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Small World: Artist’s miniature models have BIG political message

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Sometimes cliches are true. Strong medicine does often come in small bottles. We need only to look at the work of artist Isaac Cordal to apprecaite the truth of this adage. Cordal produces handcrafted minature cement scupltures which he then places in urban landscapes and photographs to make big and important statements.

His miniature sculptures—half-submerged in puddles, imprisoned in filing cabinets, or choking in dirt and rubble—critique modern life. Isaac describes his work as making “small interventions in the big city.” His figures depict the ruinous greed of corporations and politicians who devastate the world through their thoughtless actions. Cordal’s subject matter is climate change, the plight of refugees, and the destructive nature of capitalism.

Cordal’s artwork is powerful and eye-catching. He has exhibited these incredible tiny sculptures on sidewalks and public locations all across Europe. He’s like a movie director creating highly iconic and dramatic scenes which shock the passerby into questioning what it is they have just seen and thinking about how it reflects the world in which we all live. More of Isaac’s work can be seen here.

From such small acorns do mighty oaks grow.
 
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See more of Isaac Cordal’s minature marvels, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
A jarringly realistic life-sized sculpture of actor Robert Shaw as ‘Quint’ from ‘Jaws’
04.18.2017
08:51 am

Topics:
Art
Movies

Tags:
sculpture
Jaws
Robert Shaw
Nick Marra


A close look at Nick Marra’s uncanny sculpture of ‘Quint’ played by actor Robert Shaw in ‘Jaws.’
 
While you may not know sculptor Nick Marra’s name, you have definitely seen his work in films like The Hateful Eight, Jurrasic Park and the television series American Horror Story. Marra has been involved in the business of making things appear to be real for over two decades. While I’d be foolish to say that the artist’s life-sized sculpture of actor Robert Shaw as “Quint” from Steven Spielberg’s 1975 film Jaws is the best thing he’s ever done, I would challenge you to disagree that the likeness is so uncanny it is virtually impossible to tell the difference between the real, (late) Mr. Shaw, and Marra’s sculpture of Shaw in character for his role.

Marra’s sculpture made its debut at this year’s Monsterpalooza and it almost puts his previous eerily lifelike sculpture of Yul Brynner’s animatronic character of the “Gunslinger” from the 1973 film Westworld (which was recently, and quite wonderfully reprised by actor Ed Harris in the television adaptation of the film) to shame. Sculpture is an art form I have a deep reverence for and I have many, many favorites in the field such a Mike Hill and Jordu Schell. Marra’s mirror image of Quint is so desperately spot-on that it’s rendered me at a near loss for words. I mean, Marra’s faux Quint is crushing a beer can in his right hand and it’s so authentic that you can hear the tin cracking from the force of Quint’s shark-hating hands just looking at it. In other words, the fake Quint looks so much like the real Quint that I’m not even sure if I’m the real me anymore. Though I only have two photos to show you, I have also posted a short video of the remarkably talented Marra talking about his latest work in which you can see the sculpture in all its glory after the jump…
 

 
More after the jump…

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Horror-film worthy sculptures of the human body that are just dying to meet you
03.27.2017
09:57 am

Topics:
Art
Unorthodox

Tags:
sculpture
Francesco Albano


A sculpture by Italian artist Francesco Albano.
 
The work of Italian artist and sculptor Francesco Albano have been highly praised since he got his start nearly two decades ago. And now Turkish director Cansin Sağesen has made a short film about the artist and his grotesquely beautiful sculptures.

In the short, Albano reveals that his father, who was also a sculptor, taught him his craft and that his work is driven by a “childhood urgency.” Albano considers his art to be a form of creative play—much like it would be for a child experimenting with tactile toys like Play-Doh. His sculptures look as if someone has let the air out of a human body like a balloon—which then transforms them into hideous blobs of gelatinous flesh with protruding bones, teeth, and genitalia.

According to Albano, his work is meant to express the idea of how merely existing in modern society can be physically crippling and often destructive leading to the full-on collapse of the human structure, physically and mentally. Once you get that, you’ll see Albano’s work in an entirely new light as perspective breeds a deeper understanding of such things that at first appear to exist for their shock value alone. That said, the images that follow are very much NSFW.
 

“On the Eve” 2013.
 

 

“Lump 2” 2012.
 
More after the jump…

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The beautiful lost sculptures of Augusta Savage
02.28.2017
03:30 pm

Topics:
Art
Feminism
Heroes

Tags:
sculpture
Harlem
Augusta Savage

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The African-American artist Augusta Savage was born in Florida during a leap year on February 29, 1892. Her earliest memories were of the heavy rains and making ducks and chickens from the wet red clay out in the yard. She decided early to become an artist but her father, a strict Methodist minister, tried to whip this dream out of her. He sometimes beat her four or five times a week. It didn’t work. Augusta was determined to go her own way.

The options for most poor girls at the turn of the last century was go to work, get married and have kids. Augusta married at the age of fifteen in 1907 and gave birth to her only child, Irene, a year later. Not long after this, her husband died. Augusta then got hitched to a carpenter by the name of James Savage. The marriage lasted until the early 1920s when the couple divorced. Augusta liked the surname so decided to keep it.

With marriage and a baby to look after, Savage didn’t manage take up sculpting again until 1919 when a local sculptor gave her some clay. She knew she had talent but how much she wasn’t sure. Her talent was decidedly confirmed when she entered a couple of her latest sculptures into a local fair. She won top prize. This was just enough encouragement for Augusta. She gave her daughter over to the temporary care of her parents and headed off to New York to enrol as a student at the Cooper Union School of Art.

To her tutors it became quickly apparent that Savage was an exceptional talent. She passed her four year arts course with flying colors in a speedy three. But not everyone was impressed with this bright and talented young woman. 

In 1923,  Savage won a place among one hundred other American students to travel to Fontainbleau, France for a summer arts program. Arriving at the venue just outside Paris, Augusta was barred from entry and ejected off the course by the French organizers on grounds of her color. But other people’s racism and stupidity was never going to stop Augusta.

She returned to New York where she soon set-up a studio in Harlem. Augusta established herself as a portrait sculptor seeking commission from well-to-do African-American families to produce busts. It was during this time that Augusta produced one of her most famous and celebrated works Gamin.

In 1929, Augusta Savage won another fellowship to study in Paris. This time there was no institutionalized racism standing in her way and all went well. It led to a second fellowship the following year. But upon her return to America in the early thirties, she found the country devastated by the Wall St. Crash and the ensuing Great Depression. No one wanted portrait busts or civic sculptures. Undeterred, Augusta opened the Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts in Harlem 1932, where she taught art to young kids in the neighborhood.

Success followed in 1934, when Augusta became the first African-American to be elected to the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors. Three years later, she became the first director of the Harlem Community Art Center—which played a crucial role in the lives of many black artists.

Yet, Augusta Savage’s life always seemed shadowed by obstacle and opposition. The height of her greatest sculptural achievement came when she was asked to create a large sculpture for New York’s World Fair in 1939. Augusta produced a work called The Harp. It took her two years to develop and create. This massive piece of sculpture was inspired by the poem Lift Every Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson. The poem was written in response to “a group of young men in Jacksonville, Florida, [who] arranged to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday in 1900.”

Lift every voice and sing  
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us. 
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Augusta’s statue featured twelve black singers rising up from the palm of God forming the shape of a harp. It was one of the main attractions at the fair. But when the show closed, no one was interested in helping Augusta keep the work or having it cast in bronze. The sculpture was smashed to pieces. It was a symbolic finale to Augusta’s career. On returning to Harlem, she found her position at the Community Arts Center had been taken by someone else. Things began to fall apart—more so after America entered the Second World War in 1941. Thereafter, nearly everything Augusta attempted failed. She moved to Saugerties, in the Catskill Mountains and started producing smaller works. But something had been lost. Something that had once been so powerful and resilient had been destroyed.

Augusta Savage produced less and less work. Most of her original work had been lost or destroyed. By the time of her death in 1962, Augusta Savage was tragically relatively forgotten

I have created nothing really beautiful, really lasting, but if I can inspire one of these youngsters to develop the talent I know they possess, then my monument will be in their work.

I don’t know if Augusta celebrated her birthday every four years or shifted around between the 28th Feb. and first of March, but as this is the last day in February maybe we should celebrate Augusta Savage who was truly one of the most significant American sculptors of the twentieth century.
 
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Augusta in her studio.
 
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‘The Harp’ (1939).
 
Read more about Augusta Savage, and see more of her work, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Realistic sculptures of free-floating body parts, ‘humans’ trapped in formaldehyde & other oddities


‘Migrants OVIS.’ A sculpture by Sara Renzetti and Antonello Serra.
 
The artististic duo of Sara Renzetti and Antonello Serra hail from Sardinia, Italy where they have been creating thought-provoking sculptures of humans that are as bizarre as they are startlingly realistic. 

Though their work is rather disturbing at first glance, there is also a distinct sense of serenity emanating from their sculptures even as they lay in impossible positions or are conjoined in unorthodox ways—as you will see in the duo’s three-part-series entitled Mentalese-ATTO. And since Renzetti and Serra’s work has left me struggling to find words powerful enough to describe their idiosyncratic life-size (or larger) sculptural creations, here are a few words from the artists themselves on what guides their unique creative direction: 

The body shape here understood as a landscape, it opens to the death of the subject by virtue of investigations, alterations, and tumbles, to which the single vision - experience - not corporal, is able to guess at the beginnings and the boundaries. The subject and the object, from which all the challenges. Look and just becomes a form of expediency in relation to what is continually postponed, suspended and expected. We are on the apocalyptic Tiber, intended as a viewing experience, revelation of a dream that is given to dream.

I am endlessly fascinated by craftsmen that are able to elevate their medium to the level that Renzetti and Serra have with their sculpture, which if I were to attempt to describe it would be something like if the fictional vivisectionist Doctor Moreau enacted his monstrous medical procedures on people, instead of mashing them up with animals. That said, pretty much everything you’re about to see in this post in one way or another are very NSFW.
 

 

‘Horror Vacui.’ 
 

‘I am my Son, my Father, my Mother, and I.’
 
More after the jump…

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Darkness Visible: These sculptures explore our darkest experiences
01.26.2017
10:30 am

Topics:
Art

Tags:
sculpture
depression
Yasam Sasmazer

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‘In Front’ (2103).
 
Growing up can be difficult. Being an adult can be just as hard. We can often find our lives cluttered with soul-destroying experiences that we don’t really need but somehow managed to have collected along the way. All those bad feelings and dreadful memories that cling to us like shadows. They can shape us and make us into someone other than the person we thought we were going to be.

Take one look at these sculptures by Turkish artist Yasam Sasmazer and I’m sure you’ll be able to relate to at least one of them.

Yasam Sasmazer’s sculptures tap right into those negative emotions we all experience at some point in our life—whether we want to or not, whether we can ever admit it or not.

Sasmazer carves her powerful totems out of wood. She uses them as a means to examine our notions of identity, our relationship to self and other and our deepest darkest fears.

Born in Istanbul in 1980, Yasam’s work has been successfully exhibited in London, Berlin, New York and China. When exhibiting her work she uses the gallery to create a liminal space where light and shadow play an integral part in creating moods and giving new meaning to her work.

The shadows represent the darkness in our souls’ hidden side and the most frightening part of our personality. The shadow is everything you are but do not want to be.

Here is a selection of Yasam’s work from her exhibitions Metanoia, Doppelgänger and Dark Twin. See more of Yasam Sasmazer’s work here.
 
From ‘Metanoia’
 
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‘Fear of Reason’ (2013).
 
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‘Taming the Darkness’ (2013).
 
More of Yasam’s work, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Farting Monkeys, Devilish Imps, Grotesque Beasts and other Bizarre Creatures

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A good imagination beats any psychedelic drug. Take a look at these drawings by 17th century Dutch artist Arent van Bolten featuring weird, grotesque hybrid creatures—part human, part cat, part dragon, part demon, part who the fuck knows….?

The last part is a fair description of what we do know about Arent van Bolten—which is little more than birth, marriage and death:

He was born about 1573 in Zwolle. In 1603 he there married Brigitta Lantinck. They had eight children. Some of them established themselves as solicitors in Leeuwarden where Brigitta Lantinck’s sister had married but remained childless so that the children of van Bolten became her heirs. Arent van Bolten must have died about 1625, for he is still mentioned in 1624, whereas in 1626 we read only of his widow.

Even his death date is uncertain as some put it up as far as 1633—which may have come as a surprise to his wife if she was already a widow in 1626. Apart from this slim entry we know he was a silversmith by profession, was in Italy 1596-1602, and left behind “a great deal of silverware and plaquettes.”

He may well have been one of those craftsmen who themselves made both the model and the finished article and perhaps even the original design which was not the normal practice at this time.

Van Bolten sculpted religious and rustic scenes and knobbly weird bronzes of “squat, ponderous” mythological beasts. It is for the latter that he is now best known—in particular his 400+ drawings of surreal and grotesque creatures compiled by an unknown collector circa 1637 which are currently held by the British Museum. 

It’s unknown what Van Bolten’s intention was in creating these rather fabulous beasts but the drawings do reveal the eye of a man who was a sculptor rather than a painter. His line relishes building up the layers, curves, depths, and organic growths rather than just offering a mere representation. Van Bolten’s grotesques have a solidity that makes it appear we could actually touch them.
 
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More of Arent van Bolten’s beasties and grotesque creatures, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Nightmarish sculptures of H.P. Lovecraft’s terrifying cosmic entities
01.09.2017
11:05 am

Topics:
Art
Heroes
Literature

Tags:
sculpture
Cthulhu
H.P. Lovecraft


‘Lovecraft Tormented’ wall sculpture. Get it here.
 
Like many of you oh-so-cool Dangerous Minds readers I am a collector of a great many THINGS. From records to books and a slew of action figures, my house is a mini-museum full of cool THINGS. I also happen to know that a number of our regular visitors to DM seem to have a thing for anything that associated with the great American horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. Which leads me to my post for today which features a number of intricate sculptures depicting some of Lovecraft’s eldritch entities such as “Dagon,” a creature that first made its appearance in Lovecraft’s short story of the same name from 1917; everyone’s favorite octopus-headed cosmic being, “Cthulhu”; Pickman’s model, and the nutty Nyarlathotep among others. I’m just aching to bring a few of these critters into my own menagerie of mayhem…

Some of the sculptures in this post are available for purchase. That said they are not cheap—specifically that magnificent wall sculpture “Lovecraft Tormented” (pictured at the top of this post). That puppy will run you a cool $1288. Several toy companies have released sets of Lovecraft’s monstrous nightmares and when they do, they sell out pretty fast, so if you see something in this post that strikes your fancy, get it now before it’s sold out and selling on eBay for bigs bucks. I’ve included some handy links for you to do just that under each available piece below.
 

‘Nyarlathotep’ sculpture by Sota Toys. Get it here.
 

‘Dagon’ sculpture. Get it here.
 
More Lovecraftian terrors after the jump…

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Chaos, corruption & the demise of civilization
12.28.2016
08:45 am

Topics:
Art
Belief

Tags:
sculpture
Kris Kuksi


A sculpture by artist Kris Kuksi.
 

The function of my work has to do with relating to the darker side of human psychology

—Kris Kuksi

One of the notable fans of artist and sculptor Kris Kuksi is visionary film director Guillermo del Toro. And once you’ve seen Kuksi’s work it will not be hard to understand why it attracted the distinguished eye of del Toro and the late Robin Williams, among others.

Kuksi moved away from Springfield, Missouri and his alcoholic father while still a young child and was raised by his mother in a rural community just outside of Wichita, Kansas along with his two older brothers. The town offered a rather stagnant and unstimulating environment for the aspiring artist who spent a lot of time playing with his Star Wars action figures and LEGO bricks by himself. Kuksi’s grandmother would provide her grandson with her own stationary to draw on which allowed him to express himself despite the desolation he was surrounded by. His love of drawing was also encouraged by his high school art teacher who advised the teenager to continue his studies with higher education. Kuksi would go on to obtain both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in painting from Fort Hays State University.

By the time he was 22 Kuksi made his first attempt at sculpture using found objects such as castaway toys, leftover bits from modeling kits, wood, jewellery and other materials that helped him bring the images in his imagination to life. According to the artist it can take months to finish one of his densely detailed sculptures and it’s not unusual for him to work fourteen to sixteen hour jags in a single day on a complex piece in his studio—a former church by the Kansas River. Kuksi’s work is deeply influenced by Italian Renaissance masters and he refers to one of the greatest sculptors (and noted architect) of the 17th century and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini as his “ultimate hero.”

I don’t like to use the phrase “mind-blowing” without good reason but Kuksi’s sculpture work is absolutely worthy of such praise. Kuksi’s artwork is featured in the 2010 book published by BeinART, Kris Kuksi: Divination and Delusion. Some images are delightfully NSFW.
 

‘Leda and the Swan.’ A sculpture by artist Kris Kuksi, 2014.
 

‘Churchtank.’
 
More after the jump…

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Natural History Surrealist Sculpture: Exquisite dreamlike plant-animal hybrids
12.20.2016
10:39 am

Topics:
Animals
Art

Tags:
sculpture
Ellen Jewett


An intriguing sculpture by Ellen Jewett.
 
Based in Ontario, Canada, sculptor Ellen Jewett has done her best to support the rumor that she was raised alongside “newts and snails.” After spending time working as an artist contributing to medical journals and textbooks she soon turned to sculpture as a means to express her deep interest in biology and animals.

Jewett’s sculptures are incredibly intricate and woven together in such a way as to appear inseparable or unified despite their opposing origins. The artist has been quoted calling her work “natural history surrealist sculpture.” Her animal and plant subjects are so lifelike they resemble exhibits shown at natural history museums featuring once living animals in settings made to resemble their former habitat. Jewett’s whimsical sculptures sell for many thousands of dollars when they become available, though you can also purchase stunning prints of her unique animal and plant hybrids at her Etsy shop. I’ve included images of a large number of Jewett’s beautiful works of art below.
 

‘A feral antiquity.’
 

‘The complexity of our task at hand.’
 
More after the jump…

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White Riot: Classical sculpture with a modern twist
12.16.2016
02:46 pm

Topics:
Art
Politics

Tags:
sculpture
mythology
Jam Sutton

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Artist Jam Sutton produces big bold beautiful sculptures that relocate characters from Greek mythology into the modern world. King Theseus is no longer a hero but a brutal riot cop bludgeoning the Minotaur—arms raised, body slumped, defenseless against the oncoming rain of blows. David, a street kid, sits with his foot on the head of Goliath. The Kiss is no longer a portrait of lovers but presents a young woman tenderly kissing the cold and indifferent mask of a police officer—we know this is going to end badly. Each one of these sculptures is first designed by Jam then produced by 3D printer.

Jam Sutton is best known for his brand This Is Not Clothing—“a juxtaposition of contemporary culture and fine art”—via which he sells limited edition of his original artwork.

Through ‘This Is Not Clothing’ Jam creates original pieces and shares his unique vision of our society by paying homage to the great artists that have shaped and influenced the history of art.

Through his work he has collaborated with Pharrell Williams & N.E.R.D, Steve Aoki, Kid Cudi and Travis Barker. His set of classical “riot” sculptures—which were exhibited earlier this year at the Opera Gallery—are available to buy—as both sculptures and clothes—at his site.
 
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More after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Cum Face, the hyperrealistic sculpture
12.01.2016
09:47 am

Topics:
Art
Sex

Tags:
sculpture
orgasm
Luigi Rodriguez

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Venezuelan artist Luigi Rodriguez claims he has always been intrigued by orgasms. So he decided to study his own. The result is an unflinching hyperrealistic sculpture of his own face during orgasm—which he calls “Pure Luigi” or We Come As We Are.

Based in Madrid, Rodriguez spent most of this year learning the necessary skills to create his orgasmic self-portrait. He wanted “the finished artwork to be as close to real life as possible, so it was completely honest.”

It was a challenging and difficult process which Rodriguez admits took him outside of his comfort zone—putting himself in a highly “vulnerable state.” This exploration led Rodriguez to the conclusion that at the point of orgasm “we lose ourselves in the moment, removing all layers of fear, judgment and ego, revealing a face that represents who we are in the most pure state.”

“Pure Luigi” is certainly a powerful work of art. Rodriguez is keen to collaborate with others on further hyperrealistic sculptures—so, if you’re interested you can contact him here.
 
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More of Rodriguez’s orgasmic self-portrait plus a video of him at work, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Fake human remains become horrifyingly realistic high-art
10.21.2016
12:47 pm

Topics:
Art

Tags:
sculpture
Sarah Sitkin


A sculpture by Sarah Sitkin.
 
LA-based artist Sarah Sitkin says that when she was a kid she used to play with the “dental alginate” mold that dentists use in order to made reproductions of a patient’s teeth. The then budding sculptor and artist would spend “hours” creating plaster reproductions of her own face and hands. Now that you know at least that much about the highly-skilled Sitkin, it should be a bit easier trying to process her surreal sculptures, masks and disembodied heads and hands.

Another fateful aspect of Sitkin’s childhood is that her family owned a hobby shop called Kit Kraft which meant that she quite literally had any kind of artistic tool or material at her disposal. Deadstock inventory ended up in Sitkin’s hands and when she was finally able to work in the store herself she found herself rubbing shoulders with Hollywood special effects artists (including one of my favorites, the great Jordu Schell whose work can be seen in films from the Predator and Alien  franchises.) Sitkin has gone on to develop a large following (including Genesis P-Orridge) and is also the creator of a bizarre and wildly popular skin for the iPhone that not only looks like it was made of real flesh but also included an all-too-realistic ear on the back.

I’ve included a number of images below from Sitkin’s large portfolio that will really get under your own skin in all the best ways possible. That said some should be considered NSFW.
 

The artist wearing her own creations.
 

2016.
 
More after the jump…

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Animal/human hybrid sculptures and other menacing ceramic characters
10.20.2016
09:59 am

Topics:
Animals
Art

Tags:
sculpture
gender
Cynthia Consentino


‘Wolf Girl III’ by sculptor and artist Cynthia Consentino, 2011.
 
Sculptor Cynthia Consentino hails from my state of birth Massachusetts, and is currently part of the Art Department staff at my mother’s alma mater of the University of Massachusetts. I hope Consentino’s students know how lucky they are to have such a talented (and rather wonderfully demented) mind at their disposal.

To help illuminate my point Consentino’s ceramic series called “Exquisite Corpse” borrowed its title and played upon the concept from a collaborative poetry game played by members of the Surrealist movement. It contains curious pieces that incorporate the bodies of animals and people with sinister and strangely captivating results. And while we’re on the topic of sinister ceramics Consentino’s portfolio is full of characters who fall into precisely that category, such as menacing looking human/wolf hybrids, angry children as well as toddlers armed with weapons.

According to an article on the artist from 2007, she was further inspired to mix-and-match her sculptures’ decidedly non-bianary gender compositions after reading a study that took on sexual stereotypes from the perspective of a five-year-old child. So instead of incorporating the heads (or bodies) of a predatory animal that one might associate with a “boy” Consentino sculpted a ferocious-looking wolf head onto the body of little girl wearing a pink dress. If you’d like to see Consentino’s work up close a few of her pieces are a part of four different current and upcoming exhibitions in New York, Pittsburgh, and Boston. Of course if you ever find yourself visiting the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in good-old Sheboygan, Wisconsin you’ll be able to get an eyeful of Consentino’s handiwork as her gorgeously odd creations adorn the walls and stalls of the entire ladies room.

Examples of Cynthia Consentino’s work follow—some might be considered NSFW.
 

 

‘Flower Girl I,’ 2004.
 
More after the jump…

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‘Monumental Nobodies’: Artist paints civic sculptures with a subversive twist
09.01.2016
12:34 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Art
History

Tags:
sculpture
painting
Matthew Quick

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‘Rockstar.’
 
In Glasgow, the city where I live, there’s an equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington. This category-A monument situated on Queen Street, outside the Gallery of Modern Art, is famous not for its subject but rather for the regularity that traffic cones are placed on the grand Duke’s bonce. No one knows who puts them there. No sooner is one removed than another has replaced it. The Duke and his orange and white headgear are a symbol of the gallus nature of the city.

According to the city council, it costs $15,000 a year to have these pesky cones removed. A few years ago, the council considered raising the statue higher onto a second plinth—thus preventing any cheeky wee monkeys from hoisting yet another one on its head. In response, a Facebook campaign was started to save the cone. It received 75,000 “likes” in the first 24-hours. Since then the council installed CCTV cameras in a bid to capture the culprit(s) cone-handed.

This morning as I walked past the statue a fresh cone sat a jaunty angle on the Duke’s head. It’s not a mark of disrespect but rather a questioning of our inherited values, identity and history. History, after all, is written by the victors.

Matthew Quick asks similar questions about history, identity and inherited values with his series of paintings Monumental Nobodies. His starting point was “the monuments of empire and what happens to the things left behind, how they might be represented, or reutilised or reinterpreted.” He was also inspired by the sonnet “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley that tells of:

Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

The broken visage is all that remains of the once great king. Though there is a slight irony in the sonnet’s conceit that Ozymandias’ memory lives on in the lines of Shelley’s immortal posey.

Quick was reminded of this poem after watching television footage of American soldiers pull down a statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad during the Iraq War in 2003.

Removing the contemporary politics of the moment, I thought: ‘This is an invading army going in there and basically destroying art’.

The soldiers actions made Quick think of the ancient sack of Rome—“Except that the Visigoths were barbarians and the Americans did it for the cameras. It was a deliberate and stage-managed act,” as he explained in an interview

This led Australian Quick to produce Monumental Nobodies—a series of paintings re-examining our relationship with civic and classical sculptures.

Quick was late to his career as an artist. He had been a graphic designer, author, lecturer and art director before he started painting in earnest. When he was thirty-six, he was diagnosed with melanoma. The doctor’s prognosis was not good. It was suggested he may only have five years left to live. This caused Quick to reevaluate his life.

If you have only got a certain amount of time, what would you really like to be doing? It was the wake-up call I needed. Now I’m in a big rush. I am making up for lost time – what I’m doing now is what I’ve always wanted to do.

Thirteen years on, Quick is thankfully still alive and continues with his chosen career. It’s been over a decade since he turned “pro.” Since then he has won over sixty awards for his artwork and has exhibited in Australia and Europe. Technically brilliant, his work is powerful iconic and wonderfully cerebral. 

Quick started Monumental Nobodies before ISIS began thuggishly destroying historic buildings and artwork.

When you think about what ISIS is doing now, destroying artwork, we condemn that justifiably … but when the Americans did it, it was celebrated. These sorts of things intrigue me.

A statue of Saddam Hussein can be replaced but ancient monuments and temples cannot.

The irony is that when I started working on this series, the stuff with ISIS hadn’t happened. It has given it an extra layer of gravitas.

More of Matthew Quick’s work can be seen here.
 
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‘The Great Cover Up.’
 
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‘The Eternal Struggle.’
 
More ‘Monumental Nobodies,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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