Eye Candy

Hannah Höch: Collage and Photomontage as Commentary

The late German artist Hannah Höch, in more ways than one, mothered collage and photomontage techniques to craft evocative, interrogatory, and irreverent responses to the turbulent circumstances and times that she was negotiating with. Emerging as one of the leading (and much under-rated and neglected) representatives of the Berlin Dada movement in the early half of the last century, her work does find resonances in the idea that “the beginnings of Dada, were not the beginnings of art, but of disgust” (Tzara.) Read More…

Pawel Kuczynski: Illustration for social commentary

A native of Szczecin, Poland, 40 year old illustrator Pawel Kuczynski trained in graphics at the prestigious Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, Poland (now, the University of Arts, Poznań.) I recall bumping into his work in communication journals quite some years ago, and it is always rewarding for me to engage with his satirical, and at times caustic takes on contemporary societies and ‘life’, for the lack of a better word. In the finest of editorial illustration traditions, Kuczynski does away with the tyranny of the written word/text, and is able to communicate powerfully through the single image, an image made pregnant with varying instances of irony, wit, and even derision. Read More…

Mark Khaisman: The Banality of Packing Tape

Of Ukrainian origin, but now working out of Philadelphia, USA, visual artist Mark Khaisman produces work of some intrigue and interest by using an unusual material, that is not only everyday and pedestrian but is industrially produced for disposable, single usage. No, it is not rubber. Trained as an architect at the Moscow Architectural Institute, Moscow, Russia, Khaisman marries his considerable experience in architectural practice with the rather ancient and venerated stained glass practice. Like the stained glass practitioners of yore, Khaisman literally ‘sculpts’ light by using layers of translucent packing (duct) tape to control the passage of light through it, creating effective illusions in various shades of pale, dark, medium browns of adhesive packing tape. Read More…

Hans Ruedi Giger: Biomechanical fantasy as spectacle

The ‘dark legacy’ of Swiss artist-designer Hans R. Giger is undeniably far-reaching and indelibly memorable. A graduate of the (then called) School of Applied Arts, Zurich, Giger came into prominence with an airbrush and free-hand painting style which found their way into the pages of his first published work – Necronomicon (1977). His fantasyscapes were dystopic, drained off luminescent colour, bereft of the life giving rays of the sun, and with his thematic obsession with the biomechanical universe – coupling industrial machine to organic animal-human, he manages to marry the distant future and the distant past with an inimitable, unforgiving bleakness. Read More…

Käthe Kollwitz: Etching and cutting the Human Condition

My recall of a Kollwitz woodcut is from many years ago, titled ‘Die Mütter’ (The Mothers) – a huddled heap of bereaved and bereft humanity, seeking to console and comfort each other, with futility, for they appear to be calcified by a known or unknown terror. That woodcut remained etched in my consciousness for a long time, tucked away in some obscure drawer, but always there, always gnawing. The work of 19th C / early 20th C German artist Käthe Kollwitz, is not one of tentative, delighting probing but of cathartic, universal anguish. Unleashing a visceral chronicle of human suffering and struggle – through depicting injustice, poverty, and the terrible price of mindless man made conflicts, her work achieves an emotional tenor and intensity that resonates beyond her immediate circumstances in Germany of the early 20th C. Read More…

Richard Tuschman: ‘Hopper Meditations’

I have long admired American painter Edward Hopper‘s poignant interpretations of twentieth century urban resignation, longing and alienation. So, it was with a bit of a pleasure that I discovered the ‘Hopper Meditations’ photographic art project by a graduate of the University of Michigan school of art, graphic designer and photo-artist Richard Tuschman. Separated by time but not in spirit, Tuschman’s project is not only a tribute to the poetic perceptiveness of Hopper, but also, to my mind, brings interesting material to the co-relations and tensions between traditional painting and contemporary digitally enhanced visual art. Like the perennial debate of the relationship between word and image, the relationship between the painting and the photograph is hinged on the tensions of the ideas of contradiction, irony, mimicry, and ‘what is complementary?’. Read More…

Paul Caparatta: Central African butterfly wing Portraits

New York, USA, based artist Paul Caparatta takes inspiration from an ancient Central African practice of the use of a very unique material to create striking portraits. Butterfly art – a native, popular art form from the Central African Republic, evolved during a rare, annual phenomenon in which thousands of butterflies fill the sky during the months of October and November. These butterflies, having lived their natural lifespan, fall to the ground where their delicate, colourful, textured wings are carefully collected and used to create pictorials of animals and scenes of rural life, mainly. A butterfly specialist, Caparatta does take care not to use the wings of any endangered species. It’s a fair bit of painstaking labour to create these striking profiles / portraits of ladies, all from the splendid wings of butterflies. Take a look.  Read More…

James Mollison: Where Children Sleep. 2010

A graduate of Oxford Brookes University and the Newport School of Art and Design, Kenya born photographer James Mollison, undertook a notable project while working in Italy, at Benetton’s creative lab, Fabrica. Weaving around the core idea of children’s rights worldwide, Mollison reflected on his own childhood and the spaces he inhabited, finally zeroing down on the thought of the bedroom and the child – a space that spoke much about culture, class, affinities, possessions or the lack of thereof. Since not all spaces where children slept were ‘rooms’, he chose to call the project ‘Where Children Sleep’. Combining portraits of children, with the spaces they sleep in, and accompanied by their individual stories, Mollison manages to evoke childhood and livelihoods across cultures and nations of the world – Mexico, Japan, Cambodia, Brazil, England, Italy, Israel and the West Bank, Kenya, Senegal, Lesotho, Nepal, China, India, USA among others. His work has been widely published worldwide, by Colors, The New York Times Magazine, the Guardian magazine, The Paris Review, GQ, New York Magazine and Le Monde. Take a look at some selections from ‘Where Children Sleep’.

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DALeast: Urban Mural Revival

Wuhan, China born contemporary artist DALeast emerged out of the graffiti crews a decade ago from the streets of Beijing, China. As a young student of sculpture at the Fine Art Institute in his hometown Wuhan, he became increasingly disenchanted and demoralized by the ‘dead’ curricula and teaching, and opted to drop out of art college. A decade later he finds himself to be one of the key visual voices sparking a renewed interest in the possibilities of the urban mural. Shying away from labels and bracketing of his work, he is comfortable in finding creative energy and expression on the streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico as much as he is at home in showcasing his work at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery, New York, USA. Best known for his ‘Creature‘ series, he travels much of the world seeking out public walls and surfaces to spray unleash his animals on. He is a true ‘auteur’, with a body of work that is distinctly identifiable not only by the characteristics of line quality but also with obsessive themes. I find his work extremely dynamic and energetic, with visible sculptural roots, and his reiteration of liberation, breaking away, human-animal calls for contemplation and reflection. Take a look.

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Jenni Sparks and David Robinson: Hand mapping cities

Creative cartographic expressions are a distinct challenge, especially if they have to possibly double up as real word navigational aids as well. There is this tension between creative, expressive liberty and the concrete ‘rootedness’ in directionality, topographic fidelity and cartographic accuracy. The complexity of a project of this nature increases manifold when it is to be hand drawn entirely without rapid erase, undo, redo tools. Precision of line coupled with a quirky ‘sense of humor’, which in turn is married to the larger vision of a macro city to micro map translation, undoubtedly showcase the remarkable skills and abilities of British illustrators Jenni Sparks and David Ryan Robinson. Take a look.

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