Earlier today we posted a studio visit with the young Minneapolis artist Mel Nguyen, shot by photographer Debbie Carlos. But it only featured a small selection of Nguyen’s work, in which each project is typically disassembled and morphed into three more. “If you look at a single project of mine and only associate me with that project, it will be not a complete representation of my practice,” Nguyen says. We figured it was worth showing you one more example from her portfolio: her recent clay Desktop Deposits series, made for the Kansas City, Missouri, project Objet Boutique curated by Dean Roper.
As an artistically inclined teenager feeling bored and marooned in the suburb of Vadnais Heights, Minnesota, Mel Nguyen did what any millenial in her situation would do: She turned to the internet for creative stimulation. “Even as a high schooler I was looking at all these graphic design blogs, seeing how the field was changing, and thinking, wow,” she says. As soon as she enrolled as an art student at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, she started her own tumblr, showing off her experiments sliding from 2-D into to 3-D and back again. She managed to build such a following on the site that her work went viral in certain online art and design circles — so much so that it’s hard to believe she’s only 21, and won’t graduate until this spring.
Taiwan-born, London-based Hsian Jung works as a curator and interior stylist, but in his spare time, he recently started a hand-formed ceramics line called The Fruit Shop, through whose website he releases collections inspired by individual fruits and vegetables. “Friends were describing my pottery as reminiscent of sweet melons and pumpkins, an insight that inspired this project,” explains Jung. To launch his first series, based around the cantaloupe, he styled a series of photographs using “cheap objects from daily life that have similar color tones as the ceramics but totally different textures,” he says.
Perhaps the most telling moment regarding this year’s Whitney Biennial came when we posted an image of Dutch artist Peter Schuyff’s spiral-carved pencils on Instagram. “Where is this craft show?” joked Mondo Cane’s Patrick Parrish. “Bedford Ave?” he asked, referring to Brooklyn’s main hipster thoroughfare. Yep, this biennial feels decidedly different than years past. There are still inscrutable videos, and works we simply slid by for lack of interest, but this year had moments that felt smaller, more tactile, more intimate — and for us, more compelling — than in years past.
New York based artist Lucas Blalock transforms all manner of random things into powerful images. He isolates, adapts, and manipulates, playing with the conventions of photography by exploring its limits and inherent contradictions. All this makes for a lot of very nice collisions and clashings of objects, color, and pattern. His naive use of Photoshop is jarring, forcing us to look freshly and see more. And whether this leads us to question the conflicting realities before us — and, in turn, the contemporary condition of photography itself — or purely to enjoy the compositions of color and abstracted subject matter, the end result is intriguing and hugely inspiring.
When we first met the multi-talented Nicole and Sweetu Patel back in 2004, they were running Brooklyn’s Citizen Citizen, a high-concept British design showroom that sold objects like crucifix-shaped brushes by FredriksonStallard. But they gave up the project shortly afterward, and have continued to evolve creatively in the last decade: Nicole went on to focus on her interior design business and form a creative partnership with curator Josee Lepage, while Sweetu went on to work for Cappellini and later founded the men’s heritage clothing shop C.H.C.M. It was there that we recently spotted Nicole’s latest brilliant endeavor, a series of wall panels that she makes from the likes of Japanese indigo textiles and Belgian linen, meticulously stretched and then embellished with things like handmade rope or tone-on-tone embroidery. Beyond hanging them in her husband’s store, she hadn’t yet put them out in the world, so we decided to do the honors.
A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: furniture worthy of a “French Fries Party,” super-minimalist $99 lamps, candy-colored stools by Jeff Martin (above), and incredibly styled images by the likes of Gemma Tickle and the Bouroullec brothers.
For his ongoing series of miniature totems, Barcelona-based graphic and furniture designer Cristian Montesinos collects and paints scraps of found wood, which he keeps on hand for the assembly and photographing of each piece. “Biking or walking in Barcelona I always find what I need,” he says. “I keep the pieces, classified by size, and use them when I need them. When I work with these woods, I feel I’m returning to them a part of the dignity that was lost when they were thrown away. When I paint them I try not to completely cover the material, as part of the idea is to show and appreciate the tangible past of the object.”