

Created at a 1/87 scale and spanning 36 x 16 inches, the 60-pound model took Stefanov two years to complete and is an amalgamation of wooden stirrers, popsicle sticks, and photo-etching techniques. Each scene is crafted with meticulous detail, from the luxe interiors filled with a chandelier, wrought iron bed frame, and framed artworks to the architectural elements like the wooden beams and circular windows. Even the minuscule characters appear to be in the middle of a task.

Check out Stefanov’s page dedicated to “Skyville” to see the work in progress and more glimpses of its richly decorated interiors.

 

 

 



Animation Design

Urban Centers Undergo 'Guerilla Greening' in GIFs that Reimagine Cities with Lush Vegetation

April 23, 2021

Grace Ebert

Fleet Street in London

The team over at WATG reenvisions some of the most iconic corridors in major cities in what the global design firm aptly describes as “guerilla greening.” Through a series of GIFs, streets in London, New York City, and Honolulu are transformed into lush, garden-like enclaves teeming with trees, new landscaping, and thick vegetation wrapping around the existing architecture. WATG poured years of research into the short animations, which visualize practical and viable adjustments that would improve air quality, promote bicycle and pedestrian traffic, and make the traditionally concrete-and-brick locales more ecologically diverse.

Read more about the ongoing project on the firm’s site, and keep an eye out for future transformations on Twitter and Instagram. (via Core77)

 

London

Flatiron in New York City

Kalakaua Avenue in Honolulu

 

 



Art

Olafur Eliasson's Newest Exhibition Floods Fondation Beyeler with a Bright Green Pond Filled with Plants

April 22, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Life” (2021), installation view at Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel. Photo by Mark Niedermann, courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles, © 2021 Olafur Eliasson

A flood of murky water overwhelms the stark white galleries of Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland. The new exhibition, simply titled “Life,” is the work of acclaimed Danish-Iceland artist Olafur Eliasson (previously), who set the Swiss institution awash in floating ferns, dwarf water lilies, shell flowers, red root floaters, and water caltrops.

To install the sprawling project, Eliasson removed the windows on one side of the museum’s facade, which allows visitors and nearby wildlife to enter the space at any time of day or night. The open-air environment subjects the manufactured reservoir indoors to the naturally occurring elements outside the building, like the weather, daylight, humidity, and smells and sounds of nearby public gardens. At night, a combination of UV lights and a fluorescent dye called uranine radiate brilliant colors throughout the water.

A prismatic livestream—Eliasson outfitted some of the cameras with apparatuses that mimic the sensory experiences of animals and insects—captures how the immersive space changes with each moment, especially as the surface reflects shadows and passersby. These interactions between human and non-human species foreground the project, which was inspired by anthropologist Natasha Myers who’s advocated for the advent of the “planthroposcene.” An alternative to the anthropocene, Myers’ concept is “rooted in the knowledge that plants are what made this planet liveable,” a statement says, clarifying that although the gallery is overrun with water, Eliasson’s goal is to evidence the interconnectivity inherent in nature.

Fondation Beyeler is housing Eliasson’s “Life” through July. Find more of the artist’s monumental projects on his studio’s site and Instagram. (via Artnet)

 

“Life” (2021), installation view at Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel. Photo by Mark Niedermann, courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles, © 2021 Olafur Eliasson

“Life” (2021), installation view at Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel. Photo by Pati Grabowicz, courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles, © 2021 Olafur Eliasson

“Life” (2021), installation view at Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel. Photo by Pati Grabowicz, courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles, © 2021 Olafur Eliasson

“Life” (2021), installation view at Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel. Photo by Mark Niedermann, courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles, © 2021 Olafur Eliasson

“Life” (2021), installation view at Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel. Photo by Pati Grabowicz, courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles, © 2021 Olafur Eliasson

“Life” (2021), installation view at Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel. Photo by Pati Grabowicz, courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles, © 2021 Olafur Eliasson