After a COVID-related hiatus, the annual Falles festival in Valencia, Spain, returned this year with an extravagant celebration full of flames and sparks. The five-day pyrotechnic event draws thousands of people into the streets each March to witness fireworks, explosions, and a variety of sculptures burn to the ground, and at the heart of this year’s production was a 23-foot polar bear by artist Antonio Segura, aka Dulk (previously).
Following works by PichiAvo, Okuda San Miguel, and Escif in previous iterations, Dulk’s fantastical and surreal “Protect What You Love” featured wildlife and plants balanced on top of the cold-weather creature. Two years in the making, the monumental piece was constructed with cardboard and wood, and a team assembled the approximately 30 individual vignettes around the central figure once on site. Each of the works speaks to the urgent need to address the climate crisis, which Dulk explains:
We have the mother polar bear in the main square for falles, her fur melting like a candle as other animals take refuge on and around her. They are lost and they are all in search of a new habitat… The koala represents the wildfires of Australia in 2019/2020 where over 60,000 of the creatures lost their lives. The orangutan represents Borneo where their rapid decline as a species is a direct result from hunting, logging Palm oil, and developments in agroforestry. The fish turns to a can, to reflect the loss of marine life from overfishing.
“Protect What You Love,” which burned this last weekend, is a poetic reminder of how quickly loss can occur. “While this is just a metaphor it could become our reality unless we begin to change our behaviour,” Dulk tells Charlotte Pyatt in an interview with Juxtapoz. “I hope the event more than anything else, encourages awareness and action for these urgent concerns.”
The Spanish artist also has smaller works on view at Valencia’s Tuesday to Friday through April 21 and Centre del Carme through May 8 to coincide with the event. See more of his pieces and behind-the-scenes look at the spectacular festival on Instagram.
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Los Angeles-based artist Sam Keller creates playful works centered around his interest in twisting new narratives from everyday objects. He transforms a flattened Coca-Cola or La Croix can into a beautiful gleaming object coated in Swarovski crystals and sculpts giant Cheetos in hollow spheres and small stacks. Each work sheds light on consumption and capitalism’s grip on society. “My use of unpreserved junk foods I’m hoping should prompt a re-examination of the foods we decide to consume as well,” the artist shares. “For the record, I stopped eating Cheetos years ago.”
While growing up in Brooklyn, Keller was drawn to the environment surrounding him, often finding and collecting objects from the streets, which still informs his work today. “My teenage bedroom was decorated with advertisements I removed from subway cars, a satellite dish that I painted on, and once to my parent’s dismay, I even brought home a toppled parking meter,” Keller tells Colossal. Today, he sources many smashed cans from discarded waste around him and decorates them in colorful crystals.
The artist studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and focused on drawing found objects, food, and “off-shoot materials for their built-in language and cultural significance.” Except for high-end glass, many of the items he uses are relatively common. “It only takes two large bags (of Cheetos) to make a ‘Cheetosphere’ sculpture, so from a practical standpoint, a vitrine to protect one of those is the most expensive component,” he explains.“I’m always looking for new objects and materials to incorporate into my practice while continuing to evolve my existing ideas and interests. I feel like I’m chasing an indescribable vision in my mind, and I’ll only know when I get there.”
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Artist Willie Cole is known for transforming discarded materials into sculptures with a tenor of interrogation. Much of his three-dimensional work revolves around found objects like high-heels, plastic bottles, or ironing boards that he turns into pieces of cultural commentary, addressing issues of mass production, historical legacies, and identity. The items tend to guide the formation of his assemblages, he says, sharing that, “the objects that I use I see as them finding me, more so than me finding them… I see an object and suddenly I recognize what I can do with the object. So in that sense, there is an energy or spirit connection to the object. I am exploring the possibilities of these objects.”
Cole’s solo show No Strings, which opens this April at Alexander and Bonin in New York, exemplifies this approach. The artist, who’s currently living and working in New Jersey, recovered guitars, saxophones, and pianos from Yamaha’s recycling program and through his usual alchemy, has created anthropomorphic creatures and abstracted figures from their parts: he converts hammers into tail feathers and spliced acoustic bodies into dogs and anonymous musicians. The pieces are expressive and tied to the endurance of America’s past, particularly drawing a connection between the guitar’s shape and the yokes forced on people who were enslaved.
In addition to the upcoming No Strings show, you can see a few of Cole’s sculptures in the ongoing Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room at The Met, and explore more of his works on his site and Instagram.
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The oscillating curves of a sine wave become a disfiguring characteristic in Léo Caillard’s ongoing Wave Stone series. Carved in white Carrara marble and stone with green and gray ripples, the French artist’s sleek renditions of Aphrodite, Laocoön, and Venus appear to have warped, glitched, or transformed into a tight spiral. Much of Caillard’s work is anachronistic, and he tells Colossal that “the face of the statue connects the piece to its reality, a representation of a classical and iconic figure from the past,” while the abstractions create new gaps of negative space.
Caillard has a few exhibitions slated for the coming months, and you can follow news about those shows in addition to new works on his Instagram.
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Streaming from a beak or bodily mass, the thin paper strips that compose a new series of sculptures by Lisa Lloyd (previously) are infused with movement. The U.K.-based artist shapes the individual pieces into wide curves, mixing a variety of materials and hues from flat graphic colors to shimmering metallic. Abstract and energetic, the resulting sculptures contain a chaotic blend of emotion within circles of feathers and protective scales.
Lloyd shares that the pieces respond to personal and political strife, which manifests in the lively nature of each creature. She explains about the antagonistic avians in “Ritual”:
When I looked at birds being aggressive with each other, I noticed that a lot of the pictures I was looking at were actually of birds mating, or fighting for territory to mate. I was fascinated by how similar they are in nature. Aggression and fighting, passion and pain. I think our mating rituals are not that different.
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Uncanny hybrid bodies, peculiar garments, and innumerable unearthly details comprise Sophie Woodrow’s troupe of porcelain figures. Living and working in Bristol, the artist sculpts the delicate, white material into characters that blur the line between nature and culture: giant ribbons wrap a horned bull in a bow, a face emerges from a cloud-like form, and multiple heads sprout from a single neck. Evocative of Leonora Carrington’s surreal creatures—the tall “Hearing Trumpet” figure is a nod to Carrington’s bizarre novel by the same name—Woodrow plays with artifice and makes it difficult to distinguish bodily features from costume or accessory.
Throughout her practice, Woodrow continually references art history, and she’s currently working on a series that contrasts wild landscapes with the human impulse to manicure and tame nature’s unruliness. You can follow her progress on Instagram. (via Women’s Art)
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