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Art

In 'Human,' Artist Beth Cavener Chronicles Nearly Two Decades of Evocative Sculptural Creatures

August 19, 2020

Claire Voon

All images © Beth Cavener, shared with permission

In the hands of Montana-based sculptor Beth Cavener (previously), clay transforms into mesmerizing, life-size animal figures charged with raw emotion and vitality. ​Human​, her recently released and award-winning monograph, gathers and celebrates nearly two decades of these extraordinary creations, featuring 160 color plates of work from six series. The curious menagerie includes hares, foxes, goats, and other common mammals, with graceful and luminous bodies depicted in situations that are often tinged with a sense of violent tension. They are figures of pathos: Some creatures recoil, as though in fear; others seem paralyzed by some unseen force. Many are suspended, tethered, or slumped over, having seemingly surrendered to their perpetual state of entrapment. Still, others are beasts exuding tenderness, their body language and eyes inviting viewers to draw close.

Cavener is a prolific artist, and as ​Human​ reveals, she has experimented with diverse materials including crystallized sugar, black sand, and smoke. Some of her most compelling pieces engage evocative devices like steel chains and glass vitrines, with several incorporating distinctive objects like a 24 karat gold ring and a wasps’ nest. The resulting animals could be displaced from dark fables. They are haunting, unlucky characters whose precise body language and inescapable gazes express unfiltered views of human nature.

Writing the foreword for ​Human​, critic Garth Clark identifies Cavener’s sources of inspiration: People she personally has encountered during her lifetime—including her own self—“whose psychodramas, emotional catastrophes, and sexual peculiarities play out in her work.” Roiling with unspoken affect, these animals serve as unflinching mirrors capable of appealing at one glance and suddenly unsettling at another. As Cavener has said about her own visions: “Entangled in their own internal and external struggles, the figures express frustration for the human tendency towards cruelty and a lack of understanding. Something conscious and knowing is captured in their gestures and expressions. An invitation and a rebuke.”

Explore this beguiling bestiary by picking up a copy of ​Human​ from the artist’s ​website​ or Bookshop.

 

 

 



Art

Copper Animal Sculptures by Artist Wang Ruilin Are Embedded with Nature’s Sublime Elements

August 18, 2020

Grace Ebert

“66°​​​​​​​ N” (2020), copper and paint. . All images © Wang Ruilin

Artist Wang Ruilin (previously) visualizes nature’s interconnectivity by literally imprinting a rocky terrain or ice cap onto the bodies of wild animals. His recent copper-and-paint sculptures include a panda with a black back stripe and limbs that are covered in a mountainous ridge and a white blanket of clouds. Similarly, the waters of the Arctic Circle wrap around a polar bear’s lower back and hind legs, contrasting its otherwise smooth fur. Often positioned in states of repose, the creatures are evoking Earth’s most sublime features through surreal placements. See more of the Ruilin’s recent sculptures below, and head to Behance and Instagram for glimpses into his process.

 

“Above Cloud” (2020), copper and paint

“Above Cloud” (2020), copper and paint

“66°​​​​​​​ N” (2020), copper and paint

“66°​​​​​​​ N” (2020), copper and paint

“DREAMS Rhino (No. 04)” (2015), copper and paint

“DREAMS Rhino (No. 04)” (2015), copper and paint

“HIDE.SEEK – DOUZHANSHENGFO” (2015), copper and paint

“HIDE.SEEK – DOUZHANSHENGFO” (2015), copper and paint

 

 



Art

Delft-Style Weaponry by Artist Helena Hauss Contrasts Fragility with Strength and Destruction

August 15, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Helena Hauss, shared with permission

Paris-based artist Helena Hauss juxtaposes the domestic femininity synonymous with delft-style porcelain and the brute force of barbed weaponry. Her sculptural series, titled Hell Hath no Fury, is composed of an axe, grenade, spiked bat, and flail, each of which is ornamented with floral motifs.

Hauss shares with Colossal that she hopes to disrupt notions that women are the “weaker sex” and opts instead for a message of empowerment. “Too often portrayed as fragile and delicate, this project is an expression of the contrasting subtleties that come with femininity, as well as an attempt at vindication from a feeling of constant vulnerability that’s been forced upon us,” she says. “Contrary to what you might think, we’re not made of glass, porcelain, or crystal. We’re not gonna break, we’re wearing full metal jackets, and we’re ready to fight back.”

To view more of the Hauss’s subversive sculptural works, head to Instagram and Behance.

 

 

 



Art

Illuminated Wire Sculptures Nest Inside Larger Kinetic Works by Artist Spenser Little

August 14, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Spenser Little, shared with permission

Known for his figurative wire pieces attached to light posts and other public fixtures around the world, Spenser Little’s recent artworks venture into the personal. Illumination Devices is comprised of the artist’s bent portraits and totems of merging faces, in addition to a series of irradiated kinetic sculptures. Evoking the nesting doll, these abstract figures contain spacious chest cavities that open up to reveal similar, smaller forms hidden inside.

For each lamp, Little carves a wooden structure of the main character’s head, welds a metal body, and overlays the components with thin paper “skin,” repeating the process for subsequent pieces. He also seats wooden figures in the deepest caverns. The relationship between the inner and outer sculptures explores the tension between the conscious and subconscious, which the artist explains:

I heard the analogy long ago the we, our active, controlled conscious, are merely riders on a large beast. We think our conscious minds are controlling the subconscious beast, but in reality, the beast goes where it wants revealing our unpolished motives. The outer self wants to project control and precision. The inner self is just trying to keep things working. The lamps are shells around motors.

By physically brightening the artworks, Little uncovers the link between the two sometimes disparate selves. “Art to me is the wordless conversation between us and our inner beast. To communicate with our unenlightened animal impulses is very illuminating to our true selves,” he shares with Colossal.

Little’s nestled sculptures are on view through September 20 at MOAH: CEDAR in California. Take a virtual tour of the show, and check out exactly how the articulate artworks function on the artist’s Instagram. (via Supersonic)

 

 

“Large Orange Lamp” (2020), steel, paper, glue, red heartwood, gears, electric motors, sprockets, bicycle chain link, 40 × 80 × 40 inches

“Inner Defense Mechanism Lamp” (2020), steel, paper, glue, red heart & figurative maple wood, gears, electric motor, carbon-chain link, 30 × 30 × 26 inches

“Identity Roulette, Red Lamp” (2020), steel, paper, glue, purple and red heartwood, electric motor, gears, carbon-chain link, 13 × 28 × 13 inches

“Yellow Glass Urn” (2020), steel, glass, 15 × 13 inches

Left: “Mini Totem Cluster” (2020), one continuous 22 gauge steel wire, 26 × 8 inches. Right: “Birth and Death Deity” (2020), one continuous16 gauge steel wire, 61 × 33

“Copper Multi-Face Design” (2020), one continuous 12 gauge copper wire, 36 × 33 inches

 

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A post shared by Spenser Little (@spenserlittleart) on

 

 



Art Food

Evoking West-African Masks, Faces Emerge from Cast-Iron Skillets by Artist Hugh Hayden

August 12, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Jazz 10” (2020), cast iron, 16 1/2 x 11 3/4 x 3 1/8 inches. All images © Hugh Hayden, courtesy of Lisson Gallery

New York-based artist Hugh Hayden (previously) visualizes the ways African traditions are embedded into multiple facets of American culture through a series of cast-iron skillets. Part of a larger exhibition titled American Food, the 26 pans are molded to reveal facial impressions that evoke West African-style masks, blending the cooking tool and cultural object.

Generally established by cooks who were enslaved, southern food includes many of the flavors, techniques, and ingredients prevalent in African cuisine, forming what Hayden sees as one of the foremost culinary traditions distinct to the United States. This direct impact is evident in the physical artworks—the expressive masks literally emerge from the pans—although it transcends the effects on the kitchen. As he writes about “The Cosby’s” (shown below) on Instagram, “I made this triptych as an homage to the indelible cultural impact of the African diaspora on the creation of American entertainment, food, industry, and society.”

Hayden creates the skillets through sand casting, a manufacturing technique that utilizes the granular substance as a mold, which the artist employs as a way to recognize “the imperfectness of the materials, their colonial histories, and the inherent loss of detail in the reproduction process.” He also parallels the sculpting process to the diaspora, considering how the original object is obscured and imbued with cultural significance when it’s finished. Ultimately, American Food celebrates “the indebtedness to African origins in the cooking—as a form of creation of America, Western culture, and Modern Art,” a statement says.

 

“Jazz 19” (2020), cast iron, 21 1/4 x 12 x 5 1/2 inches

“The Cosby’s” (2020), cast iron, three skillets, 12 1/8 x 8 1/4 x 5 7/8 inches, 14 1/2 x 10 5/8 x 4 1/4 inches, 18 7/8 x 14 1/8 x 2 1/2 inches

“Jazz 15” (2020), cast iron, 16 7/8 x 11 3/8 x 6 1/4 inches

Left: “The Cosby’s” (2020), cast iron, three skillets, 12 1/8 x 8 1/4 x 5 7/8 inches, 14 1/2 x 10 5/8 x 4 1/4 inches, 18 7/8 x 14 1/8 x 2 1/2 inches. Right: “Jazz 17” (2020), cast iron, 16 1/4 x 10 3/8 x 7 inches

“Jazz 18” (2020), cast iron, 19 5/8 x 9 5/8 x 5 inches

 

 



Art Food

Plump and Peeled Ceramic Bananas Shape Koji Kasatani's Evocative Sculptures

August 10, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Koji Kasatani, shared with permission

Long before the infamous banana sent waves through the art world last year, Koji Kasatani was forming playful sculptures with the yellow produce. From a couple of peels mid-waltz to another fruit flattened into a puddle, the ceramic-and-resin artworks are evocative and humorous. Kasatani shares with Colossal that while the banana is a recurring motif, its purpose is light-hearted and is a form of idiosyncratic expression.

At 40 years old, the Japanese artist first started sculpting ceramic pieces after a residency in Florence, where he learned traditional Italian techniques. Since 2010, Kasatani has created an extensive body of work inspired by the fruit, which you can find on Instagram.

 

 

 

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