nacho ormaechea / le carnet noir.

I’m a major fan of collage. Ever since I first discovered and fell in love with the work of Canadian artist Paul Butler years ago, I’ve been particularly fascinated by the way artists appropriate and juxtapose existing images (and our assumptions of their meanings) into brand new works. Lately I’ve noticed floods of new digital collage styles on Tumblr. As with anything, some are a bit more well done than others. All are art, but particular ones excel, and I’ve been especially excited by the work of Matt Wisniewski, Beth Hoeckel, and Dessi Terzieva.

Now I’m happy to add the gorgeous digital collages of Nacho Ormaechea’s Le Carnet Noir to the list.

A Spanish-born freelance Art Director and Graphic Designer working in Paris, Ormaechea’s work remove the urban dwellers from his obviously European backdrops and replaces them with colourful, incongruous images ranging from the organic – fruit and flowers – to the urban mundane – industrial hallways and electric signs. While his visual collisions might not have as much of a literal play on meaning or political subtext as others I’ve seen, they’re incredibly eye-catching in a straight forward, high def, casually bombastic way. And I can’t get enough of them. If you can’t either, then they’re all up for grabs over at Big Cartel.

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Like a mad chemist mixing potions, collage is a brand new elixir divined from ingredients we all know into a brand new kind of magic. I find that the art of collage can sometimes fall victim to the “my kid could do that” attitude of modern art; the assumption that piecing existing imagery together is somehow easier than creating something from scratch. The point that they’re missing, obviously, is that, like so many things, the amalgamation is a brand new creation that exists wholly unto itself. Particularly, I find myself inspired by the work of: Tierney Gearon, Greg SheglerPaul Butler, and Christian Hückstädt. Today, happily, I can add Matt Wisniewski to the roster of collage awesomeness.

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greg shegler.

Greg Shegler’s work is a tidal wave of kick-ass. Based in Toronto, he mixes vintage photos, found materials, pop culture kitsch, retro-Canadiana, childhood goodness, and rainbows into some of the best collage work I’ve ever seen. If you ever thought that Goombas, groundhogs, and Queen Elizabeth couldn’t fit into one work of art, you thought wrong. His stuff is so brilliantly random. Shegler describes his work as a “nostalgic tornado of awesomeness destined to conquer bare walls and sad faces wherever it goes.” Hells yes it is.

Everything he does is killer, but this first one is my favourite. Can you guess why? That’s right. Look to the upper right. Uh huh. That’s a mutha-fucking View-Master cartridge, ladies and gentlemen. How rad is that?

Battered and aged, his collages are like memory mash-ups. The bright, pristine shine of pixellated Super Mario pipes and Dorothy’s face seems so perfectly placed inside the frail, degrading backdrop of old photos from the 70s and 80s. It’s like a combination of perfect psychological memory laid on top of the fading material record of the exact same time. Preserved forever in thought yet destined, like all things, to have its materials slowly crumble away.

christian hückstädt.

There’s something about nudity, adultery, and all the other jealousies that boil just below our surfaces depicted in cardboard and vegetable collages that somehow makes it all seem a lot more scandalous.

German illustrator Christian Hückstädt’s work is a balance of contradictory extremes. Sure, it looks like something you’d find pinned on a pre-schooler’s refrigerator door, but the subject matter and nuance of emotion is distinctly adult. The simplicity and child-hood association with his media choices make it easy to overlook just how skilled he is. With just a few pieces of cardboard he’s got not just pictures, but entire stories, coming to life here.

This next one is a favourite of mine. I don’t know much German, but the onomatopoeiac beauty of “Putzmeister” isn’t too hard to decipher. Plus, there’s a toilet nearby, so that helps…

That’s just the beginning. Hückstädt also does some pretty amazing photographic work with fruits and vegetables. It’s not that easy to make a watermelon look trepidatious, but he pulls it off big time:

There haven’t been too many times in my life where I’ve said “Gee, I wish I knew more German.” (and I’ve been to Berlin…) but right now I really wish I knew what all these vegetable posts were saying. I have a feeling it’s subtle and brilliant and probably one of those things that’s a bit too smart to translate into other languages. Like reading José Saramago; if it’s that kick-ass in English, imagine how mind-blowing it is in Portugese.

These are just from two sections from Hückstädt’s site – we haven’t even gotten into his vector, graphic, and print work yet. To delve deeper (especially if you can read German) check out his prolific career on his site.

Via Lifelounge

paul butler: collage works + collage party.

Canadian collage artist Paul Butler takes the experience of art off the wall and turns it into a full-on party. Literally.

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A “traveling experimental group studio with a rotating cast”, Collage Party has roamed North America and Europe creating walk-in, full-room cut and paste installations.

Unlike your run of the mill house party, these all-nighters (if the beer bottles and artists sleeping on clipping-strewn tables are any indication) are no-holds-barred creativity jams. The results range from nailing teddy bears to the wall to multi-coloured floor to ceiling construction paper towers to mummifying one of the artists in scraps and taping him to a pillar… when you think about it, why not? Its like pre-school craft time without having a teacher telling you not to eat the paste. No material is off limits as long as you can cut it, draw on it and then stick it to something else.

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Having referred to some of his own collages as “the visual equivalent of Prozac”, Butler’s individual works revolve around cutting, taping, pasting and combining found images and objects in way that completely alters their original meaning and creates a whole new visual message. Austere and seemingly simple (taping the words “Go Go Go” on a discarded plastic shopping bag bring up a certainly layered take on the state of consumer culture), it’s that apparent simplicity that makes the deeply meaningful messages within so delicious to uncover.

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In just a few words he can dilute these consumerist images into a commentary on what’s really being sold to us – when he glues “Decisions, decisions, decisions” onto a picture of a forest glade the relevancy of what he’s saying becoming subtly and immediately clear.

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Butler is also founder of The Other Gallery, a “web-based nomadic gallery” designed to promote up-and-coming Canadian artists.

 

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