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Art

Hundreds of Melting Ice Figures Echo the Intensifying Threat of the Climate Crisis in Néle Azevedo’s Public Works

May 23, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Minimum Monument” (2014), Lima. All images © Néle Azevedo, shared with permission

Ephemerality has always been at the center of Néle Azevedo’s practice. The Brazilian artist is known globally for “Minimum Monument,” a collection of small ice figures that melt in situ.

First exhibited in São Paulo in 2005, the installation, which Azevedo dubs an “urban art action,” has found its way to cities like Paris, Belfast, Lima, and Porto. In each iteration, the artist carves hundreds of 20-centimeter-tall figures seated with their ankles crossed and places them atop outdoor steps and in public spaces. The faceless sculptures drip and pool into small puddles as time passes, which initially was Azevedo’s way of critiquing public monuments and taking “into account the history of the defeated, the anonymous, to bring to light our mortal condition.” The impermanence of the frozen substance directly contrasts the enduring nature of bronze, stone, and other materials typically used for statues and commemorative works.

 

“Minimum Monument” (2005), São Paulo. Photo © Marcos Gorgatti

With the intensifying climate crisis, though, the piece has acquired new meaning as a literal reflection of global warming and the way life will soon disappear from the planet. A statement about the decades-long project explains:

This urgency requires a paradigm shift in the development of governments of all nations to think of another model of development outside the current level of consumption. These threats also finally put Western man in his place, his fate is along with the destiny of the planet, he is not the “king” of nature, but a constituent element of it. We are nature.

A successor to “Minimum Monument,” Azevedo’s “Suspended State” (shown below) similarly gathers more than 1,000 ice figures and dangles them over pots, bowls, and other kitchenware equipped with microphones. “The sound is very important because it invokes that disappearance,” the artist tells Great Big Story. “The melting sculptures (create) a connection between a subjective self and a collective consciousness.”

Explore an archive of Azevedo’s works, including images of multiple iterations of “Minimum Monument,” on her site, and follow news about upcoming exhibitions and projects on Instagram.

 

“Minimum Monument” (2020), Rome. Image © Néle Azevedo

“Minimum Monument” (2009), Berlin. Image © Néle Azevedo

“Minimum Monument” (2016), São Paulo. Image © Néle Azevedo

“Minimum Monument” (2020), Rome. Image © Néle Azevedo

“Minimum Monument” (2020), Rome. Image © Néle Azevedo

“Suspended State,” São Paulo. Photo © Edouard Fraipont

“Suspended State,” São Paulo. Photo © Edouard Fraipont

 

 

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Art

Cloaked in Bold Motifs, Ceramic Vessels by Ariana Heinzman Sprout Playful Botanical Forms

May 20, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of J. Reinhart Gallery, shared with permission

From her studio on Vashon Island in Washington, artist Ariana Heinzman channels the lithe forms of the human body into supple clay vessels. Enveloped in quirky botanical patterns and thick outlines, the sculptures twist and bow into elegant shapes that sprout buds and spiked flowers. Bold, dense motifs evoke the Garden of Eden, Heinzman shares, and serve as a metaphor for the impulse to cover the nude figure with layers of garments.

The vessels shown below are on view through June 18 at J. Rinehart Gallery in Seattle as part of the artist’s solo show, It’s Good to be Here. You can shop functional ceramic pieces like cups and planters on Heinzman’s site, and explore an archive of her floral sculptures on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Wildflowers, Trees, and Quaint Cabins Spring From Su Blackwell’s Book Sculptures

May 19, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Nature in Britain” (2012). Photo by Jaron James. All images © Su Blackwell, shared with permission

The enchanting, imaginative narratives usually bound between the covers of a book burst from the page in the sculptures of Su Blackwell. Often sourcing materials from secondhand shops, flea markets, and library sales, the British artist, who’s based in Hastings, constructs lush gardens of birds and wildflowers and quiet cottages in the midst of evergreens that appear to emerge from vintage volumes.

Imbued with movement in the form of wind or waves, the whimisical works tend to revolve around the fleeting and finding refuge during times of loneliness and mundanity. Blackwell shares with Colossal:

I take my inspiration from fairytales and folklore and use these well-known tales as conduits for modern-day experiences. I often search for stories that relate to my life, whether that be Little Red Riding Hood meeting the big bad wolf or a princess given an impossible task of spinning straw (or in my case ‘words’) into gold, as in the Brother Grimm’s story “Rumplestiltskin. “The themes I explore have a universal appeal, and overall, there is a sense of hope pervading the works.

Blackwell is participating in a group show opening this August at Gustav Lübcke Museum in Hamm, Germany, and has solo exhibitions scheduled for 2023 and 2024 at The Last Tuesday Society and Long and Ryle in London. You can shop prints, cards, and her illustrated book of fairytales in her shop, and follow her practice on Instagram. (via Women’s Art)

 

“Migrating Words” (2014)

“Blue Butterflies” (2022)

“The Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage” (2014). Photo by Yeshen

Left: “The Painted Lady” (2019). Photo by John Reynolds. Top right: “Weeds.” Bottom right: “Weeds (How to Control and Love Them” (2021)

“To Kill a Mockingbird” (2020)

“The Ship” (2020)

 

 



Art

Interview: Trevon Latin Questions His Impulse to Solve Problems, Navigating Loneliness, and the Idea That Everything is Drag

May 19, 2022

Paulette Beete

“Untitled (Michael)” (2021), oil on canvas and fabric stretched on panel. 36 inches. Photo by Jason Mandella, courtesy of the artist and Perrotin

For Trevon Latin, the best use of questions is to breed more questions, a tenet of his practice that he speaks to in a new interview supported by Colossal Members. Each quilt remnant, each barrette, each string of beads he incorporates into the work asks, What does masculinity look like? What does it mean to present yourself as a Black person? What does intimacy look like? What does it mean to exist as a corporeal, analog self versus a digital self or a self mediated through a work of art? For Latin, there are no static answers to these questions.

I think my art is about regular folks. I mean not regular people but people that are just existing in these ways that I’m discussing. I’m talking about queerness, performance, body, Blackness. People out in the real world doing (stuff) and really trying to survive and exist. Those are the people I’m talking to.

In this conversation with Colossal contributor Paulette Beete, Latin explains why he’s only recently started referring to himself as an artist, his approach to fully feeling every emotion he encounters, and his whole-hearted belief that, to quote RuPaul, “we are all born naked, and the rest is drag.”

 

“Purple Love” (2020), oil on canvas, fabric, barrettes, pony beads, 5 x 4 feet. Image courtesy of the artist and Perrotin

 

 



Art Design Illustration

A Monograph Gathers Dozens of Jolly, Anxious, and Relatable Characters by Artist Jean Jullien

May 18, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Pepe the Weekender” (2018), made for Lieux Mouvants. Image © Nicole Zezig. All images courtesy of Phaidon, shared with permission

It’s easy to recognize the quirky, joyful characters of French artist Jean Jullien. Whether looming over a park or gracing a deck of cards, his dodgy dogssmirking fish, and mischievous tree-climbers are cartoonish in style and emotionally conspicuous with their anxious expressions and good-natured gestures. A forthcoming monograph published by Phaidon celebrates Jullien’s broad body of work, which spans public sculpture, illustration, and design. In addition to his most lauded projects, the 256-page volume also contains early sketches and never-before-seen pieces. Jean Jullien ships on May 25 from Bookshop.

 

Vivi (70 3/4 inches), Bruno (66 7/8 inches) Lili (55 1/8 inches), (2019), acrylic paint on aluminum. Photo © Jean Jullien Studio, courtesy of NANZUKA

“Dog Bench” (2019), limited-edition metal bench produced with Case Studyo. Image © Case Studyo

Sculpture for the show The People (2017), fiberglass, 4 7/8 feet. Image © Computer Graphic Plus Co., Ltd.

Photo collage for a feature published in National Geographic (April/May 2018). Image © the artist and Jean Jullien Studio

 

 



Art

In ‘Forothermore,’ Artist Nick Cave Harnesses the Power of Beauty and Art to Inspire Change

May 17, 2022

Grace Ebert

Soundsuits. All photos by Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago, shared with permission

From floral Soundsuits and found-object sculptures to a multicolor web of millions of pony beads, Forothermore surveys the 30-plus-year career of artist Nick Cave. The retrospective, which draws its name from “forevermore” and “for others,” opened last week at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and captures both the evolution and mainstays of the artist’s practice. Cave spoke with Colossal in an interview ahead of the show, saying, “Why now, why now this moment, why this exhibition, why this survey, and who is it for? Once I removed myself from it, I realized that it’s not for me. It really allowed me to take a course of action in terms of that movement and what will this look like, looking at three and a half decades of work.”

Arranged thematically rather than chronologically, the exhibition opens with an iteration of the metallic wind spinners that were part of Cave’s 2017 show at MASS MoCA. Guns, bullets, and teardrops are embedded in some of the kinetic pieces that hang alongside smiling faces and peace signs. These sinister symbols pervade the suspended installation, which considers how a desire to only see beauty can mask painful, life-threatening issues.

 

Detail of “Spinner Forest”

Heavily patterned vinyl wallpaper designed in collaboration with Cave’s partner Bob Faust runs through much of the show and creates a textured backdrop for the artist’s mixed-media assemblages of kitsch figurines, vintage furniture, and other trinkets. Dozens of his signature Soundsuits stand inside the fourth-floor gallery, including the mournful piece veiled in 929 black flowers that was created in response to George Floyd’s murder. Wall sculptures made of items sourced from flea markets—these include rusted tools, dominos, wooden boards, button-up shirts, and glittering orbs—date back to the 90s and surround the vibrant, armor-like costumes.

Cave created the first Soundsuit following Rodney King’s beating in 1991, and he’s never wavered from confronting racism in his works. “As I’m trying to imagine other ways of thinking and making, I’m constantly being brought back to this, unfortunately,” he says. The exhibition also includes a collection of bronze arms cradling sprawling, metallic bouquets with hands often clenched and raised in a fist, a reference to strength and solidarity in the face of rampant injustice.

Forothermore is on view in Chicago through October 2, when it will travel to the Guggenheim in New York City for an exhibition opening on November 18. You can read the full interview with Cave here, and find more from the artist on Instagram.