Trash As Art

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама Portuguese street artist Artur Bordalo creates monumental three-dimensional sculptures of animals using, well, garbage that people routinely throw out, depositing their refuse not necessarily in or around designated garbage disposal places. Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама  The artist wants to draw public attention to environmental pollution.Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама Arthur creates three-dimensional animals from garbage and old rubbish, which people throw out.Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама Artur’s work can be found not only in Portugal, but also in other countries, in particular in the United States and Estonia. Presumably, he doesn’t transport his native Portuguese garbage but uses local materials easily found no matter wherever he goes.  Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

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Mansudae

BehanzinStatueBéhanzin (1844 – December 10, 1906) is the eleventh King of Dahomey, modern-day Benin. He fought against the French colonizers and is remembered as a great hero by the people of Benin. This impressive monument is erected in Abomey, the country’s capital.
.JoshuaNkomoStatueAnd this is a no less monumental statue of former vice-president and independence fighter Joshua Nkomo, revered by the people of Zimbabwe. The statue was commissioned by the government of the country.

le_monument_de_la_renaissance_africaine.jpg.CROPThis one is African Renaissance, the highest monument on the African continent, erected in Dakar, Senegal, in 2010.

At 160 feet tall, the bronze monument is over one-and-a-half times the height of the Statue of Liberty. It depicts a man with a bare, ripped torso holding an infant aloft in one arm and guiding a woman with the other. The infant points ahead to indicate the glorious future, while the woman extends her arm behind to acknowledge the troubled past. Her hair is swept back by the wind, as are her scant, gossamer-like garments.

HeroesAcreNamibiaThe Heroes’ Acre monument is situated south of Windhoek, Namibia. It is built as a symmetric polygon with a marble obelisk and a bronze statue of the Unknown Soldier with a Kalashnikov in his hand, having uncanny resemblance to Sam Nujoma, Namibia’s President from 1990 to 2005.

What these monuments, made of tons of bronze, strewn over African continent — Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Benin, Cambodia, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Namibia, Senegal, Syria, Togo, Zimbabwe — have in common?

It is their maker. These mammoth monuments were erected by Mansudae Overseas Projects, a design and construction company from North Korea — the international commercial division of the Mansudae Art Studio. Perhaps the world’s biggest art factory, Mansudae employs roughly 4,000 North Koreans, including some 1,000 artists, handpicked from the country’s best academies.

“They seem to have developed a small cottage industry,” says Marcus Noland, an expert on North Korea and director of studies at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “The North Koreans are desperate for money, and my guess is that at some point they figured out that essentially exporting their capacity to make glorious monuments to great leaders was something they could do to both win friends and possibly influence people, but also possibly make money.”

Germany is thus far the only Western democracy to have engaged the services of Mansudae. It did so in 2005, commissioning the fountain re-creation for €200,000 total ($264,480 today).

“The top tier artists in Germany simply don’t make realist work anymore. North Koreans on the other hand haven’t experienced the long evolution of modern art; they are kind of stuck in the early 1900s, which is exactly when this fountain was made.” (–Klaus Klemp, deputy director of Frankfurt’s Museum of Applied Art.)

And it went perfectly well, with the exception of a slight style issue: the North Korean sculpted the woman with “kind of a cement block hairdo,” in Klemp’s words — a little too Communist/socialist/realist for 21st-century Germany.

This re-creation of Frankfurt’s Fairy Tale Fountain was built at Mansudae Art Studio in North Korea. (via Wikipedia)

This re-creation of Frankfurt’s Fairy Tale Fountain was built at Mansudae Art Studio in North Korea. (via Wikipedia)

Only Mansudae Art Studio’s artists are sanctioned to portray the Kim dynasty:feature_northkorea

How does someone become a Mansudae artist? What training is involved?

Most of the Mansudae artists are graduates from Pyongyang University of Fine Art. There’s no examination or that sort of thing but top-scored graduates usually want to become Mansudae artists. Once you become Mansudae artist, you can learn from famous artists and continue your training.

In secondary school, the ones who have potential go to the after-school activities. At the time of graduation you take an examination to enter university … this is an ordinary course of training but it’s not all that is needed to reach the high level of expertise. (Jon Pyong-jin, oil painter awarded the title ‘merited artist.)

A state-artist in residence at the Mansudae Art Studio Photograph: Alamy

A state-artist in residence at the Mansudae Art Studio Photograph: Alamy

Most Mansudae paintings, drawings, prints, and statues are of a uniform style and depict a pastel world filled with paternalistic leaders, rosy-cheeked children, loving mothers, vibrant nature scenes, and patriotic heroes. But the classically trained artists are good enough to create all manner of realist art.

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Hyperventilating Over Hyperrealism

The other day, I read a brief article in The Huffington Post about the art of Ron Mueck, an Australian sculptor currently working in London,  Nude Sculptures By Ron Mueck Bring Hyperrealism To A Whole Other Level.

Ron Mueck

Ron Mueck

I was fortunate to see the exhibit of his sculptures at the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh in 2006. Truth be told, I was not prepared for the visual assault that lay in wait for me.

Periodically, I had to remind myself to adjust my face into a semblance of an expression that, hopefully, could be taken (or mistaken) for a semi-intelligent face of a person viewing an art exhibition rather than that of a dumbfounded person hit over the head with unanticipated suddenness.

In Bed 2005

In Bed 2005

Slowly moving along the sculpture of the woman “In Bed”, I remember feeling an unequivocally weird desire to knock at the white expanse of the sheet just to hear the hollow sound of empty space under it… only to convince myself that there are no bent knees under it.

Ron-Mueck-Wild-Man

Wild Man (2005)

The Wild Man (2005) is naked, hairy and very large. The giant, he is imposing by size only. His face is frightened and his pose is that of a man cringing in terror. The sculptor  shocks us into reassessing ourselves in our existential nakedness.

When asked, “How and when did you get the idea of manipulating scale with your figures?” Ron Mueck answered, “I never made life-size figures because it never seemed to be interesting. We meet life-size people every day.”

The Edinburgh’s exhibit that I visited was the first showing of A Girl (2006).

A Girl (2006)

A Girl (2006)

Speak of engaging the viewer’s rapt attention! Hands and arms held down beside her body, her head stretched out towards the viewer, the baby seems to be testing out the space she occupies in the world. In fact, the pose is quite unnatural for the infant — normally a baby would hold its hands towards its face, but Mueck wants to suggest the assertiveness of the new life force, says the booklet I’ve got at the exhibition. Whether the artist wanted to suggest exactly this or something entirely different is up to the author of this passage  (Keith Hartley) to know and up to us — to take his word for it.

Ron-Mueck-Big-Man

Untitled (Big Man), 2000.

Views of the work in progress and detail of the Big Man.

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Hyperrealism has its roots in the philosophy of Jean Baudrillard, “the simulation of something which never really existed.” As such, Hyperrealists create a false reality, a convincing illusion based on a simulation of reality, the definition says. How fully this definition applies to the art of Ron Mueck (and other artists called hyperrelists) is the matter of opinion and, again, the matter of definition.

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The works of other hyperrealists, such as Evan Penny, Jamie Salmon, Duane Hanson and others I’ve found on this site.