Sketches and texts from the conceptual artist’s earliest notebooks offer a rare look inside his art-making process.
A stunning work of both social commentary and technical dexterity, “Migrants” explores the heartbreaking aftermath of a climate disaster. The animation—which is an impressive collaboration between fifth-year animations students Zoé Devise, Hugo Caby, Antoine Dupriez, Aubin Kubiak, and Lucas Lermytte, who are currently enrolled at the French Pôle 3D school—centers on a simple story: a mother polar bear and her cub flee their arctic habitat as styrofoam icebergs crumble into the water and their once-frozen home becomes unlivable. As they encounter insensitive brown bears in a lush, green climate, the duo struggles to survive.
What does a full day of sun look like at the earth’s southernmost point? Robert Schwarz, who was stationed in the antarctic for 15 years as part of the experimental Keck project, filmed an illuminating timelapse while at the snowy location that shows the bright star floating above the horizon for an entire five-day period. Shot in March 2017, the footage captures the bright sky just before the first sunset in months, when the pole experiences a dark period from April to August.
Through serene, idyllic landscapes, Tomás Sánchez visualizes his long-harbored fascination with meditation. The practice, the Cuban painter says, is “where I find many of the answers to questions that transcend from the personal to the universal. Meditation is not always a fleeting time. Meditation is not a punctual exercise; it is a constant practice.”
Rather than conceptualize the exercise as a temporary state, Sánchez views mediation as a lens to interpret the world, a recurring theme that has foregrounded much of his work during the last few decades. His acrylic paintings and hazy graphite drawings, which take months if not years to complete, highlight the immensity and awe-inspiring qualities of a forest thick with vegetation or a nearby waterfall and offer perspective through a lone, nondescript figure often found amongst the trees. Distinct and heavily detailed, the realistic landscapes aren’t based on a specific place but rather are imagined spaces available only through a ruminative state.
Chinese artist Li Songsong (previously) obscures portraits and wider landscapes with thick dabs of oil paint. His textured, impasto works are based on found photographs or imagined scenes, and each conveys a narrative tied to ordinary moments or a broader shared history. Varying the extent of distortion in every piece, Songsong tells Colossal that interrogating personal identity is at the center of his practice. The “cultural and historical aspects are related to China, and the language and expressions are my own,” he explains.
Songsong’s recent works include a tender scene with an officer and his dog, a portrait of a hopeful pilot, and a panoramic shot featuring a crowd with hundreds of anonymous faces. The richly layered pieces speak to the haziness and fragmentary nature of memories and stories, especially those interpreted from a distance, and come into focus when viewed farther back with a squint.
Based in Beijing, Songsong is currently working on a new series of works, which you can follow on his site.
Marija Tiurina is known for her chaotic, fictionalized worlds that offer a brief escape from reality, so it’s fitting that London-based artist (previously) turned one of her larger watercolor renderings into a daunting 1,500-piece puzzle. Brimming with surreal splendor, the vibrant illustration envisions a holiday resort for families and their imaginary friends. Adults, kids, and a seemingly endless array of fantastical characters pack into the vacation venue to relax poolside, play video games, fish, and ice skate around a rink.
In “Artificial Organisms,” Russian director Maxim Zhestkov (previously) enlivens machine intelligence to create palpitating marine organisms that radiate with vibrant bands of light. The hulking, life-like specimens, which are comprised of countless individual spheres, are presented floating in undulating masses or enveloping a stark white structure in groups evocative of a coral reef. Each piece fuses the artificial and organic, producing “a bizarre world of mesmerizing digital creatures,” Zhestkov says. “A combination of biological symmetry and impeccable digital matter, they are a representation of budding artificial intelligence.” To watch more of the director’s projects, head to Vimeo, Instagram, and Behance.
Meet Bandoola, an Asian timber elephant the British Army enlisted in WWII. Purchased as a calf, the lumbering creature was shipped to a teak plantation where he was forced to drag and push logs across the landscape to construct bridges and other structures. Bandoola’s life, while fictionalized by London-based illustrator and author William Grill in his forthcoming children’s book, is based on the true story of Elephant Bill, a soldier who worked with the animals in forestry camps during the war.
In Grill’s illustrated retelling published by Flying Eye Books, Bandoola encounters veteran James Howard Williams, and the two forge an unusual friendship when they’re tasked with leading refugees and 70 elephants from Burma to India. The tale explores themes of animal cruelty and care and conservation, using textured drawings in pastel tones as a soothing complement to the story’s otherwise harsh realities. In a conversation with It’s Nice That, Grill explains that he achieved softer lines by tilting his pencil on its side, and similar to a lithograph, he drew individually colored layers for each scene before putting them together. “My drawing style is somewhat naive and simple. I try to tread a line between observation and impressionism,” he says. “I would say my visual language is observational but has some underlying character and emotion to it. Hopefully, it comes across as warm and not cold.”
Marble lace handkerchief, masterfully carved by the French sculptor Louis-Philippe Mouchy in 1781, for the posthumous statue of the Duke of Montausier, Charles de Sainte-Maure. Now on display at the Louvre museum.
Artist Lee Me Kyeoung (previously) continues her decades-long project of painting the dwindling number of Korean corner stores, rendering quaint shops in Yangsan, Gyeongju, Gunwi, Sangju, and Cheorwon as part of her ongoing A Small Store series. The delicate artworks capture the idiosyncrasies and tiny details of each locale, like a plastic washbasket left out front or signage hanging from the eaves, and the vast collection includes shops in both remote and bustling neighborhoods across South Korea. Encapsulating the unique qualities of the quickly shuttering stores, Me Keyoung’s paintings preserve their cultural legacies in detailed acrylic.
Photographic artist Jim Naughten casts a fantastical, candy-colored lens over luxuriant ecosystems and surreal animal portraits in Eremozoic, a solo exhibition on view at Grove Square Galleries through November 18. Comprised of digitally altered compositions, the series centers on rhinos, manatees, and myriad wild animals in strange, unearthly settings: a tall brown bear stands on its hind legs in a field of bright pink grass, a gorilla rests in similarly vibrant foliage, and orangutans swing through leafy branches in shades of blue.
Ranging from Dan Lam’s drippy, neon blobs (previously) to the minimal, bodily paintings of Laura Berger (previously), an inaugural exhibition at Hashimoto Contemporary highlights a diverse array of pieces from two dozen artists working today. The group show launches the gallery’s new space in Culver City and situates Katie Kimmel’s animated ceramic pups (previously) alongside Augustine Kofie’s geometric abstractions and the graffitied scenes by Jessica Hess. If you’re in Los Angeles, you can see the works in person through October 2—keep an eye on Hashimoto’s site for upcoming exhibitions at the new location—and find some of our favorites below.