Hellbent: A Decade Living with Lace
A transplant to New York from the South, Hellbent began utilizing the decorative motifs of lace fabrics as a means to push the limits of stenciling. Prior to this move, the artist honed his graffiti skills as a punk kid living in the urban abandonment of Atlanta. Drawing on punk’s anti-commercialist ethos, the lacework that has come to dominate his recent series initially acted as a backdrop for a monochrome jawbone that was the artist’s proverbial middle finger to the commodification of skulls in pop culture. Hellbent expounds:
“I had just read this article about Freud being saved by a dwarf as he was being treated for some sort of jaw ailment. And had been thinking about the blatant commercialization of the skull by major corporations in logos and t-shirt designs (Paul Frank really pissed me off with his cute skull). When I was growing up in the skate and punk scene this sort of image was common, but out of the mainstream. So, the jawbone was a way to take back this sort of imagery and put it back into the underground.”
Subversive culture has since become hidden in the seemingly innocuous repeating of patterns. These passions for music and counterculture are most aptly represented in the artist’s last solo exhibition, Even Romantics Love Violence, where the “Mixtape Series” paid homage to these inspirations through a series of lace collages constructed with repurposed masking tape. With his passion for music, the artist is quick to cite references ranging from hip-hop to the fast paced screams of punk rock, including the band F.I.D.L.A.R (Fuck It Dog Life’s A Risk), Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Jane’s Addiction, and Pixies. Channeling the energy of a youth spent sweating in mosh pits and tagging urban spaces with fervor, this vibrancy can also be seen in the neon hues of his color palette.
The energy springs forth from each canvas and mural that the artist touches, bringing to life the past in a contemporary progression. After peeling back the layers of his composition, we can see that what was once a backdrop for Freud’s jaw, those sharp lines in neon hues, have become his central trajectory. After paring down his imagery to flattened patterns, Hellbent’s latest evolution has seen these intersections separated, with shading and dimensionality added between them. The artist explains this transition:
“In the initial stages of working with this I was using color and the way they played off each other to achieve this effect. And these early works achieved this, color combinations next to each other would rise and others fall back on the pictorial plane. This was best achieved when viewed in person. I began using shadows and highlights in public murals and for this current body of work brought them on to canvas and have been really happy with what is happening.”
Now that the layers have been pared down and reformed again within the geometric planes, Hellbent hints that optics will take on a larger role in the next body of work. If his past is any indicator, viewers can expect the precision perfected with multiple lace applications combined with the energy distilled from his youth and infused into each color palette.
This essay is part of an ongoing series that examines the work of New York’s graffuturist movement, which combines the aerosol and typographical background of graffiti with abstraction to form a unified style within the urban art aesthetic.
To commemorate the “Spectrum” exhibition opening at Gallery Brooklyn, which features New York’s abstract graffiti practitioners, ArtSlant Street has conducted a series of interviews and studio visits with the artists represented: Col Wallnuts, EKG, Hellbent, Rubin, and See One. “Spectrum” opens to the public Saturday July 27th from 6pm-9pm and runs through August 17th.
Loving all the art that utilizes embroidery on my dash lately!
No new work to post this weekend since I’ve been working on some custom pieces that I’m not at liberty to share!
I was feeling nostalgic for my States of Undress series, and the fun I had turning them into gifs.
embroidery undressing <3
Artist Hong Yi, aka Red, has been at it again in her usual style of painting without a paint brush. Her many fascinating methods of portrait creation have included projects like this melted wax used to form Adele’s face and the arrangements of sunflower seeds to form a portrait of Ai Weiwei. This time, Red’s depiction of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi simply features freshly cut flowers colored with red food dye.
After watching a movie that featured Aung San Suu Kyi’s struggles and fight for a democratic Burma, Red was inspired to capture the essence of such a strong woman who sacrificed so much in her life. Using fresh carnations and red food dye, the artist experimented with variations of shades of color as the food dye absorbed up into the petals of the flowers. She found that short stems resulted in the faster appearance of color and that although color would begin to appear after about a half hour, it took approximately 40 hours for the colors to reach maximum intensity.
This visually striking piece is 11.5x14.75 feet and involves 2,000 white carnations held in little plastic cups. Red said, “I hope the portrait does justice to ASSK, and I hope she will see this portrait some day and smile, knowing that not only the Burmese people appreciate and respect her, but hundreds of millions of people around the world too.”
The first in a three part video series featuring James Turrell speaking with Doug Aitken has just been posted. In this installment, Turrell and Aitken discuss perception in relation to Turrell’s installation Aten Reign (2013) at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.
In case you missed this a few weeks ago. Stay tuned for information on the next two videos, coming soon.
He is one of coolest men alive.
ERIN RILEY’S TABOO TAPESTRY
Philadelphia based fiber artist Erin M. Riley is tackling taboo issues with her loom. She’s capturing the issues of today’s generation with very old school traditional form of storytelling. Her threads weave together depictions of female sexuality, drug use, birth control, car crashes, selfies, among others. The results of which are breathtaking in a very perverse way - most of the images will make you feel as if you’re sneaking a peek at private photos on someones phone, the element of being privy to what’s going on behind the scene but not being talked about - and at second glance you can’t help but stare in awe at the painstaking efforts that go into her work.
Erin’s work will be showing at Philadelphia based Paradigm Gallery + Studio from August 30th - October 12th, 2013. Hope you can make it out, these tapestries are sure to stir up a dialogue.
Set largely within the Kunsthistorisches Art Museum in Vienna, Jem Cohen’s Museum Hours focuses on Johann, a museum guard, and Anne, a visitor to the country who’s in town tending to a sick friend. Finding refuge in the museum during her many hours alone in a strange city, Anne gradually befriends Johann. As they admire the paintings by the Old Masters that adorn the museum walls, the unlikely friends reflect on how artworks can infuse and shape their daily experiences — and perhaps even change their lives.
I want to watch this right now.
Gravity-Defying Land Art by Cornelia Konrads
German artist creates mind-bending site-specific installations in public spaces, sculpture parks and private gardens around the world. Her work is frequently punctuated by the illusion of weightlessness, where stacked objects like logs, fences, and doorways appear to be suspended in mid-air, reinforcing their temporary nature as if the installation is beginning to dissolve before your very eyes. One of her more recent sculptures, Schleudersitz is an enormous slingshot made from a common park bench, and you can get a great idea of what it might be like to sit inside it with this interactive 360 degree view.
Ball-Nogues Studio. Euphony, 2013. Music City Center, Nashville, Tennessee.
Project process: Catenary stainless steel ball chains descent dramatically from a suspended elliptical ring beam and then return skyward on a new path forming two shells of pattern and color. We produced a translucent three-dimensional painting, fabricated with a custom digital cutting machine. Depending on the viewer’s vantage point, the 1141 multi-colored chains of Euphony may appear as a hard-edged geometric form or blur to a vapor-like visual composition. Materials: stainless steel ball chain, steel tube, baked