The rainy winter season is fast approaching here in New Zealand. Perhaps this explains my current preoccupation with colour. I want to hold on to the brilliant, crisp hues of summer just a tad longer, before we sink into dreary-grey days and darkness at 5pm. Hence my fixation with Matthew Brandt’s Lakes and Reservoirs photographs—a series of 29 large scale c-prints taken at different North American lakes. The landscapes vary significantly in appearance: fragmented, warped and washed out, speckled with galaxies of light, the colours range from vivid psychedelic hues to Turner-esque dark, moody tones.
The reason for their corroded appearance lies in Matthew Brandt’s process. The yearning for forgotten craft techniques and slow modes of making has manifested itself in all corners of the creative sphere, including photography. After developing and printing the image, Brandt has soaked each one in a solution of water collected from the lake photographed. The poetic gesture has transpired in a selection of mystical, painterly imagery. Brandt involves the aid of nature at several stages of the photographic process, not only using sunlight but also embedding a material part of the subject in the final print. This approach elevates the photograph’s status to that of an individual object, rather than the ephemeral pixels we are accustomed to seeing in the digital space. Lakes and Reservoirs are huge in size and need to experienced in real life to be properly engulfed by their brilliance.
Matthew Brandt is currently exhibiting three different series of work at Yossi Milo Gallery in New York, collectively titled Excavations. These works are strikingly different in appearance, but all share the same kind of direct material relationship with their subject matter. Experimenting with several printing processes, such as heliography and lithography, Brandt has incorporated materials such as dust and tar. He has played with more controversial additions in the past, including cocaine in Night Skies and bodily fluids in Portraits. Have a good look through his intriguing body of work here.
I feel like there are a few exciting ‘firsts’ at this years Salone del Mobile. We featured Tom Dixon’s debut show at Salone on Saturday, and today, it’s Sarah Lucas’ first foray into furniture.
Sarah Lucas is a British artist who’s famous for her suggestive sculptures, photography and collage work. Often using found objects and mass produced materials, Lucas’ works are curious things when you’re in front of them. They’re confronting, concerning and well, just a bit bloody unnerving. There’s a blatant approach in Lucas’ practice that although tells it how it is, doesn’t leave the viewer with nothing to discover by themselves.
Sarah Lucas Furniture at Sadie Coles HQ presents a selection of bench seats, room dividers, chairs and side tables designed by Lucas in collaboration with the London Art Workshop. Using pre-cast concrete breeze blocks and MDF, Lucas has a created a collection that is just as blatant and confronting as her artwork. These materials, do in fact, stem from the artwork she produces as they are the materials that Lucas uses to creates her display plinths from. Here, the displayer of work has become the work. Solid, bold and heavy, the undervalued supporter has finally taken it’s rightful place ahead of the artwork itself.
The collection, which is all signed and dated, is interestingly referential to movements both in the art and furniture worlds with both contemporary and post modern artists and designers being referenced. The gridded, brutalist range reminds you of Donald Judd or of Karl Andre, or of the many architects who incorporated pre-molded concrete into their work. Is it a collection to snuggle up on and watch a movie? Probably not. But is it a collection that makes us stand back and think? Well, it probably is, and surely that’s not a bad thing. ‘Thinking’ aside however, what I do like about the collection is it’s unexpected aesthetic appeal, something Lucas herself commented on as being “surprisingly stylish“. I reckon I could easily live with one of these pieces in the right setting. Getting it there, or up the stairs?! Hmmm, well that part might be a bit tricky.
Salone del Mobile, it’s nearly done and dusted! But we’ve got one more highlight tomorrow.
Time is obviously of no concern to photographer Lucas Foglia. Frontcountry, a remarkable monograph detailing the lives of those from some of America’s most isolated regions, was undertaken over a period of ten years. This intense immersion and investigation into his subjects, which includes building real relationships with the communities he’s photographing, is surely one of the reasons why his images capture a depth and an honesty that documentary photography can sometimes miss. That and a killer eye for recording a moment means that this body of work can be described as nothing but exceptional.
Frontcountry refers to the first row of houses that you arrive at after travelling through the abandoned countryside. Foglia, who grew up on a small farm in the state of New York, chose to shoot throughout Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming, some of the least populated regions in the United States. His series records the people living in the midst of a mining boom that is transforming the American West. Like Kevin O’Connell who I wrote on a few weeks back, Foglia adopts a uncritical eye and shows us the brutality and the humanity that is found in this tough terrain. Life is hard here, but personalities and communities are strong. It’s the success of recording this combination that makes the whole series so captivating, I could’ve put up another ten images that are equally as engaging as these. One of my favorites, ‘Tommy Trying to Shoot Coyotes, Big Springs Ranch, Oasis, Nevada’, show’s a toppling Tommy with a fully loaded gun just before his fall. The timing is perfect, the pose is incredible and the composition couldn’t be better. The same attributes are found in ‘Soccer Practice’ below Tommy. It’s the same perfect moment but captured against brilliant colour and a stark white background. It’s exceptional.
Frontcountry has just been published as a book by Nazraeli Press and is available here. I imagine the complete monograph will be in the full edition, but in the meantime if you want to see a few more, and I really do suggest that you do, then head to Foglia’s site where you can slowly make your way through this remarkable series.
Interesting to see how the virtual world of Grand Theft Auto V inspires artists to some great projects.
The city Los Santos and surrounding wider Blaine Country — the virtual ‘open world’ where the game takes place is inspired by LA and surrounding countryside. It shows a culture in decline with self-help gurus, fading celebrities, cheap reality TV and economic uncertainty. Is this a nicely stylized version of reality or maybe a peek in the near future?
We have already shown a really cool example of a photographer exploring this world, but Canadian artist Benoit Paille takes this concept to the next level.
He uses ‘reality’ and analogue technology to create photographs that blur the line between the physical reality and the game environment. He doesn’t make screenshots, he uses a DSLR to capture the locations displayed on screen. Then he blends in real models hands as they take a photo.
We like how this project explores the basic concept of photography and reality — stating that photography is never about reality, it is a fraction of our own perception.
The real life shots of hands taking the photos are meticulously detailed so they blend in perfectly with the virtual landscape.
During the process he also reflects on the question of legitimacy and the authorship of artwork, and the utopistic concern how the photographic medium will disappear as we know it.
Interesting exploration, well executed. Love the mind-bending aspect of it and the questions he is asking. Worth to have a look at the video and his Tumblr page where he documents the process.
It’s more exciting times at Media Design School, the award winning design institution in Auckland, New Zealand. Being top of the game in 3D means it has direct access to the best of the best in digital design. If it’s about movies, television or gaming, chances are Media Design School have their paws all over it, this includes inviting industry superstars in for guest lectures and studio visits. An advantage of being near to the famous Weta and Middle Earth I guess.
So as it recently happened, legend Weta concept artist Laura Dubuk visited the classrooms, taught a masterclass and left the students inspired with some awesome work and valuable advice. Laura is one of those top notch concept artists we’re all a tiny bit jealous of. Not only has she worked on some of the world’s biggest games at Valve, she now she works on super-secret blockbuster projects at Weta Digital in Wellington. With a background in traditional art, painting and some pretty amazing abstract sculptural pieces, this talented artist has managed to cover all the art bases incredibly well. Wanna see what she has to say? Well then click to read what she shared with young concept artists, students and aspiring digital designers at Media Design School over on their blog!