Artists To Know

Artists To Know: Surreal Sculpture At FIA

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve done an Artists To Know post (or a post in general!). Now that things are opening back up again in Michigan I visited the Flint Institute of Art a couple of weekends ago on a whim and saw so much beautiful sculpture work. This was the perfect opportunity to break my hiatus, especially since I myself have finally been taking some clay classes at my workplace after being intimidated by basically any sculptural medium for over a decade after some pretty big fails in gradeschool :P.

Sergei Isupov

Shadow

Anyone who knows me knows I am all about portraits and figures, and representing the human essence in art. On his website, Estonian-American sculptor Isupov states, “Everything that surrounds and excites me is automatically processed and transformed into an artwork. The essence of my work is not in the medium or the creative process, but in the human beings and their incredible diversity. When I think of myself and my works, I’m not sure I create them, perhaps they create me.” I really connect with these thoughts, and feel the same way about the portrait based art I create. I am drawn in by the surreal nature of his work and the strong story arc of his pieces. As a primarily 2D artist, I also appreciate how he incorporates 2D processes into his 3D art, such as the detailed paintings over the surfaces of his sculptures, almost as if the images across their body are allowing you a glimpse into their memories or fleeting thoughts. I am excited to learn more about this artist and investigate his other work.

Christopher A. Vicini

Idiotheim

Surprising nowadays, but I could find no online presence for this artist, aside from a closeup of this sculpture I photographed on Flickr. Therefore, I wasn’t able to learn much about the artist or his process, but I can tell you what made me stop and look longer at this piece. Like the previous piece, there was a strong story being told, but one that was not necessarily obvious and left the viewer to get creative with their narrative to an extent. It is assembled like a collage of Grandma’s nic-nacks, but when you look closer you see all is not what it seems. It reminded me of something you may see when you are walking around a house inside of a dream, familiar but with an odd twist. I also thought making it all white had an interesting effect – all form and detail being dictated by light and shadows.

Rudy Autio

Autio was born in Montanna where he has remained for most of his career, heading up the ceramics department at the University of Montanna for almost 30 years. Like with the first artist, I believe I was drawn to this because of the aspect of wrapping a painting around a 3D form. The style feels classic and modern at the same time, and the fact that there is a “hidden” scene on the back, making it almost a different sculpture depending how you are viewing it, was a lot of fun.

Joan Bankemper

Pimlico

I was interested to learn upon visiting Bankemper’s website that she actually primarily creates public installations based on sustainability and community gardening and farming. In her sculpture, she utilizes discarded or broken tableware and gives them a new life by combining them with ceramics pieces from molds she has collected over the years. Her work reminds me of walking into an antique or thrift store, but in Wonderland as Alice.

Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen

Falcons Series

Karen collaborates with her husband Devin as an artist team to create amazing glassworks inspired by nature. She does a lot of work inspired by birds, which is what grabbed my attention as birds are one of my favorite motifs in art. I love the concept of this trio, and would never have guessed that something like this could be formed out of glass. I like that the birds are stylized, and the flowers winding up the arms remind me of gorgeous 3-dimensional tattoos.

Pavel Hlava

Flower

Plava was “a pioneer for contemporary glass art in the Czech Republic” and came to be quite well known in the United States over the course of his career. As you can see from the other pieces I selected to highlight here, I am not usually as into art that is purely geometric and abstract. However, his pieces, of which this one was my favorite, were a different story. The detailed, fractal quality that shed beautiful rainbow light in patterns around the piece and the unique colors as well as the fact that there were layers of geometry even inside each of the external patterns gave his pieces a depth that had me standing in front of them staring, losing track of the world around me.

Lucio Bulbacco

Watcher

You can’t tell here but this piece is TALL. The first thing I must note is the deep grape purple color choice because though purple is my favorite color, it is not a color you see a lot in art. Even in my own work it just doesn’t come up often, which just adds to the regal mystery of this figure. The scrolling organic shapes that make up her form give her the look of a mystical spirit made of vapor, and there is a soft, wafting smokiness to her despite the fact that she is made out of hard glass.

It was so difficult to choose only a selection of art to highlight – I took a lot of pictures! I hope what I’ve shared inspires you, and if you have any favorite artists please share with me in the comments! I’m always looking to discover more creators.

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Artists To Know

Artists To Know: Amazing Sculptures From The FIA

My boyfriend and I visited an interesting sculpture exhibit at the Flint Institute of Art this summer titled Form, Function, and Fantasy. The exhibit was divided into 3 rooms, each embodying one of the aforementioned themes. I captured my absolute favorite pieces from the exhibit, and wanted to share them with you. I know I discovered many new favorite artists in the process. I think all of the pictures I took were from the “fantasy” section, which for me is honestly not surprising. We accidentally went through the exhibit backwards, viewing fantasy first which may also have had something to do with it. Let’s be real, in art as in life, everything’s a letdown after that ;).

Irina Zaytceva – Twins

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I was actually drawn to make a trip out to this exhibit based on this image I saw on the FIA website. I love the melding of old world artistry with fairy tale mermaids. The bold red coral shapes growing off of it give this piece add an element of abstract and modernity to the piece as well, bringing one more dimension to the mix. I am personally so much more of a drawing and painting person than a sculpture person, so I think I loved the fact that the surface of this 3D form was used as a canvas for 2D art as well, incorporating both types of design.

Richard Notkin – Heart Teapot: Ironclad Hostage II

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As a tea enthusiast, I absolutely adore looking at uniquely designed teapots. My absolute favorite thing about days off is my cup of tea right after I wake up in the morning, no joke, usually accompanied by doing some sketching, reading a book or the news. I am such an old person at heart at a mere 28 years on this earth. In all seriousness though, the design of this teapot inspired sculpture is flawless. Combining industrial elements with anatomy and figuring out how to transform the shape of a human heart into a vessel for tea somehow could not have been an easy task. You don’t even notice it’s a teapot at first, it just looks like an interesting sculpture. The fact that it hides its more mundane function is rather interesting.

Sergei Isupov – Zombie Fish

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I love the tall, thin forms, the monochromatic color scheme, and the detail that makes this piece look like a pen and ink illustration from a children’s scary story picture book come to life in 3-dimensional form. Very fun and inventive.

Krisaya Luenganantakul – Happy House #1

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As I read more about this artist, I discovered she has a whole series of these lovely, whimsical houses in vibrant colors and with floating, dreamlike, organic detail. The project is titled “Homemade – a project where the womb, the home, and the female are interpreted under a new light.” This project discusses the idea that oftentimes feminine traits are associated with weakness and fragility. However, patience, tenderness, forgiveness, and love are strengths that have made them universal protectors and caretakers for every family over time. And, important nurturing that determines the growth  and well-being of all humans takes place in both the womb and the home, centered around the female. It is interesting and different to see a project about female empowerment that is based on the value of women’s more traditional roles. I was originally drawn by the visuals, but found the idea behind the design very thought provoking as well.  

Michael Lucero – Hunter (Reclamation Series)

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There is no way I could not be drawn to this piece by color alone. I absolutely love pops of bold red amongst neutral tones, and use this color scheme in my own work often as well. There are a lot of interesting details the longer you look at it, and the contrast between the style of the head and body is staggering. Yet, when you look at the piece as a whole it is unified. I myself was working on sketches for a series incorporating faces being covered in various winged things, so of course I was first drawn to the most noticeable visual element of the moth over the figure’s face.

Akio Takamori – Karako With Striped Kimono

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I found this sculpture to be so incredibly calming to look at. The soft, round forms, harmonious pale colors, and flowing watercolor-like drips along with the neutral, solemn face were very peaceful to me. I think if this was in my house and I could just look at it whenever I got tense, I would never lose my temper.

Sunkoo Yuh – Horn Blower

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I loved the dripping glaze application in this piece because again, it reminded me of watercolor. I also loved the totem quality it had to it,the many figures and faces stacking atop one another. Each is such a distinctive, unique character in the composition.

Sara Lisch – Lion’s Journey

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This was another piece that reminded me of a children’s book illustration come to life. I love the muted color scheme, and the stylized features of the human and animals. There is definitely a story here, and it is left to the viewer to imagine where they are all headed to.

I’d encourage you to visit the links to see more of these artists’ work. All of their pieces are just as fantastic as these. I am forever in awe of 3D artists. The best sculpture I ever made was this cardboard, modeling clay, and found object punk-diorama time-based piece pictured below.

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It was a final project for my intro to 3D class in college, a time-based assignment meaning a piece that would somehow change over time as part of it’s presentation, not lasting in its original form. Basically, the so-so sculpted clay girl in the center was all white and pristine at the beginning, and then everyone in the class got to take turns sticking the different objects to her, dumping paint on her, and otherwise altering her form. It dealt with how perceptions shape identity, and was all anti-conformity, anti-media, and all that good stuff – very much what I was thinking about at that time of my life. Of course, my best sculpture would be ephemeral. What rotten luck. At least I’ll always have the pictures.

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