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Art

Wilting Flowers Elegantly Sculpted in Glass by Lilla Tabasso Are Suspended in States of Decay

September 16, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images by Roberto Marossi, courtesy of Caterina Tognon Art Gallery, shared with permission

Artist Lilla Tabasso (previously) traps bouquets and tufts of grass at their most precarious stages of life. From her studio in Milan, she creates delicate glass sculptures of wilting flowers and rough clusters of sod that have just breached their prime, capturing how they elegantly bow and collapse as they decay. “The focus is on the way in which they burst with life and vigor at first bloom until eventually the passage of time inevitably takes its toll,” the artist says.

Although Tabasso’s background is in biology, she doesn’t draw preliminary sketches and strays from sculpting faithful depictions, preferring instead to reinterpret a lily, peony, or hydrangea as her process unfolds. “More so than the shape or form, it is the choice of color, together with a warm and natural shade, which is a priority, (that) gives the flower its transparent melancholy, a permanent condition of every creation,” she says. Her recent works revolve around the idea of ataraxia, or equanimity, which manifests in the contrasts between the durable, resilient lifeforms and their inherent ephemerality.

In November, Tabasso will open a solo exhibition in collaboration with Caterina Tognon Art Gallery at Galerie Coatalem in Paris and is preparing her work for shows at Musverre and The European Fine Art Fair in 2022. Find glimpses into her process on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

First Look at 'Numina': A Wonderland Brimming with Bizarre Creatures and Fantastical Scenes Opens at ‘Convergence Station’ in Denver

September 16, 2021

Grace Ebert

Between a two-story metallic spaceship, gnarled trees teeming with strangely colored mosses and lichen, and fantastical creatures, the eccentric artworks that comprise the new space at Convergence Station by Meow Wolf (previously) rival those in even the most peculiar sci-fi universe. The immersive, swamp-like installation, which is dubbed “Numina” or the spirit of a place, is one of the anchors of the Santa Fe-based company’s latest undertaking, which showcases more than 70 installations by 300 artists across four floors. Four years in the making, Convergence Station opens on September 17 in Denver.

Accessible through a series of secret portals and wormholes, “Numina” scales 35 feet into the air and is designed as a multi-sensory experience inviting visitors to interact with their unearthly surroundings. When someone speaks to one of the four glowing creatures resembling sea urchins, for example, the forms warp and spew the echoed audio across the space. The color-changing “Fairie Orbs” similarly sing and vibrate with intonations when a person passes by, and the “Frog Egg Garden” emits kaleidoscopic lights and quiet sounds when activated with touch.

 

All images © Meow Wolf, shared with permission

Spanning three levels, the extraordinary, hand-built project is evidence of the team’s penchant for detail and ability to fuse seemingly disparate reference materials into surreal sculptures with various colors, textures, and shapes. The wood-like structural elements, for example, are wrapped in innumerable folds that artists modeled after the wrinkled skin of hairless cats, while pieces like the “Toad Piggies” are hybrid creations and the “Nudibranches” exaggerate the striking bodies of real-life mollusks by stretching them to seven feet. “Some ‘flowers’ were inspired by jellyfish, and some ‘jellyfish’ look more like flowers,” says Caity Kennedy, the project’s creative director and co-founder of Meow Wolf.

Although individual artists retained control over much of what they created—the expansiveness of this collaborative approach is part of what makes “Numina” so uniquely vast and diverse—Kennedy tells Colossal that she gravitated toward the more bizarre works rather than whimsical, fairytale-style pieces. “It is an interesting challenge to play with the balance of comfort and discomfort, to build a space that is welcoming but sometimes unnerving, to make people feel both safe and adventurous at the same time,” she shares. “There are so many things I could point out… Look for the sundial! Find the zoetrope! Point the sort of mollusk orchid/telescope creatures at the stars! Find Leomie’s Field Notebook in the library!”

Tickets are on sale now to visit Convergence Station in person. Otherwise, watch the video tour above for a more in-depth look at the unreal wonderland.

 

 

 



Art Food

Mammoth Straw Creatures Populate Japanese Farmland in the Annual Wara Art Festival

September 13, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Wara Art Festival

If you visit Japan’s Niigata Prefecture during the region’s annual rice harvest, you’re likely to find enormous tarantulas, eagles, and dinosaur-like creatures stalking the bucolic landscape. The towering sculptures are part of the Wara Art Festival, a summertime event that displays massive animals and mythical creations fashioned from the crop’s leftover straw.

Traditionally, the byproduct is used as livestock feed, for compost that revitalizes the soil, and to craft household goods like zori sandals, although farmers increasingly have found themselves with a surplus as agricultural technology and culture changes. This shift prompted a partnership between the people of the former Iwamuro Village, which is now Nishikan Ward, and Tokyo’s Musashino Art University (known colloquially as Musabi) in 2006. At the time, Department of Science of Design professor Shingo Miyajima suggested that the unused straw be used in a collaborative art project between the university and local farmers, resulting in the first Wara Art Festival in 2008.

Today, students design the oversized characters—you can see previous year’s creations in this gallery—and artisans from Nishikan Ward construct the wooden armature and thatched bodies. The monumental figures stand as high as 30 feet, looming over the green landscape in a playful celebration of local culture.

Although the festival paused in 2020 because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s back for its 13th edition at Uwasekigata Park. This year’s motley cast includes insects, animals, and even legendary monsters like the Amabie, all on view through October 31. (via Hyperallergic)

 

 

 



Art

Nondescript Human Heads Appear Burned into Large-Scale Matches by Wolfgang Stiller

September 8, 2021

Grace Ebert

Group of five Matchstickmen (2019), wood, polyurethane, paint, each 155 centimeters. All images © Wolfgang Stiller, shared with permission

Often propped up in a row or symbolically arranged, the ongoing series of charred matches by Wolfgang Stiller are oversized and surreal renditions of the book-bound lookalikes. The German artist sculpts human heads in bright red or gradient-lined black signaling previous use that sit atop the square posts standing about five feet tall. Aptly titled Matchstickmen, the nondescript figures span the gamut of human emotion, ranging from pained expressions and distress to joy and calm.

Stiller began the series more than a decade ago when he was living in China, and the earliest wooden iterations reflected his surrounding community. Today, they encompass a broader swath of identities and are sometimes cast in bronze for larger outdoor installations. Whether tucked in a large-scale box resembling a coffin or arranged as emblems like the Star of David to memorialize historic atrocities, the Matchstickmen series can be somber and even morbid, although Stiller tells Colossal they’re also speaking to the unpredictability and impermanence of life. He explains:

It is an undeniable fact, which we like to forget, that our present existence, (our) body is going to fall apart. We all have a certain lifespan. The Matchstickmen serve as a friendly reminder of this fact. That might scare a lot of people, especially those with a very materialistic worldview who think everything ends with the death of our physical body, but it could be also seen as an encouragement to live a more meaningful life.

Stiller’s solo show at Miart Gallery in London is up through September 21, and you can find more of his metaphorical works on his site and  Instagram.

 

Group of three Matchstickmen (2019), wood, polyurethane, paint, each 155 centimeters

Detail of “Matchbox” (2018), wood, polyurethane, and paint, 160 x 71 x 20 centimeters when opened

Detail of “Matchbox” (2018), wood, polyurethane, and paint, 160 x 71 x 20 centimeters when opened

Group of five Matchstickmen (2020), wood, polyurethane, paint, each 155 centimeters

Matchstickmen (2011), wood, polyurethane, acrylic, and gouache, 155 to 158 centimeters

Bronze installation of Matchstickmen at the Changwon Sculpture Biennale Korea (2018)

Matchstickmen installation (2010). Photo by Achim Kukulies

 

 



Art

Innumerable Metal Leaves and Flowers Cloak Intricately Sculpted Animals by Taiichiro Yoshida

September 3, 2021

Grace Ebert

“The Dog in the Night Fog”

Japanese artist Taiichiro Yoshida (previously) continues his surveys into the possibilities of metalsmithing with a new series of elaborately layered sculptures. Spending between two and six months on each work, Yoshida meticulously molds copper, bronze, silver, and other materials by hand, creating countless metallic pieces with intricately impressed textures and edgings. Once wrapped around an armature of a dog, chick, or stuffed teddy bear, the fragile components ripple across the form, or as is the case with “The Dog in the Night Fog,” they appear as dozens of butterflies poised for flight. Explore a larger collection of Yoshida’s wrought sculptures on his site.

 

“Shell.” All images © Taiichiro Yoshida, shared with permission

Detail of “The Dog in the Night Fog”

“Red chick no. 6”

“Vessel”

“Calico”

“Doppel”

“Mottled rabbit”

 

 



Art

Coral and Plant Life Consume Discarded Objects in Post-Apocalyptic Sculptures by Stéphanie Kilgast

September 2, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Coral Royal” (2019), epoxy clay, acrylics on tin can, 14 x 15 x 11 centimeters. All images © Stéphanie Kilgast, shared with permission

Artist Stéphanie Kilgast (previously) envisions a vibrant, post-apocalyptic world overgrown with coral, fungi, and lush moss. Using cheap devices and disposable containers that tend to outlast their original function as her base, Kilgast creates painted-clay assemblages that are teeming with fantastical colors and texture: mushrooms sprout from an empty paint tube, sea creatures envelop a crushed can, and plant life cloaks a pair of headphones with whimsical botanicals.

Each of the works contrasts the enduring manufactured object with natural growth, imagining a universe that’s simultaneously devoid of humanity and still marred by its rampant consumption habits. “In that sense my work is joyous. I remove the root of the problem, us, and let all the other species just grow over our mistakes,” she shares. “Nature itself is full of bright colors. It’s inherently beautiful, and my work is an ode to all the living and existing species, (except) for us. Hope dies last, so I still hope my work opens up discussion, thinking, and eventually change.”

Currently based in Vannes, France, Kilgast has exhibitions at Comoedia in Brest, France, Modern Eden in San Francisco, and three at Melbourne’s Beinart Gallery slated for 2022. She also shares much of her process on YouTube and Instagram.

 

“Quinacridone Magenta” (2021), cold porcelain, epoxy clay, acrylics, wire on empty paint tube, 10 x 7 x 13 centimeters

“Cyltonic” (2018), polymer clay, acrylics, wire, thrifted can of cleaning agent, 17 x 9 x 19 centimeters

Top left: “Blue Boletus” (2020), polymer clay, acrylics, wire on tin can, 25 x 14 x 10 centimeters. Top right: “Serene” (2020), epoxy clay, polymer clay, acrylics, wire on empty acrylic plastic bottle, 25 x 12 x 17 centimeters. Bottom left: “Yellow Exploration (Octopus)” (2020), epoxy clay, polymer clay, acrylics on empty acrylic plastic bottle, 32 x 16 x 15 centimeters and “Blue Bottle (Coral Reef)” (2020), epoxy clay, polymer clay, acrylics on empty acrylic plastic bottle, 35 x 15 x 11 centimeters. Bottom right: “Mojito” (2019), poxy clay, polymer clay, acrylics on tin can, 17 x 17 x 7 centimeters

“Losing My Song Culture” (2021), epoxy clay, air-dry clay, cold porcelain, paper, watercolor, acrylics, on broken headphones, 28 x 18 x 17 centimeters

Detail of “Blue Bottle (Coral Reef)” (2020), epoxy clay, polymer clay, acrylics on empty acrylic plastic bottle, 35 x 15 x 11 centimeters

“Mother (Elephants)” (2019), epoxy clay, polymer clay, acrylics, wire, thrifted plastic canteen, 17 x 14 x 26 centimeters