Whether folded into a box, bound by cords, or fragmented and stacked, the nondescript figures that Paris-based artist Khaled DAWWA sculpts experience some form of confinement. Their bodies are contorted into cages or squeezed into each other’s arms, and each looks down or away, a position that makes them appear to lack the power and agency to be free. Cast in dense blocks, the introspective sculptures reflect the artist’s preference for terracotta and bronze. “All that we received from the old history is by these two materials,” he says.
Most of the pieces shown here are part of the Compressed series, which were born out of the artist’s own experiences. He tells Colossal:
This project was inspired by my having lived in different places during a short period: detention and compulsory military service in Damascus for four months, then Lebanon for one year and finally arriving to France. Upon arrival in France, at first, I felt liberated from it all. Then I realized that the French live their lives in a complex system that turns them into “compressed people” and that we had this in common. This is the first series in which I look at people beyond Syria.
If you’re in Paris, you can see Khaled DAWWA’s artwork at numerous spots around the city: his piece titled “Les Passants” will be installed in a public spot in Clamart in May 2021, and he’s also participating in Beautify Paris in June of this year. Currently, he is part of Répare, Reprise at the International City of Arts, a group show that’s up through July 10, and is in the process of making a film about the artworks on display. Explore more of the artist’s compacted sculptures on Instagram.
Share this story
Cosmic Nature: A Spectacular Polka Dot-Filled Exhibition by Yayoi Kusama Sprawls Across New York Botanical Garden
Now inhabiting the verdant, 250-acre campus of the New York Botanical Garden are oversized flowers sprouting in seasonal arrangements, a glowing pumpkin-packed infinity room, and a sea of 1,400 reflective spheres by Yayoi Kusama (previously). Teeming with squiggly sculptures, site-specific installations, and smaller pieces covered in the Japanese artist’s iconic polka dots, Cosmic Nature is an expansive exhibition celebrating decades of Kusama’s bold, joyful body of work.
Four new pieces are debuting during the immersive show, like the tentacled creature that marks the entrance to the grounds. Others include a 16-foot-tall dancing pumpkin, an obliteration greenhouse, and a new infinity room that reflects the lush greenery of the outdoor environment. Coupled with a variety of smaller acrylic paintings, fabric sculptures, and drawings on paper—the earliest of which dates back to 1945— the most recent works establish a broad visual trajectory of Kusama’s fixation on the natural world and never-ending penchant for polka dots.
While many of the playful blooms connect to larger themes about the human relationship to the environment, some pieces are distinctly personal, including “Flower Obsession,” which invites visitors into a space that mimics the artists’ own greenhouse. “Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos…when we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environment,” the prolific artist notably said.
Cosmic Nature opens this weekend at the Bronx venue and runs through October 31. (via Hyperallergic)
Share this story
Using just his hands, Tokyo-based artist Naoki Onogawa folds scores of origami cranes with wingspans that never top a single centimeter. He then fastens the minuscule birds to asymmetric tree forms, creating bonsai-like sculptures engulfed by hundreds of the monochromatic paper creatures.
Onogawa tells Colossal that he began crafting the tiny birds following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake that devastated parts of southern Hokkaido and Tohoku, which the artist visited the next year. As he walked around the city of Rikuzen Takata, he spotted 1,000 paper cranes at the site of a school demolished by the tsunami. “I found myself in terror of how powerless we humans are in the face of nature’s wonder; yet at the same time, I felt empowered by the power of life, vitality, that shined so brightly in the aftermath of its wrath,” Onogawa says. He explains further:
It was like witnessing the result of a desolate ritual where people channeled their unsettled feelings into these cranes. And here they exist, spirited with prayers that they would go back and forward to and from a world beyond here. I struggle to find the words to describe it, but I think that maybe the cranes that I fold now come from that place of solemn prayer.
Onogawa’s cranes are on view at the Setouchi City Museum of Art alongside Motoi Yamamoto’s sprawling salt installation through May 5. Browse available artworks on Picaresque, and explore a larger collection of his pieces on Instagram. (via designboom)
Share this story
Approach the delicate glass artworks by Rui Sasaki, and witness the unpredictable patterns of the weather through a subtle glow of blue light. The Japanese artist’s experiential body of work translates varying forecasts into speckled sculptures that radiate once encountered, an intimate process that Sasaki describes as a way to “visualize subtle sunshine, record today’s weather, and transfer it from here to there/from there to here.”
At their brightest, the phosphorescent crystals are tinged green before fading to blue. “Visitors will doubtless be surprised to find that even if they cannot see anything on first entering the gallery, stay long enough and their eyes will become accustomed to the dark, and the elements of the work will gradually become visible,” Sasaki writes. Because each encounter sparks a unique reaction in the embedded lights, no two experiences will be the same. She explains:
The phosphorescent glass used stores light of a wavelength close to that of sunlight, with this stored light then glowing in the dark. That is to say, one is now seeing light accumulated in the past. If a viewer remains in the gallery for an extended period, the next viewer will see the work glowing weakly in the darkness. With longer viewing time, the light of the phosphorescent glass fades, moment by moment, until finally the gallery is plunged into darkness. This might occur a minute later, or a day later, depending on viewer movements.
Many of the sculptures evoke organic elements in material, concept, and sometimes form, whether shaped into swollen raindrops or a sun-like orb. Others, though, are depicted through domestic scenes with dinnerware or a suspended chandelier, a juxtaposition that relates to Sasaki’s feeling she had lost her sense of home after moving to the U.S. for a few years. Now living in Kanazawa, the artist is using the weather and surrounding environment as a way “to recover from the reverse culture shock and rediscover my intimacy towards my home Japan little-by-little and day-by-day.”
Sasaki’s sculptures are part of multiple group shows, including one at Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art & Design through April 4, another at Art Museum Riga Bourse that will re-open April 6, and an upcoming spring exhibition at Tainan Art Museum in Taiwan. She also has a solo exhibition at Tokyo’s Gallery DiEGO Omotesando slated for May. Watch this interview and studio visit for a glimpse into her process, and follow where her work is headed next on Instagram.
Share this story
A new menagerie of polar bears, stags, and kangaroos resemble typical wildlife except for the fact that they’re literally swept under the carpet, their features hidden from view. These towering sculptural forms are by artist Debbie Lawson (previously), who crafts animals that are cloaked in sweeping Persian rugs. Rather than being camouflaged by a forest, jungle, or snow-covered Arctic, Lawson’s creatures boldly protrude from the fabric and loom over the viewer.
In her process, Lawson sculpts the animals from a combination of chicken wire and masking tape. She then layers luscious carpets across them, creating the illusion that these animals are about to jump, walk, and prance out of the fabric. This method is derived from what Lawson describes as her ability to spot hidden images in floors, textured walls, and various patterns, an interest that’s mirrored in her perspective-altering sculptures that appear to leap out from the gallery’s walls.
Share this story
Clusters of wooden spheres bubble up the fingertips and bodies of the children in Willy Verginer’s poetic sculptures. The Italian artist (previously) contrasts realistic carvings of adolescent figures with elements of whimsy and imagination. Alongside the forms that evoke childhood games are thick stripes of monochromatic paint, which wrap around the sculptures and bisect them in unusual places.
Whether a pastel, neutral tone, or black, the color is symbolic and used to convey subtle messages. Verginer’s works often stem from what he sees as the absurdity of ecological issues or larger societal problems, like the U.S. banking collapse. “My largest effort and research focus on not tying myself to the naturalistic representation of figures, but on giving something more through a dreamlike study, or better an absurd one, and not an imaginary one,” he says. “This world and the whole connected system were so absurd that they made me reproduce an equally absurd situation.”
Many of the sculptures shown here are part of Verginer’s most recent series, Rayuela, which is the Spanish term for hopscotch and the title of Julio Cortázar’s counter-novel that can be read from front to back or vice versa. Written in a stream-of-consciousness style, the book produces varying endings and meanings depending on the reader’s sequence. Cortázar’s adventurous format combined with the imaginative nature of the game informed Vreginer’s approach to the series, which the artist explains:
(In rayuela), kids outline an ideal map on the ground, which starts from the earth and reaches the sky, through intermediate stages marked with numbered squares, on which they jump according to where a pebble is thrown. I can see a metaphor of life in this game; our existence is full of these jumps and obstacles. Each of us aims to reach a sort of sky.
In June, Toronto’s Gallery LeRoyer will have an exhibition of Verginer’s precisely carved works, and the artist has another slated for September at the Zemack Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv. Until then, find more of his sculptures on Instagram.
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Science
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.