Patrick Cabral re-envisions the intricate veins striping the tail of a fish and grooves in a pangolin’s scales with delicate, lace-like flourishes. The Manila-based artist is known for his sculptural portraits of wild animals and fantastical creatures that layer hundreds of paper cutouts into stunning three-dimensional works. Primarily composed with white, Cabral’s most recent pieces utilize gold for trimming a hippo’s facial features and heightening the depth and texture of the coiling, intertwined bodies of a dragon and its rival. The metallic material also adds contrast to a pair of koi swimming in a circular yin and yang formation.
Currently, Cabral is finishing a few works that will be exhibited from March 18 to 20 as part of Xavier Art Fest, a group exhibition raising money for victims of Typhoon Rai that devastated the southern Philippines last December. Check out his Instagram to see a variety of commissions and personal projects, in addition to a short video detailing his painstaking hand-carving and gluing process.
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Japanese sculptor Sakura Hanafusa carves whimsical cat sculptures often carrying a range of foods, including vegetables, sweets, and biscuits. In one of the feline statues, a snowy-haired creature peeks out from underneath a vanilla ice cream cone, while in another, a smiling duo clings to mushrooms and acorns. Adorable and playful, Hanafusa’s poses sometimes prompt interaction and mimicry like with the seven cats pawing for high fives, which ask passersby to raise their hands, too.
Hanafusa whittles camphor and then adds details to their noses, paws, and whiskers with oil paint. The characters are modeled from family and friends’ pets, all of which have playful expressions whether grinning or shy and coy. While a few of Hanafusa’s pieces are the size of real animals, others would only fit into the palm of a hand, and some merge with other objects, such as his collection of plump felines with orange, satsuma bodies.
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Japan-based artist Ayumi Shibata (previously) designs intricate landscapes using layers upon layers of white paper. Some of her sculptures are miniature, whereas others are immersive installations, and all are brought to life with the play of light and shadow, which create “movement” throughout her pieces. The works feature architectural domes, cave-like forests, and swirling suns hovering over tree-filled cities. These picturesque places aren’t based on a particular location but what the artist “hopes and believes the future of the planet could look like”.
Shibata’s ethereal landscapes envision a world in which humans and natural forms coexist, and she describes her pieces as having a “Yin and Yang” element. Paper represents Yin, the material, and the ways the works emit shadows correlates to Yang, the invisible world. “The light represents spirit and life, how the sun rises and breathes life into the world,” she explains. “I believe my pieces are a place to observe the material world and the visible one.”
The physical elements have a deeper meaning for the artist, as well: In Japanese, Kami means god or spirit but also paper, a sacred material in the Shinto religion. “Invisible ‘Kami’ spirits dwell in various objects and events, places, as well as in our houses and in our bodies,” she says. “I use my technique to express my thankfulness to the Kami spirits for having been born in this life. Each piece of paper I cut is a prayer.”
Shibata began constructing these sculptures when living in New York. She would visit a church to meditate and escape the noise of the city, and it was when she observed light illuminating stained glass that she was reminded of her love of working with paper. The artist explains:
The city was full of noise. Everything, people, time goes so fast and moves rapidly, and I needed a quiet space to go back to myself. One day, I opened my eyes after meditation and saw colorful light flooding the floor through the stained glass. It was breathtakingly beautiful. It reminded me of a memory from childhood where I used to cut black paper and stick colored cellophane behind it to make a ‘paper’ stained glass piece. I got the tools on my way home and tried it that night. From that moment, I continued to cut paper.
Currently, Shibata is working on an installation called “Inochino-uta, Poetry of Life,” for an exhibition later this year. The large-scale project is made out of 108 pieces of paper connected by strings and suspended from the ceiling. To view more of the artist’s work, visit her Instagram or website.
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An apple oozing into a flat puddle or a round bulge is likely a sign of softening and rot, although the fruits carved by Yosuke Amemiya retain their supple, juicy freshness despite their melting appearance. The artist, who moved to Yamanashi, Japan, from Berlin a month ago, shapes succulent pieces and paints their likeness with reds, yellows, and speckles of brown discoloration. He’s amassed dozens of the intriguing fruits since he began creating the pieces in 2004—originally he used FRP and plastic before switching to wood—and likens the process to “trying to create human universality through the apple.” The sculptures are a small portion of Amemiya’s practice, which you can delve into on his site. (via Escape Kit)
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Trimmed with gold and minuscule insects, Evelyn Bracklow’s porcelain dinnerware is equal parts pristine opulence and repulsion. The German artist (previously) hand-paints vintage pieces with tiny black ants that congregate over an imaginary morsel left on a plate and crawl along the mouth of a pitcher, transforming the ceramic vessels into distasteful displays.
Bracklow began adding the detailed creatures to found platters, teapots, and plates approximately 10 years ago and has made hundreds of the works since—shop the few pieces she has available on Etsy. “(Painting the ants) totally made sense to me on an aesthetical level. It was and still is a physical experience to paint or watch the ants move across objects,” she says. “It`s this feeling of the supposed movements, of the slight shuddering that always gives way to admiration for the animal and its ever new formations.”
Currently, Bracklow is working on a few large-scale projects, including a multi-faceted initiative called Antology, and she recently completed a collection of ant-laden figurines and other sculptural objects, which you can explore on her site.
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In his sensitive, introspective portraits, Ghanaian artist Annan Affotey (previously) sharpens the contrast between soul and appearance. His works are large in scale and rich with texture, and he often sets figures against solid, monochromatic backdrops with visible brushstrokes. Similar to artist Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, Affotey renders his subjects’ skin in shades of gray and dresses them in vibrant garments and patterned accessories. The distinctions in color and fabric coincide with the figures’ facial expressions and gestures, all of which the artist uses as a prompt. He says:
The first assumptions made about people are based on sight. So things like skin colour, clothing, accessories, background, setting, and pose dictate emotion. There’s no guarantee those things match the character underneath. We’re often identified by what we’re compared to (or against). My work is a social commentary on this, asking the viewer to take a second look at what they read from my portraits and why.
Using a mix of acrylic and charcoal, Affotey also continues his signature red eyes, which reference his experience of being questioned about his lifestyle when he moved to the U.S. Now more bold, the recurring feature ranges from subtle halos around pupils to bright washes of pigment that spread across the sclera.
Some of Affotey’s figurative pieces are on view at both Arushi Gallery in Los Angeles and PM/AM in London through mid-March, and you can find more on Instagram. He also has two residencies slated in 2022, which will culminate in exhibitions in Saint Paul de Vence, France, opening on May 1 and another in mid-October in London.
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