Through Whimsical Wooden Sculptures, Christian Verginer Explores Childhood Curiosity and Connection
From large pieces of basswood, artist Christian Verginer carves figurative sculptures that meld the play and wonder of adolescence with the vitality of the natural world. Leafy branches grow like pigtails, a bird perches on the zipper of a hoodie, and two young boys sit on ladders that lead to treetops and clouds. Textured by small gouges, the works contrast realistic renditions of children with fantastical elements, the latter of which the artist tends to paint in a single color like vibrant green, slate gray, or beige.
Verginer is broadly interested in the ways humans and nature intersect, which he conveys through a sense of curiosity and embodied connection between the two. Some sculptures foster such relationships through three-dimensional forms, like the deceased bird the girl pinches between her fingers as in “Different Stories.” Others reference shadows, including “Two Stories” and “Different Time,” which overlay silhouettes of trees and flowers atop the young figures’ bodies.
Based in the Alto Adige region of northern Italy, Verginer works in a studio he shares with his father Willy Verginer (previously) and brother Matt Verginer. Each maintains a distinct practice, although the artist shares that the environment is well-suited for feedback and critique. All three will show together this May at a gallery in Nürnberg, although you can see Christian Verginer’s work this month with Kirk Gallery at Art Herning. Otherwise, find more of his sculptures on his site and Instagram.
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Evoking Organic Growth, Toru Kurokawa’s Ceramic Sculptures Stretch and Swell into Abstract Forms
The natural growth process, which begins with the replication of a single cell and eventually produces bodily systems and lifeforms, informs the practice of artist Toru Kurokawa (previously). Based in Kyoto, Kurokawa transforms amorphous hunks of clay into organic sculptures that bow and bend. The malleable material stretches to reveal pockets of negative space or to generate undulating edges, and once fired, the works appear to freeze those movements. “I would like to create a space that fuses the two things, existence and non-existence,” the artist tells Colossal. “I am conscious of that connection.” Glazed in textured, neutral tones, the resulting forms are abstract and biological, conveying the tension and strength of change.
Kurokawa is currently considering how mathematics and physics can influence the geometries of the works, and you can follow that progress on Instagram.
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From Junk Drawers to Phone Books, Artist Bernie Kaminski Captures the Nostalgia of Banal Items Through Papier-Mâché
A stack of worn phone books, a neatly folded button-up, and a junk drawer filled with receipts, batteries, and takeout remnants capture the playful nostalgia of Bernie Kaminski’s papier-mâché sculptures. The artist, who began working with the humble craft after his daughter brought home a seahorse she made in school, is driven largely by curiosity and a desire to explore the potential of the material, and he tends to recreate the objects he finds around his home. An orange dutch oven sits atop a shelving unit stocked with pantry items and cookbooks, for example, and books like Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White and John Berger’s A Painter of Our Time find their place among other classic texts.
Kaminski gravitates toward authentic interpretations of generally banal items, although the subtle ripples and creases of the material remain visible. He generally coats a cardboard and tape base with the wet papier-mâché, before letting it dry and painting on logos, signatures, and other details. Imbued with a playful sense of nostalgia, the sculptures “look fake in a way that somehow reflects how I feel about the real thing,” the artist tells It’s Nice That.
Be sure to visit Kaminski’s Instagram for an archive of the lighthearted wares. (via Kottke)
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Art Craft Design
Precise Details and Architectural Contrasts Highlight Layla May Arthur’s Narrative Paper Sculptures
Wielding the fundamentals of set design, Layla May Arthur assembles elaborate architectural spaces and visual narratives from paper. The Netherlands-based artist focuses on the interplay between light and shadow in intricate, three-dimensional dioramas that emphasize storytelling in window displays, brand identities, and gallery presentations. In pieces ranging from delicate, individual sculptures of staircases to large-scale, immersive installations, she instills a sense that the viewer is a part of the interactions of figures within each scene.
Since graduating from university in 2021, Arthur has focused on projects that emulate the visual drama of theatrical presentations, setting the stage for products in boutique windows and brand collaborations in addition to museum exhibitions. “I really enjoy being able to handcraft artworks to be used in photoshoots or installations where my work reaches an audience who might not ordinarily seek out art in an art space,” she tells Colossal. “I have had incredible clients so far who have given me huge creative freedom in acting as both art director and artist.”
Arthur emphasizes each incision, angle, and pattern of the meticulously cut pieces of white paper by spotlighting or illuminating from within. “I love being able to create an artistic experience which is part of the everyday and highlights the possibilities of craftsmanship,” she says.
Find more of Arthur’s work on her website, Behance, and Instagram, where she often shares videos of her process.
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Freewheeling Hares and Bespectacled Kangaroos Hop Into Hugo Horita’s Playful Wooden Menagerie
Although they are carved from timber, the personalities in Hugo Horita’s growing menagerie are far from wooden. An adventurous camel, a sheep in a sweater, and a deer that’s quick on the draw are just a few of the characters the Buenos Aires-based artist has introduced. “I like to bring ideas and shapes to a three-dimensional language, and I chose wood because it is a very noble and warm material,” he tells Colossal.
Trained as an illustrator, Horita’s work often rests squarely in the digital realm, and he sought a creative outlet that involved using his hands. While some ideas can lead to a new piece in just a few days, sometimes the process takes months, beginning with a sketch on paper or a virtual vector image. He then carves the toy-like sculptures with an emphasis on the details of the grain to accentuate joints and muscles and often incorporates other found elements like pencils. Preferring to use scrap pieces that others have thrown away, which allows for various tones and textures, Horita completes each animal with the cartoonish addition of wheels, spectacles, or skis.
Find more of the spirited critters on Behance and Instagram.
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Ann Weber Elevates Discarded Cardboard Boxes and Staples to New Heights in Billowing Sculptures
Exemplifying the possibilities of combining humble materials with a good dose of resourcefulness, Ann Weber’s monumental sculptures find their beginnings in discarded cardboard boxes. The San Pedro, California-based artist parlayed her training in ceramics into a focus on the everyday material, initially inspired by architect Frank Gehry’s cardboard chairs, which transformed utilitarian, heavyweight paper into structurally sound and visually appealing functional objects. Weber echoed a similar intention when she decided to eliminate the inherently cumbersome process and weight of clay in exchange for a lightweight material that could be scaled up.
The artist scours the neighborhoods of Los Angeles for boxes, paying special attention to those with printed surfaces; she carefully considers the colors of graphics and text and incorporates them into the overall composition of each work. In the studio, she begins by building an armature with larger pieces of cardboard to create the silhouette. She then applies layers of strips cut from other boxes and staples them into place in a repetitive, textured pattern.
While the forms billow, bulge, and tower overhead, the artist doesn’t want to obscure the ubiquitous material; instead, Weber invites the viewer to consider the substance in a way they might not otherwise, saying “cardboard has taken on more complex meaning in the 21st century with the hyper-capitalistic proliferation of excess shipping materials.” Paper accounts for more than a quarter of the waste in landfills globally. “The sculptures can be viewed as a critique of contemporary consumerist culture, but that is not my sole intent,” she continues. “They are instilled with a psychological component neither entirely representational nor abstract, but something in between.”
Weber recently wrapped up a major exhibition at Wönzimer Gallery in Los Angeles. Explore more of her work on Instagram and her website.
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