60,000 Bees Recreate the Nefertiti Bust and Other Classic Sculptures in Wax with Artist Tomáš Libertíny
Tomáš Libertíny prefers to collaborate when recreating iconic busts and sculptures, although his chosen partners don’t join him in the studio. The Slovakia-born artist tasks tens of thousands of bees with forming the porous outer layers of classic artworks like the “Nefertiti Bust,” Michelangelo’s “Brutus,” and a large jug based on the “Nolan amphora” at The Met.
Encased in honeycomb, the resulting sculptures generate a dialogue between the newly produced organic material and art historical subject matter. Libertíny’s “Eternity,” for example, is based on a 3D model of the original portrait of Nefertiti and is “a testament to the strength and timelessness of the ‘mother nature’ as well as its ancient character as a powerful female reigning against the odds.” Similarly, the artist’s “Brutus” rests on a Coca Cola crate, a reference to Marcel Duchamp’s readymades, although his iteration diverges from the original as it questions “the fragility of fate and finding salvation” in modern times.
Currently based in Rotterdam, Libertíny provides professional beekeepers with a frame that the insects then colonize during the course of months and in the case of “Eternity,” two years. “I have to guide the building growth like you would with a bonsai, slowly string(ing) the workflow into places where you deem ideal,” he says. “The final result is always a surprise as it is not something you can completely predict like would with traditional craft techniques. It happens that I have to look at the finished piece for a couple of days in order to appreciate it fully.”
Beeswax as a material is inherently contradictory, the artist notes, because of its simultaneous ephemerality and durability—Libertíny’s sculptures have the potential to remain intact for thousands of years if maintained properly—a duality he’s been exploring since he began the Made by Bees series in 2005. “A beeswax candle is for me the best example of pure design. Absolutely nothing is styled about it. Everything about is a science of keeping the flame burning,” he says, explaining that the candle served as a catalyst for the ongoing series.
If you’re in Amsterdam, “Eternity” is currently on view as part of Libertíny’s solo show at Rademakers Gallery through January 30. Otherwise, follow the artist’s sculptures that explore contradiction and ephemerality on Instagram. For a similarly collaborative project, check out Ava Roth’s honeycomb-encased works. (via designboom)
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“As a product of an American father and a Mexican mother, I am influenced by the conflicting expectations I have received as a woman within my two cultures,” says artist Nicole McLaughlin. From her studio in Marion, Massachusetts, McLaughlin combines historically domestic crafts—ceramics and fiber art—into striking sculptures that explore identity and heritage, particularly in relation to gendered expectations, traditions, and the changes that occur as generations pass.
In her mixed-media works, the artist contrasts the soft, pliable fibers with the fragility of the plates painted with blue-and-white motifs. Dyed in subtle gradients and earth tones, the loose threads are woven through the sloping ceramic edges and knotted in the center. McLaughlin explains how it’s important that the utility of both elements is removed once combined:
(The vessels) serve as vehicles for fiber. As the fiber flows from, weaves into, or frames the ceramic, it distorts the functionality but becomes a meaningful component as plate and cloth merge. The vessels contain an expression of femininity and an essence of personal and cultural history.
These dichotomies in the materials also reflect the artist’s experience eschewing “the feminine ideals of my Mexican identity,” she says. “I am a force, and I think I tend to push the boundaries of what might be within the female expectation in Mexican culture.”
Currently, McLaughlin is serving as a teaching fellow at Tabor Academy. She sells some smaller ceramic pieces in her shop, and you can follow her work on Instagram, where she also shares glimpses into her process.
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Staining friend’s hands with dandelion heads and blowing their wispy seeds are a common childhood pastime and a simple joy that Shota Suzuki channels in his delicately constructed sculptures. The Kyoto-based artist painstakingly carves copper, brass, and silver into barbed leaves and feathery seeds to recreate the ubiquitous herbs in each state of bloom and decay.
To tarnish the textured metals and alter their colors, Suzuki uses combinations of vinegar, copper sulfate, and acetic acid to create purples and blues. For the black components, he oxidizes pieces in dissolved sulfur. Suzuki’s coloring techniques are rooted in traditional Japanese patina methods including niiro, which historically used daikon juices to alter the metal, and are the most demanding part of his process. “The chemical modification is very sensitive and is affected by everything from the weather conditions to the dirt on my hands. It’s hard to make the same color every time,” he says in an interview with Kyoto Journal.
Each dandelion is the product of hours of research, which begins while Suzuki walks around his neighborhood and spots weeds in sidewalk cracks or garden flowers. He then works from memory and occasional glimpses of photos of the chosen plant, forgoing sketches and models to create pieces that merge scientific accuracy with the artist’s vision, which he explains:
I’ve never practiced the art of ikebana, but there is an element of it that comes through. My work does not portray a plant as it would be in its natural environment. Rather I manipulate it in a way that I find to be beautiful. I think the composition especially, like the placement and length of the flowers and stems of the plant, is really important. So in that respect, it is rather similar to ikebana.
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At the center of Coderch & Malavia’s artistic practice is the beauty of the human figure and its various expressions. The Valencia-based duo works collaboratively to cast bronze sculptures that explore the nuances of the body through dance-like movements and distinct gestures. Natural details like golden branches and feathered wings embellish many of the heavily patinaed works, Coderch & Malavia share, to evoke themes from classic literature, theater, photography, cinema, and ballet. “The human being is three-dimensional,” they say. “Probably that is the main reason why we are attracted to sculpture. It is the closest artistic representation of ourselves.”
After a discussion on intentions for a new project, the pair generally works with a live model to help the sculpture take shape. “The complicated part is organizing and sharing the physical creation of the work itself because you need double discipline,” they say. “You must learn to trust your partner and be able to share your ideas and your work with him, and, above all, you must put your ego aside in order to stay equal to commit to the final result.”
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Spread flat or folded in shapeless piles, Cecil Kemperink’s bulky chain sculptures contrast the solid ceramic material with the flexibility of their shapes. The movable works are comprised of hundreds of loops that link together in sheets of earth tones and subtle gradients. Whether heaped on the floor or draped across Kemperink’s body, the hefty chain mail is at once supple and fragile.
The artist (previously), who is based on the island of Texel in the Netherlands, draws her understanding of motion from the surrounding water and environment. “I love the rhythm of nature, the tides, the (change) of the length of the days, the seasons, the changes continuous,” she shares. “I try to translate the rhythm, the time, the colors, the continuous movements in different ways into my work.”
Follow Kemperink’s latest works, which will include ten pieces for an installation, two larger works, and a wall sculpture in the coming weeks, on Instagram.
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Suspended within Rosa de Jong’s simple wooden frames are miniature dwellings that climb the steep, rocky terrain. Stilt houses, tents, and exceptionally tall ladders form the idyllic environments that are surrounded by faux moss, minuscule trees, and generally rugged topography. Once assembled, the enchanting scenes appear to float in the open air or within the vertical enclosures of test tubes.
Based in Amsterdam, de Jong (previously) shares with Colossal that she hopes to incorporate water-rooted plants and crystals into future projects. “I feel like a huge part of my work is how I frame things—let’s see if I am able to frame these inspiring natural elements,” she says, noting that the actual boxes are hand-crafted by her father.
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