Art Archive

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    When I was a teenager I’d have given my right arm for patches emblazoned with the lyrics of my favourite songs. It was the height of cool to be covered in brightly-coloured band paraphernalia (or at least I thought so). German artist Selma Alaçam clearly thought so too as her latest project Heartstrings combines some of her favourite song lyrics from the likes of Fiona Apple and Depeche Mode. The seven woven rugs – based on the traditional kelim, native to Turkey – have been hand-embroidered with bold typographic verses, whose personal importance is known only to the artist. To the rest of us these embroideries are like beautifully ambiguous album covers, enticing you in with their bright, bold colours.

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    It’s plain to see that Lee Marshall’s artwork is a product of the digital age; his smooth gradients, vectorised objects and figures apparently created in an early version of Corel Draw all evoke the atmosphere of an abstract digital landscape. But Lee’s creations all exist in the real world as paintings, drawings and sculptures, bringing a unique physicality to environments we’d expect to experience on a flat screen. The Norwich School of Art graduate has been perfecting this signature style since his student days, but with an ever-increasing list of group and solo shows to his name we’re expecting more great things from Lee over the coming months and years.

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    Let’s all give a big round of applause to the people behind Instagram who, in creating a convenient photo-based social media outlet, also paved the way for Instagram artists. If Instagram is the Impressionist salon of our time, then right at the forefront of this digital gallery is Kalen Hollomon, whose own brand of photo-collage is a tongue-in-cheek giggle at both the fashion industry and at commuters in general, and is hugely popular with it.

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    It’s fair to say that Interview magazine, founded by Andy Warhol in 1969, had some serious sway over popular culture throughout the 1970s and 80s. With its pop art-driven aesthetic and its constant pursuit of features with the superstars of the day it has grown to occupy seminal status. And this is due in no small part to Richard Bernstein, the artist behind the publication’s iconic cover imagery.

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    Imagine going to a party with a bunch of your favourite creatives and each picking up a paintbrush, a pot of ink, and creating the drawing equivalent of a huge, diverse orgy on a very long piece of paper. I’m sure for some people that kind of malarkey is the norm, but for most of us, we need the help of an organising body in making experimental ideas and collaborative practice come to life. Enter Sumi Ink Club, the participatory drawing project we first wrote about three years ago which was founded in 2005 by LA-based artists Sarah Rara (I know, right) and Luke Fishbeck. For 13 years now they’ve been the source behind a string of public meeting planned by anybody, anytime, which seek to mirror open social interactions with the act of putting paintbrush to paper.

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    It’s 100 years since Britain entered the First World War and to mark the centenary, the Tower of London is being surrounded by nearly 900,00 ceramic poppies. Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red is the brainchild of artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper and will grow between now and November when there will be 888,246 flowers in the dry moat, one for every British or British Colony soldier killed during the fighting.

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    There was a time when we at It’s Nice That were inundated with internet art – we were having so much submitted to us on a daily basis that it was pouring out of our ears in waxy gifs. It’s pleasing to be faced with it again, a year or two after the craze has kind of died out, when it’s created by someone who actually has a passion and an eye for this stuff and isn’t just jumping on a weird bandwagon.

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    It feels like Max and Adele at Atelier bingo lead a pretty charmed life. Camped out in the middle of the countryside with their converted studio/barn, it would be easy to resent the life they lead – in fact sometimes it’s very easy indeed. But the work they’re producing – stunning screen prints and collages of abstract forms – keeps me returning to their website time after time, and I just can’t find it in my heart to resent their rural idyll. Though if they called me up tomorrow to invite me to come and live with them, I’d definitely have a hard time saying no.

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    Here at It’s Nice That we spend an awful lot of time talking about, thinking about and writing about creatives but ultimately we don’t get too many chances to really see what goes on in their day-to-day working lives…until now. Our new collaboration with super-cool eyewear brand Ace & Tate is taking us inside the studios, and inside the minds, of a host of some of our favourite creatives.

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    Some artists, immensely talented and original though they may be, simply don’t make work that fits in the grandest art galleries of the world. Fortunately for them there are super-cool concept stores created specifically to house such work, and queen of all of these is Colette. Hiro Sugiyama’s surreal, hilarious and altogether unsettling artwork is a natural fit for Paris store Colette’s carefully curated collection of the avant-grade and the offbeat.

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    Few forces shape the modern world more than the internet and yet it’s an invisible presence that we just understand is there. But PhD student Luis Hernan has changed that by designing a system which scans for wireless networks and creates images where different signal strengths are represented by different coloured LED lights. The results, in essence, allow us to see the WiFi around us.

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    Anyone in New York had better gallop over to Ed. Varie gallery to catch a new show by the ever-wonderful artist Ana Kraš. We’ve posted about Ana a few times, mainly about her beautiful lamps and designs to make your home/life better, and her fun collaborative photography projects. Her show at Ed. Varie entitled Mothers with Spoons and Relationships is an exploration into her more recent love of drawing, using predominantly back-to-basics art supplies such as wax, crayon and oil pastel.

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    When we last encountered Essex-based painter Simon Monk he was busy preserving toy superheroes in plastic bags and rendering them with hyper-real precision. Secret Identity explored the strange imbalance of the powers ascribed to superheroes and the powerless inertia of their model representations. Since then he’s focussed his attention on one plastic superhero in particular, treating Batman with torturous sadism and restricting him with any binding he finds to hand. He’s been netted, taped, cling-filmed and roped down, trapped forever in a compromised position thanks to Simon’s dangerously accurate brushwork.

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    I came across Graham Little when going through content from the site, he was one of the first people I ever put on the site about three years ago. To revisit his work reminded me just how much I loved him the first time around, particularly as he’s been very busy in the last few years and has created some absolutely stunning new work. There’s something about the poses, and the calm nature of his nymph-like female subjects that makes me slightly uneasy.

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    I’m the third person to take a turn waxing lyrical about the art of Bryan Olson (he was discussed here and here in the past), but I don’t mind, I’m just happy to have the opportunity. The North Carolina-based artist is arguably the master of his medium; a creator of collages so delicately crafted it’s often impossible to tell they’ve been made from hand-cut paper. Though it’s by no means his only concern Bryan focusses a great deal on the cosmos in his work, leaving strange portals into the unknown at the centre of his images or placing earthly objects within inter-planetary scenes. It’s a heady combination that lures viewers in, making them feel like children gazing at a dense night sky or an adult on one hell of a trip.

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    The phrase “artistic intervention” has a chequered past, but we’re struggling to think of a more impressive example than Frank and Patrik Riklin’s BIGNIK. The ongoing project aims to build a huge picnic cloth by 2040, made up of 252,144 panels – one for every person in the Appenzell region of Switzerland.

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    Sure, here at It’s Nice That we love fine art. You may even walk past us on the weekend ambling around in galleries, or poring over art books in libraries. We champion some of the most exquisite architecture, sculpture and filmmaking along with some of the most groundbreaking works of art made in modern times. What you define as “art” is a personal thing, but I can tell you now that when it came to voting on content for the site (we decide on content via a voting process around a table FYI) this Presidents with Boob Faces was a unanimous “YES” from each knowledgeable, art-loving member of the It’s Nice That team. When you can see hard, skilled craftsmanship and evidence of a brave artist taking one small idea and running really, really far with it, how can you resist loving it? These are amazing, and artist Emily Deutchman should be very, very proud of herself.

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    When something is well-designed, be it a magazine, building, fashion collection or car – it should be well-celebrated. To honour the spectacular and cutting-edge design of the brand new Lexus NX, a new digital art exhibition entitled NX-Perspectives has been launched. Gathering together some of the world’s leading creative thinkers, makers and doers, Lexus have assigned them to create a special piece of performance art inspired by the Lexus NX to exhibit in the digital show.

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    London-based artist Aleksandra Mir has been busy over the past month investigating the process of drawing in a collaborative experiment that invites participants to contribute to a giant collage of the London skyline, rendered entirely with Sharpies. The process of creating the work was part of the exhibition itself, with Aleksandra and her team engaged in drawing everything by hand during the first days of the show. But for those that missed it there’s also a beautiful time-lapse film of the process, providing context and insight to this giant piece of collaborative draughtsmanship.

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    I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking; “How on earth did that priest train a dolphin to carry him like that?” Or maybe you’re thinking; “Where did the photographer have to stand to capture that image?” Or perhaps, in fact, you’re thinking; “This HAS to be fake.” But all of these lines of inquiry are valid in the world of Joan Fontcuberta, the Spanish artist and photographer who’s latest exhibition has just landed at The Science Museum’s Media Space.

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    You’re on the internet, so you probably like cats, right? Well, these woodblock prints by Tadashige Nishida capture all of those cat qualities that we love to love: his creepy but cute kittens are unafraid and alert, always listening and sensing, and very delicately, playfully poised. Tadashige renders the subtle lines of a cat’s body against brilliantly bold backgrounds, and it is very difficult to work out just what it is that makes his prints so hypnotically intriguing. Doris Lessing, one of literature’s best cat lovers, describes the curious creatures in the following way: “If a fish is the movement of water embodied, given shape, then cat is a diagram and pattern of subtle air.” Tadashige captures these dexterous and whimsical cat attributes beautifully in his surprising, minimalist prints.

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    The only real auction action we get exposed to regularly is top programmes like Bargain Hunt or Flog It! but recently the whole auction concept has started to be used in a way that removes our cliched expectations of a collection of people (eccentric oddballs) bidding on antiques (old stuff).

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    As artist mediums go, paper cutting has its limits, right? Fine spindly branches supporting layers of luscious foliage for example might be a challenging one to recreate with scalpel and paper, for example, as might the rippling shadows that fall across swimming pools. Not so if you’re Lucy Williams. The London-based artist is redefining the nature of mixed media artwork with her absurdly detailed paper cuts. No line is too fine, no detail too small for her to recreate, and it’s precisely this unstoppable eye for detail that’s basically crowned her the queen of the method. Her penchant for mid-20th Century architecture and landscapes has taken her work across the world in exhibitions, and her awe-inspiring portfolio spanning no small number of years functions as a fantastic heap of evidence to explain why. Rub your eyes and gaze on in wonderment at these beauties.

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    You don’t get many portfolios as rich and as varied as Urs Fischer’s – his somewhat prolific sculptural work ranges from enormous rooms full of objects imprisoned in steel cubes, John Stezaker-esque collages and gargoyle-like characters that look straight out of Labyrinth. But you know, we’re It’s Nice That, so obviously we’re really into the paintings he did of people through history with hard boiled eggs masking their faces. Really though, these are incredibly beautiful pieces of work. Depending on how much you like eggs, they may or may not make you feel a bit nauseous. For me though, this is the best thing ever.

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    Opening tomorrow, the Cob Gallery’s new exhibition explores Pastiche, Parody and Piracy in British artwork, exploring the age-old practice of appropriation as a means to explore new ideas. The exhibition has been put together by curator Camilla Ellingsen Webster, satirical cartoonist Jeremy Banx and artist Miriam Elia, partly in response to threats of legal action against Miriam following the realease of her most recent work We Go to the Gallery.

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    From what I can gather, these abstract paintings were made by placing the nibs of inky marker pens on top of a stack of paper. The result is an amazing blotted fusion of kaleidoscopic patterns and rainbow colours, which kind of looks like the psychedelic shapes butterfly wing’s make when seen through a microscope.

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    Who needs stupid real flags when fictional ones are this beautiful? Mariana Abasolo (cool name) has created these magnificent, bright images that are somewhere in-between celebratory bunting and the backs of playing cards, and make her Flickr account look like some sort of culty party. We don’t know much about Mariana, but we do know that her work hasn’t always been like this – a quick scan through the rest of her portfolio shows that she’s been making some truly curious drawings for a while now – browser windows drawn in coloured pencil and strange, surreal living room scenes to name but a few. Very impressive, Mariana. More please!

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    Remember learning about Kandinsky in junior school art lessons, when the teachers were as concerned with keeping the students from poking coloured pencils in each other’s eyes are they were with imparting the wisdom of one of the greatest synaesthetes ever known? No, me neither, which goes some way to explaining my patchy knowledge of art history. Still, I remember enough to spot the reference to Kandinsky’s paintings, which he created as an abstract visualisation of the visions he saw while listening to music, in the work of Jenn Dierdorf.

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    Spanish illustrator and artist David Mendez Alonso makes the kind of exuberant imagery that’s desperate to be displayed across as many different media as possible. His vibrant patters, cheerful paintings and humorous sculptural works all embrace a luminous palette of colours and motley crew of unusual characters, giving them immediate universal appeal. As a result he’s constantly busy working on all manner of exciting projects, including fashion collections for Paraiso, elaborate books of curious character design and giant gouache paintings rich with pop culture references. Very nice indeed!

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    It’s been more than a year since we last donned a sensible wide-brimmed hat and slathered on the Factor 50 to pay Ben Sanders a visit in sunny Los Angeles. The artist just displayed a host of new work at his enigmatically-named exhibition Graves of Craving, in his home city; works bursting with colour and texture, strange shapes, odd details and no end of character. While the paintings have a charming silliness to them Ben has a serious visual sensibility, and his talents have now also been turned to a new collective Those People.

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    Biomedical research centres aren’t renowned for creative enterprise – why should they be – but across the pond one New York organisation is bucking the trend with a stunning new digital artwork. The Weill Cornell Medical College commissioned London-based creative agencies Squint/Opera and Hirsch&Mann to produce the Discovery Wall for its new Manhattan premises and the results are super-impressive. The final piece comprises 2,800 LED screens set behind a bank of lenticular discs. For passers-by it can be viewed as a large-scale digital artwork but up close the screens display content that relates to the college’s pioneering scientific research.

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    The biggest news of the story of the past couple of years has probably been Edward Snowden’s crusade against the US authorities’ snooping tactics. It’s been spearheaded by The Guardian so it’s quite an honour for a creative to be asked by that very newspaper to create visuals for its own magazine’s coverage.

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    Ed Anthony is a self-taught artist based in London who specialises in the creation of large-scale graphite portraits. His enormous works on paper demonstrate an extraordinary understanding of texture and tone, using a single, simple medium to render the faces of his sitters in strikingly realistic detail. In this particular series Ed has focussed his attention on some of the biggest names in architecture today – he works as an architectural model-maker by day – and immortalised them in graphite, interviewing them while he did so to better understand their relationship with physical media. He’s also got a show opening at the Palazzo Bembo in Venice this week, where you’ll be able to see more of his portraits in person.

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    I saw Godzilla last night, and this wooden labyrinthine installation makes me think of what the cavernous, skeletal insides of the jurassic creature would look like if the movie had been designed by Guillermo del Toro. Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira’s interactive sculpture twists and turns like an organic growth that has taken over the Museum de Arte in Sao Paulo’s sleek and white corridors, tumbling around erect columns like a jungle taking over an uninhabited city. Henrique used repurposed wood pieces as the skin of his Transarquitetonica, and we imagine that walking through the cocooned corridors of the wooden maze must be an enthralling experience. An immense and intriguing project that will take you deep into the woods.

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    Looking through the computer-generated art by Rose Pilkington is a bit like sliding around in a big tub of rainbow coloured mercury whilst synthetic bubbles and digital geometric fragments are hurled towards you. We love her mind-boggling GIFs, which kind of look like what might happen if the shirts worn by Zack on Saved by the Bell were digitized and made into panoramic landscapes on Second Life. Take a look at her bright, kaleidoscopic website and 3D sketches here, you won’t regret it, although you may have all the clashing CMYK colours imprinted on your vision for quite a while afterwards.

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    Daniel Adel is best known for his satirical illustration, as championed by the likes of The New Yorker and The New York Times; abnormally large-headed politicians sipping beverages next to scantily-clad babes, caricatures of famous faces with overgrown ears and noses. Over on his website, though, these cheeky images are more than matched by incredibly serious and very impressive portraiture which looks like it would be just as at home on the walls of an American president’s mahogany-lined office as it would over your grandmother’s fireplace.

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    When someone’s work looks like the legs of David Hockney’s painting trousers, or the vomit of someone who’s just nailed a pack of Skittles, you know it’s gonna be the kind of thing we want on our site. Like the spectacular Minna Gilligan or Jordy van Den Nieuwendijk, artist Adam Sultan’s weapon of choice is COLOUR.

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    The only thing I remember from biology classes is gazing with wonder at the pictures of cells and membranes, and marvelling at the idea that such incredible patterns form randomly in nature. Generative artist Jonathan McCabe was clearly mesmerised in the same way: using Alan Turings theories of morphology he has created his own intricate designs, which are far more psychedelic than anything I ever saw in my bio textbook.

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    Last week the Irish photographer Richard Mosse won the Deutsche Börse Prize for his amazing pink pictures of the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Created with special heat-sensitive film, Richard used the shock of the unexpected palette to engage us with a conflict that can feel very far-removed.

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    When you search for “Ian Stevenson” Google suggests that you might be looking for a Canadian psychiatrist who specialised in reincarnation. I wasn’t – I was after the British artist of the same name – but I can’t help wonder what the former might have made of the latter’s work.