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SO OBSESSED

Some vibrant nostalgia from the mind of Michelle Guintu. East Bay raised but SF residing, Michelle has developed her aesthetic simply by painting the things she likes. From 90′s R&B superstars, like Missy and Aaliyah, to Joe Montana paintings and McDonald’s installations.

Category Archives: Art

THE STREETFIGHTERS

London-based photographer Luca Sage explores Accra's vibrant youth boxing scene

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Travel the world, take pictures? Surely it’s a lifestyle more than a few of us aspire to. With a camera never too far from his side, London-based photographer Luca Sage has made a career out of documenting culture since falling into the field of social anthropology through his studies at the University of Swansea. Most recently, Sage set his lens upon the adolescent fighters of Jamestown, a storied district in the Ghanaian capital of Accra, where he was able to capture the beauty, the triumph and the violence that characterize the widely popular boxing matches. Powerfully depicting the action and excitement of the fights, Luca’s photographs reveal how the matches serve as both an avenue for entertainment and a function of community. Recently, we chatted with Luca in depth about his documentary work, from the challenges of photographing fights, to the importance of boxing in Ghanian society, to what it’s like to be chased by an elephant.

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THE COCONUT REVOLUTION

How a tiny island nation orchestrated the world's first eco-revolution

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The Coconut Revolution

“This is the story of an unsung people, who took on Papua New Guinea, Australia and the biggest mining company in the world–who started by fighting helicopter gunships with bows and arrows, and who have lost a tenth of their population–and yet have managed to create what may be the world’s first true eco-revolution.”

When I saw Michael Lewis speak in Berkeley the other night, he said something pretty revelatory about his creative process as a writer. Basically, he told us that his favorite part of his creative process as a storyteller was finding a story too good to fuck up–that he found himself motivated most by the fact that he’d been entrusted to tell a story so compelling in and of itself, that even if he told it just competently, it would make for something entirely captivating. I’d imagine British director Dom Rotheroe must have felt the same way about the story he found upon arriving, flanked by revolutionary soldiers, in a tiny boat on the shores of Bougainville. His film, The Coconut Revolution, released a decade ago, tells the improbable story of an indigenous people whose sheer force of will and ingenuity overcame staggering odds. It’s the story of their fight for their land, their culture, and their independence–and of a rare and extraordinary exception to what tends to be the rule of global capitalism.

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THE RAP COLORING BOOK

Bun B curates a colorful glimpse into the world of hip-hop

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Man, leave it to Bun B to be always be a step ahead of the curve. The first rapper to hop on Greedy Genius? I mean come on, the vision, the foresight, tremendous. Then the Sean Kingston collabo? I mean come on. It’s not hard to see why Bun has remained a respected figure in the game with power moves like these. But in all seriousness, Bun B is really on to some cool shit with the curation of the Rap Coloring Book. A collaboration between the formidable B and writer slash illustrator Shea Serrano, the Rap Coloring Book is in fact Bun B’s Jumbo Coloring And Rap Activity Tumblr which has recently acquired a book deal of its own. Featuring our most beloved rappers of today’s hip hop landscape, the book serves as a who’s who reference guide to who was poppin around the year 2012. With Nicki by the Numbers pages situated next to Tyga Word scrambles within the City of Rack, Bun B’s Jumbo Coloring and Rap Activity Book is quite simply tight as fuck.

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THE BOOKYARD

Massimo Bartolini's outdoor library in the middle of Ghent

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Championing a similar cause to that of Arma De Instruccion Masiva (or The Weapon of Mass Instruction), Italian mixed media artist Massimo Bartolini completed his installation of twelve bookcases situated within the grassy field of St. Peter’s Abbey Vineyard this summer in Ghent, Belgium. Constructed in conjunction with the Belgian Art Festival, TRACK, the installation housed thousands of books from public libraries who volunteered to put their inventory on display for purchase in the park. Working with a quasi-honor system type set up for the payment process, patrons of the outdoor library were instructed to leave a donation inside a small box next the shelves. With the profits going towards these institutions, it’s hard to say whether the initiative has become much of a money maker for the libraries. At the very least though, The Bookyard is a pretty dope way to disseminate information in the 2012. Hit the MORE for a conversation with Bartolini about the inspiration and execution of the project.

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PORNARELLI

The erotic artwork of Fulvia Monguzzi at Venus Gallery

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Fulvia Monguzzi

Lots of lovely shit to talk about here. Most prominently, bright, radiant colors and graphic sex scenes, illustrated simply and playfully by Italian artist Fulvia Monguzzi. There are also a handful of beautiful black-and-whites, which fall somewhere on the spectrum between stately and scribbly, and which also feature no shortage of crazy positions and genitalia of all shapes and sizes. Far from being simply an erotic artist though, Monguzzi’s body of work is as varied as it is colorful, from eroticism to illustrations that would feel quite at home in children’s books, and from simple drawings to mixed media collage.

Venus, the digital-only gallery currently featuring her work, on the other hand, leans a bit more heavily toward the explicitly sexual and the sexually explicit. Dedicated to showcasing and exploring all things erotic across multiple artistic disciplines, the Italian gallery seeks to present these works in a space free from the often moralistic discussion and preconceived notions that often accompany their subject matter. Aside from that, the forward-thinking digital gallery concept offers art lovers from around the globe the chance to interact with these works, and even to cop a piece if they feel so inclined. Needless to say, Monguzzi’s work is a great place to start, but Venus has already amassed an impressive digital and physical collection, featuring work from luminaries like Richard Kern and Nobuyushi Araki, to name just a few. Check Venus out here, and make sure to explore a bit more of Monguzzi’s diverse collection of work here. And thanks to the good folks at Pas Un Autre for the heads up.

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PRETTY UGLY

Suehiro Maruo conjures up your worst nightmares

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Suehiro Maruo

I was first exposed to Suehiro Maruo’s hypnotically grotesque artwork while lurking the magazine section of Tower Records (RIP), when I happened to stumble upon a special Japanese art edition of Juxtapoz. I was already familiar with the level of violence, sexuality and general depravity adult manga artists were capable of, but Maruo encapsulated those various themes in such an elegant “I almost feel bad for thinking this is pretty” kind of way. A self-taught high school dropout, Maruo’s surreal horror worlds are influenced by the poetic nature of traditional Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock paintings, and elements of Western pulp art. His focus on deformities, birth defects, violence and sexuality all work in unison to form pleasantly uncomfortable works that have garnered him an international cult following, despite the fact that few of his works have been published outside of Japan. Who knew that such fucked up shit could be this beautiful?

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EVEN ARTICHOKES HAVE HEARTS

A look into the photographic world of London-based photographer Coral Amiga

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Coral Amiga
Photography By Coral Amiga

In a sense, glancing at Coral Amiga’s photographs offers an escape; a window into a distant life with touches of familiarity. Whimsical yet lasting, Coral’s work manages to encompass a level of mystery within each shot. Who are her subjects and where are they now? Do they talk about the same things we talk about? All questions raised, but left deliberately unanswered by Coral’s ever attentive lens. Recently I had the opportunity to ask Coral about her fascination with capturing moments and the ethos behind her passion for photography. Her response, “I never really knew what I wanted to photograph or why. I would just always carry a camera with me, with the hope that something would inspire me. There was no real pressure or motivation beforehand, but then as soon as something caught my eye there would be this real sense of urgency. An overwhelming feeling that would propel me to take a picture.” With a number of captivating series on her personal site, Even Artichokes Have Hearts serves only as our first introduction to Coral’s work. Stay tuned for what she does next.

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CAPTAIN MURPHY – DUALITY

A cartoon rap god introduces himself via psychedelic art film

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Captain Murphy

So whoever’s behind this project is having a hell of a lot of fun with it. Having rolled out a handful of top-notch, dusty ass jams over the last few months, Captain Murphy, the mysterious artist represented only by a cartoon character bearing heavy resemblance to Ricky Rozay, has captured the imagination of just about every indie or hip-hop blog out there. So let’s do a quick review of what we know so far. For one, they’ve got some famous friends, at least one of which might actually be “him”: Tyler, Earl, FlyLo, Just Blaze, Madlib, the list goes on. Secondly, they really dig cartoons. Third, the pitch-fucked vocals, as warped as they are, seem pretty damn consistent with Tyler and Earl’s respective flows. At this point, you can probably piece together your own theory, based on all the evidence.

In any case, unraveling the mystery doesn’t quite seem like the point here. All speculation aside, the Captain Murphy campaign just seems like a cool way to present an artist, or maybe more accurately, an idea, or an aesthetic. As far as I can tell, Murphy actually is a cartoon character, voiced by a few familiar faces with big imaginations. Plus, the music’s actually fucking great. Duality accompanies all those excellent songs in epic fashion, a half hour saga-mixtape-episode (viewable below), complete with grainy cult footage, acid trip animations, classic ’80s movie clips, and all different types of other strangely juxtaposed shit–kung fu, graphic sex, even clips from that trippy ass Simpsons episode where Homer gets stuck in 3-D. Whatever it is you want to call it, this is some of the coolest shit I’ve seen all year.

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ILLUSTRATIONS BY GEORGE MCCALLUM

The latest from the Bristol-based illustrator

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George McCallum

I know I wasn’t the only one blown away when Danny so graciously put us up on his good friend George. Now, just shy of a year after our interview with the Bristol-based illustrator, he’s busier than ever, putting in work on everything from comics to collaborative zines to plush toys. Back when we first featured his work, George told us about the colorful set of influences that have sparked his creativity, from Tank Girl to 2000 A.D.. It should be no surprise then that George has kept his signature aesthetic in tact, not to mention his penchant for subversive humor and playful, cartoony imagery, creating the kind of vibrant stylistic universe that might feel at home on say, Adult Swim. The collection here is just a snapshot of George’s latest work, borrowed from his Tumblr, from freelance work on zines to full-fledged comic strips and beyond. Expect to see more from him soon.

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THE OTHER DREAM TEAM

The story of Lithuania's improbable journey to Olympic glory, with a little help from the Grateful Dead

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Lithuania

Barcelona, 1992. In the version of this story we’re all too familiar with, the storyline follows a who’s who of NBA mega-legends, decked out in the good old red, white and blue, absolutely oblerating the competition, and cruising their way to Olympic gold in the process. On the podium just to the right though, stood a team outfitted head to toe in tie-dye, a cartoon skeleton, mid-bashout, emblazoned across their chests. As you might expect, that same team had a back story at least as compelling as that of the team most consider to be the greatest ever assembled.

Appropriately entitled The Other Dream Team, director Markius Marevicius’ new documentary tells in rich, vivid detail, the story of the 1992 Lithuanian team’s unlikely journey in the broader context of Lithuania’s struggle for independence from the Soviet Union. Most centrally, it’s a fascinating example of the potential of sports to act as a symbol, or even a catalyst for political and social change. But even aside from the big picture, tragedy-to-triumph stuff, The Other Dream Team is equally lovable for its attention to small details–to the individual peculiarities and unlikely twists of fate that brought a fledgling nation onto the international stage. Among the strangest of all those details, probably, is the involvement of the Grateful Dead, who, upon hearing about the plight of Lithuania’s talented, but underfunded team, decided to lend a hand.

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