Through Incisive Paintings, Toni Hamel Highlights Futile and Inadequate Responses to Global Issues
It may be human to err, but Toni Hamel’s characters take mistakes and futility to irrational conclusions. The artist (previously) is known for her keen wit and observations of contemporary life, which she translates into oil paintings that place folly at the center: a woman paints red stripes onto a tulip’s petals, a man gestures toward a celestial Amazon logo, and a team numbers clouds suspended in the sky.
Many of Hamel’s works comment on inadequate responses to major issues like the climate crisis and social inequities, and she often paints scenes with figures undertaking unhelpful and unrelated actions to remedy the problem. Her “Activist” paintings, for example, depict a melting arctic and figures attempting to stop the loss of life and landscape through words alone. Laced with humor and satire, Hamel considers her work a form of protest and “a reflection of my general preoccupations as an artist.”
Currently living and working in Kingston, Ontario, Hamel will have many of the pieces shown here at CK Contemporary in San Francisco in the coming weeks. You can find an archive of her works on her site and Instagram.
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Anthropomorphic Oil Paintings by Richard Ahnert Envision Satirical and Nostalgic Narratives for Bears
Infused with wit and metaphor, the oil paintings of Toronto-based artist Richard Ahnert imagine the glum, peaceful, and rambunctious lives of animals. His new collection, on view through May 6 as part of Bear With Me at San Francisco’s Modern Eden Gallery, centers on the eponymous mammals, which are shown in the midst of relatable, deeply human activities. Rendered with soft, hazy edges in subtle colors, the anthropomorphized characters are caught in the rain, slouched over a bar, and enjoying a mid-day reprieve on the water. The narratives also tend to be veiled in nostalgia, shown through garments, the ubiquity of tobacco, and in the case of “Swear Bears,” a satirical twist on a 1980’s animation.
Ahnert’s body of work spans the animal kingdom, and he has a few limited-edition prints available. Explore more of his contemplative pieces on his site and Instagram. (via Supersonic Art)
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Oil Paintings by Paco Pomet Brighten Vintage Scenes with Satirical Elements in Color
Succeeding his series of paintings titled Beginnings, Paco Pomet’s Endings applies a similarly satirical veil to his provocative and outlandish scenarios: a cleaved camper reveals red steak marbled with fat, businessmen shake hands through an elongated finger trap, and a woman walks a hand-standing friend on a leash. The Spanish artist (previously) is known for his keen sense of wit and humor and distinct visual commentary on contemporary issues like capitalism, the degradation of the environment, and moments in American history that have global impacts. He shares in an interview:
I am very interested in current affairs, but in order to fully understand today’s world, it is necessary to look back and examine historical events. The past is full of hints that can unveil the present, so in some ways, we could paraphrase that statement which says that there’s nothing new under the sun. I have always thought that subjects and themes remain the same over centuries, and that human pursuits, aspirations, and chimeras are cyclical. Nowadays, we might have different tools and ways of approaching those issues, but the important questions remain the same, even though the way they show up changes throughout the years.
Often working with anachronistic scenes and symbols, Pomet depicts children of a past era sparring with glowing lightsabers in “A Prequel” and a vintage car blurring into a trail of greens and yellows in “Trip.” Each oil painting is rendered largely in neutral tones with bright, colorful elements supplying the artist’s signature dose of irony.
You can explore an archive of Pomet’s surreal works and follow his latest compositions on Instagram.
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‘A Library of Misremembered Books’ Is a Witty, Illustrated Compendium of Mistaken Titles
Marina Luz’s A Library of Misremembered Books is an ode to all of our favorite titles that we can’t quite recall: there’s the ’80’s high-school classic “Popular Girls Who Shoplift,” the one with the “Cat Possibly Named Henry,” and the strangely philosophical sci-fi fantasy “Lady Becomes Immortal Because of Aliens.”
Published by Chronicle, the illustrated book compiles Luz’s witty, satirical takes on the task of entering a shop, finding a lucky salesperson, and describing that novel you read a few years ago about a time-traveling family that had a purple cover… or was it pink? Categorized by genre—which includes the strange mishmash “Umm…” category with titles like “Colonial Presidents Recipes”—Luz’s compendium spans subject matter and a range of cover design trends from ethereal, pulp fiction with bold fonts to streamlined compositions with clean type and solid backdrops.
A Library of Misremembered Books is available from Bookshop, and you also might enjoy the Fukui Prefectural Library’s habit of chronicling mistaken titles. (via Kottke)
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‘Fake Food, Real Garbage’: A Satirical Store is Fully Stocked with Groceries Made Entirely of Plastic
Wander into a new pop-up grocery store in Downtown Los Angeles, and you’ll find all of the typical options with an unusual twist: freezers stocked with tubs of “Bag & Jerry’s,” a robust produce section with bananas and tomatoes printed with advertisements, and mysteriously gray “polluted sausage” stuck to styrofoam trays.
Dubbed “The Plastic Bag Store,” the witty and satirical installation is the project of Robin Frohardt, who repurposed scores of bottle caps, packaging, and other single-use materials into a full-fledged grocery. Each of the non-edible items—many of which have undergone clever rebrands, meaning you’ll find family-sized boxes of Yucky Shards cereal, cases of Bagorade bottles, and clamshells of Earthbag Farms non-organic spring mix in the aisles—is made entirely with discarded waste that the Brooklyn-based artist, puppet-maker, and designer collected from garbage bins and trash sites.
Paired with a performative component that envisions how future generations will interpret the inordinate amount of waste produced in today’s world, the installation literally displays the longevity of the items many of us use on a daily basis. According to recent estimations, the amount of plastic in the ocean is predicted to exceed the volume of fish by 2050, an ongoing crisis Frohardt wants to make more apparent. “’The Plastic Bag Store’ is a visually rich and humorous experience that hopefully encourages a different way of thinking about the foreverness of plastic, the permanence of the disposable and that there is no ‘away’ when we throw something out,” she says.
The grocery, which debuted in Times Square last fall with the tagline “Fake Food, Real Garbage,” is open at UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance through July 11. You can find more of Frohardt’s projects, many of which critique mass consumerism and capitalism through a humorous lens, on her site and Instagram. (via Hyperallergic)
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Coronavirus Satirically Tops Kitsch Figurines Sculpted with Porcelain
Artist Chrystl Rijkeboer contemporizes sentimental porcelain figurines with a present-day twist: spiky COVID-19 molecules obscure the characters’ facial features, rendering the largely wealthy and ornately dressed figures both anonymous and commonplace in modern contexts.
Whether posing for a portrait or mid-curtesy, Rijkeboer’s pieces satirize the long-crafted Meissen figurines, which have been in production since the 18th Century and often romanticize an antiquated world “where women do not represent any relevance but being nice and glamourous,” she tells Colossal. “For me, it is mostly about the position as a woman and an artist. The pandemic made it quite clear that artists are the first to be labeled as unnecessary.”
Living and working in Haarlem, The Netherlands, Rijkeboer has crafted an extensive COVID-themed collection, which includes ubiquities like Zoom calls and masks, all of which you can see on her site. (via Lustik)
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Highlights below. For the full collection click here.