still life

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Art

Metaphorical Portraits by Michael Mapes Deconstruct Art History as Collaged Specimens

August 30, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Blauw Girl” (2018), pinning foam, insect pins, photographs, specimen containers, glass vials, fabric samples, acrylic paint, beads, human hair, doll hair, gelatin capsules, canvas, cotton thread, and rope, 34 x 28 x 3.5 inches. All images © Michael Mapes, shared with permission

Photographs, scraps of fabric, human hair, dried flowers, and gelatin capsules are a few of the materials that artist Michael Mapes (previously) arranges into fragmented portraits and still lifes. Referencing traditions and prominent works in art history, Mapes interprets figures and fruits through deconstructed compositions. Set in specimen boxes evocative of those used in entomological studies, the collages utilize the metaphor of scientific study as a way to dismantle and reconstruct the contexts and meanings of the original works.

Mapes begins each piece with research around the subject matter and materials, and many of the artist’s most recent works center on muses, like fashion designer Emilie Louise Flöge who was the lifelong companion of Gustav Klimt. “I’ve been making studies, smaller scale works that allow me to consider compositional approaches for larger pieces,” he says about the series. “It connects the past to the present in a very personal way. A muse vibe is inspired by mining art history to find subjects that resonate with me and my work process.”

Mapes, who is based in Hudson Valley, has a few works currently available, which you can find on his site and Instagram.

 

Detail of “Blauw Girl” (2018), pinning foam, insect pins, photographs, specimen containers, glass vials, fabric samples, acrylic paint, beads, human hair, doll hair, gelatin capsules, canvas, cotton thread, and rope, 34 x 28 x 3.5 inches

“Dutch Agatha” (2019), photographs, fabric samples, painted photographs, botanical specimens, spices, tea, tobacco, coffee, cast resin, clay, thread, hair, insect pins, capsules, specimen bags, and magnifying boxes, 20 x 20 x 3.5 inches

“HdP 02” (2016), pinning foam, canvas, acrylic, photographs, plastic containers, resin, fabric, gel capsules, and beads, 28 x 23 x 3 inches

Detail of “HdP 02” (2016), pinning foam, canvas, acrylic, photographs, plastic containers, resin, fabric, gel capsules, and beads, 28 x 23 x 3 inches

“Clelia” (2021), prints, photo prints, costume jewelry, fabric, hair, dried flowers, specimen bags, insect pins, gelatin capsules, thread, misc printed elements, 23 x 28 x 3.5 inches

Detail of “Clelia” (2021), prints, photo prints, costume jewelry, fabric, hair, dried flowers, specimen bags, insect pins, gelatin capsules, thread, misc printed elements, 23 x 28 x 3.5 inches

“Still Life specimens P4” (2021), archival prints, insect pins, map pins, magnifying boxes, specimen bags, dried fruit, and seeds, 12 x 12 x 3.5 inches

Detail of “Still Life specimens P4” (2021), archival prints, insect pins, map pins, magnifying boxes, specimen bags, dried fruit, and seeds, 12 x 12 x 3.5 inches

 

 

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Art Illustration

Flora and Fauna Assume Eccentric Guises in Bill Mayer’s Wryly Playful Portraits

May 11, 2022

Kate Mothes

“The Wakening”. All images © Bill Mayer, shared with permission

Royal frogs, masquerading lemurs, and florals with human faces are just some of the eccentric characters in acclaimed illustrator Bill Mayer’s (previously) gouache paintings. The traditional aesthetic of European still-life, aristocratic portraiture, and romantic landscape paintings set the scene for uncanny, chimerical subjects who engage in dreamlike encounters or gaze haughtily at the viewer. Gouache, which is water-soluble and more vividly opaque than watercolor, allows the artist to mimic the incredible detail of oil paint.

Mayer continues to work on commissioned projects for recognizable publications such as The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian, Mother Jones, and Scientific American. He often shares his varied assignments on his blog, including a collaboration earlier this year with the producers of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver to submit a painting to the Federal Duck Stamp Contest. “Duck Judges”—although disqualified from winning the stamp design for technical reasons—raised $25,000 in funds to support the conservation efforts of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Mayer is currently working toward some group shows, and you can keep up with updates on his website, where you can also find prints available for sale in his shop. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

“Le Dauphin de Rana”

“Mr. Moostache”

“The Offering”

“Duck Judges”

“Le Magistrat”

“Le Visiteur”

“Mother Opossum”

“Kinky Ducks No. 02”

 

 

 



Art

Sun-Drenched Domestic Environments Built From Carefully Painted Straight Lines by Guy Yanai

September 24, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Israeli oil painter Guy Yanai captures peaceful moments featuring architecture and plants. Often merging indoor and outdoor perspectives, Yanai presents placid scenes devoid of human figures. Instead, scraggly houseplants and open doors and windows act as visual focal points, suggesting the presence of human life that may have potted the plant or propped open the door. While Yanai’s subject matter is clearly representational, he works in a highly stylized manner, carefully building the volume of each painted form with perfectly straight horizontal and vertical lines that draw attention to the painting as object as well as a portal. In an interview with Culture Trip, Yanai shared:

As much as what I do is a physical thing, and in the end I make a physical object, the end-result in people’s brain is an abstract one. I would like some images to be kind of burned into people’s heads, so in this sense I don’t have a problem with people seeing images of my work online or on screens. It’s one more representation of that object, and it’s obvious that it only references the real painting.

Yanai’s solo show at Miles McEnery Gallery is on view through October 5, 2019 in New York City, and he will also have a solo booth through Praz-Delavallade at the Artissima contemporary art fair in Italy in early November. Explore more of the artist’s work on canvas, as well as monographs and collaborations with fashion labels, on his website and Tumblr.

 

 



Art

Glitched Paintings by Olan Ventura Give a Contemporary Twist to 17th Century Still Lifes

September 4, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

“Still Life of Flowers, Shells and Insects” (2019), acrylic on canvas, 76.2 x 101.6 cm. All images courtesy of the artist, the Working Animals Art Projects and Yavuz Gallery

Filipino artist Olan Ventura creates lavish acrylic paintings in the tradition of 17th century Dutch still lifes. Replicating the smallest details of iconic works such as Jan Davidsz de Heem’s Vase of Flowers (c. 1660), Ventura veers off course with striking glitches and drips that shoot off the canvas edges, seeming to pull grapes, lobsters, and roses from the past into the present. A statement on Yavuz Gallery explains that Ventura is interested in identity, technology, popular culture. Ventura holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from University of the East, and has been exhibiting in solo shows for the last 15 years. His most recent show, Colour Feast, ran this spring at Yavuz Gallery in Singapore. Ventura keeps a low profile online, but you can explore more of his still life paintings on Yavuz’s website, and a wider range of his work on artnet. (via Hi-Fructose)

“Abundant Bouquet with Pomegranate” (2019), acrylic on canvas, 162.5 x 121.9 cm

“Still Life With Golden Goblet” (2019), acrylic on canvas, 121.9 x 137.2 cm

L: “Still Life with a Melon and Pears” (2019), acrylic on canvas, 45.7 x 61 cm / R: “Fruit Basket” (2019), acrylic on canvas, 45.7 x 61 cm

“Still Life of Flowers” (2019), acrylic on canvas, 101.6 x 76.2 cm

“Fruit Still Life” (2019), acrylic on canvas, 101.6 x 76.2 cm

Yavuz Gallery installation view

Yavuz Gallery installation view

 

 



Food Photography

Elegant Still Lifes of Luscious Fruits and Perfectly Ripe Vegetables Trapped Inside Plastic Packaging

May 28, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Spanish studio QUATRE CAPS usually focuses on architectural renderings, but for a recent series, titled Not Longer Life, the group turned their attention to the plastic in our food system. In each of the six images, classic still life paintings by artists including Claude Monet, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, and Juan Sánchez Cotán are given a contemporary update. Recognizable still life elements like strongly directed light and decorative fabrics are maintained. But the perishable fruit that traditionally symbolized the temporary nature of life is now cloaked in plastic preservatives like cling wrap, clamshell containers, and stretchy foam sleeves.

The studio explains to Colossal, “Thousands of products are being commercialized, doubling and tripling a synthetic skin or even worse, taking the place of their natural wrapping skin with a plastic package in order to ‘ease’ their consumption.” If you like this series, also check out the work of Suzanne Jongmans. You can explore more projects by  QUATRE CAPS on Instagram. (via Colossal Submissions)

Update: a reader shared an insightful article that highlights the importance of pre-cut produce in increasing accessibility to nutritious food for people with limited dexterity.

 

 



Art Food

Pixelated Glitches Interrupt Painted Portraits of Victorian Families, Still Lifes, and Birds

November 13, 2018

Anna Marks

The Milan-based painter Aldo Sergio uses paint to warp perception, creating portraits and still life paintings which blur the boundary between the digital and the physical, and the traditional and the contemporary. In one of his paintings, three men in clerical clothing look inquisitively at a pixelated bunch of bananas, and in another parts of a Victorian family, from their faces to conventional garments, are pixelated in rectangular lines. In a third piece a couple poses before a selection of indoor houseplants while a hen with a blurred leg stands next to their feet.

Sergio uses traditional painting methods to capture portraits of Victorian families, bowls of fruit, and birds, and then distorts these objects by covering them in small ‘glitches.’ Sergio builds tensions between objects, people and space, and his carefully painted glitch-like malfunctions to give his artworks an unusual movement, making a stark contrast to the stillness and seriousness of traditional paintings.

His solo exhibition at Galleria Patricia Armocida in Milan runs until the 30th of November, 2018. You can see more of his pixelated paintings on his website and Instagram.