Danish artist Rose Eken made her U.S. solo debut at The Hole gallery in New York last October and quickly garnered attention from her ceramic pieces at NADA Miami Beach in December 2014. Eken’s works are diverse in form—she currently focuses on small, hand-painted ceramic sculptures but has also created embroidered tapestries and video-based pieces—yet tend toward a unified theme. Eken focuses on traces of human life, from the amps, drumsticks, empty beer bottles, and cigarette butts of punk-rock culture to the pliers, nails, and paint of home repair. Quirky and thought-provoking as remnants of societal enclaves, her works are also fascinating in the way they juxtapose photorealistic detail with the imperfections of the handmade.
Miya Ando is unafraid to explore unexpected ways of working with materials, as evidenced by the luminescent, dyed aluminum paintings that make up the bulk of her practice. This mindset stems from the half-Japanese artist’s early exposure to Sogetsu flower-arranging, a technique that broke with earlier conventions in its focus on individual creativity. In Kumo (Cloud)—one of a series of cloud sculptures and compositions—her subtle ink-on-stainless-steel rendering encapsulates Ando’s overarching interests in nature and light.
The California-born artist (who just happens to be Richard Serra’s nephew) is best known for his multimedia interpretations of luxury commercial goods—tagged with brand names and logos ranging from Hermès to Hummer. Indeed, Serra’s nonfunctional version of a Rolex has made it onto the wrists of pop stars and powerful art dealers alike. By recasting iconic handbags and watches in resin, rubber, plaster, and copper, Serra investigates these items’ significance in society and their role of advertising—lending conceptual weight to his clever practice. The camellia flower has appeared in the artist’s work since 2013, when he was enlisted to create images of the iconic Chanel camellia for the brand’s Paris shops.
Recent Parsons graduate Larissa Lockshin is still in her early 20s and has already been featured in solo and group exhibitions in Brussels, Paris, New York (Johannes Vogt gave her a solo show this past spring), and her native Toronto. Exploring materials from pastel on satin to engraved plastic on wood to traditional oil on canvas, Lockshin pushes her two-dimensional work into unexpected territory. She also pushes the boundaries of representation, creating whimsical, sketched-out images that question our need to discuss and analyze works of art, rather than simply experience them.
Swiss artist Katja Loher is currently the subject of a solo show titled “How Can We Cool Down the Gilded Sun Beams?” at Connecticut’s New Britain Museum of American Art. Loher uses choreographed and costumed dancers—which she films from a bird’s-eye view—to explore themes like the phenomenon of honey bee colony collapse and the responsibility that humanity must now assume for it. She then combines the video footage with sculptural elements, creating enchanting, four-dimensional environments within bubbles of hand-blown glass. The resulting works are exquisite objects that engage with social and environmental issues.
Erika Keck transforms paint into a sculptural medium—draping sheets and segments of dried acrylic paint on board or canvas over frames or stretcher bars. As saturated yellows and blues and inky blacks break with the two-dimensional wallspace, the sculpture-paintings assume the meaty corporeality of Bacon or de Kooning’s subjects—indeed, Keck cites both artists as influences. Keck’s works are not easily defined, by design; the captivating quality of her pieces is every bit as transfixing as it is challenging.
Travis Boyer’s diverse practice includes performance—like the interactive dip-dying session he held at CAMH in 2013—as well as two-dimensional forms. He makes use of cyanotype photography, dye, velvet, and silk to create richly colored, semi-abstract images with suggestive titles like Involved Homosexual Group in Cut-offs (2013) and End of my Blond Streak (2013). The outlines of belts appear in several works as ghostlike traces across bold blues; while yellows, pinks, and aquas suggest otherworldly landscapes. Boyer sees in his 2D pieces the same magnetic, participatory energy that motivates his performance work, and indeed, Side Entry Fruit Lick is truly enticing.