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Ko-Ta Shouji

We recently discovered the beautiful photographic work of Tokyo-based Ko-Ta Shouji, that within its analogue 'snapshot' genre shows an inspirational marriage of the explorations of technical experiment with a captivating, emotional contemporary feel. Practically all of his images are taken on film, mostly characterized by that mentioned snapshot aesthetic: working with unorthodox, free floating frames, often full of joyful young energy, having a colorful metropolitan feel. Beyond catching his subject in, what feels to us as, the right moments, Shouji subsequently masterfully adds second and third layers to his imagery through light leaks, double exposures and blurred spots, infusing an ambiguous element of mystery that runs as a red threat through his whole portfolio — whether he shoots models in an editorial for a leading fashion magazine, his beautiful portrait series named 'gosees'; catching young models as free as they are right after what the title suggests, but also in his 'Untitled' series, being his most abstract body of work, portraying the world around us as a beautifully blurred place that haunts its spectator, built up layer after layer out of washed out colors and floating movement.

Having had a history as a stylist before turning to photography, Shouji clearly knows his way around catching and portraying a zeitgeist, without a doubt having been inspired by the photographic aesthetic that came to life in the communication of European fashion houses around the turn of the century, for instance through the creative endeavors of Martin Margiela joining forces with Mark Borthwick and Helmut Lang opening up new chapters in the work of Jurgen Teller. [ Continue reading ]

Yann Kebbi

Paris-based illustrator and artist Yann Kebbi has been among our favorites from the moment we discovered his immaculately executed raw style in The New Yorker some years ago. His color pencil drawings are one of a kind: combining hard, sketched lines that mark his figures, buildings, streets and anything else that make up his captivating (city) scenes, overlaying them with clouds of primary colors to give the depictions warmth, but most importantly Kebbi excels as a master of the act of omitting to complete his works. His drawings seem joyful at first glance, but always show another mysterious layer of wry- and sometimes even sadness, to be observed within his perfect bursting chaos of lines and colors, which infinitely seem to fascinate us.

In recent years he continued on the particular stylistic road that gathered him international acclaim very quickly, but Kebbi also seriously challenged himself by exploring new areas. One of these explorations was the introduction of watercolors to create similar scenes as he had been doing with pencils, but this time implementing rich areas of color and even using similar techniques as, another one of our favorites, Dutch artist Rop van Mierlo does — for instance in the project 'Howdy – drawings of America', created together with his friend Idir Davaine, in which they portray their travels through the USA. His most recent 'Monotypes' series (brought to our attention two weeks ago by It's Nice That) shows a more radical development going beyond lines as the markers of his depictions, using monotype printmaking. A medium used before Kebbi by iconic French artists like Degas, Matisse and Picasso, being a technique of printing layer by layer, to create a single unique print — proving to be another discipline in which Kebbi succeeds marvelously to bring his unique artistic vision to life. [ Continue reading ]

Fair Game

Kes Richardson at FOLD Gallery

Last month, one of our favorite abstract painters working today; London-based Kes Richardson, returned with an exciting new solo show, which took place at another favorite of ours from the English capital: the FOLD Gallery. With his new paintings, exclusively created for the exhibition given the moniker 'FAIR GAME' that ran for a month until the beginning of October, Richardson breaks out of the grid structure that formed the mold for the nine paintings for his debut solo exhibition named 'Garden Paintings' from 2013 (which became our introduction to his abstract work) showing a new depth in his abstractizations and the exploration of radical new imput on and even outside of the canvas — resulting in some of his most intimidating creations until date. [ Continue reading ]

Material Turn

In a collaboration between Jordi Carles at ...,staat, Pol Pérez' and Josep Román's Barcelona-based design studio Affaire and Baumeister Jung: the beautiful book 'Material Turn' came to life. In it, the photographer Paul Jung and fashion designer Melitta Baumeister —who work on shared multidisciplinary creative projects as Baumeister Jung— hybridize their creative visions to become one, solidifying a moment in time — as beautiful volume-garments are casted out of an otherwise fixed material ànd by capturing the act of wearing it. Through exploration of these areas, the book portrays the relationships that exist between the two bodies, and the way touch and sight may alter the reader’s perception of an object’s qualities.

For 'Material Turn' a number of garments were specifically designed by Baumeister, who generally works with industrial techniques and materials, this time made solely out of three materials: deep black velvet bonded to foam; padded black vinyl; and finally padded white tyvek. In the words of Pérez; the use of these materials helps instill certain preconceptions in the reader’s mind: "black, especially light-absorbing materials, look naturally heavier. At first, the acting that is asked of the model helps reinforce these assumptions: in the first pages, we see her more relaxed and upright when wearing tyvek, whereas velvet dresses are shown as she sits, slouched on a chair, seemingly defeated by its weight."

This behavior slowly fades as the book progresses, dispelling the initial preconceptions — resulting in a captivating proces to be observed throughout the pages of the elegantly designed book, bringing together the talents of Baumeister, Jung, Carles and Pérez & Román into this highly appealing new publication. [ Continue reading ]

Olaf Hussein Autumn/Winter 2016

Six months have passed and our good friend Olaf Hussein has returned with a new seasonal offering, which will be available online and in his shop on the Prinsengracht 491 in Amsterdam from today. For his Autumn/Winter 2016 collection, the Amsterdam-based designer takes a trip to the deep South of the United States of America, or more specifically, to the world as portrayed in the iconic moody feature film 'Paris, Texas'. This cinematic masterpiece from 1984, directed by Wim Wenders and shot by Dutch cinematographer Robby Müller, forms the main inspiration for the new seasonal creations. Where Hussein's former collection felt like the conclusion of the starting period of the brand, which asked for the (successful) establishment of his name (literally) — the new collection shows a new kind of ambition in the products being released under the OLAF HUSSEIN label, going beyond the earlier (necessary, no doubt) road of prominent branding into the realm of, what we feel are, interesting contemporary pieces marrying technical features and sharp minimal silhouettes. [ Continue reading ]

The Western Lands

Justin Clifford Rhody

It's been a while (a year maybe) since we first encountered the ongoing photographic essay named 'The Western Lands' by American photographer Justin Clifford Rhody, but it never really left us since that moment. The Michigan-born, Oakland-based artist, who predominantly shoots on film, started the series in 2012 and one of the reasons for moving to the West Coast was to continue exploring the Southwest of America from his new home, being within a day’s drive of Southern California, Arizona, Nevada and parts of New Mexico. Through a friend, the photographer was even offered to built a cabin in Northern New Mexico, which he has been using as the pivot point to keep expanding his photographic study, while immersing himself both physically and mentally in the desert. In his own words; it was the staggering quality of light and the physical expansiveness of the American West —"brutally unforgiving and indifferent to one’s needs, yet this seems to only inflame our desire to go further and deeper within the interior"— that inspired him to start and grasp intrinsic elements of it in his captions. And that intrinsic passion seems to burn in him today as it did in 2012.

It is extraordinary how Rhody finds frames that are nothing short of iconic —reminding of his idol William Eggleston, although being more fixed— in an utmost beautiful sun-kissed color palette, succeeding marvelously in communicating (his?) deep romantic feelings for this unique area combined with the melancholia that belongs to finding oneself at a dead end. Beauty and sadness in one. The photographer is clearly at awe, but can't help himself, to see that this magical place named the American West has entered a chapter with the times of glory laying behind us.

We can only hope for more observations by Justin Clifford Rhody of the American West, as through his lens it is a place that continues to deeply move us like no other... [ Continue reading ]

A Sunday as a Sunday

Rinus van de Velde at tegenboschvanvreden in Amsterdam

At the beginning of this year, one of our favorite artists working today; Rinus Van de Velde, presented the impressive 'Donogoo Tonka' exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst in which he brought his one-of-a-kind, overtly rich artistic vision on the world around us —built up from many layers of signature charcoal strokes— to the contemporary art museum in Ghent. At the beginning of this month Van de Velde returned with already his next show (at the same time some of his work is also on display as we write this at Tim van Laere Gallery Gallery in the group show 'Take Care, Amigo'), this time at his Amsterdam-based gallery tegenboschvanvreden — forming a new, not to miss, chapter in the ongoing display of unique talent from the self-described drawing-obsessed artist. For the exhibition, named 'A Sunday as a Sunday', the Antwerp-based artist has created a new series of drawings, focussing specifically on the theme of the antihero, having stopped the prominent portrayal of himself in his works, which marks an important new direction. [ Continue reading ]