Haphazard Safe Havens Rise into the Sky in Simon Laveuve’s Miniature Post-Apocalyptic Islands
Paris-based artist Simon Laveuve (previously) continues to build out his dystopian universe with rickety structures that tower above land and sea. Heavy with dirt and the occasional graffiti tag, the miniature constructions are eerie, disquieting safe havens in what appears to be a post-apocalyptic landscape. Salvaged objects like tires, wooden panels, and lengths of chain support the shelters, which tend to contain tiny outlooks with seating and remnants of provisions. In his most recent mixed-media sculptures like “Le 122,” Laveuve considers lawlessness and what it means to live in an organized society without rule.
The artist has an upcoming show in New York, and you can follow news about that exhibition on Instagram.
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Imposing Wild Animals Emerge from Layers of Cardboard in Scott Fife’s Sculptures
Armed with glue and screws, artist Scott Fife fashions large-scale creatures from a humble material in an exploration of the relationship between humans and our animal counterparts, particularly those we associate with myth and folklore. The beastly creations emerge in his aptly named solo show Cardboard Kingdom, which is on view now at Traver Gallery in Seattle.
Comprised of fringed layers and patchwork, the animals are wild and expressive, with drowsy, drooping eyes or snarling teeth. Many bear the markings of human touch, with drips of ink and pencil drawings on their faces and bodies. “Physically beautiful, we endear these animals with many meanings. But they are predators and prey in a brutal world. These are portraits of individuals as they are in nature,” he shares.
Cardboard Kingdom is on view through December 22, and you can find more of Fife’s sculptures on his site.
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Vibrant Patterns Envelop Dozens of Mythical Animal Sculptures That Explore the Folk Art Traditions of Mexico
In Guardians, artists María del Carmen Mendoza Méndez and Jacobo Ángeles Ojeda, of Jacobo and Maria Ángeles Workshop, pay homage to the mythical creatures of their Oaxacan childhoods. The husband-wife duo carves the soft wood of the copal tree into fantastical creatures that reference Mesoamerican spirituality and Mexican folk art, including the sculptures known as alebrijes. They refer to the unearthly characters as Tonas and Nahuales and cloak the birds, butterflies, and beasts in vibrant patterns and Zapotec symbols. The artists describe the protective works:
Guardians are brave creatures who safeguard their tribe. These mythical characters from the tale ‘Nomads’ hold their heads high by accepting the responsibility of caring for, transporting, and defending everyone. (Theirs) is a story of resistance, persecution, and migration into a dystopian future, where science is blended with ancestral cosmovisions.
On view through January 12, 2023, Guardians is the inaugural show at the newly opened Mano Gallery in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. The gallery is devoted to art and design from Mexico and to creating a space for artists interested in preserving mythology and the country’s heritage. Find more from Jacobo and Maria Ángeles Workshop on their site and Instagram.
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Oversized Animal Sculptures by Quentin Garel Weigh the Prideful Pursuit of Hunting for Sport
Through oversized faces of primates and busts of elephant calf and cow, French artist Quentin Garel examines the pomp and gratuitous impulse behind hunting for sport. His large-scale sculptures cast in bronze or carved from wood evoke taxidermied trophies of wild animals. Often scaled to greet the viewer at eye level or tower well above human stature as they appear to emerge from the ground or wall, the imposing works “modify our relation to sculpture and to what it represents. It creates distance and intimacy at the same time,” the artist shares.
Garel tells Colossal that he became interested in the animal kingdom about 20 years ago when considering human consumption and how the preservation of a dead creature could become “a symbol of man’s pride.” His intent was “not to denounce hunt(ing) as a practice but rather to show how ridiculous men can be when showing off their social success.” This critique evolved into a variety of bestial creations, including archeological works of skulls, jaws, and skeletal fragments that further extrapolate the fraught relationship between humans and animals.
At the moment, Garel is working on a public fountain commission and a series grounded in polymorphism, which will be shown in London in the coming months. He has a limited-edition octopus print available from Galerie LJ, where he’s represented, and you can follow his practice on Instagram.
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Balloon-Like Sculptures Reimagine Blown Glass in Matthew Szösz’s ‘Inflatables’ Series
The art of blown glass takes on new meaning in Matthew Szösz’s Inflatables series. About 15 years ago, the artist was interested in challenging assumptions about how the material could be worked and what form it could take. “In the craft and design field, the way that we make things has a profound effect on what we make,” he tells Colossal. “Blown glass and thrown pots are round; houses and furniture are rectangular. I spend a good portion of my time experimenting with process to try and use a new way of making to create new families of objects and forms.” The resulting sculptures capture a playful tension between fragility and strength, ephemerality and durability.
Using glass panes or sheets from salvaged windows, Szösz carefully plans the shape of the final form and cuts numerous pieces that are measured to slightly overlap so that when fused together, they create tight seams. Ceramic fiber paper separates the layers to prevent the material from sticking to both the kiln and itself. At 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit, the piece is swiftly removed from the kiln and inflated, balloon-like with compressed air. The glass is malleable for only about a minute at most before it cools to a hard object. “There is very little shaping that can be done during the inflation, so the process relies entirely on the preparation of the material,” Szösz explains. “Once you pull it out to inflate it, what you get is what you get.”
Szösz’s work with sheet glass take numerous forms, and his sculptures are currently on view in two exhibitions at BWA Wrócław Galleries of Contemporary Art, including a solo show titled Gold Standard, and the group exhibition Autonomous Zones, a collaboration with Pilchuck Glass School. You can follow more of the artist’s work on Instagram and his website.
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Ride EJ Hill’s Bubblegum Pink Roller Coaster Through a Mass MoCA Gallery
Throughout the Jim Crow era, Black people were often barred entry to recreation spaces like public swimming pools and amusement parks. As these sites of leisure and joy were officially desegregated following the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case, those who continued to champion separation imposed new restrictions to control access to such areas. This included charging high fees to even enter the parks rather than smaller prices per ride, a practice that’s still widely in use today and has proliferated to other cultural arenas like museums.
Artist EJ Hill considers the racialized legacy of such entertainment through Brake Run Helix, the Los Angeles-based artist’s largest solo show to date and first at an institution. On view through January 2024 at the Massachusettes Museum of Contemporary Art, the exhibition revolves around the roller coaster as a way to excavate the history of identity, recreation, and pleasure. Through sculptures, installations, paintings, and smaller works, Hill considers the rides “public monuments to the possibility of attaining joy,” a feeling that is necessary for creating an equitable society.
The center of Brake Run Helix—this title references the mechanisms that slow or stop the cars and the 360-degree turn within the track—is a 260-foot bubblegum pink roller coaster. “Brava!” allows for a single rider, who emerges on a bright blue cart through a velvet curtain before plummeting a few feet and riding the undulating architecture through the Building 5 gallery.
Hill sees these rides as a sort of solo performance by museum visitors, who are propelled by gravity around the course before halting on a wooden stage in front of viewers. “I’m no longer interested in being the one to perform for a ravenous audience who wants to either celebrate me or consume me,” the artist told The New York Times in reference to earlier projects that involved him standing or lying atop an artwork for long periods. “I’m making this elaborate stage for other people to perform while I collect myself and recharge.”
Hill’s manner of inhabiting the world as a Black, queer person is also reflected in the pastel pink that runs throughout the exhibition, considering the pigment is traditionally associated with the feminine. “I feel like I understand bodily threat in a very real way. Every day when I leave my place, the threat to my bodily existence is palpable,” he said in that same interview, sharing that the interactive installation is a way “to bring people as much as I can to understanding what that feels like, but in a space of joy, of being a human in the world.”
For more of Hill’s multi-disciplinary works, visit his site and Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Animation
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