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Art

Hera’s Poetic Portraits of Childlike Scavengers Foster Therapeutic Interactions Between Artist and Self

April 27, 2023

Grace Ebert

A large-eyed young woman looks at the viewer and wears a deer headdress

“The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 39.4 x 39.4 inches. All images © Hera, courtesy of Corey Helford Gallery, shared with permission

German-Pakistani artist Jasmin Siddiqui, who works as Hera and was half of the street art duo known as Herakut, brings a new series of scavengers to Corey Helford Gallery this month in tHERApy room 2. The solo show extends a body of work Hera presented in 2021, similarly depicting a large-eyed young woman donning the heads of wildlife. Defined by the artist’s graffiti style with drips, splatters, and sweeping spray-painted marks, the portraits connect adolescent wonder, innocence, and naivety to the broader human condition. “Each note I write and share with the world is actually a message addressed to that inner child, the vulnerable part that needs that extra encouragement, that talk of hope, of magic, and a little bit of escapism,” she says.

Having first picked up a can of spray paint 23 years ago, Hera considers these works a reflection of her evolution as an artist and person, saying:

If you will, you could see each piece as a therapy session, where the therapist would be Hera wielding brush and spray paint, and the patient would be Jasmin, the woman underneath the animal metaphor hats and masks. Describing my artwork that way makes it seem as if I had never stopped working in a duo.

tHERApy room 2, which also contains the artist’s new superhero sculptures, is on view through May 27 in Los Angeles. You can find more on Instagram.

 

A large-eyed young woman looks at the viewer and wears an elephant headdress

“A Brain That Rarely Forgets Needs a Heart That Readily Forgives,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 39.5 x 31.5 inches

A large-eyed young woman looks at the viewer and wears a crow headdress with rats climbing on her body

“There’s Great Kinship Among the Outcasts,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 31.5 x 31.5 inches

A close up view of a large-eyed young woman who looks at the viewer and wears a deer headdress

Detail of “The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 39.4 x 39.4 inches

A large-eyed young woman looks at the viewer and wears a fox headdress, a book in her lap

“Reading Together Was Like Sharing an Imaginary Friend,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 39.5 x 31.5 inches

Two images, on the left a painting of a woman wearing a deer headdress facing a man with a similar buck garment, who is cradling a raccoon baby. On the right is a woman facing the viewer wearing a green hat with several tiny deer on her head

Left: “Never Be King Just for Yourself,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 47.2 x 31.5 inches. Right: “Thoughts Are Free,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 63 x 47.25 inches

A large-eyed woman with wings balances on a pedestal facing two other creatures

“Year After Year Magic and Nature Conferred About the Uncertain Future of Humans and Always Ended Up Granting Them More Time,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 39.25 x 39.25 inches

 

 

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Photography

For the ‘Flower Men’ of Saudi Arabia, A Handcrafted Tradition Heralds Beauty and Health

April 26, 2023

Grace Ebert

A portrait of a man wearing a flower crown

All images © Omar Reda, shared with permission

In the rapidly modernizing ‘Asir Province of southwest Saudi Arabia, the Qhatan tribe preserves an enduring tradition. The men of the group, which is said to descend from Ishmael, son of Abraham, fashion vibrant flower crowns made from marigolds, jasmine, herbs, and other plants, wearing the handcrafted ornaments as symbols of pride and joy. Comprised of dried and fresh materials, the headpieces are donned for celebrations, to ward off sickness, and for their beauty, and the practice spans professions and age.

Omar Reda, a Lebanese photographer currently living and working in Saudi Arabia, traveled to the province in January 2021, where he met some members of the tribe. The country “holds a treasure trove of hidden gems, he says, noting that he’s interested in documenting the vast cultural diversity of the Arab nation. In his photographs of the “flower men,” Reda brings the viewer into direct confrontation with the subjects, documenting their crowns, facial expressions, and garments with close precision. The intimate portraits highlight how the uniqueness of each individual emerges through a shared practice, providing a common point of connection throughout the community.

Reda frequently travels to photograph communities and their cultural practices, and you can find more of his portraiture on Instagram. (via PetaPixel)

 

A portrait of a man wearing a flower crown

A portrait of a man wearing a flower crown

two portraits of men wearing flower crowns

A portrait of a man wearing a flower crown

two portraits of men wearing flower crowns

A portrait of a man wearing a flower crown

A portrait of a man wearing a flower crown

two portraits of men wearing flower crowns

A portrait of a man wearing a flower crown

 

 



Photography

In ‘Fire / Flood,’ Gideon Mendel Photographs Those Who Remain Amid Climate Disaster

April 25, 2023

Grace Ebert

A man stands half-submerged in a flood against a pink wall

Muhammad Chuttal, Khaipur Nathan Shah, Sindh Province, Pakistan, October 2022, from ‘Drowning World.’ All images © Gideon Mendel, shared with permission

An emergency that’s often explained with abstract data, catastrophic predictions, and threats to the planet and its species, the climate crisis can be difficult to comprehend. For decades, warming temperatures and rising waters were largely connected to plants and animals, with imagery showing the devastation as it relates to polar bears, coral, and other threatened species. There’s been growing interest in recent years, though, in documenting the communities most profoundly affected and highlighting the human impact already underway.

Gideon Mendel, a South African photographer living in the U.K., has been taking this approach in his two companion series, Drowning World and Burning World. On view now at The Photographers’ Gallery as part of Fire / Flood, Mendel’s portraits are deeply personal, showing individuals and families in their homes and neighborhoods that have been destroyed by natural disasters. Taken in 15 countries since 2007, the collection insists on recognizing that although the regularity and intensity of wildfires, hurricanes, and other weather events are increasing, humanity has been feeling the effects of the crisis for decades.

Mendel began Drowning World first after floods overtook Doncaster, a small city in South Yorkshire. He started by photographing people partially submerged in what was left of their homes, a position that he recreated a few weeks later when visiting India. “When I got back, I put these pictures side by side, portraits from floods in the U.K, and India, and I felt like something quite strong was happening—a shared vulnerability, despite the huge differences in wealth, culture, and environment. That was the beginning of the journey for me,” he told LensCulture.

 

A man stands submerged up to his neck in a flood

João Pereira de Araújo, Taquari District, Rio Branco, Brazil, March 2015, from ‘Drowning World’

Whether captured in Haiti, Brazil, Pakistan, or France, the photos assert that no community is immune to the effects of a changing planet, although some are surely left in worse conditions. Mendel explains in a statement:

My subjects have taken the time—in a situation of great distress—to engage the camera, looking out at us from their inundated homes and devastated surroundings. They are showing the world the calamity that has befallen them. They are not victims in this exchange: the camera records their dignity and resilience. They bear witness to the brutal reality that the poorest people on the planet almost always suffer the most from climate change.

When Burning World followed in 2020, Mendel was able to compare the two types of disasters and find commonalities, most notably how his subjects unanimously found strength and endurance. He photographs each person standing upright, remaining assured amid the ruin and choosing courage over fatalism.

Fire / Flood is on view in London through September 30. You can find more of the series on Mendel’s site and Instagram.

 

A man stands amid the rubble of his home devasted by wildfires

Gurjeet Dhanoa, Rock Creek, Superior, Colorado, USA, March 2022, from ‘Burning World’

A woman stands half-submerged in a flood against a blue wall

Florence Abraham, Igbogene, Bayelsa State, Nigeria, November 2012, from ‘Drowning World’

A man stands amid the rubble of his home devasted by wildfires

Jenni Bruce, Upper Brogo, New South Wales, Australia, January 15, 2020, from ‘Burning World’

A man stands amid the rubble of his home devasted by wildfires

Kevin Goss, Greenville, California, USA, October 2021, from ‘Burning World’

Four photos, two of people standing half-submerged in floods, two of people standing in their homes devasted by fires

Top left: … Nigeria, November 2022, from ‘Drowning World.’ Top right: Uncle Noel Butler and Trish Butler, Nura Gunyu Indigenous Education Centre, New South Wales, Australia, February 28, 2020, from ‘Burning World.’ Bottom left: Rhonda Rossbach, Derek Briem, and Autumn Briem, Killiney Beach, British Columbia, Canada, October 16, 2021, from ‘Burning World.’ Bottom right: Joy Christian, Dorca Executive Apartments, Otuoke, Ogbia Municipality, Bayelsa State, Nigeria, November 2022, from ‘Drowning World’

A man stands half-submerged in a flood against a white wall

Abdul Ghafoor, Mohd Yousof Naich School, Sindh Province, Pakistan, October 2022, from ‘Drowning World’

A man stands half-submerged in a flood against a green wall

Amjad Ali Laghari, Goth Bawal Khan village, Sindh Province, Pakistan, September 2022, from ‘Drowning World’

 

 



Art

Working on Ice Floes, David Popa Renders Ephemeral Portraits that Fracture and Split into the Sea

April 20, 2023

Grace Ebert

A portrait of a woman is rendered on a fractured ice floe

“Bemuse.” All images © David Popa, shared with permission

After a decade of living in Finland, David Popa has established a fruitful creative collaboration that would be impossible in his native New York City. The artist frequently works on land and sea, particularly the fractured ice floes of the Baltic, to render large-scale portraits and figurative murals that draw connections between the ephemerality of human life and the environment. Whether depicting his wife or newborn child in intimate renderings, he highlights the inevitability of change as time passes, seasons transition, and the climate warms.

Popa’s use of such unconventional canvases emerged from a desire for adventure and child-like play, when he put on a drysuit, climbed onto his paddleboard, and ventured out to a frozen mass. “These spaces were so mysterious and so interesting,” the artist says. “I derived an enormous amount of inspiration from going out into these ethereal spots.” After taking some drone photos of the areas, he began working, spraying the contours of a cheek or lip onto the icy matter.

 

Two photos, both Greek sculptures rendered on fractured landscapes

Left: “Remnants of the Past.” Right: “Prometheus”

Because many of his works are destined to melt and be reabsorbed, Popa opts for natural materials like white chalk from the Champagne region, ochres from France and Italy, and powdered charcoal he makes himself—the latter also plays a small role in purifying the water, leaving it cleaner than the artist found it. Most pieces take between three and six hours to complete, and his work time is dependent on the weather, temperature, and condition of the sea. “The charcoal will sink into the ice and disappear from a very dark shade to a medium shade, so it has to be created very quickly and documented. No to mention the work on the ice will just crack and drift away completely, or the next day it will snow and be completely covered,” he says. “I’m really battling the elements.”

Popa embraces this cyclical process and the lack of control over the fate of his works, which he preserves only through stunning aerial photos. Broadly reflecting themes of existence and time, some of his murals, like “Prometheus” and “Remnants of the Past,” also emphasize shifts in aesthetic impulses. Mimicking Greek sculptures, the works appear “washed up on shore,” drawing connections between antiquity and today and the differences in how we perceive beauty.

Popa will release a new limited-edition print next month, and you can follow that release on his site and Instagram. (via Yatzer)

 

A hand stretches through a vineyard and cradles grapes in its palm

“Power of the Earth”

A portrait of a man is rendered on a fractured ice floe

“Fractured”

A portrait of a woman is rendered on the landscape

“Redemption”

A hand stretches through a vineyard and cradles grapes in its palm

“Power of the Earth”

Two images, both portraits of women rendered on the landscape

Left: “Lautassari.” Right: “Inceptus”

A portrait of a woman is rendered on a fractured ice floe

“Mirage”

 

 



Art

Antonius-Tín Bui Carves Spaces for Diverse Histories in Their Meticulous Paper Artworks

April 12, 2023

Kate Mothes

A hand-cut, blue paper portrait.

“Solo of Raven” (2021), hand-cut paper and paint, 109 x 60 inches. All images © Antonius Tin-Bui, courtesy of moniquemeloche, shared with permission

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.

 

A hand-cut paper sculpture in red.

“There’s Fluency in Forgetting” (2022), hand-cut paper, ink, pencil, and paint, 32 x 24 inches

A detail of a hand-cut paper composition.

Detail of “Solo of Raven”

A hand-cut, blue paper portrait.

“Holding onto these fragments, all these years (The Protectors)” (2021), hand-cut paper, marker, pencil, and ink, 83 1/2 x 43 inches

A hand-cut, red paper portrait.

“Vanguard” (2018), hand-cut paper, 78 x 42 1/8 x 2 1/8 inches

An intricate blue, hand-cut paper sculpture.

“The Resounding Echo of a Revision” (2022), hand-cut paper, ink, pencil, and paint, 34 x 28 inches

A detail of a hand-cut paper composition.

Detail of “The Resounding Echo of Revision”

A hand-cut, blue paper portrait.

“Holding onto these fragments, all these years (The Protectors)” (2021), hand-cut paper, marker, pencil, and ink, 93 1/2 x 42 1/2 inches

A hand-cut, blue paper portrait.

“Holding onto these fragments, all these years (The Protectors)” (2021), hand-cut paper, marker, pencil, and ink, 92 x 42 inches

 

 



Art

Expressive Women Emerge through a Haze of Oil Paint in Rosso Emerald Crimson’s Portraits

March 29, 2023

Grace Ebert

An oil painted portrait of a Black woman seated wearing a white gown

All images © Rosso Emerald Crimson, shared with permission

Against backdrops of streaky paint strokes, scratches, and remnants of patterned wallpaper, Rosso Emerald Crimson (previously) depicts women at ease, their figures emerging from a haze of gauzy gowns and masses of hair. The London-based artist is interested in women’s psychology as she visualizes aspects of the feminine that vacillate from the confident and assured to the demure. Dressed in full garments that mask much of their bodies, the subjects’ facial expressions and comportments are the central focus. Crimson elaborates:

The field of emotions that I represent fluctuates from the plein naïf to the melancholic to the bold and fierce, and these are purely based on my very personal state of being while I create. That is why, paradoxically, the more colourful and exuberant the paintings appear, the more introspective they are. I do feel like subconsciously I am funnelling all my experience as a woman, with my failures, and success, my irrationality and wisdom, my fears and dreams.

Crimson’s painting “Waiting for my Valentine” is on view at MEAM in Barcelona through June 25, and she was recently chosen to participate in Artdom, a program matching artists from two different countries, which will open its next exhibition on April 22 in Oslo. For more from the artist, visit her site and Instagram.

 

An oil painted portrait of a white girl with her eyes closed wearing a white gown with blue dots

An oil painted portrait of a Black woman seated wearing a white gown with a colorful pattern

An oil painted portrait of a young Black girl wearing a white gown with red dots

An oil painted portrait of a Black woman seated wearing a black gown

An oil painted portrait of an Asian woman seated wearing a black gown and hairpiece

An oil painted portrait of a Black girl seated wearing a white gown with red dots