with public art
AZIMUT, an installation by French artist and designer Arnaud Lapierre, offers a prismatic look at some of Venice’s historic structures. Situated along the waterfront of Riva degli Schiavoni, 16 titled mirrors with battery-powered motors rest on the cobblestone walkway in front of the Palazzo Ducale, a gothic landmark that dates back to the 14th century and currently houses one of the Italian city’s museums. The reflective circles spin in tandem, offering a magnified view of the palace’s patterned stone and the intricate details on its facade.
When facing the water, the mirrors even pick up glimpses of the San Giorgio Maggiore, a Benedictine church that was completed in the 16th century. Featuring massive marble columns, the basicillica was designed by Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio.
Lapierre described the project as “a loss of balance, of recomposing landscape and a patchwork observation,” of the surrounding architecture and historic city. For more of his designs that question and alter perspectives, head to Instagram and Vimeo. (via designboom)
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The beginning of Escif’s Instagram post reads, “Yesterday the meditator’s body was burned. With it many things were burned. 4 tons of wood were burned. A year of intense and wonderful work was burned.” Attached to a darkened image of glowing flames, his words are simultaneously reflective, accepting, and hopeful.
The Spanish artist is referring to his large-scale project “This Too Shall Pass,” which was scheduled to be part of Valencia’s Las Fallas Festival. Each year, the outdoor celebration sees massive projects created by artists—like Okuda San Miguel in 2018 and PichiAvo in 2019—that are set on fire and eventually consumed by flames. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, the 2020 event that would have featured Escif’s work was postponed. Despite its lack of spectators, though, the Spanish city decided to proceed with part of the traditional ceremony, lighting just the bottom half of Escif’s wooden sculpture on fire.
This is a familiar story. Creatives, businesses, and institutions around the world are struggling with the loss of revenue as exhibitions and shows have been pushed to a later date or canceled altogether. They’re also dealing with the more emotional impact of projects unrealized, something Escif has been sharing candidly.
This is not the end we expected. Neither are the circumstances. The magnitude of this figure can never be. Perhaps another woman, perhaps a part of it, perhaps only the memory, perhaps only her absence… The meditating woman tells us that everything is impermanent. Nothing is forever. We will overcome the emptiness of these failures.
Topping 20 meters tall, the artist’s wooden figure is dressed in a white button-up with dark pants. She sits in the lotus position with closed eyes and a straight back and represents quiet, thoughtfulness, and moments of peace. “From this woman’s ashes, live flowers will be born. And little insects will scatter its seeds. Seeds of conscience, of peace, of humanity. Seeds of light that help us face the new world that is being born these days,” Escif writes.
Although her bottom half has been burned, the figure’s head and shoulders will remain in Valencia Public Square until the crisis ends. To fit the current moment, the artist outfitted her with a surgical mask that covers her nose and mouth. “Meditating is the exercise of training our consciousness in the acceptance of impermanence,” the artist said. “Reality is changing and ephemeral. We are living in an uncertain moment that we do not know where it will take us. Let’s listen to what this meditating woman tells us. This too shall pass.”
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French duo Paul Ressencourt and Simon Roche, or Murmure, highlight the nefarious nature of a commonplace object in their latest project that explores the human impact on the environment. The monochromatic pieces illustrate the ubiquity of the black trash bag as it composes a whale, masks the heads of an embracing couple, and floats in a large group through the air like a flock of birds. Each bag shines in the light, accentuating its plastic materiality.
Murmure told Juxtapoz that the black-and-white pieces are designed to be straightforward, a strategy that emphasizes the single red tie meant to signify a narrative thread. “The main idea was to play with the colors of a regular black garbage bag as much as possible. Not only for dramatic appeal, but also for the depth of shades and, somehow, the elegance of its texture and reaction to light. That’s why we use graphite pencil, to achieve this texture,” the pair said.
Ranging from drawings on paper to larger murals, the works are part of a broader project called Garb-age, a nod to the idea of a new era, that directly speaks to the growing climate crisis. The duo says the purpose is to show the power street art specifically has to impact the ways people think. “To us, Garb-age is a meaningful project that allows us to raise awareness of important environmental issues,” they said. Each piece is “a powerful image reflecting the choices everyone faces daily, between our knowledge of the issues at stake and what we can do about them but don’t. We would love it if visitors could pass this first impression and understand there’s hope behind every picture created.”
Murmure had an exhibition scheduled at Galerie LJ in Paris this month, although it has closed due to worries about the spread of coronavirus. However, the gallery has shot a virtual tour that’s available on Instagram, where you can also find more of the duo’s climate-aware pieces.
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Hawaii-born artist Sean Yoro (previously), aka Hula, pairs his illustrative murals of partial figures with bold brushstrokes that hover along building walls. Part of his Undertones series, the monochromatic pieces often feature singular hands and torsos as they reach toward or attempt to grasp the impasto-style strokes.
One especially illusory piece forgoes the bodily element and instead focuses on a singular blue stroke that seems to float through the air and cast a shadow on the brick wall behind it. “Each large scale brushstroke represents the unique passions we all hold within and what we can do with that energy once we tap into it,” said a statement on the artist’s site.
Yoro is one half of Kapu Collective, a collaborative art-and-design group concerned with environmental issues and sustainability, that he formed with his twin brother. Smaller versions of Yoro’s works are available in the collective’s shop. If you want to see the process behind some of his stylized projects, head to Instagram.
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French artist JR (previously) is back in New York, transforming pockets of the city with his latest work. Installed on stacked shipping containers, “The Chronicles of New York City” is a compilation of images depicting more than 1,000 New York residents, who the artist photographed and reproduced for the large-scale work. Created in Williamsburg’s Domino Park, the black-and-white mural is JR’s biggest public project to date in the city. It overlooks the East River and features people living in all five boroughs gathered in a public space that mimics the newly built park.
Since opening his exhibition “JR: Chronicles” in October of 2019, the artist has been transforming areas throughout the city, like a space at the Kings Theatre in Flatbush and the Brooklyn Academy of Global Finance in Bedford Stuyvesant. “The Chronicles of New York City” is the centerpiece of the exhibition, which is on view through May 3, 2020, at Brooklyn Museum, and is accompanied by audio recordings of those portrayed in the monochromatic mural. The public installation was a collaboration with architectural firm LOT-EK, which is known for its sustainable design and helped in creating the site.
“Working at the intersections of photography, social engagement, and street art, JR collaborates with communities by taking individual portraits, reproducing them at a monumental scale, and wheat pasting them—sometimes illegally—in nearby public spaces,” says a statement about the exhibition. See where JR’s work pops up next by following him on Instagram and peek in his shop to check out what’s available for purchase.
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Paola Delfín’s monochromatic murals found in Cancun, St. Petersburg, and cities worldwide all share a message of unity and community. The Mexico-based artist often creates impeccably detailed and stylized profile views, which show her subjects looking down or into the distance, joined by plants, grasses, and flowers of the local environment.
Her lifelike works center on ideas of women’s strength and their ability to build community, in addition to the ways families are bound together and remember their ancestors—although Delfín tells Colossal she has a more personal connection to the Cancun mural, which depicts a couple staring forward as they cradle a small boat.
My family, uncle and aunt, are part of (the) pioneers. They moved to this city almost 40 years ago and watched it grow. They started a school. My uncle worked on a ship for many years. Now the younger generations are trying to bring more culture since this city transformed into a tourist paradise, and sometimes we forget this was the place where centuries ago the great Mayan culture (rose).
The artist finds murals challenging because of her desire to “leave something meaningful” for those who pass by her work. Before she begins creating in any location, she studies the history and culture of the neighborhood she’s working in and talks to its residents to learn their stories. For “Familia/Suku,” the artist spoke with Tampere residents to understand how immigrants and natives across generations form a community in the Finnish city. In the horizontal piece, Suham, an Iranian expat, leans toward elderly Maya, who has lived in the country for 50 years, while Suham’s daughter Sofia stands in front of them.
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For Cinta Vidal, everything depends on how you look at it. The Barcelona-based artist is known for her gravity-defying projects that manipulate architecture and household objects to create inverted environments dissimilar to daily life. Like her smaller-scale inverted works, Vidal’s murals are concerned with human subjectivity and feature both peculiarly arranged architecture and objects like books, chairs, and even a canoe floating through the air. They cover walls throughout Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and Barcelona, among other cities around the world.
Whether it be a young girl seated on an oversized globe or a man peering over a balcony that’s tipped at a 90 degree angle, the works consider how perspectives are informed by a subject’s position.
Everyone has their own view on the world, and my work is my way of expressing this idea: it’s impossible to view something from every perspective at the same time. There’s always a choice, a perception. In my work there also lies a desire to take things out of context, releasing them into the air and, by doing so, giving them new value.
The artist tells Colossal that once she chooses a location to paint a mural, she studies the areas nearby. Vidal intends each project to become part of the existing environment, often prompting her utilize the color already on the building’s surface as her background. “Paint(ing) a mural is about interact(ing) with the wall and everything that surrounds it,” she writes. To get the latest on the artist’s creations, follow her on Instagram.
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