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Matthew Grabelsky’s uncanny subway paintings

Commuters go wild in Matthew Grabelsky’s uncanny subway paintings

 

 

Urbanites know the subway is a prime location to spot the city’s oddities, and yet, a run-in with one of Matthew Grabelsky’s characters would be a particularly wild encounter. The Los Angeles-based artist has spent the last few years rendering human-animal hybrids that nonchalantly ride public transit. Sometimes snacking on a cracker or brushing up on some reading, the characters are surreal, uncanny additions to an otherwise mundane scene.

 

Grabelsky’s newest oil paintings, which are currently on view as part of Riders at The Brand Library & Art Center in Glendale, California, are hyperrealistic and laced with witty details like earlier works in the series. Set on the New York City Subway and London Tube, the portraits are narrative-driven and embedded with pop culture references. The artist shares:

 

“My goal is to create the effect of looking at a scene on the subway as if it were a diorama at a natural history museum. The images present richly detailed moments frozen in time allowing the viewer to closely inspect every element and make connections between them to read an overall story. In this world, people are transformed into part-animal to create scenes that are strange, funny, and endearing.”

 

 

Grace Ebert for ThisisColossal. February 2023

Metaphorical portraits deconstruct art history as collaged specimens

Metaphorical portraits by Michael Mapes deconstruct art history as collaged specimens

 

 

Photographs, scraps of fabric, human hair, dried flowers, and gelatine capsules are a few of the materials that artist Michael Mapes arranges into fragmented portraits and still life’s.

 

Referencing traditions and prominent works in art history, Mapes interprets figures and fruits through deconstructed compositions. Set in specimen boxes evocative of those used in entomological studies, the collagesutilize the metaphor of scientific study to dismantle and reconstruct the contexts and meanings of the original works.

 

Mapes begins each piece with research around the subject matter and materials, and many of the artist’s most recent works centre on muses, like fashion designer Emile Louise Flöge who was the lifelong companion of Gustav Klimt. “I’ve been making studies, smaller scale works that allow me to consider compositional approaches for larger pieces,” he says about the series. “It connects the past to the present in a very personal way.

 

A muse vibe is inspired by mining art history to find subjects that resonate with me and my work process.”

 

 

Grace Ebert for ThisisColossal.com. August 2022

 

The National Library of France reopens with renovations

The National Library of France reopens with renovations that add 21st century details to the Beaux-Srts gem

 

 

After more than a decade of renovations by architect Bruno Gaudin, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France reopened last fall lighter and with more space to view both the massive collections and the original Beaux-Arts features of the space.

 

Spread across two sites, the Richelieu and François-Mitterrand, the now-updated repository at Richelieu dates to the 18th century. French architect Henri Labrouste originally designed the main reading room, known as the Salle Ovale, which is largely preserved with a vaulted glass ceiling spanning 60 feet, mosaics cloaking the ceilings, and hundreds of thousands of volumes lining the perimeter and interior shelves.

 

The regal space is now open to the public for the first time. For the renovation, Gaudin added a large, steel and aluminum staircase that spirals toward the upper floors, which house a museum and the nearly 150-foot-long Mazarin Gallery with its Baroque frescoed ceiling. A glass walkway with an angular, sloping roof connects the east and west sides of the library, and the architect added a new entrance for greater accessibility.

 

Alongside books, the library also stores a vast array of historical documents and artworks totalling 22 million objects. Inside its halls, you’ll find the second-largest collection of Greek vases in the world, original prints from Rembrandt and Picasso, an engraving by Matisse, a Gutenberg Bible, and Charlemagne’s ivory chess set to name a few.

 

 

Grace Ebert for ThisisColossal.com. January 2023. All images © Bruno Gaudin Architects

 

Clever collages

Everyday situations take an amusing turn in Toon Joosen’s clever collages

 

 

A man mows a field of text, a vacuum cleaner sucks up beachgoers, and kids shield themselves from falling words in the witty collages of Toon Joosen. From his studio in The Netherlands, the artist cuts and splices vintage photos, magazines, postcards, and book pages into clever works that take an ironic and surreal approach to everyday activities.

 

Joosen tends to play with scale and perspective, creating tongue-in-cheek scenarios brimming with nostalgia and humor. He shares dozens of works on Instagram and has prints, buttons, and other goods available on Etsy.

 

 

Grace Ebert on ThisisColossal. December 2022

All images © Toon Joosen.

Quirky clothesline creatures saunter across landscape illusions

Quirky clothesline creatures saunter across Helga Stentzel’s landscape illusions

 

 

A woolly sweater returns to its material roots in the latest creatures to spring from Helga Stentzel’s clothesline menagerie. The London-based artist captivated audiences last year with her whimsically strung farm animals that appeared to put old shirts and jackets out to pasture.

 

Now, Stentzel’s collection of characters includes a dinosaur of bleached white undergarments, a sweatpants camel, and the aforementioned sweater sheep. Positioned against expansive views of deserts and mountainous areas, the stylish illusions take a playful approach to laundry day.

 

Alongside these creatures, Stentzel has been creating 3D works, some of which are on view from November 18, 2022, to March 1, 2023, at CXC Art Museum in Seoul.

 

 

 

Grace Ebert, ThisisColossal. November 2022.

All images © Helga Stentzel

 

Elaborate Inflatable

Balloons puff and twist into an elaborate inflatable ensemble by Masayoshi Matsumoto

 

 

Armed with colourful balloons and plenty of air, Masayoshi Matsumoto twists and ties a playfully quirky menagerie of inflatable creatures. A chemical engineer by day, the artist spends his off hours stretching the malleable material into a sticky-fingered tree frog or plump squirrel, elevating the creations typically associated with children’s birthday parties or carnivals into elaborate sculptural works.

 

Matsumoto is loyal to the bendable material and forgoes paints, glues, and other fasteners, and many of the animals accentuate the shape of the balloons themselves: deflated tips resemble claws and puffed oblongs hang like shaggy fur or splay upward like a rooster’s crest.

 

Find more of the latex animals on the artist’s Instagram: @isopresso_balloon

 

 

 

Grace Ebert, ThisisColossal. November 2022

All images Masayoshi Matsumoto

Wildlife portraits are captured in elegant scrap metal sculptures

Expressive wildlife portraits are captured in elegant scrap metal sculptures by Leah Jeffery

 

When it comes to scrap metal, Hogansville, Georgia-based artist Leah Jeffery has honed an instinct for transforming old bike parts, cutlery, and offcuts into a captivating menagerie of expressive animals.

 

During her senior year of high school, she began exploring different trades, and after signing up for a welding class, discovered a natural skill with metalworking. She became interested in re-using discarded materials, and her first project was a great horned owl, which spurred an ongoing series portraying an array of wildlife.

 

Now working as Bruised Reed Studio, her practice centres around the proverbial turning of trash into treasure. “There is something about taking what was discarded and giving it new life,” she says. “I use any scrap metal I can find—mostly old bicycle parts and flatware, or people will give me their random metal junk.”

 

Each sculpture is one-of-a-kind, formed from in a wide variety of textures, densities, and patinas to expressively capture an eagle’s intense gaze, a butterfly’s wings, or a sloth’s lazy grin.

 

 

ThisisColossal, Kate Mothes. October 2022.

Knitted camouflage’s models blend into the background

Knitted camouflage’s models blend into the background in a New Art Book.

 

 

In 2018, Joseph Ford and Nina Dodd’s collaborative project featured people sporting custom-knit ensembles that perfectly melded with their environment.

 

Since then, the photographer and knitter duo have been hard at work creating new pairings that disguise watermelons as bananas, farmers as their cows, and commuters as the escalators they ascend.

 

Invisible Jumpers, their book published by Hoxton Mini Press, documents the Knitted Camouflage project’s best work.

 

 

ThisisColossal.com, Laura Staugaitis. September 2019

 

Imaginative murals

Seth globepainter’s imaginative murals center childhood optimism and joy

 

 

French artist Julien Malland, aka Seth Globepainter, is known for his murals that capture the playfulness, determination, and innocence of childhood.

 

Painted in cities from Paris to Jersey City to Amman, the large-scale works find humour and joy in youthful pastimes, while capturing the vibrant imaginations associated with adolescence. The faceless characterstend to be optimistic even as they confront adversity, particularly in the artist’s most recent murals addressing the ongoing war in Ukraine.

 

Currently, Malland is working on a series of hand-embellished lithographs and preparing for a solo show opening on October 27 at Fluctuart in Paris, where he lives. He has a monograph slated for publishing this fall.

 

 

ThisisColossal.com, Grace Ebert. September 2022