Pejac (previously) recently spent some time inside one of the oldest continuously running prisons in Spain. The prison, El Dueso, is a hulking structure built on the ruins of Napoleon’s fortress. True to his efforts to create and place his work in unusual settings and initiate conversations about unpopular subjects, the Gold Mine project resulted in three interventions that the artist realized in collaboration with inmates. “A prison itself is a place wrapped in harsh reality,” Pejac explained. The artist continues, “At the same time, I feel that it has a great surrealist charge. It is as if you only need to scratch a little on its walls to discover the poetry hidden inside.”
Making a connection between the sterile isolation inside and the lush nature surrounding the facility, the biggest and arguably most striking piece is an immense tree, a metaphor of ultimate, unspoiled freedom. The Shape of Days serves as a monument to the most cherished virtue: perseverance. It is entirely built from countless hash marks that reference an age-old method of keeping track of time away from the real world. Making an analogy between the tree leaves as the symbol of growth and marks as the symbol of extreme restraint, the majestic image captures the passage of time while providing hope.
Placed in a sterile, newly built corridor that connects the cells and outdoor areas, Hollow Walls is a poetic illusion of sliding doors made from the blank concrete walls. Through minimal artistic intervention, the artist added a sense of depth and perspective, creating a distraction for those walking along these walls daily. Once again using one of his most recurring images, a soaring bird, Pejac created an atmosphere of reachable yet fictional freedom.
The final piece, Hidden Value, also uses an element that artist has introduced in his previous work: a peeled off corner of an existing object suggesting an alternative reality. Working with people whose everyday life is stripped of life’s basic pleasures, Pejac wanted to provide some sense of luxury to the basic and highly restricted routine of the inmates. Using real 22-carat gold leaf and a trompe l’oeil technique he’s used before, he created an illusion of the basketball board revealing a large gold plate under its familiar surface. Challenged by taking everyday items and creating an alternative reality around them, the artist explored the previously mentioned idea of scratching under the surface and discovering that “sometimes, it is gold that does not shine.”
Explore more of Pejac’s thought-provoking work, ranging from site-specific installations to gallery pieces, on Instagram.
The historic building of Taylor’s Eye Witness Works in Sheffield, England is currently hosting Mausoleum of the Giants, the newest sculptural installation by Phlegm (previously). The exhibition features a number of large-scale 3D sculptures of the surreal pseudo-mythological characters he’s included in his murals worldwide. Placed inside the spacious interior of a former kitchen and pocket knife factory, these friendly giants welcome visitors to walk between and examine their appearance from every angle.
The largest piece of the show waits for the viewer just beyond the first door. This massive creature lies on the ground in an almost fetus-like position, with large arms and hands clenched as he stares through the space with wide open eyes. Visitors must walk around the monumental body to discover the rest of the exhibition and peek at what other giants rest beyond the first room.
The works are created on skeletons made of wood and wire, with papier-mâché finishing. Phlegm then paints on them in an illustrative style based on intricate patterns and using a shading effect. This technique makes them seem flat when photographed against the architectural elements of the building, yet in person, they seem bigger, heavier, and bolder. By producing the creates at a scale that barely fits inside the space, they imitate how the artist regularly uses every inch of a wall to paint his captivating murals.
Mausoleum of the Giants will be open to the public through April 6, 2019. Phlegm plans to continue his experimentations with scale by putting together a show with miniature etchings he’s been working on in the last couple of years, in addition to releasing a book of etchings. You can follow his worldwide murals and sculptures on Instagram.
Art center Centro del Carmen in Valencia, Spain is currently hosting Evreka, a large solo exhibition by local artist duo Pichi & Avo (previously). Through this landmark showcase, the artists present their renowned Urbanmythology style that blends the dynamics, immediacy, and uncompromising attitude of graffiti along with the traditional quality and timeless appearance of ancient Greek and Roman cultures. Dominated by a massive sliced and tagged Greek pillar, the immersive installation features ten new paintings, nine sculptures, and an outdoor monument to the local graffiti scene.
Along with the explosion of colors and graffiti elements on top of traditional Greek iconography, one of the main parts of the show is the “Reflectory room” in which the works are experienced through a mirror. The artists wanted to recreate the accidental and often concealed discovery of graffiti or street art in real life. Eight out of ten paintings exhibited in the show are presented through this concept. Sculptural pieces are scattered around them, with their biggest studio piece, a 40-foot-long column inspired by the temple of Zeus in Athens, laying through the length of the room.
All of the works in the show, except for the column, have been created especially for the show and are related to the Falles monument that they are currently finishing. Fallas de València is a traditional celebration held every year in commemoration of Saint Joseph, and it includes the year-long building and eventual burning of large-scale public statues. The peak of the event takes place around midnight on March 19, when around 400 Falles are burnt as huge bonfires through the city of Valencia.
Following the success of their friend Okuda San Miguel, who was invited by the Falles Festival in 2018 to build the Falla Mayor (previously), the art duo started working on their own statue right after the burning of last year’s works. Pichi & Avo partnered with the local Falles artisan firm Latorre y Sanz to execute the incredibly large-scale piece. Unlike previous years when artisans used mostly foam as a building material, this year’s sculptures are made from wood and cardboard, making the work more flammable and less pollutant.
Pichi & Avo’s Falles statue is set to be finished on March 15, 2019, along with the others included in the Falles Festival, and will be burned in a big celebration on March 19, 2019. Evreka will be on view at the Centro del Carmen in Valencia until May 5, 2019 and a show dedicated to Pichi & Avo’s limited editions will be on view at Plastic Murs gallery between March 7 and April 19, 2019. You can see more of the artists’s previous works on their website and Instagram.
Connecting Time is an exhibition that spans a decade of work by Daniel Arsham (previously), and was organized in collaboration with Galerie Ron Mandos and Perrotin for MOCO Museum in Amsterdam. In addition to the debut of Calcified Room and a specially designed iteration of Amethyst Ball Cavern, is one of the iconic pieces Hidden Figure (2011) from the Elastic Walls series. The piece is constructed from fiberglass, paint, and joint compound, and is a classic example of the artist’s ongoing play with the perception of physical space in addition to his experimentation with material properties.
Arsham continually challenges the notion of what 3-dimensional art should be by creating the illusion of familiar materials or architectural elements performing in unusual ways. Pieces like Corner Knot (2008) and Falling Clock (2012) are prime examples of this way of working, and are positioned opposite of each other in the artist’s 10-year showcase.
Arsham’s entire series of sculptural pieces from his fictional archaeology series dominates the basement of the museum. This body of work was directly inspired by the artist’s visit to Easter Island several years ago, and the uncertainty about the real history of the island’s monumental sculptures. Inspired by the idea of creating future artifacts, Arsham developed a whole range of different procedures and techniques to create eroded and decayed versions of po culture items. Using geological substances such as volcanic ash, rose quartz, obsidian, and glacial rock, he continuously adds new items to this opus, each time constructing the latest artifact with different material.
Although he has previously taken objects from areas that he is personally attached to, such as sports, music, or pop culture, the show in Amsterdam includes a new series of works created from flat, printed works such as books, magazines, and food packaging. You can follow Arsham’s latest work, projects, and releases on Instagram, and visit Connecting Time until September 30th, 2019 at MOCO Museum in Amsterdam. Another solo exhibition, Static Mythologies, is also on view in Amsterdam at Galerie Ron Mandos through March 16, 2019.
Iranian muralist and fine artist Mehdi Ghadyanloo is the creator of the poetic mural recently installed in the lobby of the Congress Centre in Davos, Switzerland, where the 2019 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting is currently taking place. After participating in the forum last year as one of the speakers, Ghadyanloo contributed a large-scale commissioned painting titled Finding Hope, designed specifically for this event.
The work is comprised of three separate panels installed in the main entry hall of the Congress Centre, and depicts a young girl with a floating red balloon. Although Ghadyanloo was initially challenged by the unusual structure of the inward facing walls, he decided to create a triptych whose parts correlate with each other in both a hopeful and tense narrative. The balloon suggests innocence when paired with the little girl, while noting possible destruction when placed opposite of a sharp needle.
“The audience here has more power to create real change than the rest of the world,” Ghadyanloo tells Colossal, “so this is a good place to touch their hearts and ask them to do something. Not in a direct way as they are used to be asked, but in a kind of a visual, poetic way I would say.”
Last year, joined by a small team of muralists from his hometown, the artist completed Rebuilding the Sky in Almetyevsk, Russia, in similar style to his perspective-challenging and illusion-based works in Tehran. Ghadyanloo wanted to add joyfulness and color to the concrete look of the city. Around the same time, he also painted a piece titled The Fraud and Hope on the rooftop of the OK Center for Contemporary Art in Linz, Austria, which depicts a huge water swirl and a gaping black hole. The piece was created as commentary on the issue of the global warming, melting ice, and the role of water, but also references migration crises and the artist’s personal phobias.
Although Ghadyanloo is known worldwide for the 100 large murals he painted in Tehran between 2004 and 2011, the Iranian artist has taken a little break from public works in the recent years. “I was doing more personal things in my studio and enjoyed to be away from this responsibility that I feel on my shoulder when I work in public,” he explains. “I think now is the time for action, to do more public art projects besides my gallery paintings.” You can view more of Ghadyanloo’s reality-bending murals and paintings on his website and Instagram.
Last year may not have been the most prolific for Italian street art legend Blu (previously), who besides releasing Minima Muralia, a 288-page collection of 15 years of murals, completed only two officially announced murals. His latest piece titled Capita, was recently shared on the elusive artist’s only official communication channel Blublu.org. The mural was painted in Rome’s Rebibbia neighborhood, and was realized in collaboration with Comitato Mammut, a self-managed civic organization. Painted using artist’s intricate illustrative style, the image depicts an imaginary amusement park water slide attraction as a sharp critique of the social injustices of capitalism.
The slide offers participants several colorful entry points on top with all but one ending in the same swamp-like cesspool of trash. The only slide that keeps its original color and shape, gold, is the one used by politicians, businesspersons, and religious representatives. Ending with a crystal clear pool with and cocktail table set on a lush green field, it’s a direct commentary on subdued class division present in modern societies throughout the Western world. The piece further comments on the dramatic shift in the political climate of his Italian homeland, especially in terms of immigration and the ongoing refugee crisis. Painted on an 8-story building, the work’s oceanic backdrop depicts small boats filled with people on one side with luxurious yachts floating on the other.
Earlier this year, Blu spent several days in Valencia, Spain, taking part in Sensemurs project, the first meeting of muralists whose goal is to raise awareness of the repeated abuses by the local port authority toward people living in the La Huerta (Orchard) area. For this mural he depicted port authority personnel as Egyptian pharaohs using the local community as a source of free slave labor. A few months later he began work on another large piece in Rome, painting revisited versions of the Greek Venus de Milo next to a similarly redone David by Michelangelo, as a commentary on the modern values of consumerist society. The piece is yet to be finished.
Blu remains completely focused on working with non-government organizations and groups, creating works as a gift and source of empowerment for local communities, all while trying to retain is anonymity. Exposing everyone from corrupt politicians to violent police or greedy real-estate moguls, the artist is continuously producing work that supports common people and their fight against an increasingly imbalanced economic and political system. (via Juxtapoz)
Tamara Djurovic, who goes by the artist name Hyuro (previously), is wrapping up 2018 as arguably her most prolific year. With striking, diverse, and monumental murals painted everywhere from Brazil, Italy, and Spain to Belgium and The Netherlands, her output never looked more impressive and her aesthetics more distinctive.
Growing up in Argentina, Hyuro was attracted to murals at a young age. Buenos Aires has a long tradition of culture surrounding public space, and murals have always been an essential element. “[I’m] not sure in which moment I started to love it, or if it was always there,” she tells Colossal, “I think I could have never imagined the strong impact that working on public spaces had on me.”
What started with flat, often black and white imagery of simplified feminine figures evolved into intricate, highly painterly images that cleverly play with their surroundings and architecture. Without a particular theme to work within, Hyuro’s work is regularly focused on commenting and portraying the more complex side of human beings. She explores how our inner lives affect the relationships with have with ourselves, and how they are reflected in society.
The personal aspect of her work starts with her observations and concerns, continues through reference photos she creates for each piece, and then transfers onto passersby who observe the murals and create different interpretations of them. “I’m not interested in these subjects only from a representation perspective, but as well as a way to keep understanding and knowing myself and somehow try to understand, or digest better the world where we live in,” she explains.
Spending long stretches alone on a cherry picker or scaffold, it’s the challenge of completing the work that is the most important drive for her, along with the satisfying tiredness that comes after the completion of the work. “This last year I hardly spent time in the studio,” Hyuro shares about her 2018 schedule, which was wrapped up with the piece she recently finished in Brazil. Feeling torn about being constantly “on the road” and knowing that some time off is healthy and much needed, she continues her work as it’s a way for her to deal with her most inner feelings. By painting larger than life images depicting everyday moments and nuanced emotions, Djurovic expresses the human experience in a way that both honors and explores the complexities of humanity.
The French creative company La Machine recently premiered their latest creation, a nearly 50-foot-tall robotic Minotaur, in Toulouse, France. The beast marched through the labyrinthine streets of the city’s old town accompanied by a 42-foot spider for the group’s latest production The Guardian of the Temple. The pair of machines performed an operatic interpretation of the myth of Ariadne, a Cretan princess who helped Theseus overcome the Minotaur, to live music. These impressive kinetic sculptures are La Machine’s latest project from their oeuvre of mechanical bestiary which has operating worldwide since 1999.
Bringing together artists, technicians, and show decorators, this unique group of enthusiasts and experts construct atypical show objects, and movement is the key factor for their awe-inspiring performances and creations. La Machine’s animal-like works turn the cities into dream worlds. “We always work on movement,” La Machine’s head of marketing, Frédette Lampre tells Colossal. “It’s our artistic line and we always use the fine material such as wood, leather, copper, or glass, and never use plastics.”
The mechanical spider was constructed over the course of two years by a team of around 60 people. The mythical Minotaur machine is half electric and half combustion, and moves around the city with the help of 17 operators. Although this technical beast weighs over 10,000 pounds, it still has the capacity to move smoothly and realistically between the city’s large buildings and blast steam out of its large nostrils.
The performance was organized as an introduction of the newly repurposed Toulouse Aerospace district. After presenting their creations and projects throughout Germany, Belgium, Italy, Argentina, Chile, Japan, China, and Canada, their upcoming shows are scheduled for Nantes and Calais in France. You can see a portion of the Toulouse-based performance in the video below and view past productions on La Machine’s website, Instagram, and Youtube. (via Dioniso Punk)
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