Balloon Organ

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Check out Fran’s Balloon Organ. It gets bigged up at the beginning of the video leaving you thinking that it can never live up to the hype. However, it’s pretty amazing. [via]

The Birds Print By Nylon

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I recently picked up an “Apple, Caramel and Blue” The Birds by Brit-graffer and Flickr-gold-commenter Nylon. It’s a real beauty and looks cracking framed up on my dining room wall. Limited to a print run of 30 and just £45 each and still a few available via his Flickr page.

Copyright’s Forgive Me Print

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I’m having a bit of a print obsession at the moment and seeing that Copyright’s latest work has made it to screen printers via Opus Underground is great news. I love his new print, Forgive Me, for so many reasons. Of the 30 being made, 5 of them will be printed with gold instead of Copyright’s trademark Paint and these five will be randomly shipped out so it’ll be like a chase version of the print. I’ve not heard of this being done before. Sounds great.

Brian Morris

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Drawings and Whatnot is a selection of Brian Morris’s , aka oooOOOooo, cracking artwork. I discovered it after a friend told me about Dokazaado’s flickr page, in particular, the photo of Brian’s cutsom Enid vinyl. He also happens to be the creator of these amazing busts that I saw a while back and that I managed to loose the link to otherwise would have linked him up back then. Anyways, I’m babbling – enjoy.

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BLK/MRKT Two

In 2001, Dave Kinsey, yup, that Dave Kinsey, opened a gallery in LA based upon the same ethos of the graphic design studio that he had created back in 1996. The gallery, BLK/MRKT, would be a place to showcase not only established “new contemporary” artists but also artists that were on their way up too from around the globe. BLK/MRKT recently started an annual exhibition called the BMG Artists’ Annual and a retrospective book of some of the artistic works that were shown in the exhibit was published by Die Gestalten Verlag. Last year, the first book, BLK/MRKT One was released. As far as cataloguing a show is concerned, it must have been the best catalogue ever. A large scale (31 x 24cm and 208 pages) burgundy coloured padded hard-covered affair is a grand, and fitting way to catalogue such fine art. Anything less wouldn’t do the contents justice actually. I’ll come back to BLK/MRKT One later because this year, the second BMG Artists’ Annual book was released; BLK/MRKT Two.

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BLK/MRKT Two packs an equally big punch with is monster size but this time it’s a standard hard cover edition but has the added luxury of a linen spine, as you can see from the picture above. It’s difficult to explain what all these artists have in common. Their work all possesses something that doesn’t seem to be present in a lot of orthodox fine art. The obvious parallel to make is with street-art and graffiti but that’s not actually a correct comparison to make. If I was forced to explain how I see the connection (which I’m pushing myself into a corner to do!) I would have to say that it’s something to do with how the artists see their work. I feel that it’s something to do with the perceived preciousness of the works. When graff writers paint they know that a piece may stay up for a while or disappear overnight. There’s no good in being too precious about the piece when this could happen but they still write. It’s like the act of writing is as important as the end result. I think that this is the parallel that I’m trying to make. When I see these artists’ works I see as much of the process as I do the finished piece and I wonder if this is the same for these artists. Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong. It’s not like all the artists are street based anyway, I just wonder if they have a similar kind of ethos about the process and the piece. In the forward to the book it’s discussed more in terms of the importance that the image has been made with a physical medium rather than just digital. That’s not to say that the paintings are supposed to be antidotal to the digital age though. I guess it’s just the importance of the pieces being tactile in some way.

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What I do know is the artist selection on BLK/MRKT Two is varied and rich. Many Ektopia Favourites are included as well as many that I hadn’t been introduced to before. A perfect combination really. Jeff Soto has got a nice handful of pages showcasing some of his spectacular work. His recent work has become more colourful (physically) while remaining quite dark (metaphorically) at he same time. I love it. Conor Harrington (see image above) also has a load of pages. Now here’s an artist that whose pieces can only be truly appreciated when seen big. I had the fortune to have caught some of them during a couple of different exhibitions over the years and was completely blown away but his style. We are lucky enough to be treated to as large a scale images of his work as we are likely to see apart from the real thing. You can really get into the pieces here. Studying them pay dividends here. The details are extraordinary. Ian Francis’s (below) content in the book also reap the benefit of the large scale reproduction.

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There are also many new artists to me that have left a huge impression. Mark Dean Veca’s full-room painted installations are crazy and beautiful. Organic soft forms in vivid colour envelop the walls and make you feel like you could actually dive right in. Check the images on his site and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Lucy McLaughclan’s name seems familiar but I can’t place where I know it from. However, I didn’t recognise her artwork and am all the happier for seeing it now. She paints the most beautiful faces in leaf and water-drop shapes. Each one’s different and each could tell a story of its own. Enchanting stuff. But most of all, David Choong Lee’s has left me feeling that the book is worth it’s cover price for his pages alone. I the way that his pieces are constructed physically. Here’s something that could never be done digitally. The limitations of the canvas sizes, how they fit together and how the content on each piece moves to the next are just perfect. The way that he paints so much raw emotion into his central characters is also amazing. The image below is just a small part of a long morphing row of canvases of the same height. I can’t wait to learn more about him and his art. Expect to see him featured properly on Ektopia sometime soon.

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What’s so refreshing is that there’s no text to accompany the images throughout the book. There’s a an artist heading each time the artist changes and that’s all. Just huge lavish images of their work. There are small artist biogs right at the back of the book but that’s all and it’s all that’s needed. The images speak for themselves and it’s less distracting this way; at least for this particular book anyway. In the forward of this book, Kinsey and Jana DesForges (BLK/MRKT’s director) write about how they hope that the latest collection of works by the 33 artists in BLK/MRKT Two will prove to be both intriguing and inspirational. Well it certainly is on both accounts.

Here’s a list of the the other artists that I’ve not mentioned in this wonderful catalogue – Gordon Bennett, Tiffany bozic, Alexone, Flavien Demarigny, David Ellis, Gregory Euclide, Amir H.Fallah, Robert Hardgrave, Martha Sue Harris, Mark Jenkins, Mel Kadel, Dave Kinsey, Adam Kurtzman, Marion Lane, Jason Murphy, Andrew Ponier, Jeremy Pruitt, Scott Rench, Jesse Reno, Jennifer Sanchez, Mike Stilkey, Kristen Thiele, Code Blake Thompson, Weston Teruga, Stephen Tompkins, Ben Tour and Rostarr….I think that’s all! Phew! You can get a copy direct from Die Gestalten Verlag or from the usual places including Amazon UK.

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Oh, before I forget…I mentioned the original book didn’t I. BLK/MRKT One, like its follow-up, is a cracking book. I imagine that any book release is an exiting time for an author and publisher but when this one came out it must have been an exhilerating time for all involved. Not only had they achieved so much up to this point but they had gone on to successfully produce a luxurious book with so much appeal. It’s the same format that volume two continued in all aspects. There are even a few of the same artists (different pieces of course). Highlights from this volume are Bask’s paintings on wood, Vladimir Zimakov’s sketchbook style inky scratchings but most of all though, I was taken back by the collection of Jose Parla’s typographic distressed pieces. I wasn’t sure about his work when I first saw it on the The Run Up DVD last year. However, I was lucky enough to catch his pieces in this years Sm, Med & Lg exhibition in London a few weeks back and was blown away. seeing the pieces in this catalogue is also a great experience and I’ve studied them a lot since I’ve had this book.

Again, it’s packed full of artists so here’s the full line-up…here goes – Michael R. Andreev, Tiffany Bradford, Deanne Cheuk, David Choe (another fantastical selection by the way), Calma, Warren Dykeman, Jordan Eagles, Daniel Fiorda, Doze Green, Maya Hayuk, Evan Hecox, Rich Jakobs, Dave Kinsey, Marion Lane, Mars-1, Travis Millard, Brendan Monroe, Leif Parsons, Scott Radke, Jesse Reno, Andrew Schoultz, Tra Selhtrow, Lance Sells, Yuri Shimojo, Jeff Soto (agghhh, can’t get enough of those Soto pieces), Mike Stilkey, Tes One, THH70, Cody Blake Thompson, Ben Tour, Nate Williams, WK Interact and Milee Yu. Phew…again. You can also get this one direct from Die Gestalten Verlag or from the usual places including AmazonUK.

I al know is how much I’m looking forward to checking out BLK/MRKT Three sometime in the near future hopefully. It looks like they are having another fine year so there’s no reason why the next book, assuming there will be one (and why not if not!) will be another fine catalogue in any art lover’s collection. Bravo BLK/MRKT and bravo DGV.