Subversively Elegant Portraits of Indigenous People Drawn on Repurposed Ledgers by Artist Chris Pappan

“Axiom” (2016), mixed media on ledger, 16 x 16 inches. All images © Chris Pappan, shared with permission

In his mixed-media portraits, Chicago-based artist Chris Pappan draws on the tradition of ledger art, a practice that flourished among Native populations throughout the Great Plains from around 1850 to 1920. Rooted in narratives, the renderings depicted the ways of life of Indigenous people and the nuances otherwise left out of mainstream conversations. “The mid-19th Century was a tumultuous time for the Indigenous peoples of America; the doctrine of Manifest Destiny brought deep pain and suffering but it also introduced new modes of expression,” says Pappan, who is part of the Osage Nation and of Osage, Kaw, Cheyenne River Sioux, and mixed European heritage.

Using graphite, colored pencils, ink, and water-based media, the artist illustrates black-and-white portraits on a variety of intentionally sourced materials, like municipal ledgers and mining certificates. One artwork … Read the rest

“Axiom” (2016), mixed media on ledger, 16 x 16 inches. All images © Chris Pappan, shared with permission

In his mixed-media portraits, Chicago-based artist Chris Pappan draws on the tradition of ledger art, a practice that flourished among Native populations throughout the Great Plains from around 1850 to 1920. Rooted in narratives, the renderings depicted the ways of life of Indigenous people and the nuances otherwise left out of mainstream conversations. “The mid-19th Century was a tumultuous time for the Indigenous peoples of America; the doctrine of Manifest Destiny brought deep pain and suffering but it also introduced new modes of expression,” says Pappan, who is part of the Osage Nation and of Osage, Kaw, Cheyenne River Sioux, and mixed European heritage.

Using graphite, colored pencils, ink, and water-based media, the artist illustrates black-and-white portraits on a variety of intentionally sourced materials, like municipal ledgers and mining certificates. One artwork … Read the rest

An Eccentric Cast of Hybrid Creatures Mirrors the Diversity and Humor of Human Experience

Right: “Eagle Pose” (Yoga Parakeet) (2016), stoneware and mixed media, 12 x 6 x 13 inches. All images of Alessandro Gallo, shared with permission

From a dowdy California quail to an incendiary horned lizard, Alessandro Gallo’s peculiar menagerie of animal-human hybrids is teeming with personality. The colorful characters reflect the breadth of interactions occurring every day throughout public spaces as folks encounter others unlike themselves, like a parakeet contorted into a yoga pose or a suit-wearing hooded merganser.

Based in Helena, Montana, the Italian artist likens the animalistic features to a mask or caricature. “I combine it with the silent language of our body and the cultural codes of what we wear in order to portray not only a specific individual, but also the larger groups and subcultures they belong to and, ultimately, the common habitat we all share,” he says.

Generally spanning one to two feet tall, the … Read the rest

Steampunk Busts Sculpted from Resin and Repurposed Objects Evoke Futuristic Relics

“Hippy Betsoebe,” resin, recycled objects, and paint. All images © Tomàs Barceló, shared with permission

Spotted with corroded patches, Tomàs Barceló’s sculptures fuse classical antiquity and retro-futurism. The Cala Millor, Mallorca-based artist casts steampunk-style figures from resin and recycled objects that resemble ancient art while evoking otherworldly relics of an alternate reality.

Barceló sculpts the polychromatic artworks with a narrative and identity in mind, considering the way each will interact with others. He expands on the idea in a recent interview:

I believe that sculpture is the art of presence… Sculpture shares space and time with the viewer, and that is what makes it so powerful. That’s why I don’t try so much to tell stories as I try to create powerful presences, each in its own way. The fact that a small robot girl looks at you more intensely than you look at her, is fascinating to

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Subversive and Grandiose, Kajahl’s Vivid Portraits Supplant Historical Narratives

“Silent Incantation II” (2020), oil on canvas over panel, 38 x 33 inches. All images © Kajahl, shared with permission

Through his meticulously rendered portraits, Santa Cruz-born artist Kajahl subverts the tradition of Blackamoor—a highly stylized European aesthetic that visualized people of color, particularly African men, in exoticized forms and subservient roles—by instead depicting Black subjects in valorized positions. Part of a series titled Royal Specter, the vivid paintings center alchemists, scholars, astronomers, and various intellectual figures within grandiose and luxurious settings.

While the artist’s works evoke the racist sculpture and decorative pieces of Blackamoor, they remove the historical context and alter the original narrative through anachronistic details. Each oil painting is layered with imagined elements, from the inaccuracies of the source material to Kajahl’s portrayals of fictional characters. “My fantasy is gazing back at their fantasy. I am their fantasy and they are mine… I am the … Read the rest

Contemporary Elevation Data and Historical Maps Merge in Scott Reinhard’s Digital Works

1966 Allen’s Creek, Indiana. All images © Scott Reinhard, shared with permission

By day, Scott Reinhard designs graphics for The New York Times. Recently, he created a United States map detailing where city-dwellers fled during the pandemic and another showing how the Pantanal wetland in Brazil has transformed into a massive inferno. Incorporating an ever-growing swath of data, his daily tasks are connected to the fluctuations of news cycles.

But in his off-hours, the Brooklyn-based designer takes a broader look at the state of the nation. He merges vintage maps and contemporary elevation data, creating stunning digital works that flatten the differences of time and space into hybrid objects. While his graphics for The Times are rooted in the ever-changing present, his personal work is nestled within historical contexts.

 

1962 Demotte Park

Reinhard’s interest in data and map-generation grew while he was pursuing a master’s degree in … Read the rest

Arresting Sculptural Reliefs by Artist Anne Samat Layer Everyday Objects with Meticulously Woven Threads

“Follow Your Heart Wholeheartedly” (2020), rattan sticks, yarn, rakes, washers, plastic swords, toy soldiers, beads, metal and plastic ornaments, 131.5 x 141.75 x 11.75 inches. Installation view of Asia Society Triennial: “We Do Not Dream Alone” at Asia Society Museum, New York. Photograph by Bruce M. White. All images courtesy of Asia Society, shared with permission

In her fiber-based reliefs, Malaysian artist Anne Samat disrupts classic woven patterns with unusual objects: toy soldiers, rakes, and plastic swords are intertwined in the multi-color threads that fan outward and billow down onto the floor. Comprised of a trio of wall hangings and a free-standing sculpture, “Follow Your Heart Wholeheartedly” meticulously juxtaposes beadwork and traditional South Asian weaving techniques with common items, a project that questions the boundaries of craft and art.

Each section is incredibly complex and infused with references to Samat’s family, identity, and experiences with loss. The largest work, for … Read the rest

Illuminated Figures Consider the Relationship Between the Body and Soul

“Vessel of the Universe (Sisidlan ng Kalawakan)” (2020), soldered metal, glass, LED strips, and electrical fittings, 64.5 x 47 x 12 inches. All images © Joshua Limon Palisoc, shared with permission

Joshua Limon Palisoc draws on the tenets of Filipino Psychology to inform his life-sized figures that radiate from the inside. Using mesh-like forms of soldered metal, the artist conveys the idea that the physical body is simply a vessel for the soul. LED lights nestled within the anatomical sculptures emit a warm glow through the seams, blurring the boundary between inner and outer selves.

The illuminated forms shown here are part of Ephemeral Vessels, Palisoc’s first solo show on view through November 29 at Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo, Philippines. Composed of upright and seated figures, the collection focuses on personality and conscience (loob), the body (labas), and reason (lalim), ideas that the artist gleans from the particular … Read the rest

Cloaked in Neon, Tate Britain Celebrates Diwali Through an Eclectic Technicolor Installation

“Remembering a Brave New World.” All images © Chila Kumari Singh Burman, courtesy of Tate Britain

A new installation by artist Chila Kumari Singh Burman masks the stately columns and ornate flourishes of Tate Britain’s facade, enveloping the London museum in a blanket of neon. In “Remembering a Brave New World,” technicolor symbols, pop culture references, and religious iconography transform the neoclassical structure into an illuminated space for celebration. The public artwork was revealed on December 14 to coincide with the start of Diwali, the five-day Indian festival of lights, and casts a kaleidoscopic glow on the surrounding area.

The eclectic collection draws on Punjabi Liverpudlian artist’s own life and family history, which manifests in pieces like the multi-colored ice cream truck. After moving to England, her father purchased one of the vehicles, an experience that imprinted her childhood.

 

Other elements focus on the United Kingdom’s history of … Read the rest

Dive into Van Gogh Worldwide, a Digital Archive of More Than 1,000 Works by the Renowned Dutch Artist

“Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat,” September – October 1887, Paris, 4.5 × 37.2 centimeters, Van Gogh Museum

A point of levity during the temporary shutdowns of museums and cultural institutions during the last few months has been the plethora of digital archives making artworks and historical objects available for perusing from the comfort and safety of our couches. A recent addition is Van Gogh Worldwide, a massive collection of the post-impressionist artist’s paintings, sketches, and drawings.

From landscapes to self-portraits to classic still lifes, the archive boasts more than 1,000 artworks, which are sorted by medium, period, and participating institution—those include the Van Gogh Museum, Kröller-Müller Museum, the Rijksmuseum, the Netherlands Institute for Art History, and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Each digital piece is supported by details about the work, any restorations, and additional images.

In his short lifetime that spanned just 37 years, the prolific Dutch artist … Read the rest

Artist Nari Ward Has Spent Decades Revitalizing Found Objects to Elucidate Counter Narratives

“We the People” (2011), shoelaces, 96 x 324 inches. All images courtesy Nari Ward and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London

Jamaica-born artist Nari Ward bases his practice in found objects and their inherent mutability. The Harlem-based artist has scoured New York City’s streets for 25 years gathering house keys escaped from a ring, discarded glass bottles, and clothing tossed season-to-season. Through sculptures and large-scale installations, the scavenged objects find new meaning, whether explicitly scribing a phrase from the United States Constitution or creating more subtle historical connections.

While commenting broadly on themes of race, poverty, and rampant consumerism, Ward is cognizant of the varied meanings burned wooden bats or shoelaces hold for different populations. No matter the medium, many of his works are site-specific in form and fluid in context, allowing the narratives to take new shapes as they travel from community to community.

His 1993 … Read the rest