For Valérie Hadida, the deep, protective partnerships fostered between women provide the foundation for her practice. The French artist casts bronze sculptures that are poetic and nuanced, depicting female figures wearing contemplative and composed expressions. “Coming from a large family where women reign supreme and play a key role, they have established a bond of serenity, trust, and complicity with me,” she tells Colossal. “The heroines of my works are always women because I am deeply convinced that it is they who will change and save the world.”
Hadida begins with a sketch before building the figures that eventually are covered with green patina. In recent years, the size of the sculptures has grown from smaller works into those that stand more than a meter high, an expansion that brings the scale of the works closer to a human body. “I prefer to work on the curves, the flesh more than the muscles. These seem to me disabling because they are hard and violent,” she says. Most of the sculptures depict teenage years or middle age, a time that’s marked with transition and change.
Generally seated, the figures’ poses and gestures appear temporary as if the woman has just shifted or is precariously settled on a stone. Although the bodies are still, their curls often swell upward to imply movement and sometimes are embedded with smaller silhouettes like in “Nocturna.” Their locks “typify each woman in her origins, in her age… The hair moves like the branches of a tree,” the artist says, noting that the plumed strands both accentuate and stabilize the figures’ supple curves, elongated fingers, and overall shape. “These women are marked by life. I do not represent perfect or idealized figures. These silhouettes are on the contrary very marked, very cut out. But their imperfections highlight their femininity,” she says.
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In Calvin Nicholls’s sculptural forms, feathered and furry creatures are meticulously crafted from small pieces of white paper. When viewed up-close, their texture resembles the fullness of a wintery landscape, but in full form, the Canadian artist’s animals are so vivid that they appear as though they could leap, fly, and spring out of the canvas. Nicholls (previously) seamlessly examines and sculpts every detail of an animal’s body, from the difference in plume texture in doves to the strained muscles of a giraffe to the intoxicating stare of a tiger stalking its prey.
Every work is crafted from archival cotton paper that prevents yellowing and fading. Nicholls uses minuscule amounts of glue to secure the individual pieces, employing knives and texturing tools to precisely sculpt each delicate part. For the artist, crafting fur and feathers are equally challenging, and how long a piece will take is difficult to predict. He shares:
The largest sculptures I’ve done require several hundreds of hours while the more modest pieces keep me busy for two or more weeks. Familiarity with the subject is a big factor as well. My love of birds often propels me through pieces much faster than when sculpting subjects with (an) emphasis on musculature and structure.
Nicholls’s fascination with paper as a medium stems from graphic design classes in college, in addition to later collaborations with a colleague. These experiences further forged his interest in experimenting with various materials and papers that he had become familiar with through the graphics trade.
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In Ilhwa Kim’s sculptural landscapes, innumerable paper seeds form precise rows, indented pockets of densely packed folds, and multi-color valleys that wind through the feet-wide works. The South Korean artist arranges individual units of the rolled material in a staggered manner, meaning that the color, shadow, and texture of the final pieces shift with each viewing. “I am probably a sculptor of senses. I have been very curious how my senses are being organized when I perceive a thing or a location. The order, priority, and the way of being assembled together surprise me. How the senses reunited keeps evolving from initial contact to temporary goodbye,” she says, noting that change and perception play a central role in her practice.
Each composition begins with blank, white paper that Kim dyes and rolls into tight tubes that can be sliced only with heavy machinery. She forgoes gluing any of the seeds prior until the entire piece is complete. “This working process gives big freedom to make meaningful changes even when very close to the final stage,” the artist shares. “That is how a child plays, as well.” The comprehensive process transforms the original material into durable units that resemble the organic lifeform and ultimately grow into larger sculptures.
Based in Seoul, Kim has a solo show slated for September 2021 at HOFA Gallery in London, and you can see a larger collection of her works, including shots of pieces-in-progress, on Instagram. (via Cross Connect Magazine)
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Herb Williams addresses some of the most pressing issues of our time—uncontrollable fires, hurricanes, and an impending lack of natural resources, to name a few—through an unusually playful medium. The Nashville-based artist creates colorful sculptures and busts from innumerable crayons, assembling textured works that simultaneously display the ubiquitous childhood tool while confronting the ongoing effects of the climate crisis.
Similar to the large-scale flames he created in response to Texas wildfires nearly a decade ago, Williams’ new pieces, like the river-stone-encircled campfire above, are based in collective experience. He writes:
The epic catastrophes, disasters, and pandemic are virtually impossible to navigate as adults, so I am trying to create works that will help children understand and eventually deal, most hopefully solve what we can’t one day. I’m exploring the myths we cling to comfort, deny or manage our way through without losing our collective humanity.
“First Fire” pairs with Three Graces of Climate Change, a trio of figurative sculptures that reinterpret the “Venus de Milo” through the lenses of wildfires, glacial melt, and deforestation. In one piece, bright blazes erupt from the shoulder and hip, and in another, the figure is sliced in two to reveal age rings similar to those of a tree.
Williams currently is working on six sculptures that’ll be on display at Atlanta International Airport. He’s also the curator at Nashville’s Rymer Gallery, where you can find a larger collection of his works.
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Argentina-born artist Claudia Fontes (previously) continues her Foreigners series with small sculptures of figures enveloped by plumes of porcelain. Recent additions to the expanding collection are more abstract than previous iterations, which often revealed the body’s curves and gestures, although all of the works feature limbs embracing within or attempting to escape from the textured clouds. The pocked surface resembles organic matter, like sea sponges or coral, and seamlessly merges life forms into a cohesive structure.
Fontes tells Colossal that this shift in focus was inspired by a desire to see “the material as the main protagonist of the piece, steering away from representation.” She explains that by “piercing the porcelain in different ways and exploring the possibilities that come with grouping the figures, I have realized that I am paying more attention to the material as a fictional membrane, which mediates between figure and background.”
Currently, Fontes is incorporating two colors into her otherwise white porcelain in order to create new works that evoke sedimentary rock. She’s also preparing for a solo show at Cecilia Brunson Projects in London and a group exhibition at Stuk in Leuven, Belgium, and some pieces from the Foreigners series will be part of Simbiologías at Centro Cultural Kirchner in Buenos Aires this April. Until then, follow the artist on Instagram or head to her site to see more of her sculptural work.
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From her studio in Lyon, Mlle Hipolyte scores, crimps, and fringes bits of paper that become sculptural interpretations of endangered species. She undertakes a rigorous research process that’s comparable to that of a botanist or zoologist before starting a piece and largely is concerned with the effects of the climate crisis on plants and animals. This realistic approach bases her practice in both preservation and celebration as she conveys the intricacies and natural beauty of coral reefs, flowers, and birds through works that vary in scale, sometimes spanning entire walls and others squeezing into tiny glass tubes.
Mlle Hipolyte tells Colossal that her next undertaking is a large forest inspired by François Hallé’s botanical drawings, an ongoing project you can follow on Instagram. To add one of the meticulous, textured sculptures to your collection, check out her shop. (via Cross Connect Magazine)
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