The sweet and the sinister commingle in Rebecca Stevenson‘s wax sculptures that depict humans and animals bursting open to reveal flowers and fruits. Classical busts and seemingly deceased animals are surrounded by ribboning cascades of plants. To create her sculptures, Stevenson starts by modeling the animal or figure in clay, and then moulds and casts the model with layered resin and wax. Stevenson then cuts open and reworks the sculpture, a process both surgical and artistic, as she decides which elements to dis- or re-figure, and which to leave alone. “These actions supplant or corrupt the object’s original meaning…a desire both to reveal and to mask the inside of things derives from my student experiences of drawing from cadavers and dissections,” the artist explains.
“Creating ‘wounds’ or openings in the work undoes the sense of a clear boundary between object and viewer,” says Stevenson. “The viewer may be invited to gaze deep inside the object, a ‘non-sculptural’, intimate experience of looking.” This experience subverts the traditional narrative of sculpture as a vessel for heroism, crafted from the hard media of stone and metal and meant to be admired from afar.
Stevenson tells Colossal that she began working in wax as a student, fascinated by its translucence and its ability to closely mimic other materials and textures. “Over time, its material properties of fluidity and mutability, as well as its historical associations, have become intrinsically linked to the meaning of my work,” she says.
“Wax is traditionally associated with the creation of doubles or stand-ins for the human body,” the artist explains. “Whether used to create votive objects, funeral effigies or life size simulacra of contemporary celebrities, wax is so explicitly visceral that it not simply represents flesh: it is transubstantial.” Stevenson cites the anatomical wax figures of La Specola, Florence’s zoology and natural history museum, as a particular influence on her early practice.
As her work progressed, Stevenson also began to draw inspiration from Baroque sculpture and Dutch still life painting. “While remaining fascinated by the interplay between interior and surface, I also began to explore the visual experience and the meaning of excess, of sensual overload, of ornament and detail as a means to attract and repel the viewer.” The initially alluring decorations become somewhat sickly upon closer examination, sparking reflections on transformation, generation and decay.
If you’re in Berlin, catch her work through October 31, 2019 as part of a group exhibition at the Wunderkammer Olbricht. The artist also has work on display at Kunstmuseum Villa Zanders as part of the 50 Years of the Kraft Collection, and in So Beautiful it Hurts at James Freeman Gallery in London. Explore more of Stevenson’s sculptures on her website and Instagram.
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Breathtakingly colorful textures pop out when viewers first witness Dylan Gebbia-Richards’s large-scale paintings which appear to escape from their canvas. His rugged works mirror the structure of natural forms such as molten rock or coral. “I see my works as their own landscapes,” Gebbia-Richards tells Colossal. “I allow chance, the driving force behind all natural phenomena, to sculpt the structures of my paintings.”
Gebbia-Richards gains his inspiration from the vastness of the natural world and his artworks explore aesthetics that merge between the microscopic and macroscopic. “I find the enormity of the natural world awe-inspiring,” he esplains. “Landscapes which are immense seem intimate simultaneously; counter-intuitively these large spaces create the feeling of an embrace.”
While Gebbia-Richards’ paintings vary in size, all are built to engulf the viewer. “Sometimes this is very literal like in my room-sized installations which encompass those inside,” he says. “But even with my smaller pieces, I’m looking for the work to expand outwards, attempting to generate the feeling of a place which is much larger.” Like observing a mountain range, the scale of his paintings inspire and delight, while his use of a bold color palette adds a hint of magic to each creation.
The artist’s works appear as if they have been created through a volcanic eruption. To imitate this process, he constructs his paintings by using colored pigment and droplets of melted wax. “I initially found dripping and splattering melting wax very satisfying,” says Gebbia-Richards. “I was interested in the qualities of the marks the melted wax produced, specifically the chaotic patterns of the splatters which sprung from the drip’s impact with the paper I was melting over.”
His paintings emerge by separating the dripping marks from their splatter. It is these random interactions between the various pigments, drip gestures, and the splatter which creates Gebbia-Richards’s layered textures that are signature to his practice. You can see one of the Colorado artist’s paintings at Looking For U at Unit London which runs until August 26, 2018. To view more of his work visit his website and Instagram.
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Self-taught artist Laura Moriarty‘s sculptural paintings appear like long lost geodes, geological mysteries layered with multi-colored rings. The asymmetrical pieces reference the earth not only in their appearance but also their process, as Moriarty heats and cools pigmented beeswax in a way that references erosion, weathering, and subduction.
“Layers of color form the strata of a methodology in which the immediacy of the hand can translate a sense of deep time,” said Moriarty in her artist statement. “Working and reworking molten, richly pigmented beeswax, I build each painting/object through a slow, simple yet strenuous physical engagement, which often becomes a metaphor for the ephemerality of life and civilization.”
Moriarty’s work is included in the group exhibition A Stratigraphic Fiction at the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art in Collegeville, PA through March 19, 2017. You can see more of her work on Artspace and Instagram.
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Valerie Hammond imbues a delicate understanding of each material she works with, whether it’s sculpting flowers and hands from wax or laser cutting large outlines of women onto watercolor paper. Focused on the poetics of each work she produces, details are found not only on the pieces she creates, but the way they cast shadows onto the wall or rest atop a gallery plinth. Her piece “Girl” projects a poem by Emily Dickinson when pinned against the wall, doubling the work’s message in its own shadow.
Hammond received her MFA from the University of California at Berkley, and currently lives and works in New York City. Her work is included in public and private collections such as the Walker Art Center, The Library of Congress, the New York Public Library’s Print and Drawing Collection, the Getty Museum, the Grand Palais Museum, and many more. Hammond is represented by Littlejohn Contemporary in New York City.
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This food artist in the town of Gujo, Japan demonstrates how to make tempura and other foods using layers of colored wax and other materials. The first part with shrimp tempura is fun, but the realism in the head of lettuce is astounding. Definitely worth a watch all the way through. (via Metafilter)
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Artist and beekeeper Ren Yue employs bees in the construction of these amazing encapsulated sculptures. The artist first builds transparent polyhedrons and cubes with an inner framework of wooden dowels, at the center of which he places the queen. After introducing the rest of the hive, he then rotates the sculpture every seventh day based on the roll of a die, an act that he says references the biblical concept of creation. Not only does the dice roll create an element of randomness, but it also changes the effect of gravity, causing the bees to build in different directions resulting in more evenly dispersed forms.
While we’ve seen several artists using honeycomb as a medium such as Aganetha Dyck and Tomáš Libertiny, Ri seems to put slightly more emphasis on the beehive itself as being the primary form on display. You can see a few more photos over on his website. (via iGnant, Huffington Post)
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In North America, Europe and many other parts of the world, bee populations have plummeted 30-50% due to colony collapse disorder, a fact not lost on artist Aganetha Dyck who for years has been working with the industrious insects to create delicate sculptures using porcelain figurines, shoes, sports equipment, and other objects left in specially designed apiaries. As the weeks and months pass the ordinary objects are slowly transformed with the bees’ wax honeycomb. It’s almost impossible to look at final pieces without smiling in wonder, imagining the unwitting bees toiling away on a piece of art. And yet it’s our own ignorance of humanity’s connection to bees and nature that Dyck calls into question, two completely different life forms whose fate is inextricably intertwined.
Born in Manitoba in 1937, the Canadian artist has long been interested in inter-species communication and her research has closely examined the the ramifications of honeybees disappearing from Earth. Working with the insects results in completely unexpected forms which can be surprising and even humorous. “They remind us that we and our constructions are temporary in relation to the lifespan of earth and the processes of nature,” comments curator Cathi Charles Wherry. “This raises ideas about our shared vulnerability, while at the same time elevating the ordinariness of our humanity.”
If you want to learn more I suggest watching the video above from the Confederation Centre of the Arts, and if you want to see her work up close Dyck opens an exhibition titled Honeybee Alterations at the Ottawa School of Art on March 3, 2014. A huge thanks to Gibson Gallery as well as Aganetha and Deborah Dyck for their help. All photos courtesy Peter Dyck and William Eakin.
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Editor's Picks: Drawing
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.