Tag Archives: Fine Arts


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I mean, do you honestly think a portrait can tell you anything about the subject? And, even if it did, would you trust what it had to say?

South African Pieter Hugo’s striking photographs of contemporary Africa, infamously referenced by Beyoncé Knowles and Nick Cave’s Grinderman music videos, have garnered global recognition. His work has been collected by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The FOAM Museum of Photography, and The Museum of Modern Art. With even a passing glance at this young artist’s curriculum vitae, his influence on contemporary art and photography is clear.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1976, Hugo is a self-taught documentary photographer. His images are created using a large format camera, a bulky piece of equipment that does not lend itself to the surreptitious photographer. His work hinges on a personal interaction and connection with his subjects. “The power of photography is inherently voyeuristic,” he said in an interview with The Independent last year. “But I want that desire to look to be confronted.” And yet, he is “deeply suspicious of the power of photography.”

The most well known book The Hyena & Other Men (2005-2007), documents a group of performers in Nigeria and Lagos who work with hyenas, baboons, and pythons. Hugo’s Nollywood (2008) a commentary on Africa’s film industry, is described by critics as “overdramatic, deprived of happy endings, tragic; the aesthetic is loud, violent, excessive; nothing is said, everything is shouted. ”Permanent Error (2011) studies a dump in Ghana where the obsession with gadget iterations—the tech industry’s “planned obsolescence”— is exposed in a narrative of global wastefulness. Although each of these evocative series asks us to reassess the perceptions of our world, Hugo’s Hague collection questions photography itself: its limits as well as its increasingly complex methods of representation.

The nature of Hugo’s subject matter has been criticized as sensational and exploitative of the “exotic other” — a criticism of documentary photography dating back to its inception. “My intentions are in no way malignant,” Hugo says, “yet somehow people pick it up in that way. I’ve traveled through Africa, I know it, but at the same time I’m not really part of it… I can’t claim to [have] an authentic voice, but I can claim to have an honest one.”

PIETER HUGO official site




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The work of Italian contemporary artist Livio Scarpella turns good and evil into delicacy.  This group of sculptures, named “Ghosts Underground”, depicts lost souls anguishing beneath the effect of a thin veil.  Scarpella’s interest in this subject was inspired by a trip to the Sansevero Chapel in Naples, home to Antonio Corradini’s “Veiled Christ”.  Before that time, he mostly exhibited paintings for a decade. By mixing influences of Rococo sculptors like Corradini with modern iconography, Scarpella explores a struggle with religious faith.  He couples his “blessed” and “damned” figures with light and dark colored mineral rocks, like amethyst and quartz, inside the chest.  They are hardened hearts that embody the ghost hidden within.  Scarpella takes this idea to a new level in his recent work. His exhibit “Fuori dal Tempo” (“Out of Time”) now showing at Gallery Gomiero in Italy, looks at the theme of sin without repentance.  Undeniably, Scarpella pursues a morbid imagination dominated by smug virtue and natural beauty.
“Fuori dal Tempo” by Livio Scarpella is on view at Gallery Gomiero in Milan, Italy through April 26.

LIVIO SCARPELLA on Facebook.com




Over the weekend at Jonathan LeVine Gallery in Chelsea, New York, the Brooklyn-based artist Dan Witz opened his solo exhibition ”NY Hardcore,” a mosh pit series intricately depicted in a hyper-realistic, trompe l’oeil technique with oil and digital media. The displayed works are all so purposely consistent — not just in medium, but through the unbound emotions splattered across Witz’s many colliding punk youths. One piece bleeds into another, allowing the viewer to escape into New York City’s adrenaline-spiked past.

Unlike typical depictions of the moments of yesteryear, Witz detracts any type of glamorization, and strips the revisit bare, leaving only the dizzying movements of entropy, the addictive intensity that once vibrated off of complete strangers’ hair and sweat. The artist carves each character uniquely within the masses, and as realistic as physical imperfection goes: the dancing figures grimace mid-scream, exposing tooth decay and cavities. Furrowed cheeks slug damp shoulders while arms grab onto whatever their hands can reach. Fat dawdles to one side of inked bones as full bodies bend, caught in that graceless lull before propelling through space.

Within the larger series, Witz’s Byronesque studies pair the souls of the hardcore scene and the Romantic poet together, revealing the painted characters as all byronic heroes — arrogant, passionate, self-destructive, but most of all, die-hard fans of action.


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