Eye Candy

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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Polish cine posters: Artist liberation and aesthetic innovation

Apocalypse Now (1979)

Lending considerable prestige to the ‘stick-to-the-wall-and-tear-it-down’ medium of the poster, was the first International Exposition of the Poster held in Krakow, Poland in the fag end of the 19th century, 1898 to be precise. Jan Wdowiszewski, the then director of the ‘Technical Industrial Museum’ authored two essays devoted to the art of the poster, and in conceiving the Poster Exposition, tapped into the artistic vitality of Krakow of that era, and in turn laid the foundations of what will be later internationally known as Polish Poster Art. The artists associated with the initial poster years in Poland were from the Academy Of Fine Arts and were members of the Society of Polish Artists“Sztuka” – there was acceptability associated with creating posters of various kinds, and over the next century, this specific ‘zeitgeist’ saw some of the most remarkable visual expressions through posters, making them an identifiable and essential part of Polish culture. With Polish independence, post First World War, Tadeusz Gronowski, an architecture student at the University of Warsaw rose to the fore as one of the key ‘architects’ of Polish poster art, responding to the needs of an industrialized nation and the urgently required advertising communications. Gronowski’s work was marked by modernist, cubist impulses and an irreverence for visual tradition, a liberating move from the poster styles of the earlier periods. His work was carried further by later architects turned graphic artists from the University of Warsaw.  Read More…

Maleonn Ma: Theatricus Surrealis

Shanghai, China native, and graphic design major from the Fine Arts College of Shanghai University, Maleonn Ma conjures up evocative still images weaving in a complex tapestry of memories soaked in surreal flakes. Measured, yet pushing on an unseen edginess, and bordering on imploding on the self, Maleonn’s work has theatrical roots, and often requires some form of stagecraft or the other – not excluding the usage of actors, costumes, props, decor, mood light and so on. This, one attributes to his family background in the Beijing Opera and the traditional performing arts, and his proximity to theater and the visual arts. Unfazed by titles, genres and typification of various kinds, Maleonn responds intuitively to his artistic journey, taking on projects of varying challenges and complexity, at times with a dash of humor. Take a look.

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Riusuke Fukahori: Of Goldfish, Resin and Paint

Every generation throws up a talent so extraordinary, that the work produced by the artist finds resonance across cultures and peoples. Nagakute, Aichi prefecture, Japan based artist Fukahori invented and innovated a complex technique of poured resin, and layering of acrylic paint, to come up with extraordinary three dimensional life-like ‘sculptures’ of varied goldfish. A graduate of the Aichi Prefectual University of Fine Arts and Music, and an admirer of French impressionist Claude Monet, his work displays a singular focus and extraordinary passion in creating small to large resin-paint ‘sculptures’. The relationship between art and life has been debated for centuries now, and by his admission Fukahori negotiates his identity and his everyday via his thematic obsession with goldfish – an idea, a metaphor, a poem. Take a look.

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Jeremy Mayer: Typewriter assemblage sculpture

Oakland, USA, based Jeremy Mayer is a typewriter freak, and not in the expected manner of collecting vintage typewriters and restoring them to functionality, polishing and burnishing them to be stored in a personal museum of sorts. He does the opposite. He takes them apart – but with the sole intention of putting them back together in staggeringly imaginative sculptural articulations. I have a distinct affinity towards acts of purposeful and creative recycling, or in this case, re-assemblage, via which industrial produce that has lived its perceived utility and is discarded (considered ‘junk’) is put to use again in creative and imaginative ways. Mayer is an exceptional talent, for he uses no solders and welds, but works entirely with manual, and some might say, old fashioned tools, like the screwdriver and the pliers. If you have ever used typewriters, here is an opportunity to appreciate them, from a different perspective. Take a look.

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Tomasz Gudzowaty: The Monks of Shaolin

Polish photo-essayist Tomasz Gudzowaty has a deep commitment to documenting the often neglected area of non-commercial, non-mainstream sports and sporting activities. A law graduate from the University of Warsaw, he initiated himself into photography through work on nature, and then onto the social documentary, before arriving at his passion for non-commercial sports photography. Not unlike accomplished and critically acclaimed socially committed photo-essayists like W.Eugene Smith and Sebastiao Salgado, Gudzowaty chooses to express himself solely in the absence of colour, through remarkable black and white. The classic photo essay is often often identified as the one that is black and white – pitching itself into representing ‘stark reality’ as opposed to the distractions that colour might impose on the image, preventing the viewer from appreciating ‘the whole’. Non commercial sports also present unique moments, moments that Gudzowaty captures with mastery in his photo essay on the monks of the ancient fifth century Shaolin monastery in the Henan provice of China, a monastery well known for its martial arts practice of Shaolin Kung Fu. Take a look.

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Jordan Matter: Dancers among Us

New York city native Jordan Matter happens to be a great admirer of Henri Cartier-Bresson, and for a photographer who holds spontaneity dear to him, Jordan has more than enough reasons to smile about, in his photographic project, “Dancers among Us”. Over a period of three years (2009-11) Jordan teamed up with dancers of various dance companies like the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Jody Oberfelder Dance Projects, Elisa Monte Dance and others, to come up with images of spontaneous dance expressions in public locations across different cities in the USA. The striking poses of the dancers in each image are in stark contrast to the surroundings – humans, and the built environment. If you are having a bad (or good) day, this might just make you smile, or dance. Take a look.

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Ronen Goldman: The Surrealistic Pillow

Tel Aviv based Israeli artist Ronen Goldman‘s work from the year 2012 onwards has caught the attention of visual art critics and commentators, and one can see why. Apart from showcasing his proficiency and considerable skills in generating extremely imaginative visualscapes through digital photo manipulations, Ronen’s work also has a streak of social satire and commentary infused with dream-nightmare states. Tapping into long traditions of 20th century surrealistic art and marrying it with 21st century digital tool sets, Ronen’s surrealistic pillow is a memorable and provocative statement. Take a look.

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Liu Bolin: Standing still, still Standing

Contemporary performance artist Beijing based Liu Bolin expresses himself by getting painted on his shoes, trousers, jacket, face and hair. A graduate of the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Beijing, Liu takes a stand, literally, against what he considers totalizing, unyielding forces, be it late capitalist, marketized consumerism or regimes of political command and control – the individual in each case is annihilated, symbolized by the corporeal evaporation of the one standing alone in Liu’s performance art. Liu is often misunderstood, not surprisingly, by those not familiar with his work – “He is the one who is standing only, and others are painting him with brushes in hand – how is HE the artist!?”. In each of Liu’s performances, he is in complete control, not the ones holding the brushes. He locates the site, directs them (almost cinematic here) to do what they have to do, is fully responsible for the paint used, and above all, presents his bodily self as the canvas. Yes, he stands still, hope he is still standing.

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Steve Schapiro: Photographing stars and everything else

Barbara Streisand. 1969

My first encounter with American photographer Steve Schapiro was via his portraiture work of the talented Barbara Streisand. Iconic portraiture that captured the spirit of a generation. And over the years, having seen a fair amount of his work while tracing his photographic lineage to two huge personal ‘heros’ of mine – Henri Cartier Bresson and W. Eugene Smith, it is clear to see that Schapiro is one of a rare breed of ‘photojournalists’ with an uncanny knack for capturing ‘the decisive moment’. Like Eugene Smith before him, Schapiro does wrap his photographer role around his activitist self, and not many do that any more. Here is a glimpse of some of his ‘celebritygraphs’ and a few ‘activitigraphs’.

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