Art Archive

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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.

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    I’m a sucker for a really well-executed spoof, so take a bow New York based artist/copywriter and filmmaker Dan Shapiro. Inspired by “the stereotypical conventions of the faux-introspective, vague creative profiles floating around the internet” Dan decided to lampoon them by creating his own. From the floaty music to the cliched, sun-kissed shots,the subjects’s supremely irritating self-deprecating chuckle to the inane pronouncements (“It’s about being present and aware”) Dan has got it spot on.

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    It’s been a while since we last checked in on Amy Woodside but the New Zealand-born, New York-based graphic artist has been as busy as ever. She’s a creative whose long been fascinated by the visual properties and potential of text and some of her new word-based work explores these qualities in quite an abstract way. She has also just launched a set of printed sweatshirts with the AYR brand, giving some of her pattern work a new lease of life on the sternums of trendy young things the world over. Nice.

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    Apart from being a stark reminder of how horrible sunburn is, there really aren’t any qualms worth noting about Fan Yang-Tsung’s utterly unique paintings. A lot of artists seem to be inspired by swimming pools, the way they distort the lower body and send off messages of leisure, and murder, and sex. In this case, Fan Yang-Tsung has taken his watery muse and represented it in a series of images so bold that you can almost feel the chlorine up your nose. Simple colours, a good knowledge of pool-side plants and some very small paintbrushes can take you far in our books. Swimming caps off to Fan Yang-Tsung!

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    Now, we recognise that this isn’t going to be for everyone, but if like us you can’t stop thinking about the epic and beautiful The Wind Rises, then this might be right up your street. These eccentric and a eerie ceramics, which are hand-crafted by Sophie Woodrow in Bristol, are a perfect match for any Studio Ghibli lover: one little guy even looks like he’s tumbled straight out of The Cat Returns. They’re an odd bunch, but they make us smile, and it’s nice to know that you can own your own little No-Face if you like, or at least a creature that could be his distant cousin.

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    The words “urban art” don’t often conjure up images of spectacular, ground-breaking installations in my mind, rather dodgy tags on piss-stained walls behind the local supermarket. In this case though, urban artist SpY has made something worth writing home about. MOON is an enormous, lit crescent moon that hangs suspended over a plaza in Lausanne by an enormous crane. In the day it looks ghostly and sad, then when night comes and the lights get switched on (I’m always so envious of the people who get to turn really big lights on) it becomes something pretty magical indeed. Check out more of his genuinely enjoyable “urban art” over here and over on his site.

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    Hand-painted book covers give that rare pleasure that comes when two seemingly unrelated genres collide, and this only gets greater when several very different creative minds come together to create them too. Such is the case where Rebekah Miles’ collaboration with fashion house Rodarte is involved.

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    If like me you spent a large chunk of your teenage Saturdays sticking price tags to near worthless objects armed with nothing but a price-gun and a roll of orange stickers, you’ll feel a warm wave of nostalgia at seeing BL76’s work. The mysteriously named French artist creates large-scale artworks with nothing but the tiny labels.

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    For the first time ever today, I found myself bemoaning the lack of a “pyrography” category on the site, and for that unusual and actually quite pleasant issue I have Jarmila Mitríková and Dávid Demjanovič to thank. The Slovakian duo are masters of their medium, the very original pyrography, in which a tiny red hot nib is used to mark pieces of plywood with ornate patterns, which are then coloured in with wood dyes. It’s perhaps most commonly applied in a year nine woodwork lesson, but they’ve completely subverted their tools using it instead to create large scale beautiful folkloric images about subjects including marching flagellations, children playing with bears in mountain landscapes and women falconers proudly supporting their birds of prey. For their originality and their mastery of their craft Jarmila and Dávid easily win pats on backs.

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    This may not be for everyone, but if you’ve ever lay on your bed listening to Pink Floyd, or slept in the woods overnight with your friends, or smoked weed, or play video games (let’s face it, all those things tend to go together) you might be into this. We came across this work by Hirō Isono on Melt, the blog of famous Australian image-maker and graphic designer Leif Podhajsky. Melt is an absolute treasure trove of retro, psychedelic artwork and artists who have contributed to some of the trippier album covers in history and is added to by Leif and a whole bunch of other fantastic and like-minded artists. Whoever came across this succulent work by the late video game designer Hirō should be praised, this is exactly the kind of thing I want to look at and learn about forever.

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    As May begins and we start to edge towards some semblance of summer, galleries across London start to wheel out a host of exciting and engaging exhibitions. Today sees the opening of one such show, with artist Von’s new work on display at KK Outlet. To truly appreciate the skill that goes into Von’s painstaking pencil drawings you really need to get up close and personal with them and Elsewhere shows off his skills at their finest.

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    It’s been four whole years since we last posted about Paul Wackers, and four years is the same amount of time it takes to be conceived, gestate, be born, and learn to walk and talk, so it makes sense that he’s also created truckloads of new work in that time. I don’t know what the images are of, exactly; often collage, usually mixed media and occasionally reminiscent of a lovely interior complete with houseplants and bunting. The beauty of this work, though, is that you don’t need to know. Each piece makes perfect sense on its own, having achieved a playful kind of balance not entirely dissociated from, art, graphics or illustration. Cheers to you Paul!

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    Artist Marie Rosen’s brand of surrealism is a very specific one; her images seem to be sinister circumstances masquerading as hazy pastel-dominated images, delivered via the medium of delicate brushstrokes and strangely realistic-looking figures. Twins crop up a lot in the Belgian artist’s work, as do geometrically patterned carpets and tiles, rainbow-coloured horizons and legs without bodies, not to mention the odd bare mattress. If it all sounds a bit like something out of The Shining then I’m not doing justice though; the eery peculiarity here is balanced with an equal dose of sweet, in the form of marshmallow skies and a quiet, soft calm. Lovely stuff.

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    People look better under coloured lights – think nightclubs or Icelandic people smiling beneath auroras – and that’s especially true when they’re prancing around with their naughty bits flailing around all over the place. Beautiful humans lit with rainbow colours and smoke is my idea of a perfect project, which is why Maciek Jasik is a surefire new favourite. His hazy portraits of men and women of all shapes and sizes careering around in a studio evoke a strange feeling in my gut that I haven’t had since I first discovered Ryan McGinley – as if Maciek’s discovered something about humans that we weren’t previously aware of but now we have to live with.

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    Us Brits are known for our sense of humour, but some things you just don’t mess with and our much-loved fried breakfast is one of them. So when photographer David Sykes and model maker Jessica Dance decided to pay homage to the artery-clogging national institution, they knew they had to get it right. Luckily for them (and us), they nailed it, thanks to the duo’s superb attention-to-detail.

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    Like hyper-real paintings or 3D printed sculptures, it’s easy to hear the words “biro art” and feel like shrugging and wandering off to look at literally anything else instead. In this case, I think we can let it slide, as Kevin Lucbert has blown our presumptuous minds apart with his work this morning. That specific Bic colour of blue used in all of his work reminds you of exams or filling in forms, so when it’s used to portray doorways into parallel universes, suburban streets with a mystical glimmer or a white-robed being strolling through an enchanted nay dangerous forest, it’s something of a breath of fresh air. His ideas aside, Kevin is also a spectacular draughtsman with a diploma from the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris and in his spare time he “realises drawings for the French Press.” What a guy.

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    It’s almost exactly a year since we last revelled in the brilliance of Swiss artist Zimoun who explores sound and movement through his ambitious installations. Seeing as his prodigious work-rate matches his creative talents, it was no great surprise to see that he’s populated his portfolio with a host of terrific new projects in just 11 months. Personally my pick of the bunch are the churning waves of plastic packaging chips for the Lugano art museum and the amazing sea of crinkled brown paper for the Orbital Garden in Bern, but everywhere you look there are intriguing studies in the physical forces which usually go unnoticed.

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    Romping through some fellow creative blogs recently I was stopped in my tracks over on But does it float? by the mindbending geometric paintings of Johnny Abrahams. Information about the New York-based artist is sparse on his own website but a little bit of digging uncovered an artist statement in which Johnny talks about making the viewer the subject of his work.

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    Carlos Jimenez is a Spanish photographer and filmmaker living and working in London who caught our attention last year for his work on Nobrow’s promotional film for ELCAF 2013. It provided a slick overview of a massive, messy event and displayed some extremely nice editing flourishes. But Carlos’ most recent project is an altogether more refined proposition. Commissioned by the V&A to produce a film about the renovation of their plaster courts, Carlos has produced a slow, sweeping piece of cinema that glorifies some extraordinary works of Renaissance art including some rare close-ups of Michelangelo’s David. There’s also interviews with a few key players in the V&A’s conservation and curatorial teams who give a real sense of the important work they’re involved in.

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    In 2011 San Franciscan artist Tauba Auerbach held a solo show at the Bergen Kunsthall in Norway that cemented her reputation as a fine artist with heavyweight conceptual clout as well as being a maker of extraordinarily beautiful objects. Tetrachromat suggested that there was a fourth colour spectrum only perceptible to women and Tauba created a selection of objects that experimented with this theory – including vast books printed with rainbow gradients that are still some of the most beautiful objects I’ve ever laid eyes on.

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    It was just over a year ago that we stumbled across the goldmine that is Jim’ll Paint It, like a drunk peasant staggering into a turnip field. Since then we have watched with delight as his fame spread like wildfire (lots of rural similes in this post aren’t there?) and social media championed his brilliance again and again.

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    There are only so many times a parent can use the “having a pet is hard work” line before they cave in to the beseeching eyes (or screaming mouth) of their young child – that’s when they resort to a goldfish and so ensues the tragic flushing of hundreds of goldfish all over the world. It’s an epidemic, but we’ve found the perfect solution: Keng Lye.

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    We reviewed the Jean Paul Gaultier show that everyone’s talking on the site earlier today, and mentioned the astonishing amount of contributors to his career. As well as photographers, stylists, make-up artists, wig-makers and seemingly the entire population of London, Jean Paul had a selection of people who, over the years, inspired him to make some of his most well-known pieces of work. For the show, curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot had a brainwave and decided to commission artist Annie Kevans to create portraits of each of Jean Paul’s most iconic muses, from Boy George and Amy Winehouse to Kate Moss and David Bowie.

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    I’ve always liked mind games. Not the passive aggressive sort, or anything along the lines of “treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen,” but the kind that involves optical illusions, something that forces you to think a little bit. They range from the simple – two vases that are also two faces – to the more intricate such as the never-ending staircase in M. C. Escher’s Ascending and Descending, but Kyung Woo Han has taken it to a whole new level.

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    Sometimes advertisements are the best thing in the world – and by sometimes I mean when you need the loo during the finale episode of Game of Thrones – but most of the time they’re just a bit of a pain. While most of us grin and bear it, French street artist Etienne Lavie decided to take action, and see what the streets of Paris would look like without them.

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    “There are three types of artist,” Thierry Noir tells me, “difficult, very difficult and impossible.” Which one is he? “I do not want to know.” The unassuming French artist is in London for the opening of his first ever solo show at the Howard Griffin Gallery in Shoreditch, and has been working flat out for two weeks to get everything finished. As well as 15 large canvases which are going on display (alongside rarely seen photographs and films), Thierry has been busy painting various walls around east London and likes the combination of gallery and al fresco work; street painting he says gives him “a different type of energy.” It’s fair to say that Thierry Noir has some experience in this.

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    This Thursday sees the launch of Suspended, a debut solo show by Chloe Early at The Outsiders London. The works on display are Chloe’s response to the “romantic splendour of Renaissance religious art” and an exploration of “the themes of weightlessness and gravity.” Her paintings feature realistically rendered human figures, lifted above the ground by unseen forces or large clusters of helium balloons. Chloe contends that we no longer have objects of worship within fine art, and so her images serve as celestial totems of real-world figures elevated above the mundane.

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    To say that Geoffrey Lillemon is an unusual character doesn’t really do him justice. The Dutch/American artist/designer produces work that’s about as bizarre as you’re likely to see. His website is a surreal, pornographic maze of disfigured characters and disturbing sounds that evoke the very basest curiosities and desires with macabre delight. In his own words, “Lillemon has consistently foregrounded the interplay between the digital and physical world in his work, blending traditional mediums (sic) with modern vfx capabilities to craft new worlds and fantasies.”

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    Body-paint remains something of an overlooked form in the art and illustration worlds – too many great-seeming-but-actually-very-difficult-to-execute ideas have gone awry in the wrong hands. Janine Rewell, however, appears to have the right ones. She already has a stack of fantastic illustration work under her belt, and her most recent project with Finnish shoe designer Minna Parikka has seen her apply all of this skill to the art of body-painting.

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    It doesn’t happen that often, but occasionally we come across a creative talent who is tremendously familiar to us but who for some baffling reason we have never celebrated on the site. So it is with French illustrator and character designer Geneviève Gauckler, whose work has cropped up in group shows but who has never been feted in her own right – until now. Ciitng the title sequence of Flipper as one of her major inspirations, Geneviève creates characters that snap, crackle and pop with vibrancy and personality, leaping off the print or magazine cover to frolic in the farthest reaches of your imagination.

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    Sadly our flights back to London from Dublin’s OFFSET conference last weekend meant we missed the last few speakers on the Sunday schedule, but our colleague Karl Toomey was there and waxed lyrical about the work of Jeff Greenspan. Closer inspection revealed Karl’s excitement was justified, as Jeff boasts the kind of playfully creative mind of which we can’t get enough.

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    Nothing fails to warm my cockles and get the loose change in my wallet dancing about to be spent quite like Record Store Day. If the whole festival wasn’t good enough, Secret 7" is in their third year of bringing together a holy union of artists and musicians and have just announced some big-name creatives who have contributed artwork for this exciting project.

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    Beyoncé commands a level of awe and respect unlike almost any other prominent cultural figure, but in Hattie Stewart’s world nobody gets a free pass. And so for her first UK solo show opening next week at Brighton’s No Walls Gallery, the iconic blue Gentlewoman cover featuring the superstar comes in for Hattie’s trademark doodle-bombing (although it appears slightly more respectful than the treatment meted out to some other cover stars by her pen).

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    In the same way that you spend your days wishing your favourite band will bring their new album out, me and the other Geoff McFetridge fans spend our days subconsciously crossing our fingers for a batch of new work. Well, here it is, and guess what? It’s glorious. You’ve probably been reading about Geoff’s work for the designs featured in Spike Jonze’s Her of late, but that’s not all he’s been beavering away at. As of tomorrow, Geoff’s new paintings are on show at V1 Gallery in Copenhagen in a show entitled Meditallucination – a term coined by Geoff himself. He told us a bit more about the concept behind this new body of work.

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    It’s fair to say that we’re drawn to the weirder end of the architecture spectrum (giraffes sticking out of buildings and the like) so when I came across this installation in the grounds of the Portuguese presidential museum, my boat was well and truly floated. Super serious architecture, maybe not, but these red arches look for all the world like Microsoft Paint squiggles over photographs and that for me can only be a plus.

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    It’s 20 years now since London’s Royal College of Art launched its annual anonymous postcard exhibition and this year’s show features an astonishing 2,900 offerings. Alongside the work of current students and faculty members plus recent graduates there are postcards from the likes of Milton Glaser, Grayson Perry, Jarvis Cocker, Paul Smith and Zaha Hadid.

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    Ever-intriguing Dutch duo Lernert & Sander are masters at taking what is fundamentally a simple idea and turning it into something both beguiling and beautiful. So it is with their latest work for the Kiki Niesten store in Maastricht, for whom they have deconstructed garments from the likes of Prada and Céline. And by “deconstructed” I don’t mean in some clever-clever theoretical or abstract way; they have literally turned these knitted items back in balls of wool, or “symbols of hope and aspiration” as they put it. It’s to mark the city’s TEFAF art fair, and we’d wager there’s few better projects on offer at this year’s event. Enjoy the photos and then watch the video; there’s something soothing about watching these high-end garments being returned to their natural state.

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    Just when you thought you had grown out of felt tips, here comes RCA grad Phil Goss cycling down the canal to get you intimately reacquainted with them. His work, which dances between printmaking and observational drawing, is a colourful, naive and slightly wonky look at the world around us. One of his works entitled Teapot is a fantastic drawing of a silver teapot with his own personal, wobbly self portrait reflected in it. It’s funny because a lot of his work feels like looking into a shiny teapot – things are distorted, but funny, and generally better. Check out the rest of this mysterious work – including some wallpaper he has made – over on his site.