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Artists who celebrate maximalism and euphoria in their art

Looking back at the year 2021, STIR refocuses on a selection of artists who create works with a burst of colour or at a massive scale.

by Rahul KumarPublished on : Dec 30, 2021

Art has various purposes – it provokes, questions norms, reflects on the contemporary times, or provide food for thought. Owing to the pandemic, the past two years have been distressed for all of humanity. And yet, art often became a potent media to uplift emotions. Over the past few years, minimalistic approach became the more popular format for visual artists. Yet, there are practices that remained focussed on using vivid colours, or scale that has been immersive. And there is a definite tilt towards this direction in the global visual art practices. We look back at 2021, for ten global artists whose work has focussed on maximalist approach.

1. Hans Kotter’s light sculptures unite design, photography and technology

Home Sweet Home…Almost | Maximalism | STIRworld
Home Sweet Home…Almost Image: Courtesy of Hans Kotter

To lend a fresh perspective to the physical spaces—parts of architecture hitherto neither seen nor experienced—is the sole purpose of the works by the German artist Hans Kotter. The optical art punctuated with abstract shapes and bright contrast continues to enjoy popularity among the artists and viewers alike. The immersive experience extended by the work, when placed on the walls or floors, creates an illusion of penetrating depth and oscillating movements. 

2. LeuWebb Projects’ public art installations are a revelation on history and perception

Melting Pot | Maximalism | STIRworld
Melting Pot Image: Courtesy of LeuWebb Projects

The visual aesthetic, spatial setting, and sensory enhancement come together to define the art practice of the Canada-based collective, LeuWebb Projects, led by artists Christine Leu and Alan Webb. As the title of one of the art installations by the collective - Melting Point - their works indeed are the melting point of a variegated engagement between the installation, site and the viewer. More often than not, the public art installations tend to have a lopsided view on creativity and criticality that falters to offer a holistic experience. Antithetical to such trends, this multi-disciplinary public art collective strives to amalgamate their training in architecture and proclivity towards art to create large-scale public installations.

3. Exploring the pioneering new media practice of Tigrelab

Jungle Book by Tigrelab| Maximalism | STIRworld
Jungle Book by Tigrelab Image: Courtesy of Tigrelab Image

Within the world of new media art and design, there are perhaps few studios that are quite as versatile and multitalented as Barcelona-based Tigrelab. The studio works with a variety of big names within the creative, automotive and lifestyle industry, and bafflingly does so with a team that does not exceed 12 people. “The founders of the studio are really pushed by the creative side of each project. Our objective is not to augment the volume of projects but to be able to choose what we want to do, and to keep our high standards of creativity and production,” says Mathieu Felix, co-creative director and spokesperson, Tigrelab.

4. Marcin Dudek's ‘Slash and Burn II’ in Brussels is a creative take on a disturbing past

View of performance by Marcin Dudek | Maximalism | STIRworld
View of performance by Marcin Dudek Image: Courtesy of HLP 1080

It could not be easily refuted that art is a reflection of a creator – a mirror to a personal event or be an epitome of the subjective understanding of the situation. Many a time, the art could serve both the purposes. In the hindsight, creating a piece of art on a not-so-pleasant event could be therapeutic not for the creator, but also beyond the immediate line of audience. Brussels and Kraków-based Marcin Dudek, who creates performances, installations, objects, and collages, is one such artist. From the figment of personal memories - when Dudek was a member of the Kraków-based football team, often dubbed as hooligan group - the artist gives shape to his immersive installation and performances.

5. ‘My Rockstars’ series by Hassan Hajjaj refers to hip hop culture and identity

Afrikan boy sittin by Hassan Hajjaj | Maximalism | STIRworld
Afrikan boy sittin by Hassan Hajjaj Image: Courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

The multi-faceted artist, designer, filmmaker and photographer, Hassan Hajjaj has often been referred to as the ‘Andy Warhol’ of Morocco. Hajjaj landed in the UK in his formative years and was taken by the hip hop culture of London of the 1970s. An impressionable mind, living off limited resources, and an environment that did not accept people from different ethnic backgrounds formed Hajjaj’s binary-identity. And with no intensions of becoming part of any high-art movement, Hajjaj began to indulge in making images of his friends and family that were inspiring to him.

6. Seeking the spirit in digital art through the works of Riccardo Franco-Loiri

Blessed Blossom | Maximalism | STIRworld
Blessed Blossom Image: Riccardo Franco-Loiri

A common critique levied at digital arts practices is the lack of a certain ‘soul’ factor; that such artistic pursuits are devoid of a humanistic core which may be found far more easily within the canons of classical art. This is, of course, merely a broader protest, and iterations thereof may be found across more specific practices such as animation, music and the graphic arts. Those who field such ham-handed views may fancy themselves as the old guard of a glorious and wholly imagined creative past, yet the key aspect of art itself that they invariably fail to grasp, is that it has never been a static entity and that it is instead engaged in a constant state of give-and-take with the habitus it is created in, and as a result, is ceaselessly evolving and mutating in any way it can. And practitioners such as Riccardo Franco-Loiri, who is part of a growing community of digital artists, is continuously attempting to channel the instinctual, emotional and ephemeral through a combination of techniques ranging from glitching to generative art, and everything in between.

7. Chronometric sculptures by augmented reality veteran Marjan Moghaddam

Baisser in Mary Boone, in Glassish and Waxish Glitch by Marjan Moghaddam | Maximalism | STIRworld
Baisser in Mary Boone, in Glassish and Waxish Glitch by Marjan Moghaddam Image: Marjan Moghaddam

Few artists exemplify this better than Marjan Moghaddam, who considers herself more of a 3D CGI (Common Gateway Interface) artist and animator, but also involves animation, video, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), print, sculpture and installation work in her practice. Discussing her work, Moghaddam tells STIR, “Since what I do is 3D, it’s really output independent, and my exhibited and commissioned AR art, such as my work for the Smithsonian Museum, was born out of my existing 3D CGI practice, as well as the original and unique style of figuration that I am known for, primarily as a fine arts digital artist.” The style of figuration the artist references is strongly informed by sculptural and humanistic ideas that have underpinned classical art for centuries, however Moghaddam does not merely welcome these, but also actively subverts them, chiefly through an aspect of motion, mutating them to create vivid, captivating and highly dynamic pieces in the process.

8. Adela Andea’s light installations reflect on organic and technological matters

Chaos Incarnate | Maximalism | STIRworld
Chaos Incarnate Image: Courtesy of Adela Andea

The glaring shift in the environment, causing an unhealthy balance, still remains outside the clear sight of the vision for many. Illuminating upon these changes are the kinetic light sculptures by the Texas-based new media artist, Adela Andea. The industrial electronic components such as light and plastic, designed in incongruent structures, offer organic shape to the installations. At the core of her artistic ideas lies the social responsibility for research that can ensure technological progress and ecological balance. Inspired by “nature, natural versus artificial concepts; environmental issues and technological advances”, the artist aspires to blend aesthetically the romantic notion of nature with the manmade aesthetic.

9. The exhibition 'Out of Space' digs deep into the multifaceted meaning of space

Manuel Rossner, How did we get here? | Maximalism | STIRworld
Manuel Rossner, How did we get here? Image: Courtesy of Manuel Rossner

The conceptual thought of space - how to meditate and break - in an effort to lend it a new shape and novel meaning, has populated the works of abstract and minimalist artists alike. The idea of space shifted from geographical location to the social construct and societal orders as and when the American minimalists initiated the task to examine the engagement between space, object and agents. With the advent of digital technology, the space transcended to be more dominant as a virtual entity than physical. The exhibition Out of Space at Hamburger Kunsthalle in HamburgGermany, curated by Ifee Tack and Jan Steinke acknowledges this transition when it presents the work by an array of artists including Jürgen Albrecht, Cabrita, Dan Graham, Jacqueline Hen, Armin Keplinger, Hubert Kiecol, Jan Köchermann, Robert Morris, Manuel Rossner, amongst many others.

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