Pejac (previously) recently spent some time inside one of the oldest continuously running prisons in Spain. The prison, El Dueso, is a hulking structure built on the ruins of Napoleon’s fortress. True to his efforts to create and place his work in unusual settings and initiate conversations about unpopular subjects, the Gold Mine project resulted in three interventions that the artist realized in collaboration with inmates. “A prison itself is a place wrapped in harsh reality,” Pejac explained. The artist continues, “At the same time, I feel that it has a great surrealist charge. It is as if you only need to scratch a little on its walls to discover the poetry hidden inside.”
Making a connection between the sterile isolation inside and the lush nature surrounding the facility, the biggest and arguably most striking piece is an immense tree, a metaphor of ultimate, unspoiled freedom. The Shape of Days serves as a monument to the most cherished virtue: perseverance. It is entirely built from countless hash marks that reference an age-old method of keeping track of time away from the real world. Making an analogy between the tree leaves as the symbol of growth and marks as the symbol of extreme restraint, the majestic image captures the passage of time while providing hope.
Placed in a sterile, newly built corridor that connects the cells and outdoor areas, Hollow Walls is a poetic illusion of sliding doors made from the blank concrete walls. Through minimal artistic intervention, the artist added a sense of depth and perspective, creating a distraction for those walking along these walls daily. Once again using one of his most recurring images, a soaring bird, Pejac created an atmosphere of reachable yet fictional freedom.
The final piece, Hidden Value, also uses an element that artist has introduced in his previous work: a peeled off corner of an existing object suggesting an alternative reality. Working with people whose everyday life is stripped of life’s basic pleasures, Pejac wanted to provide some sense of luxury to the basic and highly restricted routine of the inmates. Using real 22-carat gold leaf and a trompe l’oeil technique he’s used before, he created an illusion of the basketball board revealing a large gold plate under its familiar surface. Challenged by taking everyday items and creating an alternative reality around them, the artist explored the previously mentioned idea of scratching under the surface and discovering that “sometimes, it is gold that does not shine.”
Explore more of Pejac’s thought-provoking work, ranging from site-specific installations to gallery pieces, on Instagram.
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Fjordenhus is a recently completed structure built on the Vejle Fjord in Denmark only accessible by footbridge. It is the first structure fully designed by the studio of Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson (previously), and was inspired by the harbor’s architecture. The 970,000-brick building is built several yards into the water from the shore, with the surrounding body of water acting as its moat.
The complexly curved form contains four intersecting cylinders which are carved to present a pattern of concave and convex walls, and is dotted with several arched windows and openings to the sea. “The outer walls, which are normally seen as a membrane between inside and outside, are spaces in Fjordenhus,” explains the studio. “You are offered the opportunity to be both inside and outside.”
The structure will hold the offices for investment company KIRK KAPITAL, yet will contain a ground floor open to the public with site-specific art installations designed by Eliasson. Fjordenhus took nearly a decade of planning to implement and build, and is considered both an architectural structure and a work of art. You can learn about more projects designed by Eliasson’s studio on their website. (via Dezeen)
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In 2011, Brazilian artist Tatiana Blass pierced the walls of a Sao Paulo chapel with large masses of red yarn, letting the bright material trail into the surrounding grasses, landscape, and trees. The installation, titled Penelope, was named after Odysseus’s wife in Homer’s Odyssey, a character who kept herself away from suitors while he was at war by weaving a burial shroud by day, and secretly taking pieces of it apart at night.
Inside the chapel the work continued with a 45-foot-long carpet leading to a loom into which it was stuck. Immaculate on one side of the loom and in pieces on the other, strings of the dismantled rug traveled outside of the chapel through preexisting holes that made their way into the yard. The piece, just like the epic poem, leaves us to wonder whether the work is in a state of construction or unraveling, if the carpet is being built, or slowly torn apart. (via Design Milk)
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Back in 2006, Warsaw’s National Gallery of Art, Zachęta, held a group exhibition titled “Polish Painting of the 21st Century.” Painter Leon Tarasewicz contributed a site-specific work to the 60-artist exhibition, redoing the museum’s Great Hall in a bath of red, yellow, blue, and green splatter paint. The work splattered the stairs and crept up the surrounding walls, creating a dramatic entrance for anyone entering the exhibition. (via ArchAtlas which was inexplicably deleted by Tumblr last week?)
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Liz West is no stranger to multi-colored environments, previously covering the floor of an historic UK church with dazzling reflective orbs. Her latest project, Our Colour, is located at this year’s Bristol Biennial and gives the audience the feeling of being dropped into the center of a rainbow by flooding a long hallway with a series of gel-filtered lights. The work changes from a deep violet to an ecstatic red, allowing one to traverse through an immersive collection of colors.
The installation was designed with a human’s psychological and emotional response to color in mind, as West consulted experts in human perception during the development of the work. While observing the audience’s reaction to the piece she has learned that often after traveling through the spectrum of colors they return to the color they find most comfortable—pausing a moment to absorb their favorite shade.
If slowly scrolling through this post isn’t enough to get the sensation that you are traveling through West’s rainbow-filled work, see the piece for yourself through September 10, 2016. (via Designboom)
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The Floor of an Historic Church Transformed Into a Reflective Pool of Multi-Colored Orbs by Liz West
Reflecting the architecture of the former St. John’s Church in North Lincolnshire, UK is Liz West‘s site-specific pool of over 700 multi-colored orbs titled “Our Colour Reflection.” These circular mirrors installed onto the floor of the now 20-21 Visual Arts Centre project hues of yellow, purple, red, blue, and 11 other colors onto the beams that surround them, adding a colorful dimension to the 125-year-old building.
“The work changes constantly, depending on what time of day it is,” West told The Creators Project. “As darkness comes, the gallery spotlights reflect off the colored mirrors and send vivid dots of color up into the interior of the former church building, illuminating the neo-Gothic architecture.”
Visitors can peer into the reflective pool to see how it refracts their own image, inserting themselves simultaneously into the history and artistic intervention of the space. The installation is also a reference to stained glass, as West focused on the history of the arts center as a former place of worship before starting the installation. You can catch the multi-colored light refractions of “Our Colour Reflection” through June 25, 2016. (via The Creators Project)
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The Smithsonian’s ‘Wonder’ Exhibition Fills a Newly Renovated Gallery Floor-to-Ceiling with Artworks
WONDER, the first exhibition at the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian American Art Museum since its two-year renovation, brings together nine contemporary artists that each created room-sized installations inspired by the building in which they were produced. Jennifer Angus, Chakaia Booker, Gabriel Dawe, Tara Donovan, Patrick Dougherty, Janet Echelman, John Grade, Maya Lin, and Leo Villareal each work with objects that are often considered mundane, producing large-scale works from everyday objects like toothpicks and hoards of marbles. Each work in the exhibition demonstrates the labor that went into each piece, normalized elements that have been transformed into mind-bending arrangements.
John Grade created a plaster cast of a tree the same age as the Renwick building, rebuilding the tree’s form from 500,000 segments of reclaimed cedar. Tara Donovan also utilized wood in the form of toothpicks to build her mountainous works, building her towering heaps with other trash like straws and Styrofoam cups to prompt the audience to reexamine the daily detritus seen on city streets.
Other works like Gabriel Dawe’s “Plexus A1” and Janet Echelman’s “1.8” are much more colorful, Dawe’s rainbow weaving mistaken for a prismatic stream of light and Echelman’s red and orange sculptural waves brightly expressing the energetic power of one of the most devastating earthquakes in recorded history.
The Renwick Gallery was the very first building in the United States to be built specifically for the purpose of housing an art museum. You can see how WONDER transformed its newly renovated galleries through mid-2016, with a closing on July 10. (via Art Ruby)
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Editor's Picks: Street Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.