Artist Ming Lu melds multiple facets associated with Chinese culture in her delicate blue-and-white porcelain works. She utilizes traditional craft techniques to sculpt ubiquitous cultural symbols often found throughout the streets of Chinatown, encompassing both the Berlin-based artist’s broad cultural connections to her native country and more personal interactions.
In the three busts that comprise “Dialogue,” for example, Ming Lu transcribes conversations with her partner in calligraphic script. Titled “Reason,” “Trick,” and “Reaching a Station We’ll Never Reach,” the self-portraits embody a contemporary change in situation and perspective through a classic medium. Similarly, a trio of butchered ducks evokes the popular dish in form and are coated in a traditional floral motif, a cracked glaze, and characters depicting an old-fashioned spelling of “I love you.” Each of the birds strikes a balance between history and more contemporary culture, which Ming Lu describes:
It’s a funny experience when I first went to Chinatown and I saw these roast ducks hanging on the restaurant windows. We don’t do this in China, at least not in the cities I’ve been to. It’s a funny experience for me. And when you go to a museum, in the “China” (the country) section, you see many porcelains. It also represents China in a way as in history, especially in Ming and Qing dynasties, (porcelain) was one of the largest export commodities, so I put them together.
Ming Lu works across mediums, and you can see more of her sculptures, paintings, and embroideries on her site. Some of the pieces shown here on view through July 3 as part of her solo show Tigress, Tigress at BBA Gallery in Berlin and in a group exhibition running June 24 to 30 at Kühlhaus Berlin.
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Sixty migrating elephants pass between Piccadilly and Buckingham Palace in London’s Green Park in one of nine herds roaming throughout the city. The lumbering creatures are part of an ongoing collaboration between two nonprofits, CoExistence and Elephant Family, that explores how humans can better live alongside animals and the larger ecosystem through imaginative public art projects.
As its name suggests, CoExistence’s aim is to identify mutually beneficial modes of living considering that within the last century, the balance between world population and wilderness has shifted considerably: in 1937, 66 percent of global environments were intact with 2.3 billion people on Earth. Today, those numbers have undergone a dramatic change, with a world population of 7.8 billion and only 35 percent of wilderness remaining.
The organization’s most recent effort brings the gargantuan animals to urban spaces throughout London that are typically closed off to wildlife. The herds can be spotted in St. James’s Park, Berkeley Square, and even the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s homes at Highgrove. In addition to generating awareness of environmental crises, the installations raise funds to support grassroots organizations throughout India that promote Indigenous culture and establish technology and infrastructure that allows humans and animals to live symbiotically.
CoExistence plans to install approximately 500 animals around the world in the next few years, and with the help of The Real Elephant Collective, each nation will receive a herd designed specifically for the location. The collective partners with Indigenous communities from the Tamil Nadu jungle in southern India, who live alongside the real-life animals, to create the sculptural iterations that stand up to 15 feet tall and weigh nearly 800 pounds. Each creature is constructed from long strips of lantana camara, an invasive weed that spreads in dense thickets and disturbs the environment—the video below documents the process—and by removing the plant, the artists help to reinstate the natural ecosystem.
Thirty-seven endangered and extinct birds will join the herd in Green Park on July 6. Using steel, clay, and bronze, seven artists created the flock, which includes a three-meter-tall curlew by Simon Gudgeon that’s as large as some of the elephants. The avian additions are the product of a collaboration with WildEast, a group focused on restoring biodiversity in the U.K. and finding new methods of sustainable farming, and will be sold to raise money for conservation efforts.
To support CoExistence’s efforts, you can donate or commission one of the elephants, and there are smaller goods and prints available in its shop. Follow the herds’ movements on the nonprofit’s Instagram, and see more on Elephant Family’s account.
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Thinkspace Presents 'Cluster Fudge': A New Body of Paintings and Articulated Figures by Reen Barrera
Candid, passionate, and uninhibited, Ohlala is the character at the center of Reen Barrera’s practice. The recurring figure functions as a vessel for the artist’s own experiences and emotions, which culminate in portraits rendered in acrylic, oil, aerosol and wooden figurines that stand a few inches tall or stretch to imposing heights. “There is this idiom that says ‘it’s written all over your face,’ which gave me an idea that regardless of what we say, our true feelings can still be emancipated by our facial expressions,” the Paris-born artist says in a statement. “For me, it’s a silent way of communicating something without noise.”
To convey the characters’ wildly varied emotions, Barrera subtly shifts the form, materials, and colorful motifs: Ohlala often wears hoods with animal ears and patchwork clothing with chunky, uneven seams; an amalgam of abstract patterns and small botanics coat the figure’s face; and oversized hands display unambiguous gestures. The artist leaves drips, splashes, and other mistakes visible, too, adding to the unmediated theme of his works.
If you’re in Los Angeles, you can see Ohlala’s many moods as part of a sold-out show titled Cluster Fudge on view at Thinkspace Projects through June 26—the gallery spoke with Barrera at length about the works in a recent interview. You can also watch the studio tour below, and check out his site and follow him on Instagram.
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Preserved Grasses and Twigs Radiate Outward in Delicately Embroidered Sculptures by Artist Kazuhito Takadoi
Artist Kazuhito Takadoi (previously) tames the unruly grasses, leaves, and twigs grown in his garden by weaving the individual strands into exquisite radial sculptures. Stitched into paper or bound to wooden discs made of cedar of Lebanon, oak, elm, or walnut, the abstract forms hover between two and three dimensions and utilize traditional Japanese bookbinding techniques to secure the threads. Each artwork, whether an intricately overlapping mass or pair of circular sculptures, is an act of preservation and a study of inevitable transformation: although the materials won’t decompose entirely, subtle shifts in color and texture occur as they age. “As the light changes or the point of view is moved, so the shadows will create a new perspective,” the artist says.
Born in Nagoya, Japan, Takadoi is currently based in the U.K. His meticulously woven works will be on view from June 22 to 29 at Artefact in Chelsea Harbor, and you can find a larger collection of his pieces on Artsy and jaggedart.
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Thin ribbons of porcelain ripple across the surfaces of Alice Walton’s abstract sculptures. Gently sloped domes and pillars are covered in countless individual strips, which vary in thickness and length and add irregular texture and depth to the finished pieces. “Every mark I make, whether this be a tool mark or a fingerprint, are preserved in the firing and are not covered or coated or inhibited by a glaze,” the artist writes. “I want the viewer to be able to look at my sculptures from afar and to have one perception of the surface (and) then want to explore closer. On a nearer inspection, the surface decoration reveals layers of multiple colours and time spent through process.”
Focusing on the meditative qualities of repetition, Walton combines pastels and vibrant Earth tones to evoke the sights of her surrounding environment and travels. “The vividly painted sun-bleached street walls and the monsoon-drenched temples, to me, instantly resembled the dry powdery palette of coloured clays,” she shares about a visit to Rajasthan, India. Her choices in pigment still revolve around what she sees on a daily basis—these range from old maps to the seasonal landscapes nearby her studio in Somerset, U.K.—that result in undulating stripes or bold gradients composed with more than 40 colors in “Clements Shade.”
At the 2019 British Ceramics Biennial, Walton was awarded a residency with Wedgwood, where she’s currently working on a new series of sculptural vessels made from the English company’s traditional Jasper clay. Those pieces will be shown at the 2021 biennial in September. She’ll also have work at London’s Chelsea Design Centre from June 22 to 29 and at MAKE Hauser & Wirth Somerset in November. Until then, explore more of her sculptures on her site and Instagram. (via Seth Rogan)
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Land and sea creatures alike overrun a new exhibition at Le Stanze Del Vetro in Venice. Titled The Glass Ark, the eclectic bestiary—among the more than 750 animals on view are elephants, hippos, cats, giraffes, polar bears, parrots, and poodles adorned with bows—is the expansive collection of art historian and former Louvre president Pierre Rosenberg.
For thirty years, Rosenberg gathered the lustrous sculptures during regular trips to Venice, a region with a long history of innovative techniques and a hub for glassblowing since the 13th Century. Charming and playfully expressive, the Murano glass pieces diverge from similar collections produced in other media. “They never display fierce poses, which are typical of more traditional animalier sculptures,” a statement says, “and above all, they are never conceived as a toy.”
In addition to Rosenberg’s collection, The Glass Ark also features pieces from artists working today, including Cristiano Bianchin, Marcantonio Brandolini d’Adda, Franck Ehrler, Massimo Nordio, Isabelle Poilprez, Maria Grazia Rosin, and Giorgio Vigna. It runs both in-person and virtually through August 1. (via designboom)
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Editor's Picks: History
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.