Let the Bricks Speak

An Interview with Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer is a forerunner among the artists who explored the potential of creating brick sculptures in recent times. In fact he dedicated three decades of his life in perfecting his skills at this not–so–usual–art form. Due to the nature of the work, brick sculptures are particularly suited for public art projects. Many prominent landmarks of Reidsville, North Carolina, where the artist lives, and beyond are now adorned with Brad’s sculptural essays. The visual lyricism of his art is self evident.

Creating exquisite pieces of sculptures, including bas reliefs, of bricks is actually an age old process with an illustrious history dating back to 575 BC. The Ishtar Gate, reconstructed and preserved, is a proud possession of Pergamon Museum, Berlin. But many who visit the museum to observe this architectural marvel do not seem to recognise the fact that this monument, dedicated to goddess Ishtar, is made entirely of bricks. Numerous rows of golden lions, dragons, aurochs and floral motifs studding the gate are nothing but carved bricks sculpted out of the blocks of clay glazed in an ethereally azure tone. Babylonians were responsible for elevating brick sculptures to an art form. Artists and craftsmen of Babylon must have captivated Ishtar, the deity of love in Sumer and Babylon, with such an offering. Brick sculpture did not enjoy such exalted status after Babylon suffered cruel blows into the hands of time.

An Untamed World as Revealed

by Connor Stefanison

Connor Stefanison was born on May 31, 1991 in Burnaby, Canada. He was introduced to the world of photography while indulging his other passion, mountain biking. Since then Connor devoted ample time to better understand the nuances of the craft. And when, less than a year ago, he became the first Canadian to receive the prestigious Eric Hosking Portfolio Award, presented to him in London, he knew he is on the right track. The honour not only granted him instant international recognition but also provided him with motivation to broaden his horizon even further.

Being a student of Zoological Sciences, Connor Stefanison’s deeper understanding of the wildlife seems to positively affect his capability as a photographer. This in turn is reflected on the images captured by him of birds and other animals in their natural habitat, such as the baby American dippers screaming for food or a solitary Agalychnis callidryas peeping from behind two slender branches of a tree.

The scenic landscapes closer home or in other parts of North America do not escape Connor’s keen eyes either. Using his enthusiastic mind and roving camera lenses he keeps on registering the lavish flower bed in Mount Revelstoke National Park, the threadlike streams of Fern Falls or the frozen tunnel in Summer Melt on photographic plates — the ever changing grand canvas of nature fresh and fragrant at one point, eerie silent the next.

Legendary artist Paul Gauguin said, Nature has mysterious infinities and imaginative power. It is always varying the productions it offers to us. The artist himself is one of nature’s means. Even considering all his accomplishments Connor Stefanison’s career as a visual artist has only begun. It will be of infinite interest for all the aficionados of photography to follow his development as a visual storyteller closely and find out for themselves if he has done justice to his natural talent. Encouragingly for him, he will always find inexhaustible sources of inspiration in nature that will never fail him if he continues remaining truthful to it.

The Intricacy of Mosaic

In Life & Art of Ed Chapman

Born in 1971, Ed Chapman tiptoed into the world of art holding the hands of his artist parents. Playing with pastels or pencils were part of his everyday routine even before he was conscious of his natural gifts. But instead of the more conventional media like acrylic or gouache, Ed Chapman found mosaic to be ideally suited for his artistic expressions. He devoted himself in the exploration of mosaic art and finding his own niche in its illustrious legacy. From ceramic to pieces of paper, smashed vinyl records to plectrums, there is hardly any item with which creating art is not possible for Ed. He mostly uses famous faces from the world of music and art as his subject. He aims for maximum impact by trying to keep the palette as simple as possible and audience is left gasping at beholding the eloquent faces staring back at them from the frames. Watch closely and you will start identifying the fragments of life affectionately preserved in each piece of vinyl or ceramic before being skilfully strewn into a larger picture.

The Urban Reality & Photography

An Interview with Viviana Peretti

The fact that a city so readily divulges her secrets to Viviana Peretti, or more aptly to her camera lenses, does not come as a big surprise. Viviana spent much of her childhood and teens in a small town close to Rome, greater part of a decade in bustling Bogotá, Colombia, briefly spent time in beautiful Marseille, France while firmly anchoring herself in the global village of New York. In true sense, as in life so through her art, Viviana has treaded from serenity to pandemonium before being back to orderliness. The artist is also an anthropologist who graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Rome in 1997. Viviana is fluent in multiple languages besides being proficient with the language of images. Nine years spent in Colombia have provided her with the necessary impetus to document lives of people around her as viewed from her own unique perspective. In 2010, she duly earned a degree in Documentary Photography and Photojournalism from the International Center of Photography in New York.

Unlike many other photographers of her generation Viviana Peretti finds herself equally adept in using analogue, digital cameras or even iPhone for the purpose of storytelling. These are only instruments for her to be used in accordance to the objective of the visual narratives akin to a painter’s choice of medium or different types of brushes. She also loves the freedom of selecting the subject of her photographic essays for herself, so much so, that often for her personal projects she captures the imagery for a particular series first and then pitches it to media for publication. It is undoubtedly an extremely risky venture, something that many would dare not attempt. But she hardly believes in a set formula for success. Viviana received numerous fellowships and awards including the Sony World Photography Award earlier this year. She keeps herself devoted in honing her skills as her reputation increases by the day and her photographs are featured in many esteemed newspaper and periodicals across the globe. She is determined to give every flying minute something to keep in store.

The Grid Holds My Heart

Rosemarie Bloch

Nonrepresentational art captured the imagination of artists since late 19th century. But in the major part of 20th century it literally devoured the hearts and minds of painters, sculptors and even architects. From fauvism to futurism, cubism to Dadaism the language of artistic abstraction evolved at a rapid pace. A world ravaged by war and economic depressions needed a radically different thought process for re–establishing order, mending broken lives and alleviating pain as best as possible. The romanticism associated with baroque, rococo or neo–classicism seemed like a distant memory and was hardly relevant in the backdrop of death and destruction. Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, one of the founding members of Futurism, summed up the despondency perfectly when he said, ‘There is no longer beauty except in the struggle. No more masterpieces without an aggressive character. Poetry must be a violent assault against the unknown forces in order to overcome them and prostrate them before men.’

In this artistic milieu Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg introduced neo–plasticism to the world. They stripped their canvas of everything except pure lines and shapes depicted in solid blocks of black, red, yellow, blue and white. A new dialect of art was born that is faithful only to the purity of geometric forms. It became hugely popular among artists across Europe and North America.

Rosemarie Bloch was born in 1940, Cincinnati, Ohio. She was too young at the time to understand the impact of abstract geometric painting and why Broadway Boogie–Woogie completed by Piet Mondrian in 1943 is still one of most treasured items in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Graphic designers found the theme inherently stimulating. So it does not come as a surprise when Rosemarie Bloch find her artistic expressions in grids and become motivated to explore and paint a city’s vista on canvas in the language of abstraction.