Saturday, December 8, 2012

'Snow White and the Huntsman': Colleen Atwood on Creating the Fairytale Costumes (Video)

Colleen Atwood on her inspiration for wardrobe of Rupert Sanders' 'Snow White and the Huntsman'. She shares that she made over a thousand costumes for the movie and co-star Charlize Theron's initial reaction to her outfit.


In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Atwood -- who has won three Academy Awards for best costume design for Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha and Alice in Wonderland -- explained that she based her ideas for the costumes first on the script and Sanders’ vision.
The most dramatic collection of costumes went to Theron, whose Queen sports some stunning gowns, including Atwood’s current favorite, an off-white and gold wedding gown with an intricate collar.
Atwood says that the gowns mirror the progression of the Queen's mental state. “She comes from kind of a hopeful place, thinking she’s going to be a queen again,” Atwood said of Theron's character.
“Her costumes kind of crumble along with her. They go from light to dark to very dark at the end,” she added.
The wedding gown features a collar that Atwood says was inspired by “a skeletal cage.” It’s made out of parchment paper that has been manipulated into a complicated structural shape.
The costume designer also told THR about the unique detail she added to one of Charlize’s costume: dung beetle shells. She found the item at a Thailand market, and each one had to be individually drilled to put on the bodice of one of the gowns.
In contrast, Stewart’s Snow White spends most of the film in just two outfits: a earth-toned frock and a suit of armor. The frock, which is a green tone that Atwood said went well with Stewart’s eyes, starts out long, but gets a makeover from Hemsworth’s huntsman.
“Once she escapes and meets up with the huntsman, he actually cuts off her dress and makes it so she can run, and move, and do all the things that she has to do,” Atwood said.
The other outfit that Stewart wears is a suit of armor, which Atwood revealed was designed to look like several different types of armor made into one. “So, it’s armor of the people,” she added.

Watch THR’s full interview with Colleen Atwood above.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fernando de Szyszlo


          Fernando De Szyszlo Valdelomar (born July 5, 1925 in Lima) is a Peruvian artist who is a key figure in advancing abstract art in Latin America since the mid-1950s, and one of the leading Abstract artists in Peru.


          Szyszlo studied at the School of Fine Arts of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. At the age of 24 he traveled to Europe where he studied the works of the masters, particularly Rembrandt, Titian and Tintoretto, and absorbed the varied influences of cubism, surrealism, informalism, and abstraction. While in Paris he met Octavio Paz and André Breton and frequented the group of writers and intellectuals that met regularly at the Cafe Flore engaging in vigorous discussions on how they could participate in the international modern movement while preserving their Latin American cultural identity. Upon his return to Peru, Szyszlo became a major force for artistic renewal in his country breaking new ground by expressing a Peruvian subject matter in a non-representational style. He was married to a Peruvian poet Blanca Varela, with whom he has two children.


                                                  Casa de Venus

           Fernando de Szyszlo is a parsimonious octogenarian but a gentleman. He’s not just an artist, but an intellectual at the forefront of Peruvian culture for the past 50 years, a keen observer of his country’s political and social life. At times, he has been critical of what has happened around him, at other times laudatory, but never indifferent.

             Route to Mendieta                             La Habitacion

            Szyszlo has been painting for nearly 60 years, confronting the canvas on a daily basis. He tells me that he has kept some 40 pieces and that he is always sad to part with his works. He feels that they are never finished, a poignant source of dissatisfaction for an artist who has produced over 2,500 paintings, which are on display in museums or part of private collections all over the world.

           Spain                                      El Lugar, Los Instrumentos VI

            He started out studying architecture, but explains, “To improve my drawing, I took a night course and then changed my career goals.” He traveled to Paris in the late 1940s and eventually had to face a difficult choice: to remain in a challenging but stimulating environment or to return to his native country. He decided to come back home to Peru, because “You can’t contribute to progress from a Parisian café.”

         El Innombrable (The Unnameable)                                  

           Lyricism of color enriched by rich textural effects and a masterly handling of light and shadow are hallmarks of Szyszlo's painting. Highly identified with the linking of ancient cultures to a modernist artistic language, Szyszlo's art reflects a broad culture that draws on many sources from philosophy and science to literature. His evocative allusions to rituals, myths, and the geography of sea and desert landscapes are often associated with pre-Columbian sacred sites. Since his first solo exhibit in Lima in 1947, Szyszlo has had over 100 individual exhibitions in museums and galleries in Latin America, Europe and the United States and has participated in the prestigious international biennials of São Paulo and Venice. His work is represented in important public and private collections throughout the world.



   Getting out of the Labyrinth                        Ronda Nocturna

     Dos Camino a Mendieta                                                

                    Pasaje Paracas                                            

                               Fernando De Szyszlo

Tuesday, October 2, 2012



     A couple of years ago I was invited to take part in a local college program which was to be compiled of several courses on Fibre Art. My particular part in it was teaching embroidery. Since one of the issues that are very dear to my heart as an artist is the preservation of old traditions in art and crafts, I decided to design the course around several classic embroidery techniques.

Crewel Embroidery

   My idea was to introduce the students to Cross Stitch, Crewel, Chain Stitch, Couching, Trapunto, Punch Needle and Lace on Net. I was going to show them samples of each and encourage them to choose the two that are most appealing to them. My hope was that distinct personalities and tastes would play their role and the students would make different choices. That way even though they wouldn’t be able to try all the techniques on their own, they’d be able to observe and interact with others who did and eventually return to continue their study, or even attempt to try them on their own. 


     I developed one small floral motif, which was simple enough to be completed in the course of several classes, yet pretty enough to be put to a further use and incorporated in another project.

Chain Stitch Embroidery

     I intentionally used the same motif for all the different styles, in order to illustrate how various techniques create completely distinct look and effect. The idea was that when someone mastered more of the embroideries, they would have better and more interesting options when they designed their own projects.


     Unfortunately, the idea about the Fibre Art courses was never realized at the end. However, I managed to complete the samples and I’m quite satisfied with the effect. I hope I can still put them to good use one day. After all they take a while to complete and it would be such a loss to keep them always hidden away in a box. 

Cross Stitch Embroidery

 Lace on Net Embroidery

Punch Needle Embroidery


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ran Hwang

Whimsical Dream

     Ran Hwang, a Korean-born artist working in New York, Zurich and Seoul, is best known for large-scale wall installations in which buttons, pins, beads and thread are used to create silhouette images of traditional Korean vessels, falling blossoms or caged birds. At times, the shapes are those of such diversely revered figures as the Buddha or Marilyn Monroe. Pinned directly onto the wall of the gallery, using each element like a pixel on a screen, at closer look, the amount of individual buttons is somewhat overwhelming, but from afar, the installation transforms into one breathtaking image.

Reality Game

     Hwang’s working method, developed over 25years, has always been something of a private performance, if not a ritual. Projecting an image on a hard surface such as a wall, ceiling, window frame or portable panel, she traces the figure’s contours, then laboriously fills in the outline with thousands of buttons or beads impaled on long straight pins. The obsessively repetitive action (aided these days by numerous assistants) results in works like Sweet Destiny, 2010, a roughly 23 1/2-foot-long image of bright red plum blossoms – a traditional symbol of renewal and/or fleeting youth-under which lies an uncoiled snake, beautiful yet deadly. This creature dramatically offsets the work’s almost too gorgeous spring-time motif, suggesting that every object of desire has its dangers, and that lovely illusion and grim reality coexist like two sides of a coin.

 Sweet Destiny 

Sweet Destiny - detail

     Dualism – ever present in her works, is even more evident in the video work Garden of Water (2010), a room-size installation in which ghostly images of chandeliers are projected on transparent sheets of Plexiglas. A huge, silhouetted spider begins to roam about a web, and before long we see its would-be prey. Slowly at first, then with accelerating speed, the chandeliers are overrun by hordes of skittering bugs. Just when the infestation is at its peak, a noisy deluge washes all the shadowy critters away, and the process begins again. The cyclical cleansing is not only mysterious in its origins but also discomfortingly futile.

Garden of Water

     In recent years, the Korean-born Ran Hwang, resident of the U.S. since 1997, has developed two related bodies of work: one composed of moderately scaled 3D collages, the other comprising large wall installations that utilize buttons, pins and thread to evoke a hovering figure of the Buddha. In both modes, between which she alternates freely, Hwang addresses current social issues—particularly “menial” labour and its relation to the glamour trade—as well as timeless spiritual concerns. The overall effect of her work is to ennoble commonplace materials, processes and persons, while simultaneously grounding and authenticating two very different types of grandeur-one pop-cultural, the other divine.

The Rest                                              

     There is, then, a teasing, peek-a-boo quality to Hwang's evocations of the Buddha. In some works, the great teacher is a presence, a distinct form in positive space, created from thousands of small items-usually buttons and pins-concentrated to imply a solid mass. Other pieces show only a haunting linear outline. Still others offer a field of tiny elements within which the Buddha is a virtual knockout, a phantom of negative space. Beyond its innate formal intrigue, this technique has a major thematic import. The absence of one who is nevertheless very much there implies that spiritual substance resides in the mind and the heart of the willing perceiver. Every religious devotee, like every lover, knows the paradox of a being who is compellingly present even when materially absent, and whose fleshly manifestation seems only a token of an immeasurably finer, untouchable essence.

East Palace

     When an artist and the right subject matter find each other, the art can really take off. When Hwang was a child in Korea her father used to take her to Buddhist temples. No child is ever fully aware of the meaning of worship and ritual, but an affinity for the sacred is planted then, and is a seed that can flourish later. For Hwang it blossomed as art.

Empty me

     Zen Buddhism is apparent not only in Hwang’s motifs, but also in the process of constructing the works. Weaving thread, creating hand-made paper buttons, hammering each pin approximately 25 times until it is secure are all time-consuming tasks. The monotony and receptiveness of these actions require the upmost concentration and discipline, recalling the meditative state practiced by Zen masters. In the catalogue essay, Barbara Pollack writes: “On one hand, it is an overtly labour-intensive mode of art-making, to the point that thinking about the sheer effort can distract from appreciation of the work. But, for the artist, the task of mounting buttons upon buttons, one pin at a time, parallels a Buddhist monk's practice of staring at a blank wall for months on end as a path to enlightenment. Her art-making is entirely meditative for Hwang, and she hopes that viewers can share the meditative state evoked by her strongest work.”

Garden of Water 2

Born in the Republic of Korea in 1960, Ran Hwang lives and works in both Seoul and New York City. She studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and attended the Graduate School of Fine Arts at Chung-Ang University in Seoul. She has exhibited at several international institutions including the Queens Museum of Art, New York; the Chelsea Art Museum, New York; The Seoul Arts Centre Museum; and The Jeju Museum of Art, Jeju Island. Hwang’s work is also a part of numerous private and public collections including The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul; and The Hammond Museum, North Salem, NY.

Dreaming of Joy

Wonderful secret

Whimsical Dream 1

Ran Hwang


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Rex Ray

    The artwork of San Francisco graphic designer Rex Ray has become a prolific mediation on the abstract and dynamic nature of fluid forms. Begun at night simply as a personal and therapeutic visual antidote to his highly self-edited, computer-based commercial work during the day, his art projects (small-scale paintings and collages now numbering in the thousands) came from humble origins; scissors, paste and fashion magazines. Ray brings an unusually tight sense of craft and precision to the compositions of these smallish, highly colourful, and always-playful artworks. 


     The result is a fusion of art and design sensibilities. Biomorphic-, teardrop-, and nature-based forms comprise the bulk of Ray's vocabulary, and paintings such as 'The New Water' appear to have been created mid-drip. Its immediate communication of the joy of movement is balanced against its momentarily arrested state; the delight of composing just for the sake of composing is immediately apparent. Ray creates forms of indeterminate origins-familiar but not identifiable-that offer the viewer a sense of spontaneous liberation. The question is not why Ray does such things, but why most other graphic designers and painters do not.


     A San Francisco native, Rex Ray is an acclaimed graphic artist whose visual works include paintings, collages, prints and photographs. Ray’s recent work employs 1950s-styled organic shapes inspired by Pucci designs. His posters are characterized by intense, jewel-like colours, and their stylistic variety reflect his ability to adapt lettering, sly symbolism, portrait art and free-hand drawing to unique artists and music.


     For Rex Ray, the joy of making and viewing art is his continuing motivation. Drawing inspiration from his acknowledged influences of the Arts and Crafts Movement, Abstract Expressionism, organic and hard-edged abstraction, pattern and textile design, and Op Art, Ray playfully combines these formalist concepts with decorators tips gleaned from lowbrow publications and sources of popular culture in his pursuit to create beautiful things. Gracefully bridging the gap between fine and applied art, he distinguishes himself in each realm.


     Ray’s work exudes beauty with a subversive edge that stems from an attitude grounded in alternative subculture. He was an early admirer of punk and new wave music. Music holds a special place in his life. A former record store employee and devoted collector, he has worked with leading contemporary musicians, contributing designs for many album covers and concert posters for artists such as Radiohead, Bjork, Nine Inch Nails, Deee-Lite, and David Bowie.


     In the art world, design is a troublesome concept: purists will tell you that design is too close to "real life," too "utilitarian" to adorn a gallery's walls. Rex Ray, who's also well known for his graphic design work, is that rare artist who manages to maintain credibility with both his commercial and his gallery projects. He has an uncommon facility with visual balance and slightly barbed beauty, which are in full evidence in this expansive solo exhibition. 

     The centrepiece of the shows is usually a wall covered with dozens of collages. These modest works on paper are composed of images and text (surgeon general's warnings, splashy headlines) from glossy magazines that have been cut into ovals, squares, and vaguely atomic-age shapes and arranged into mesmerizing and pattern-intensive abstractions. The fact that these are recycled from the finished product of graphic designers for mass media magazines adds a sly irony to the project. 


     Elsewhere, Ray displays paintings that employ similarly 1950's-styled organic shapes and collaged elements that sometimes bring to mind early paintings by Lari Pittman, another artist with designer roots. The electric quality of his paintings bears some relationship to the artist's use of digital media -- another hot button in the art world -- well illustrated with a suite of luscious computer-generated prints that exude the almost cosmological glamour of a rain-soaked street reflecting coloured city lights. Like many of his works, they reveal that Ray may blur boundaries between media, but he can seemingly effortlessly squeeze out images with a universal appeal.


     Rex Ray was born in Germany in 1956. He lives and works in San Francisco’s Mission District. Before moving to California in 1981, he was a long time resident of Colorado Springs and he still maintains his connection to Colorado. In 1988, he received a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute, CA. As an accomplished and award-winning graphic artist, Ray has produced distinctive and striking designs for books, magazines, posters, and compact disc covers, including recent projects for Steven Spielberg and David Bowie. 


     His paintings, collages, and designs have been widely exhibited at galleries and museums, including San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Jose Museum of Modern Art, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco. He is an accomplished graphic designer with a client list that includes Apple, Sony Music, and The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York. In 2009, Ray’s work was exhibited in a solo show at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver and was the subject of a full length PBS Documentary “How to Make a Rex Ray”. Ray’s rock poster work was featured in the exhibition of The Art of Design at SFMOMA.




Rex Ray