In all its incarnations, art has always been an accurate gauge of society’s current values and norms. It has been a prominent outlet through which social, political, and cultural dimensions are expressed; and as a consequence, we attain a sense of someone’s identity through it. Art helps facilitate the gift of an open-ended dialogue and assists in bridging the divide between different parties.
The following are a number of artists whose work has been garnering a lot of attention and redefining the term ‘contemporary art’ for the new age…
A contemporary artist and political activist who uses his works to criticize the Chinese Government with regards to its stance on human rights and democratic issues. Much of his work is rooted in his fight for freedom of expression and thought, as well as combating those who wish to muzzle his voice. His exhibit at the AGO opens on August 17th, but a teaser piece is currently on display. To commemorate the tragic loss of 90,000 lives during the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake (5,000 of those lives lost were school children), Ai used 360 backpacks found at the sites of many collapsed school houses to construct a 5’ foot snake. It coils around the ceiling of the AGO as a reminder to us that their deaths were not in vain; it is also a message to the Government to take accountability for the poorly constructed schools. Had they met building code regulations, the children may have had a chance to escape.
By weaving together a tapestry of Lego pieces, Sawaya speaks to every adult’s inner child with his works of art. He has elevated the humble little blocks into something more refined; his pieces speak volumes and tap into our inner psyche. He captivates his audiences with his enchanting work because of the attention to detail, accuracy of scale, and lush colour choices. He is also a testament to being a product of our generation; Sawaya was courageous enough to venture from a steady job as an attorney into the unknown as a Lego Artist.
The realism is breathtaking. At first glance, it seems as though his art is a photograph, but upon closer inspection, it is actually the thoughtful layering effect of resin and acrylic; the main element is painted on top to create a creature which looks as though it could spring to life. His work is meticulously detailed and he has an astounding eye for capturing the nuances found in water creatures: from fish scales to a turtle’s eyes. More of the Singapore-born artist’s work can be found on his Flickr page and on deviantART.
Non- traditional art forms are being used to tell stories and express ideas, and as a result it is transcending boundaries and establishing connections in our world. No longer are we isolated from each other’s thoughts and emotions; instead we learn to be more empathetic and compassionate towards each other’s plights.