To any followers who might be interested:
I dropped the ball completely on my daily art updates, but it was with good reason: I have been dutifully preparing for a huge shift in my life, in which I am moving to Chile to begin traveling, speaking Spanish and teaching English.
When do I leave for this journey? Tomorrow!
I doubt my new focus in Chile will grant me to the time or serenity to maintain Zen For Ren, as I will also be keeping a personal blog about South American silliness and my forays into teaching. Read that blog here: The Wild Kite - Ren in South America.
But who knows? Maybe a move abroad will only re-inspire me to post about global artists and the amazing work happening in every corner of the world.
Cheers for now!
"Nomade": Spanish sculptor Juame Plensa (born 1955) is the creator of these large-scale public installations which have appeared in parks around the world. In 2004, his Crown Fountain sculpture was erected in Chicago’s Millennium Park - a twin display of Chicagoans’ faces projected by LED onto glass blocks, with a stream of water playfully spurting from the images’ mouths every 12 minutes and then disappearing in a cascade of water. Elsewhere, Plensa’s luminous, hollow figures stoically guard the trees like the remnants of zen-like giants from a bygone era. Read more about Plensa’s sources of inspiration in this NY Times article.
"Jove Decadent" (1899): Ramon Casas i Carbó (1866-1932) was a Catalan painter whose images of corridas del toros and doñas in dresses evoke a bustling, turn of the century Barcelona. Casas dabbled in traditional oil painting, graphic poster design, and co-founded the magazine L’Avenç at age 15, working as the French correspondent during his frequent trips to Paris. His favorite model was Júlia Peraire, a woman 22 years younger than Casas who eventually became his wife when they were able to overcome his family’s opposition. To read a great mini biography of the artist, click here.
Illustrator Matt Lyons is known for his technicolor, day-glo bright designs and unique sets of typography, but I quite like his work that explores a darker palette. Working out of London, his works can run the gamut of composition: from solo subjects like the piece above, to the extreme opposite, with hundreds of designs and shapes crowding and jostling for space on a claustrophobic canvas. Like what ya see? Explore his works here.
Calvin Nicholls is a Canadian paper sculptor who began this type of art in 1986. Nicholls’ work most often features wildlife, a subject which allows him to experiment with a myriad of textures created by layering paper. With not much more than a pencil, paper, a scalpel and a bit of glue (applied with a toothpick), he creates 3-D like images. See more of his work here or check out previously-featured LA-based paper guru Jeffrey Nishinaka.
"Oyster Dress" (2003): Alexander McQueen (b. 1969 in London) was one of the most visionary fashion designers of the 21st century. His designs were whimsical and cinematic, often featuring juxtaposing elements of texture, line, or anachronistic styles. This “Oyster” dress from the “Irere” spring/summer 2003 collection is constructed of hundreds of circles of silk organza, but stylized to tell the story of a woman who has drowned in a shipwreck. McQueen once said, “You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition.” His suicide by hanging in 2010 dealt a shocking blow to the world of fashion, art and history lovers alike. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has put together a fascinating exhibition of his work which can be viewed here.
CubeWorks is a multi-artist collaboration best known for their ingenious use of that classic puzzle block, the Rubik’s Cube. The cube, which was invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik, is widely considered to be the world’s best selling toy. CubeWorks plays upon the iconic nature of the cube by constructing these large-scale artworks of, well, some of the most iconic images in popular culture. The largest image in their repertoire is Michaelangelo’s “The Hand of God” which measures 14’ 7” ft tall by 28’ 10” wide and is comprised of 12,090 Rubik’s cubes. The studio (located in Toronto) plans on re-creating the entire ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by utilizing a whopping 250,000 Rubik’s Cubes. See their full collection here.
"Push Pull Give Take" (2011): Peter Taylor's plump, tattooed figures have a zen-like serenity, smiling even as they are self-consumed (see “Uroburos”, above). Taylor, who hails from Vancouver, mainly works with pencil and paper although his background in graffiti does permeate into these smaller-scale works. These figures, while simple, evoke a sense of balance and playfulness that reminds one of a modern Buddha. Taylor says that his work is “inspired by a certain way of walking, or dancing, through life. Whimsical, joyous, and full of gratitude”. For more, click here.
San Francisco illustrator and nautical-enthusiast Jeremy Fish (b. 1975 in New York) has developed a totally recognizable signature to his work; one can identify his symmetrical designs, vivisected-mechanical animals and sepia-tinged color palette from a mile away. Fish, who graduated from the SF Art Institute in 1996, has a wealth of projects under his professional belt, including a shoe design by Nike Skateboarding and the artwork for two albums by fellow NY-native and lyrical wordsmith Aesop Rock, who wrote this about his collaborative friend: “To say he works hard would be an understatement worthy of a bid in the Bog of Eternal Stench. While the public gets to soak in the varied fruits of his labor, he is laboring behind the scenes… intensely and always. The guy is an art machine fueled by coffee, beer, and the occasional well-done burger. On any given day, one can wander into Fish’s studio to find an entire new body of work that did not exist one week prior, complete with a storyline as engaging as the images themselves. The output level is shocking in both quality and quantity.” Wanna see more? Sure you do. His website Silly Pink Bunnies is a veritable smörgåsbord of Fish-flavored tidbits.
"Requiem" (2008): Born and raised in Ottowa, Dominique Fung is a young artist whose prints have a deceptively beautiful and eerie quality: this geisha-like figure appears to revolt as she is taken over by the sea life in her hands and mouth. These octopi, fish and frogs are a recurring element in Fung’s work (even a coffee sleeve she designed features swimming fish), suggesting that Fung is tied to the sea. In fact, after graduating with an illustration degree in 2008, she headed for California to become an independent artist. See her website here.
MESA is the nom de plume of a street artist from Spain whose large-scale portraits and looming crows combine a fine-art sensibility with the guerrilla canvases of the world. See more of his affinity for the human countenance (including some surreal faces mounted into tree trunks) at his Flickr site here.
"Velocipedes": Sam Bosma (b. 1986) is an illustrator currently working in Baltimore, and a recent recipient of the silver medal by the Society of Illustrators. Like many young men his age, Bosma is fan of video games and is currently posting a series of 52 video game drawings on his blog, the cleverly titled Slam Blogsma. His illustration of a Penny-farthing race reminds me of the Critical Mass ride I recently participated in! Wanna see more of Bosma’s portfolio? Check it out right here.
"Primordial Instincts": Luscious and quiet black-and-white images from Italian photographer Fulvio Pellegrini, who teaches economic sociology at a Roman university when he isn’t behind the camera. Pellegrini is influenced by documentary image-makers, including some of the early Magnum photogs and ‘social photographers’ like Sebastião Salgado. Clearly possessing an eye for minimalist composition that is evocative and subtle, Pellegrini has a ton of work that can be perused here.
"Mud Maid": This living sculpture is part of the woodland walk at a history-rich estate known as The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, England. The sculpture was created by local artist Sue Hill and her brother Pete. According to this site, “The Mud Maid was built as a hollow framework of timber and windbreak netting, then completely covered with sticky mud. Her hands and face are a mixture of mud, sand, and cement which were first coated with yogurt so lichens would grow. On her head, Woodsedge and Montbretia were planted while Ivy was trained to grow as her clothing.” Enchantingly simple and one of the highlights of Heligan.