We have been big fans of the work of Norway-based Iranian collage artist Ashkan Honarvar since his graduation days at the HKU University of the Arts in 2007. In the decade that followed, he has been steadily producing series after series on an extraordinary high level, dealing with reoccurring themes like colonialism, war, mass destruction, megalomania and other grotesque behavior. Always succeeding in creating imagery that is both intelligent and haunting, slightly repulsive but always captivating. In March of this year Ashkan presented another highly ambitious series of eight chapters named 'The Red Forest' that he has been releasing over the course of different weeks.
Within the new body of work, all of the different subseries touch the same ('Honarvar signature') aesthetic atmosphere and share the same underlying technique, but every chapter has its unique elements, telling different segments of the narrative. And although every chapter complements the strong emotion of the overarching concept, our favorite out of the body being the sixth, as shared below. The story behind 'The Red Forest' is based on the first seven years of Ashkan's life, growing up in Iran during the Iran-Iraq war, which at first sight suggests it is one of the most personal series till date. Yet the seamless fit of the series within the signature running through his portfolio, probably tells how personal his work always is, despite it referring to subjects that are much looser connected to the artist own history. One element within 'The Red Forest' that is a novelty is Ashkan's use of 3D renders, with the skulls and human figures (the female figure is Norwegian model Malena Morgwen) in this project, made with a 3D application Zbrush and then printed out and, as per usual, finished with handmade collage.
Both the subject-matter (as a point of reference for all of Ashkan's work) and this new layer of depth in the disfigurations of human representations, grabs us by the throat a little stronger than ever before, making 'The Red Forest' a significant development and possible important new chapter within the evolution of the brutally talented Ashkan Honarvar. Leaving us waiting eagerly where he will take these new artistic facets in the future.. [ Continue reading ]
From the moment we encountered the super inspirational work of Congolese photographic artist Sammy Baloji, we haven't been able to get his haunting imagery out of our heads ever since. In the last decade, the artist, who resides in his city of birth Lubumbashi and Brussels, has gathered international acclaim with his photographic works that explore the cultural, architectural and industrial heritage of the region where he was born named Katanga in the African country Congo. Baloji juxtaposes photographic realities, combining past and present, the real and the ideal, to illicit extraordinary cultural and historical tensions.
With his imagery Baloji explores architecture and the human body as traces of social history, sites of memory, and witnesses to operations of power. History of art and documentary photography blend with that of colonialism. His series of photomontages, of revisited albums confront his historical research with the human and economic actuality (such as the new invasions of these territories by companies from China for instance). All of his juxtapositions are highly charged with meaning, but above all: always succeed in leaving an everlasting impression, that forces one to question past, present and future of Congo and the whole continent of Africa. [ Continue reading ]
A little over a year ago, the New York City-based Asya Geisberg Gallery opened a new exhibition named 'Quiet Earth' featuring new works by American collage artist Matthew Craven. Unfortunately we missed the inspirational display at the time, but recently our friend Merijn at …,staat pointed it out to us and we have been infatuated by the haunting works from that moment. The exhibition featured a series of works on paper, combined together rhythmically repeating a flattening of time and scale. In the imagery, Craven combines found images of antiquity with abstract hand-drawn patterns of ambiguous origin, and often subsequently painting walls to emphasize aesthetic choices that personalize his project. Ever-curious and controlled in his choice of placement and mark, as per usual the artist created enigmatic combinations, that despite (or maybe because) their encyclopedic nature, always succeed to engage our gaze and force curiosity about each specific reference and composition.
Craven always begins his imagery on an aged background, often vintage movie posters with yellowing tape, finding images in old books that are never glossy. As his collages compress millennia by placing the prehistoric next to the modern, they shift around time: the distance between the image’s creation and our grasp of its significance, the hours searching for appropriate materials, the cultivation of isolated fragments before evolving into Craven’s artistic universe. Several of the works use the landscape, colorful and present, to form a dialogue with the silent man-made artworks, adding an exciting visual layer. It seems as Craven is saying that we exist today because of our pre-historic past, and all cultures share the same planet. From a greater distance, the differences melt away (which too many people seem to forget now a days!), and just as all landscapes share underlying structure and forms (hence the quietness of the earth, possibly), so too do Craven’s stone temples, monuments, and patterns. The result is a highly fascinating series of work forming a quest through human history without ever losing our interest on an aesthetic level. We can't wait for more aesthetic journeys from the mind of Matthew Craven. [ Continue reading ]
With globalization of the creative industry at an all time high and digital interaction just one mouse-click away, we seem to have entered the most fruitful period ever of unlimited cross-pollination within the global creative community. From a different perspective one could argue the exact opposite by pointing out the copycat culture which has become a significant element of the digital era's zeitgeist. We try to look at it from the first angle and appreciate the worldwide exchange of ideas, inspirational collaborations and formerly unexpected joint ventures. If the new (copy enabling) preconditions make that one has to be more critical then ever to separate the wheat from the chaff, the collateral damage of the digitalization is nowhere near life-threatening for great work to be created and discovered. One of the most exciting collaborations we recently discovered comes from England, where two of our favorites: Joe Cruz and Jack Davison have found each other. Although they lived far from worlds apart before they got together, it was still the internet that opened the door for the newly created work. To learn more about the works we've asked Joe Cruz some questions on the collaboration and can only hope that this is only the start for more to come by the two talented artists. [ Continue reading ]
After introducing the CUAP shirt in December of 2014, this month our good friend Sergei Sviatchenko has introduced a new addition to the collection of his Private Classicist label, slowly evolving into a complete range of products created from the roots of his signature Close Up And Private art/style platform. Sergei found another perfect like-minded partner - sharing a sincere passion for modern classics and clean aesthetics - in the Danish accessories specialist Mismo. A company which has been a favorite of ours since we first encountered their beautiful products in 2009, and we have been appreciating their output for years, making it a dream collaboration. A very limited capsule collection of 25 pieces of 2 designs, created by Sergei and Mismo out of one of the most iconic styles by Mismo; the M/S Shopper. The Mismo staple piece was adorned with a photography and a collage artwork in signature Close Up And Private style, applied on an incredible Blue/Black and a Grey/Cuoio version, individually embossed with numbers. We can't wait for more incredible Private Classicist pieces. [ Continue reading ]
John David Deardourff is an very talented artist residing in Washington, DC. In 2012 he received a BFA with an emphasis in printmaking from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. JD's incredible abstract work lends aesthetic elements from comics, resulting in a unique raw style in an exciting color palette. In his own words, Deardourff finds inspiration in "the vocabulary of comic book art: exaggeration, movement, energy, the interplay of sequential imagery, black contour line, and, most importantly, artificial color." Over the last few years JD's work has been receiving growing attention, both from art lovers and critics. Deardourff has exhibited his artwork in Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and DC. In addition, he has designed graphics for Burton Snowboards and album art for RAMP Records. In February 2015, he was awarded a fellowship at Yaddo, an artist colony in upstate New York. A solo show of collages and screen prints made during the fellowship is currently on view at Hillyer Art Space in Washington, DC, which is running for two more days. [ Continue reading ]
A little while ago we became familiar with the fascinating work of the very talented Tokyo-based artist Ei Kaneko, who just opened a new solo exhibition named 'YEN' at the Clear Edition & Gallery in his hometown last Friday. With his moody and slightly surrealist style, Kaneko's work, which he creates strictly with graphite, is at once strikingly beautiful and also a little disconcerting, a combination which we find particularly fascinating. The work of Kaneko often features limbs and facial features cut out and re-assembled, using the fragments of images to create a new ambiguous meaning within his juxtapositions. Through the use of the toned down color palette of pencil graphite the images all inhabit a certain softness in their core which clashes strongly with the hard juxtapositioning of the image fragments, creating something like a second layer of contrast beyond just the fragmentations. Without a doubt Kaneko's work inhabits everything to absorb the spectator and leaving an intrinsic impression. Make sure to catch his show when in Tokyo. [ Continue reading ]
After premiering the first half of Ashkan Honarvar's ‘King of Worms’ last week, we now present a selection of the second half of the biggest project till date created by the Norway-based visionary. Ashkan has been producing collages for almost a decade now, both under his own name as the pseudonym Who Killed Mickey, always finding inspiration in the dark side of humanity and from the questions that rise about it. The extraordinary new project is no different; consisting of 107 collages, divided in 10 chapters with a unique aesthetic, although undeniably marked with Honarvar’s signature style. Today we ask him about that particular style and his vision, inspirations from the dark side, Jane Arden’s film ‘The Other Side of the Underneath’ and how he translated this into a major work like 'King of Worms'. [ Continue reading ]
We are very excited to premiere to the world this brand new series of phenomenal collages named 'King of Worms', which is the biggest project till date created by one of our favorite artists period: Ashkan Honarvar. The Norway-based visionary has been producing collages for almost a decade now, both under his own name as the pseudonym Who Killed Mickey, always finding inspiration in the dark side of humanity and from the questions that rise about it. The extraordinary new project is no different; consisting of 107 collages, divided in 10 chapters with a unique aesthetic, although undeniably marked with Honarvar's signature style. It was inspired by a quote from Jane Arden's film The Other Side of the Underneath, with the overall theme focussing on how power corrupts and is abused as well as the role men play in this misuse and women’s faith. In our eyes Honarvar succeeded tremendously in created something like a second personal layer for the film, which has almost mythical status amongst fans of radical, experimental cinema, because of its visionary and disturbing depictions of the mental state of its schizophrenic protagonist. Today we share a selection of the first 5 chapters of 'King of Worms', with the other half coming soon. [ Continue reading ]
At the end of October SCHLEBRÜGGE.EDITOR published the first monograph to focus exclusively on the prolific collage output of our friend Sergei Sviatchenko. Edited by Rick Poynor, whose essay provides an engaging critical overview, it gathers Sviatchenko’s most significant work from the past 10 years and shows little seen collages from his early years in Ukraine before he moved in 1990 to live and work in Denmark. The severe reductiveness of Sviatchenko’s image manipulation sets his collages apart. Works from his long-running 'Less' series consist of only two or three elements floating on a jarringly bright background. The fewer fragments he allows himself to work with, the more crucial the acts of selection, excision and montage become. Depthless backdrops deny his collage constructions a sense of location and push them forward as graphically sculptural objects. The swift cuts that Sviatchenko makes into his source pictures give them angular new outlines that can verge on abstraction. The elegantly designed monograph is illustrated with 165 images, selected to bring out salient themes in Sviatchenko’s continuing development, which has made him one of our favorite collage artists since we discovered his work. [ Continue reading ]
STYLED is an editorial series produced by the creative team of British high-end webstore OKI-NI in collaboration with a range of guest talent; from celebrated fashion editors, publications and stylists. It aims to serve a wearable presentation of looks pulled from the webstore's pristine selection ranging from luxury to more avant-garde brands. For the final STYLED of Autumn/Winter 2014, the creative team reflected on the eye catching key pieces of this season. Key player in this creative collaboration is the talented London-based creative director Josh Hight, who was responsible for the photography and art work. Styling was done by OKI-NI's own fashion editor Samuel Smith. The remarkable series concluding the still running season was named 'REMEMBER' and features characteristic showpieces including Valentino's meticulously-crafted Eagle overcoat and the one of a kind Raf Simons / Sterling Ruby hand-bleached denim jacket, all framed against a industrial concrete and iron backdrop, tied together through collage and infused with written text and abstract images, making it one of our favorite editorial outings of this season; a perfect fit for the best pieces of Autumn/Winter 2014. [ Continue reading ]
We've been following the very talented Kharkiv, Ukraine-born and Denmark-based Sergei Sviatchenko since he stepped into the limelight about five years ago. This starting point was the foundation of Close Up and Private in 2009, Sergei's online art project in which he shared his collage-like photographic vision on style, which quickly rose to fame through both the created aesthetic as Sergei’s own impeccable style. Based on this fundament of Close Up and Private, Sergei recently decided to take his endeavors one step further, in a concept which features continuing collaborations with an international rage of heritage brands and skilled craftsmen. With the new project, named Private Classicist, Sergei aims to create a solid range of classic menswear items that verges on pushing the boundaries of current minimalist fashion towards the classic style championed by Sergei himself and through his work. Being highly inspired by Sergei for all these years, today we can share some questions we've asked him to find out what inspires a master like him. [ Continue reading ]
All of the incredibly talented Ashkan Honarvar’s art deals with the darker sides of the human mind through the undeniable and unavoidable beauty of the human body. The universal human body, used as tool for seeking identity, is the focal point of his work. By dissecting and rearranging images with careful aesthetic vision, Honarvar creates work with an intriguing macabre darkness. Since his graduation from the Art School in our hometown Utrecht in 2007 Ashkan has been making a name for himself with his utmost fascinating collages. Themes like colonialism, war, mass destruction, megalomania and other grotesque behavior are all observable in his progressively growing body of work. We can't get enough of his enthralling collages and love how the artist combines the abject with the aesthetic, creating images one can't stop looking at. Being very inspired by Ashkan's vision we asked him a couple questions to find out what inspires a highly unique mind like his. [ Continue reading ]
Due to busy schedules on both ends, the collaboration between Our Current Obsessions and the very talented Ramon Haindl was realized only two days before the opening on Friday the 5th of September. On that grey Wednesday we got in the car at the end the of morning in Utrecht and drove to Ramon’s hometown Frankfurt, with the GERTRUD & GEORGE Overnighter which just had arrived a day earlier in the trunk, filling in the only shared gap in our agendas to get together. Ramon had been working early and long hours in Stuttgart the days before, and arrived back in Frankfurt only a few moments before we got there, which didn’t temper his or our enthusiasm to make it happen, no matter what was needed. The piece created by Ramon exemplifies his unpolished collage/mixed media approach in his free work, which we particularly love and special features his young dog Vila. The key inspiration for the piece lays in Ramon’s observation of a sharp parallel between the dog’s fur and the grain of the Buffalo leather used by GERTRUD & GEORGE, which he caught beautifully in this collage of analogue and digital photography plus handwritten text. [ Continue reading ]
Although there had been earlier clues towards it, last Friday one of our favorite artists of the moment, Ashkan Honarvar, announced that the collage works which have been released under the pseudonym Who Killed Mickey for the last three years were also the product of his fascinating mind and that the project now has ended. The idea for Who Killed Mickey, which progressively grew over the period of the last years, came up in order for Honarvar to have an output where he could use all his leftover scraps from his regular work, but also to create collages just for the fun of it. These prerequisites translated into some of Honarvar's most bold work, using familiar images from the fashion industry and pop culture combined with pornography and anatomical images, without a clear overall concept to be observed, but with his incredible signature aesthetic written all over it. [ Continue reading ]
We recently stumbled upon the thrilling photographic work of New London, USA, based photographic artist Pola Esther, who was born and raised in Lodz, Poland. As an artist Esther uses photography as her main platform for expression, with her fascinating series named 'Mutual Attraction' consisting of diptych collages, clearly showing her love of photographing nature, mostly human. The work of Esther reflects upon her intimacy, femininity and sexuality. Images with the figure can be provocative, encouraging us to peep through the keyhole, where behind lays a romantic and sometimes grim world full of the unknown. She produces a highly diverse color palette moving as broad as grainy, blurry black and white to silky pastelle-like colors in orchestrated romantic settings, sometimes juxtaposing different styles, creating wonderful little spectacles which continue to fascinate us. [ Continue reading ]
We are still inspired by the book named 'The Age of Collage' which was published by Gestalten a year ago. The book is a striking documentation of today’s continued appetite for destructive construction found in the art of collage. Showcasing outstanding current artwork and artists, the book also takes an insightful behind-the-scenes look at those working with this interdisciplinary and cross-media approach. The collages featured in this book are influenced by illustration, painting, and photography and play with elements of abstraction, constructivism, surrealism, and dada. Referencing scientific images, pop culture, and erotica, they reflect humanity’s collective visual memory and context. Among the featured artists are the highly talented Ashkan Honarvar and our friend, multitalent Sergei Sviatchenko. [ Continue reading ]
Since his graduation in 2007 artist Ashkan Honarvar has been making a name for himself with his utmost fascinating collages in which he focuses on the dark side of humanity. Themes like colonialism, war, mass destruction, megalomania and other grotesque behavior are all observable in his progressively growing body of work. We particularly love his series of this year; 'Conquest 5' and 'Identity Lost' which was released in 2013. The series examine different visual languages, out of which the new images are created, but the results are equally haunting and show beauty in the most macabre images, exemplifying the enormous talent of Honarvar. [ Continue reading ]
'Cy-collage' was the great pop up exhibition by the London-based collective Colectivo Futuro during last Spin London. Housed inside the iconic Old Truman Brewery building on Brick Lane, the exhibition featured works from both International and local, London-based, artists, most of which had been previously featured in the inspirational colectivo futurist series on their online platform. Each artist was commissioned to interpret cycling through the use of collage as a technique. In the eyes of Colectivo Futuro, like the act of cycling, a collage piece is made up of carefully assembled parts that harmoniously fit together to achieve their purpose, which resulted in beautiful raw works with a somewhat punk aesthetic. The unique and limited pieces by the artists are from now on for sale through Colectivo Futuro's webstore. [ Continue reading ]
'Everything goes right and left if you want it' is the title of the first publication on Sergei Sviatchenko, the good man behind Close Up and Private. The Berlin-based publisher Gestalten released this beautiful book featuring Sviatchenko's modern collages and keen eye on colour. "In the world of contemporary art, Sviatchenko is a provocateur. He draws on and harnesses all of the cultural tides he has experienced in 40 years of image-making. Sviatchenko’s oeuvre spans the known and the unimaginable. It cuts through the boundaries of traditional and contemporary visuals to merge pop culture with politics, personal memory with collective histories, and architecture and science with the logic of dreams." [ Continue reading ]
Costume National asked Sergei Sviatchenko from Close Up & Private to give his take on the Autumn/Winter ’11/’12 collection. The result is “The Beetles News”. In a mix of photography and collage the style is inspired on a concert back… [ Continue reading ]
Just graduated form Brighton University, the London born and Brighton based Rosanna Webster shared with us her lovely collages, photographs and illustrations. The colorful, rough and grainy and sometimes twisted works, with multiple layers and film projections all looks very promising for a 23 year old!… [ Continue reading ]
Today we visited Casper Reijnders, the man behind the famous Amsterdam club Jimmy Woo, in his house for our upcoming Journal de Nîmes. His house is like a 'wunderkammer', packed with the most unique and bizarre objects. It reminded me on Agent Gallery Chicago, a shop and gallery packed with strange curiosities, beautiful prints and vintage objects. This is probably one of my favorites: A collage by Christopher Ilth. It would fit Casper's house without a doubt... [ Continue reading ]
Our friend Sergei Sviatchenko from Close up and Private is rocking big time. He collaborated with media artist Noriko Okaku (resulting in this lovely animated collage movie), was announced the Best Dressed Man of Denmark and did a wonderful collaboration London based writer, stylist and creative director Jason Jules, the man behind the blog Garmsville. [ Continue reading ]