sculpture

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Art Craft

A Thick Braid Cascades Down a Marina Abramović-Inspired Porcelain Collection

April 1, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Aylin Bilgiç

Despite lacking any distinct facial features, porcelain figures by Istanbul-based ceramicist Aylin Bilgiç have one unmistakable, defining characteristic: The lengthy braid resting on their oversized bodies evokes performance artist Marina Abramović, who is known for donning similarly styled locks. In another of Bilgiç’s pieces, two heads are back-to-back with their hair wound together, resembling Abramović’s 1978 collaboration with Uwe Laysiepen.

The monochromatic collection was designed specifically for Akış / Flux, an exhibition surveying Abramović’s work and offering 15 live performances. It is now on hold because of the global coronavirus pandemic. If you’d like to purchase one of the figurative pieces or a square pin, they’ll only be available in Sakıp Sabancı Museum’s shop, although they aren’t online just yet. See more of Bilgiç’s work on Behance and Instagram.

 

 



Art

Neon Drips, Blobs, and Squishes by Artist Dan Lam Pour Over Shelves and Plop in Puddles

March 27, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Optimize Opportunity,” polyurethane foam, resin, and acrylic, 22 x 30 x 11 inches. All images © Dan Lam

When a gloopy substance runs over a countertop or other surface, a common reaction is to grab a towel and wipe it up before it spreads farther and makes a mess. But for Dallas-based sculptor and painter Dan Lam (previously), the more dripping and oozing the better. The artist creates technicolor sculptures made of polyurethane foam, resin, and acrylic onto which she pipes small spikes.

Categorized as drips, blobs, and squishes, Lam’s neon gradients appear to gush over shelves and drop into rounded puddles. Most are paired with optimistic names, like “Strong Genes” and “Just Lovely,” and consider the relationships between “attraction and repulsion, motion and stillness, seriousness and playfulness, softness and hardness,” said a statement about her work.

If you’re in Portland, Lam’s solo show Supernatural is on view at Stephanie Chefas Projects by appointment through April 25. Otherwise, follow the artist on Instagram, where she’s even given a peek at some of her upcoming plans to create phone cases that change colors and are covered in small points.

Left: “Strong Genes,” polyurethane foam, resin, and acrylic, 16 x 14 x 13 inches. Right: “Good Traits,” polyurethane foam, resin, and acrylic, 15.5 x 15 x 16 inches

“Signalling Theory,” polyurethane foam, resin, and acrylic, 35 x 30 x 6.5 inches

Left: “He’s So Picky!” polyurethane foam, resin, and acrylic, 8.5 x 11 x 6 inches. Right: “Just Lovely,” polyurethane foam, resin, and acrylic, 9 x 9 x 5 inches.

“Hidden Preference,” polyurethane foam, resin, and acrylic, 39 x 42 x 9 inches

“Just Think,” polyurethane foam, resin, and acrylic, 9 x 14 x 7.5 inches

Left: “#5,” polyurethane foam, resin, and acrylic, 3.5 x 3 x 1 inches. Right: “#24,” polyurethane foam, resin, and acrylic
4.5 x 4 x 1.5 inches

 

 



Art

This Too Shall Pass: How Spanish Artist Escif’s Meditating Woman Lit Up Valencia

March 25, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Escif, shared with permission

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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Art

Picasso-Inspired Portrait Sculptures Rendered by Digital Artist Omar Aqil

March 15, 2020

Andrew LaSane

All images © Omar Aqil

Pakistan-based art director and illustrator Omar Aqil (previously) continues his Character Illustrations series with more collaged portraits made from stacks of 3D objects. Using digital software including Adobe Photoshop, Cinema 4D, Octane, and Adobe Illustrator, Aqil creates Picasso-esque faces and places them into random, casual scenes.

The shadows, highlights, and colors make Aqil’s rendered sculptures and plinths appear as built-objects in a physical location. Implied facial features give each character a personality that is helped by humorous expressions and mundane scenarios. “Making this series I have explored the new simplicity of shapes and forms to make a character’s inner expression which told the whole story,” Aqil writes on Behance. He adds the while the main sources of inspiration for the experimental project are Picasso’s portraits, the work also is inspired by random situations that he and other designers face.

To see more of Aqil’s portraits, check out the illustrator’s portfolio on Behance and follow him on Instagram.

 

 



Art Craft

Watercolor Paper Transforms into Suggestive Facial Sculptures by Artist Polly Verity

March 11, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Polly Verity, shared with permission

Polly Verity’s most recent paper sculptures test viewers’ sense of pareidolia. The dexterous artist employs single sheets of watercolor paper for her minimalist projects that morph into solitary faces and kissing figures through a series of bends and twists.

Verity tells Colossal that she’s been crafting repeating geometric patterns for about 15 years, but that it wasn’t until recently that she decided to move beyond crisp folds and clean lines. “When I hit the curved folds that’s when my brain popped. Seemingly impossible things could happen to a sheet of paper,” she writes. “My years of observing and investigating how curve folds behave has given me a feel for bringing the curves into the figurative realm.” The result is a suggestive series of facial profiles sometimes sucking on a straw or smoking a cigarette.

I tried to fold along the profile of a face, and I realized that I could tweak the paper on either side just very slightly and ease curves out to give volume and form. When I tried the same technique in watercolour paper, I suddenly had micro-control over the resulting curved forms and they became soft and sensual. So each face goes on to inform the next and they have become a sort of series.

Keep up with Verity’s paper creations on Instagram and check out which alluring pieces you can add to your own collection in her shop.

 

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Photography

Wearable Sculptures Blend Humans into Surrounding Landscapes in Photographs by Nordic Artists

March 9, 2020

Vanessa Ruiz

“Brit” (Norway 2018). All images © Karoline Hjorth and Riitta Ikonen, shared with permission

Norwegian-Finnish artist duo Karoline Hjorth and Riitta Ikonen bring a folklore-inspired vision to the relationship between humans and nature. The majority of their subjects are elders who often have a deeper connection to the lands they inhabit, work on, or cultivate.

In 2011, the pair started an imaginative series called Eyes as Big as Plates as a contemporary exploration of characters from Nordic folklore. Their photographic odyssey across 15 countries and creation of more than 100 portraits evolved into a general exploration of modern humans’ relationships to nature. The title of the series not only comes from a folktale but also represents the curiosity that guides the way Hjorth and Ikonen interact with the world.

Each photograph features a solitary figure in a landscape wearing a sculpture of the natural elements of their choosing. For example, Brit (above), a ceramic artist, is shown plastered to a rock with the blue clay that underlies much of her hometown in Norway. Bob (below), a retired fashion photography expert, wears a giant hat and coat of pine needles while sitting in Forest Park in Queens, New York.

Hjorth and Ikonen consider their subjects to be integral parts of their artistic practice, and in doing so, refer to them as collaborators rather than models. The two artists exude a natural, almost magical excitement for people and life. This is key to not only finding and connecting with the people in their photographs but also to convincing them to immerse themselves in the wonders of a landscape.

This ultimate harmony is the result of a long process of preparing for and setting up the photo shoot. Materials such as moss, bull kelp, puffball mushrooms, and millet must be gathered and assembled into what amounts to a wearable sculpture. The strangest materials they tell Colossal include “sea urchins and starfish. And there was the time we collected a whole load of Rhododendron tomentosum (marsh Labrador tea) while in the very north of Norway, luckily the intense smell made us look the plant up in more detail before engulfing our collaborator in its poisonous terpenes. Collecting wearable-sized-icebergs in Greenland was one of those moments that we both remember vividly also!”

On-site, Hjorth and Ikonen shoot with analog cameras on film. The process also can be long and challenging for the collaborator, who sometimes is wearing a delicate sculpture of itchy twigs or kneeling for hours in wet moss, not to mention dealing the variable conditions—wind, rain, sleet, and dense fog—that the environment throws at them day-to-day. The end result is a portrait of a subject who exudes a playful confidence as they are one with the landscape.

As for the future, the duo shares their vision with Colossal. “We are open to working with all curious souls and as we re-angle ourselves to looking at the effects of climate change and our role in it. The intergenerational movers and shakers exist in all demographics across ages!”

Hjorth and Ikonen currently are working on Eyes as Big as Plates Vol. 2, which they are attempting to fund via Kickstarter before March 15. Follow their fascinating journeys around the world on both Karoline’s and Riitta’s Instagrams and their growing project Eyes as Big as Plates.

“Karin” (Norway 2019)

“Bob II” (USA 2013)

“Pupi” (Finland 2012)

“Mane” (Senegal 2019)

“Jakob” (Greenland 2015)

“Astrid I” (Norway 2011)

“Halvar I” (Norway 2011)

“Niels” (Faroe Islands 2015)

“Arnold II” (Faroe Islands 2015)

“Edda” (Iceland 2013)

 

 



Art Design

Geometric Doorways and Angular Turrets Form Sand Fortresses by Calvin Seibert

March 6, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Calvin Seibert, shared with permission

Like many kids with a love for digging in sandboxes, Calvin Seibert (previously) grew up creating grand castles and towers from piles of the sediment. But for Seibert, the practice wasn’t just a childhood pastime. “In hindsight I see that much of what I made was more like sculpture. It really was all about the object and its resonant meanings rather than interiors and spatial flow,” he says.

After studying at the School of Visual Arts, the Colorado-born artist began sculpting modernist buildings featuring sharp angles, clean edges, and various geometric shapes that resemble brutalist architecture rather than something from a children’s story. “While not all of my structures have quite the rugged fortress-like presence of a Kenzo Tange or a Paul Rudolph building, it is something I aim for,” he writes. “Certainly I see my sandcastles in opposition to those frivolous turreted fantasies that Cinderella would feel at home in.”

To create his works, Seibert begins by mixing water and sand to create layers, before packing and smoothing the rest by hand. He cleans the edges with various trowels and knives that he’s made himself. Plus, he never works without a five-gallon pail because it’s “indispensable for digging and fetching water, as well as carrying stuff to the beach.”

I always start at the top and work down, taking great care to keep the horizontals level. I pretty much make things up as I go along, allowing surprises and engineering difficulties to shape the castles. Robert Venturi’s prescription of ‘complexity and contradiction’ is always in the back of my mind, while mash-ups of gameshow sets and artillery bunkers are soon added to the mix.

Seibert tells Colossal that he’s moved to Colorado since making the works featured here, which limits his time on the beach, although he dreams of transforming a pile of sand at the Venice Biennale or as part of Casa Wabi in Mexico. Follow what he’s up to, and perhaps get a glimpse of his next visit to a sandy landscape, on Instagram.