Interested in Street Art? How about art in general? Maybe politics is more your thing? Or perhaps you’re just curious about Brazil? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Grey City (Cidade Cinza) is a documentary you should go out of your way to see. Weaving together an entertaining storyline, through the voices of famed artists (Os Gêmeos, Nina, and Nunca, just to name a few), the film uses street art as a platform to portray a variety of interesting topics: art philosophy, political corruptness, and how a behemoth city can be full of peculiar charm.
It’s said that “form follows function, but both report to emotion.” This statement could not be more appropriate in describing the automobile. One auction (turned exhibit), “Art of the Automobile,” presented by RM Auctions, celebrates the masters of vehicular design and the marks they’ve made on its history. Featuring over 30 cars, it’s on show at New York’s Sotheby’s galleries and is the first high-profile automotive auction that the city has seen in over a decade. To me, there’re many reasons why “Art of the Automobile” already stands out as one of the must-see exhibits to check out in NYC this year.
Anothermountainman (Stanley Wong) is a Hong Kong artist, photographer and designer. He is best known for his redwhiteblue series which are installations, 3D pieces, or posters made out of the common red, white and blue plastic bags people in Hong Kong typically use to hold cargo. Coming from a background in advertising and television, Wong has become known as a fine artist over the past ten years and is now recognized as one of Hong Kong’s best.
Wong has all the hallmarks of a successful artist—shows in international galleries, numerous awards and inclusion in museum collections—yet he describes what he does as primarily being about connecting with people. In an interview with Time Out HK he says, “I’m attempting to communicate with the public through the platform of art. I see myself as both a social worker and a missionary; I don’t see myself as an artist.” To further these goals, he is involved in design education, gives guest lectures, and, as a scholar of Buddhism, seeks to share his hope for world harmony. What I think is apparent in his work without any prior knowledge of his motivations is a desire to record compelling aspects of society and to comment on human nature.
One of his projects that strikes me as particularly powerful is Lanwei. The first character of “lanwei” means broken and the second means tail. Together they mean unfinished; something that has fallen short of completion; started and couldn’t be brought to an end. It is a personal photography series that documents abandoned residences, offices, theme parks and other half-built projects across Asia. The properties he chose to photograph were not just incomplete architectural structures but came with stories of sudden disruption. Most of the commercial buildings were begun in the 1980′s when Asia hit an economic boom before companies realized that there wasn’t enough money to finish what they’d started. The amusement park in Beijing that features in a large portion of the series was abandoned when the child who it was built for died.
Lanwei itself almost became a story of lanwei. Wong had the concept in his head for 5 years before starting it in 2006. He then worked on it infrequently for the next 6 years and completed it in 2012 with a show at Blindspot galleries. He has said that the realization of this project came about shortly before the Chinese government started removing unused property. The evidence of incompletion was about to disappear before he could document its presence.
Much of his past work is on his website and is well worth exploring and diving into. Most projects come with a short poetic description written by Wong (originally in Cantonese with English translation). Besides having frequent exhibitions, I like that he also makes time to pursue ideas that interest him outside of his regular work. Wong most recently had an installation called Show Flat 04 at the Singapore Biennale.
I just love these paintings by the Portland-based painter Meghan Howland. Many of her portraits carry a recurring bird motif and this adds a dreamlike and surreal quality to her images. Dark and mysterious, these painting feel fragile; as though we’re glimpsing a single fleeting moment. The birds add bright flashes of color that often contrast with the tenderness of her subjects. It’s difficult to read into the meaning behind this work but it’s hard not to fall for it’s mysterious beauty.
More work from Meaghan can be see on her website here. For those near Boston this month you can also see a selection of her work at the Seventeenth Annual Boston International Fine Art Show (21st-24th).
Graphic artist, print-maker, and designer, Anthony Burrill, is famous for his persuasive form of communication. His most renowned works (plus a couple new ones) have been collected together and, as of last week, published within a book, I Like It. What Is It? Not just any ol’ordinary hardback, this is meant to be read, and then torn apart and hung on your wall. It’s a fun project, but also reminds us to the current state (and possible future) of design publication.
“Burrill is a great designer because he makes you notice and appreciate truths that would otherwise remain dead and inert. His work has such resonance because it’s so true: we should all work hard and be nice.”
—Alain de Botton
Very much like an author, Burrill is an artist who works with language. But, he has found a distinct voice through the presentation of his words. He prints ‘language’ into pieces of art, so one can read his work, but also visually admire it as well. His process of image making is born of tradition, largely employing hand-made methods (screen, press, woodblock, etc.).
It’s a craft he takes seriously, working hard to select the perfect inks and papers to print his projects onto. It’s a dedication that pays off, you can sense the diligence by simply standing in front of or holding one of his works. It’s an aspect of Burrill that I’ve always appreciated, I never fail to fill of tenacity when I gaze into the pieces hung on my wall. Famous for pieces like “Work Hard & Be Nice to People,” Burrill’s style is now a highly recognizable one, so much so that publishing a book featuring his work is a no-brainer.
Consisting of 30 pieces (and sticker sets), the book is a tight little bundle, oozing aesthetic. Each design is printed on 355 x 279 mm stock, giving the book some weight and a sturdy feel. The backside of every design reveals the story behind the work. Flip through looking at cool project after cool project and learn a little something a long the way too. Not bad.
As if that’s not enough already, each piece is removable. Awesome. The book is wrapped in a manner that they’re easily detachable, the intent being you can read this book, but also use it too, affixing the works to wherever your liking.
In this month’s Creative Review, Mark Sinclair writes about the move of graphic design publications from traditional book formats to “products.” Paper-based creations, gifts, and new formats are appearing on shelves where books sit. It’s flushing a lot of money back into publication, as publishers are discovering new and creative ways to bring life back into the market. I welcome it, as products such as Burrill’s new book are well-thought, well-executed, and an evolution. I Like It. What Is It? is a Laurence King publication and designed by A Practice for Everyday Life. Kudos to these folks for pushing the medium.
I’ve always wondered about the statements in Burrill’s work. They’re bold, they’re colorful, and often carry a lightness of touch and humor. But what exactly do they mean and where do they come from? Are these his beliefs? Quotes? Something has always urked me about not knowing the origin (and intent) of many of Burrill’s messages. I can rest easy knowing that my questions will be answered within this book. The tales on the backside of each page are written by Creative Review’s Patrick Burygone; there’s sure to be many creative insights and learnings to take away.
I Like It. What Is It? is available for a mere £19.95. A steal, if you ask me. I’ve ordered two, one for the shelf, one to tear apart and hang all over the damn place. To coincide with the release of the book, an exhibition at London’s KK Outlet will be running November 8th to the 30th. If you’re London based (or planning a trip soon), be sure to swing by and soak up the wonderful work of Anthony Burrill.