Klaus Pichler

‘Who hasn’t had the desire to be someone else for a while?’ asks Austrian photographer Klaus Pichler. His recent photo project ‘Just the Two of Us’ captures Austrians hidden behind the costume of their choice, on a very intimate level as the setting is their own home interior.

The Austrian born and bred photographer has been working on this project for more than two years, as he quickly realised that people were quite reluctant at the idea of letting a stranger into their home. It would seem that everyone has the desire to be someone else for a while, but only in a certain space, which, ultimately, says a lot about this project and people on a sociological dimension. There is something so intimate about revealing your own space, your own habits, that one could argue it can only be done if you cover your identity, so as to not be associated with it. Pichler’s series is an interesting rendition of how people step out of their own skin to create an alter ego/personae.

What then, is the motivation behind stepping out of one’s own skin? Pichler says that over the course of the shooting, he was able to see a pattern emerge; for a lot of people, dressing up is a way for them to cope with society’s pressures. Some had a boring or stressful job, or had issues in their everyday life. Either way, the act of dressing up allowed these people to inhabit a different world for while and feel more empowered. Pichler believes that costumes give people the excuse for a “temporary withdrawal from civil life.”

http://www.kpic.at

 

Sebastian Bieniek

The Berlin-based artist and photographer (and film director!), Sebastian Bieniek has recently released a ‘work in progress’ photo series titled ‘Doublefaced’, depicting the intimate day-to-day actions of a two-faced girl. The photographs show a normal girl – you see her in a bath, smoking a cigarette, in a car park… And then you realise that she has two faces; one half of her features drawn on with thick black lines. It is subtly frightening and slightly eerie, almost Picasso-esque (I like to imagine that this is what a modern real life Picasso would be).

A lot of people have criticised the photo series, saying it is a poorly executed project. I, on the other hand, believe that the power of these images rely on the fact that it is ‘self-applied’ makeup as opposed to ‘beauty makeup’, and the smudgeness of the lines only reflect the limits of our imagination. When does a face cease to be a face? What is the connection between our confusion and our imagination? Can a fragment of reality be just as valid as a reality in itself? From my point of view, these are questions that the series try to raise through the use of double dualities and merging realites. When does the ‘I’/’eye’ cease to exist by itself’?

Bieniek himself has said that he doesn’t know where the project is heading, or what is really consists of. It started when his son was really ill and sad, whereupon he drew a happy smile on the side of his face. From there, it has evolved into a project gaining  more than 73,000 followers around the world, with Bieniek uploading regular photographs on his Tumblr and Facebook page.

 

 

 

You can follow Sebastian Bieniek on his Tumblr or on his Facebook

 

 

 

Rosemary Kirton

An artist and writer well known for her work which explores culture and trends in our following of celebrity and online communities, Rosemary Kirton writes in an effortless and critical manner via her blog Grossmary!

Titles of Rosemary’s texts include such gems as ‘Follow for More: Screenshots of Soft Culture.’ and ‘BRAND STINKIN NU’ creating her own musings on pop culture such as the character of the ‘Uncanny Valley Girl‘ a combination of the theory of the Uncanny Valley and the stereotype of the Valley Girl to create a figure who she defines as ‘girls who have developed their image/identity/personal brand to extremes of perfection at the cost of much anything else’ describing the point at which people manage to make themselves so unreally wonderful that they become vapid and distant.

Pictured are stills from Rosemary’s film ‘Follow for more soft Grunge’ which is captioned ‘Formal files and styles of performance being softened and corrupted.’ as if to talk about a sense of performativity that pervades every part of our life on an almost molecular level, as if soft grunge and other similar viral-feeling online trends compute some kind of physical take over.

Be sure to keep up with Rosemary’s work online.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ayesha Tan-Jones

Ayesha Tan-Jones is a student at Central Saint Martins and an installation and video artist who makes music as Brownie Promise. I have only ever been a spectator online but to me, her work (and whole online presence) acts like an invitation into her distinct own brand of the psychedelic, it is a wonderland and functions like a treasure trove. Ayesha seems to drift effortlessly through mediums in her music, gently reflecting the tenor of her cystaline and pretty bodily installation. The video work feels like it threads everything together into a totally multi-sensory experience which becomes almost other worldly!

Of course the best person to collaborate with is another version of yourself!

Ayesha uses her alter-ego Una X Jynx like another voice through which to make work, we see them video chatting and interacting online where they plan to make collaborative hypnosis videos and collaborations like software upd8 // version 2.∞ // STEP 1. For me their work function feels like two girls coming together over the web to voyage through it as a mystical entity, as if together they can begin to understand it.

 

Ayesha can be found onilne via her visual journal and website and specific art blog and Una at her very own website here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adam Black

Adam Black is a happy-go-lucky 18-year-old, just starting art school but already reaching notoriety for his enlivening bold and poppy work which as featured on t-shirts he has designed, gig posters and much more! Definitely reminiscent of the Cape Town sunshine he grew up in and now Nottingham based, his work touches upon the clear political and socio-economic undercurrents in both the South African and the UK landscapes.

Think: ‘Whut!?’ ‘Arms’, ‘Life’ to name a few slogan-like texts which lie sprawled, in funky letters across drawings, paintings and increasingly digital and collage work. It is hard not to like. Like, it is hard not to like this scanned piece of ham. Adam works very quickly and points out various family members painted in his recognisable but perhaps unflattering style, seemingly always armed with drawing materials! Paintings are light hearted and slightly satyrical and the film photographs very sincere and documentary-like, collage work perhaps playing lightly between the two.

Check out Adam’s website at www.adamtblack.com, tumblr – letsadamblack.tumblr.com and follow him on Facebook at for new work and updates,

(All images copyright to Adam Black)

Intimates Index

I was sort of surprised to be messaged online by a girl asking me to send her my knickers but i’d seen Charlotte Cullen’s work online and it transpired she was creating an exciting exhibition and  index of artists via their pants. The catalogue would be a direct reference to the conventions of documenting and selling art and a comment on the exchange value of objects and labour involved, the provenance of the artwork (the artist) drastically increasing the selling value of otherwise indistinguishable objects. A Banksy becomes almost unrecognizable from a reproduction yet the value skyrockets when it holds his name creating a similarly ‘capitalist commodity’. Charlotte looks at other artifacts that the ‘artist’ produces and questions their value like an artwork and fluctuating status from bi-product to commodity.

The net sets this economy on an accessible stage and Charlotte asks how our virtual culture relates physical and online interactions and how this ‘material construct’ functions as a ‘material becoming’.

As Gal wrote in the press release ‘A pair of used panties in need of a wash is in its material sense useless. With the same perspective you could argue that when the painting is dry, the plaster is rock hard or the film exposed, it is no longer usable and should therefore have the purchase value less than its raw materials put together.’

I saw the show come into its own physical being at Arvida Bystrom and Hanna Antonsson’s aptly named and pink-floored gallery- ‘Gal’ in East London. I hung around (on top of a ladder) to help set up the show which opened in the evening…in pink light, vacuum-packed underwear hanging delicately from the ceiling, anchored down by rocks from outside. A large print by Hannah Regel was included along with small, intimate photographs by Arvida herself (pictures), and others like Vanessa Omoregie as well as two film pieces by Maija Elizabeth Ekey.
See more of the Intimates Index and check out Charlotte Cullen’s practice online here.
Photographs copyright to Arvida Bystrom of Gal.

Caitlin Hazell

Caitlin Hazell is a wonderful illustrator who regularly contributes work to the well known teen magazine, Rookie. This perhaps sets the tone for her illustrations which employ pop culture and personal narratives to create a sensitive voyage through teenage life.

Caitlin’s own journey is documented though her blog which runs much like one of her moleskins, filled to the brim with scrawling snippets and scenes. As her Rookie biography states, she ‘enjoys looking out for the small things in life people usually miss’ and I think this goes a long way to describe her work which acts like a very sincere spectatorship on the big bad world.

dumb stuff is the name of Caitlin’s bigcartel site where she sells sticker sets and her past 6 Zines which appear like diaries or journals – completely covered in text and felt-tip. One of my favourite illustrations of Caitlin’s reads ‘Don’t worry Mr Sheep – i’ll come back later and get you out (child talking to Damien Hirst’s ‘Away from the flock’)’ and for me her work goes some way to create a breathing space or at least something lighthearted and fun. It is really easy to fall in love with!

You can see Caitlin’s work online at Rookie, as part of Bunny Collective and here.

She is fiercely productive so definitely one to follow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

HANNAH FOLEY: WRITER AND ILLUSTRATOR

I am completely aware of the fact that, as a mature second-year student, I should probably not be writing about children-book illustrator Hannah Foley. But whether it is because of my regressive attitudes – which involve brunching every Sunday watching the Totally Spies or spending an entire afternoon blowing up balloons for my birthday – or because of her incontestable ability to make everything really, really cute, I was altogether captivated by her work. And by everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Even Solly the Spider made my heart melt a little bit. I mean, the poor thing wants to find a spot to build his web, but it never seems to go as well as he hoped!

Hannah Foley is originally from Devon but she now lives with her husband and her daughter in a sheep farm on the Scottish borders. She focuses mostly on writing and illustrating children’s books, both fictional and educational, but she has also participated in the 2013 Degree Show for the Edinburgh College of Art and is currently designing a children’s website and online magazine called Firefly. The influence of the natural world surrounding her is very strong in her work and she is also inspired by her own everyday life, especially by her daughter, nicknamed Little Owl, who is omnipresent in her projects. For example, she came up with the idea for Baby’s First Book of Trees after watching her little girl in her crib under the shade of a tree, and wondering how the sky must have looked like from her perspective.

Browsing her blog , this proximity between her work and her life is evident as she describes everyday “owling about” with Little Owl and Big Dreamer, her husband. Every post is accompanied by an illustration that never fails to remind me of an old school Disney movie. An orangutan on a roof, a baby bear struggling to cool his porridge down, penguins coming out of a fridge; Foley gives life a whole new world of adorable stories and charming creatures  to catch the imagination of children and boost their creativity. Definitely worked for me too.

Anya Rasaiah

Introducing Anya Rasaiah. Rasaiah is a Marketing and Advertising student at Lancaster University and currently on her year in industry with Samsung Electronics. She manages to find time to create and exhibit unique multimedia works. Not only mixed in media but her pieces manage to combine reality with conceptuality. I caught up with her to discuss early inspirations, lucky breaks and the luxury of time.

When was your first experience of Art? What draws you back to the canvas?

I properly fell in love with street art and graffiti when I was 10. I remember being hooked after reading Philip Ridley’s ‘Scribbleboy’ then, and after some really unique experiences at a young age, art quickly became a huge part of my life. It’s really street art in particular that feeds this love, and despite my current mediums and use of canvas, there’s a lot of reference to tagging and handstyles in my work. I used to be that total nerd, making stencils, stickers and squeezers all the time. In terms of what draws me back to the canvas, its for love and opportunities. Art gave me my first lucky break at Saatchi & Saatchi aged 15 thanks to two Shepard Fairey (Obey) recreations, and so much has unfolded as a result of that. Art literally forces opportunities and doubles up as therapy/an outlet, and since discovering that it’s been a bit of a love affair ever since.

How do you approach your pieces, in particular the layering? Is is planned or do you wait for the inspiration to come in stages?

Right now I have the luxury of time when painting, (often a different story for graphics). The output is always introspective, and so creating a plot for the piece takes time to articulate, let alone execute. But yes, the inspiration definitely comes in stages. My unusual process tends to take some time; I build the layers of mixed media and literally hope to see something within them, a shape or sign, which relates to how I’m feeling and thought process. I then turn said shapes into something, and integrate it into the plot if it’s relevant enough. So mine’s definitely an unconventional method, and incredibly frustrating at times, but every one of my pieces is constructed in this way, and it fits together every time.

Are you experiencing a change in direction? The works on your website are predominately feature faces however your recent Facebook updates show something different. Tell us about the Stepper project.

You’re right, there has been a subtle change in direction. Thanks to the aforementioned luxury of time, my work now has even more layers and themes, often capturing a journey over time. The decision to feature faces depends on the theme, but the piece I’m working on currently is set to. Unnamed at the moment, the piece will depict a muse, someone that consumes thoughts, invades and fuels the mind.. But ‘Stepper’ means an update on a work in progress, a phrase I nabbed from artist Ian Francis. But my work now is less of a project and each canvas is designed to stand alone. One canvas has to say it all, however cryptic the emotion is within that.

Are you working on anything at the moment? And what’s next?

So whilst working full time this year for Samsung and juggling life, I have a piece on the go at the moment (Stepper updates on Facebook), and I’m working on a project for D&AD New Blood. But next steps will hopefully involve some social enterprise work in branding for small businesses and charities over summer. And then it’s back to uni for my final year, with the ambition to go onto to work for an ad agency very soon!

Rasaiah’s works have been exhibited at The Sultran Gallery in Lancaster. Follow Rasaiah’s updates by liking her Facebook page.

Ruta Skemaite

Some of Ruta Skemaite’s masterful photographs evoke a feeling of dreamlike stillness, and their simplicity may serve to camouflage the level of technical skill that goes into such images. However, if you look closely at one of Skemaite’s still life photos, you will begin to notice her clear eye for what to include, what to keep in focus and what to allow to recede into the background. This skillful editing of normal objects and everyday scenes is what makes her work so compelling and enjoyable to look at. For example, I was blown away by the crispness of the apple alongside the cloudy haziness of the sheet in this photo from her series, Virtuves Mitu Griovejai 2.

Skemaite graduated with a BA in film and photography from Edinburgh Napier University in 2013, but is originally from Lithuania. Now she divides her time between the UK and her native country, drawing inspiration both from the places she travels to, as well as returning home. She describes her work as both documentary and conceptual. Her series, The Island, for example, not only captures the color and textures of the seaside features, but also creates a series of compelling images that seem to ask the viewer to attempt to decipher a narrative of some sort. In many cases, her documentary technique does not only inform, but it raises greater questions and curiosity about the locations she photographs.

Ruta’s work has won several photography awards and has been featured in exhibitions in both the UK and in Lithuania. While the work that I found most compelling was her still life photography and self-portraits, she also has several impressive series of documentary photography and portraits of others in her online photo-blog. Whether candid or posed, the shots are undeniably striking. Her work can capture the essence of a person or place through details and atmosphere that have to be seen to be believed, so check it out here!

Vittorio Ciccarelli

Vittorio Ciccarelli is an Italian artist, born in Naples in 1980, who currently lives and works in Aversa. His projects range from unusual to spectacular, always involving multiple layers. Ciccarelli enjoys playing with everyday objects such as paper, books, bubble wrap and pill wraps, decontextualizing them and offering them a new vision.

His first project ‘Bookmark’ is intended to be slightly ironic, combining two different eras: old and new. In that sense bubble wrap is juxtaposed over a picture of an old Renaissance painting. There is a playful twist on the hidden identity of the woman in the tableau, almost as if she were to attend a bal masqué, with a modern pill package over her eyes instead of the traditional feathered mask. The underlying theme of identity is explored throughout the series as she keeps hiding herself under a butter knife, bubble wrap or even a patterned window that only allow for colours and shapes to emerge out of a blurry vision.

Ciccarelli’s second project, ‘Amabili Resti’, is slightly more deep, visualizing the ‘sense of beautiful things, lost or forgotten, and later found’. Only fragments of portraits are shown, such as a torn picture or a square which represents an eye. Again, themes of lost identity and beauty resurface through Ciccarelli’s projects, reflecting on what needs to be seen  and what needs to remain hidden from the public eye; an accurate portrayal of beauty back in the time.

Vittorio Ciccarelli

99 animals by Cai Guo-Qiang

One of the most anticipated exhibitions of late is Cai Guo-Qiang’s ‘Falling back to Earth’, presented at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane, Australia.  Cai Guo-Qiang is a global artist whose dramatic installations have made him one of the most innovative figures in contemporary art, as evidently shown by the central piece of the exhibition, ‘Heritage 2013’.

‘Heritage 2013’ features 99 replicas of animals from around the world, all gathered together to drink from a limpid lake, surrounded by a beach of white sand. The installation draws on themes such as nature and its sometimes contrasting surrounding, especially when put in the modern world.  This wild mirage-like installation came to Cai Guo-Qiang after his visit to Brown Lake (Bummeria) on North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah), where the calm and tranquil environment seemed far from the conflicts of the outside world. Further expanding his ideal of Queensland as a ‘last paradise’, Cai has created a gigantic tableau of animal replicas, standing side by side amidst their differences. However, the work has a second layer of power in its almost utopian beauty: the lyrical vision is that of superficiality and simple, minimalistic modern construction. The installation room is vast and there is almost a tension between the frozen moment of the animals peacefully in the act of drinking  and the incessant, frequent drip of water continually disrupting the lake’s surface and the silence of the room. Almost a vision of Eden, the audience is frozen in time when immersed with these spectacular and beautiful still animals, thus creating a deeply meditative atmosphere.

Over the past 25 years, Cai Guo-Qiang has held exhibitions at some of the world’s most prestigious art institutions, including the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum. He curated the first China Pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005 and has also shown projects and exhibitions in Qater, Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Rio de Janeiro and Venice, but ‘Falling back to Earth’ will be the artist’s first solo exhibition in Australia.

http://www.caiguoqiang.com/