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Art

Detailed Portraits of Tahiti’s Third Gender by Kehinde Wiley Challenge Gauguin’s Problematic Depictions

May 25, 2019

Andrew LaSane

Portrait of Geysha Kaua, 2019 Huile sur lin / Oil on linen 151,5 x 122,5 cm 59 3/4 x 48 1/4 in. photo : Diane Arques / ADAGP, Paris, 2019

American artist Kehinde Wiley (previously) has unveiled a new series of paintings of Tahiti’s Māhū community, a group of Polynesians classified as a third gender between male and female. Presented at Galerie Templon in Paris, the colorful portrait series challenges a collection of 20th century works by Paul Gauguin, removing elements that Wiley considers problematic and exploitative side effects of colonialism.

Wiley takes issues with Gauguin’s depictions of the Māhū for being unrealistic fantasies that sexually objectify the community for the sake of his White audience back home. The paintings in his “Tahiti” series incorporate tribal patterns, bright colors, plants, and poses inspired by Gauguin’s work, but these distinctive elements were chosen by the models themselves as a form of “self-presentation.”

Portrait of Kea Loha Mahuta,II, 2019 Huile sur lin / Oil on linen 162,5 x 213,5 cm 64 x 84 in. photo : Diane Arques / ADAGP, Paris, 2019

“I am interested in transformation and artifice,” the artist said in a statement. “My newest exhibition will engage with the history of France and its outward facing relationship to black and brown bodies, specifically relating to sexual proclivity. Gauguin features heavily in the imagination of France and her global interface–with that comes an entire history of complicated gazing. I interrogate, subsume, and participate in discourse about Māhū, about France, and about the invention of gender.”

The “Tahiti” exhibition opened on May 18 and will remain on view at the gallery (along with a new video work) through July 20, 2019. Follow Kehinde Wiley on Instagram to see what else he has been up to, including preparing for his upcoming Black Rock Senegal residency.

Portrait of Kea Loha Mahuta, 2019 Huile sur lin / Oil on linen 92 x 78 cm 36 1/4 x 30 3/4 in. photo : Diane Arques / ADAGP, Paris, 2019

Portrait of Moerai Matuanui, 2019 Huile sur lin/ Oil on linen 183 x 153,2 cm 72 x 60 3/8 in. photo : Diane Arques / ADAGP, Paris, 2019

Portrait of Shelby Hunter, 2019 Huile sur lin / Oil on linen 183 x 244 cm 72 x 96 1/8 in. photo : Diane Arques / ADAGP, Paris, 2019

Portrait of Tuatini Manate,III, 2019 Huile sur lin / Oil on linen 180 x 241,5 cm 70 7/8 x 95 1/8 in. photo : Diane Arques / ADAGP, Paris, 2019

Portrait of Tuatini Manate, 2019 Huile sur lin / Oil on linen 114,5 x 92 cm 45 1/8 x 36 1/4 in. photo : Diane Arques / ADAGP, Paris, 2019

The Siesta, 2019 Huile sur lin / Oil on linen 183 x 244 cm 72 x 96 1/8 in. photo : Diane Arques / ADAGP, Paris, 2019

 

 



Art Craft

Bold Paper Quilled Artworks by JUDiTH + ROLFE Burst With Color and Character

May 9, 2019

Anna Marks

Minnesota-based artistic collective JUDiTH + ROLFE sculpt paper into voluptuous plant and flower motifs blossoming with movement and character. Featuring many botanical species including magnolias, irises and begonias, the duo’s work is a reminder of the diversity of plant structure and form. Each of their floral forms is ‘quilled’ into its shape, from the delicate veins making up the plant’s skeleton, to the fleshy petals exploding with color.

The duo’s business name JUDITH + ROLFE is derived from their middle names; and JUDITH (Daphne Lee) is the artist while her partner, ROLFE (Jamie Sneed), runs the business and logistics. “Before embarking on this journey as a paper artist, I worked for over a decade as an architect in New York City, which is also where I met my husband, Rolfe,” Lee tells Colossal.

Lee and Sneed were drawn to paper as a medium due to its availability and transformability: depending on light, shadows and perspective, their artworks change shape and form. “The technique I use most can broadly be called ‘quilling’ since I work with strips of paper and lay them on edge to form designs,” says Lee. Paper quilling is an artistic practice dating back to the 15th century, which was initially used to decorate religious objects. Basing her technique on the ancient craft, Lee gives her work a contemporary twist by creating big and bold pieces of single flowers or plants. In her process, Lee treats each strip of paper as its own line, from which she ‘sculpts’ her floral artworks. “The paper strips are glued individually to create the artwork, not unlike sketching with paper,” Lee explains. But unlike sketching with paper, Lee’s 3D artworks blossom out of their frame, mirroring the fragile flowers they resemble. 

To view more of JUDITH + ROLFE’s work, visit their website or their Instagram page.

 

 



Design

A Verdant Landscape Breathes Life into a One-Bedroom Apartment in a Suburb of Mumbai

April 26, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

India-based architectural studio The White Room, run by Nitin Barchha and Disney Davis, uses minimal design and natural materials to create clean spaces bursting with plant life. In their recent project Garden Room the pair created a white and slate green sculptural setting that presents a calming segue from interior to outdoor space. The one bedroom apartment located in the Mumbai suburb of Pali Hill is teeming with vines and hanging plants that create a protective barrier from the outside world. An immersive turquoise bathroom mosaic adds to the dissolution between nature and designed structure, dousing the room in blue light reminiscent of a shallow sea. You can see more projects by the architecture studio on their website and Behance.

 

 



Art Craft

Claws and Teeth Emerge From Otherworldly Ceramic Vessels by Gregory Knopp

April 25, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

While many designers focus on enhancing the cuteness of small air plants, ceramic artist Gregory Knopp highlights the otherworldly qualities of these popular plants. His hand-built clay vessels feature gaping mouth-like holes surrounded by curling claws or winding appendages that draw attention to the spindly air plants. Knopp, who works under the name Tooth and Snail, explains that he begins each piece with a concept sketch and then develops the work instinctively with clay in hand. “This is such an intuitive and malleable medium, it allows for images and ideas that might not be conscious to come through and take shape.”

Knopp immigrated as a child with his family from Russia to Brooklyn, where he currently lives and works. The artist shares with Colossal that he has always been fascinated by deep sea life forms. As a high schooler he volunteered at the Coney Island Aquarium, where he was drawn to corals and octupuses over the more popular sea otters and dolphins. Knopp’s interest in science continues today, and the artist finds inspiration in readings on anatomy and evolutionary biology. “Living forms have much order and purpose in their constitutions, but are at the same time ludicrous and whimsical,” he explains. “I try to capture some of that with these sculptures.”

Knopp’s unusual sculptural ceramics, including dramatic interpretations of cacti, are available in the Tooth and Snail online store and at pop-up markets around Brooklyn. The artist also shares updates on Instagram.

 

 



Design

VTN Architects Designed a Vietnam Home With the Green Space on the Inside

March 24, 2019

Andrew LaSane

Images via Vo Trong Nghia Architects / Hiroyuki Oki

Blurring the line between the interior and exterior, Vo Trong Nghia Architects designed and built a three-level residential home in Ho Chi Minh City that is overflowing from within with fiddle leaf fig plants, various palms, and winding vines. Going beyond arrangements of potted house plants, the architects integrated the flora into the physical structure. Corridors, staircases, and rooms are lined with natural dividers that add color, block sunlight, and ventilate the space.

The latest project in the firm’s “House for Trees” series, the Stepping Park House is a commentary on environmental issues in Vietnam caused by a lack of green spaces. Views of the exterior show that the driveway, balconies, and perimeter fence have also sprouted leaves. The top floor of the building has an open slatted design with spaces that are filled with even more greenery, which further connects the home with the surrounding environment, and in particular to the rare park nearby. (via Jeroen Apers)

 

 



Art

Domesticated Root Systems by Diana Scherer Form Twisting and Repetitive Patterns in Patches of Earth

March 19, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Amsterdam-based artist Diana Scherer investigates the desire for humans to control nature through her series Exercises in Root System Domestication. The project combines design, craft, and science to manipulate plants’ subterranean systems into forming mesmerizing interlocking patterns that are unlike what is found organically. To “train” the roots to grow in such complex patterns, Scherer develops underground geometric templates that the roots grow along and merge with as they grow.

This intelligent behavior of plants below ground, away from humanity’s watchful eye, is another inspiration for Scherer’s work. “Darwin discovered that plants are a lot more intelligent than everybody thought,” she explains on her website. “For contemporary botanists, this buried matter is still a wondrous land. There is a global investigation to discover this hidden world. I also want to explore it and apply the ‘intelligence’ of plants in my work.” You can view more of her root explorations on her website and on Facebook.

 

 



Art Illustration

Blue and White Greenhouse Illustrations Appear like Sun-Baked Cyanotypes

February 25, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Portuguese artist Ana Frois uses her background in architecture to draft precise structures she fills with imaginative monochrome plants and miniature gardening accessories. The series, simply titled Greenhouses, is created with white pencil on top of deep blue acrylic on paper. The ghostly forms are reminiscent of a cyanotype or faded architectural sketch, as if the clean-cut floating renderings are memories from another time. You can find more of Frois’s drawings on Instagram, and purchase prints of her work on Etsy.

 

 

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