Dani Labrosse’s stuff – composite illustrations

Last week an email dropped into my mailbox from a new, young artist living in Edinburgh.

Dani Labrosse had been trying to find the name of the artist who painted the shutter near where he stays in Leith (it was Jamie Johnson’s on the shutters of the Game Exchange, by the way).

At the same time he let me know about a project he’s in the middle of too. And, it’s a damn good job he did, it’s very much in line with my current tastes!

The project titled “Bubblegum and Ritalin” invites photography submissions from just about anyone, that are then effectively drawn over by Dani, creating a composite illustration.

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Dani said, “I’m inspired by a lot of neon-y 80s and 90s candy packaging and toys, the texture and the colors of my characters reminded me of that, they looked ‘bubblegum’-ish, I guess.”

“Ritalin is used to treat ADHD, and the characters in the pictures sort of look like they were made up by a hyperactive child, so Bubblegum and Ritalin sounded cool.”

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It may well be a technique and effect that’s been road-tested before, but his results are really cool, and different to the sorts of things I’ve been checking out lately.

Everyone likes drawing on things, but I was interested to find out why Dani’s made it into his form of artistic expression.

“I started drawing on photos when I was like thirteen, we’d have photos of cavemen or whatever in our history books at school, I’d trace the outline of the pictures and make the people into aliens wearing Slayer, N.W.A. or Black Flag shirts, screaming obscenities and whatnot.”

“I think pretty much every kid does that. Later on I just found myself bored with the barrage of selfies on my Instagram dashboard, so I started drawing on photos to make them a little more interesting, a couple people liked it and started sending me stuff.”

 

“I’d trace the outline of the pictures and make the people into aliens wearing Slayer, N.W.A. or Black Flag shirts, screaming obscenities and whatnot.”

The strong contrast of the analogue imagery (in relative terms) to his vibrant and gaudy colour scheme is very effective, and almost seems to age the photographs. The natural shadow from the photograph combined with the bold illustrations is really nice and starts to bend your mind a little too.

Right now his technique is to draw everything by hand on paper and then composite and colour it digitally, but eventually he’s looking to make this a fully non-digital process.

Have a browse through Dani’s work, I thoroughly recommend his Shrigley-esque “GloomBeasts” – which will certainly give you a chuckle.

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Find out more about Dani Labrosse, a young French Hungarian visual artist currently in Edinburgh, and keep an idea for an upcoming video project, the couple of seconds I’ve seen so far look to be promising…

Steven
UKB

Music review – bmfbmf EP

Nothing makes me happier than good local music. So when the first EP from Glasgow’s (aye, I’m counting this as local) bmfbmf dropped into my inbox along with a short bio a week or two ago, I was keen to get a listen as soon as I could.

Bmfbmf aka Bryan McFarland, has a production background that goes far beyond his latest moniker of bmfbmf.

Hip hop inspired electronic stuff has been his bread and butter for a number of years, and slight traces of that hip hop beat can be found within the beats of this strong debut EP, but this release has a much tighter relationship with electronic music than hip hop.

The 4 track EP is a nicely balanced selection of tracks, each built upon strong vocals, sampling that can’t help but get your head bobbing.

Immediate comparisons with the likes of Caribou are clear – no doubt music to the ears of Bryan’s first foray into full-blown electronic music.

Standout tracks for are ‘NewLuv’ with it’s warbling and trippy intro giving a feeling of pleasurable disorientation before the beat, percussion and soulful vocals skip in and push you into the meat of the track.

More than an honourable mention to ‘Mould Me’ too, with its gloomy and urban outlook not a million miles from the sort of work you’d find on the likes of Hyperdub.

Plenty more, I hope, to come from bmfbmf…

Steven
UKB

 

Mr Penfold & Aero Exhibition – Fanboy

I’ve spoken before about how I really enjoy what Fanboy brings to Edinburgh – and last month’s show at their store, the first in the new location, did no harm to their reputation in town.

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Initially starting as a clothing brand (Pieute) but now with fingers in other “pies”, they are admirably determined to avoid the tired ideas that other brands are intent on trotting out.

Instead there’s a heavy focus on setting a direction that’s uniquely theirs, and Edinburgh’s. It really is refreshing to have a successful Edinburgh based brand making a valuable contribution to the local scene, and making a name for themselves elsewhere.

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I am delighted to see them get deeper into organising events, most recently hosting this collaborative affair between Mr Penfold and Aero at their store in the heart of Auld Reekie’s Old Town.

The only slight tinge of regret was the epic hangover that meant I was bed bound for the opening night, which I’m certain was an occasion not to be missed…

 

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Penfold’s work was among some of the first that grabbed me and brought “street art” to my attention a number of years ago.

His evolution as an artist keeps me interested, particularly with these more abstract compositions, a continuation of that trajectory from “Tabs, Butts and Dog Ends“, the last of his shows I caught in person. The clean bold lines with vibrant colour choices hit the right spots.

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Teaming up with Aero for the show added an extra twist with her Simpson inspired creations among some of my favourite pieces from the show.

Her monochrome t-shirt design (one of a limited run) is worth your well earned cash if you fancy some merch. Her thick lines and bold colour choices play well alongside Penfold’s work.

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The standout pieces from Aero and Penfold, in my opinion, are these two epic larger scale works to the rear of the shop, make sure you get a decent look at them. Wouldn’t mind having these hanging in my flat…

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If you like what you see, make your way to the store on Candlemaker Row sooner rather than later. Once these originals and prints sell out, it’s likely the exhibition will come down. Don’t sleep on it!

Some of the prints are still available, offering the chance to own your own art at decent prices. Likewise there’s a few of the limited run shirts by Penfold and Aero up for grabs.

And, of course, there’s the Fanboy originals to have a look at too. Of the more recent memorable shirt designs, these belters (Heroin & Haggis and Tesco Value Techno) give a taste of what to expect…

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Steven
UKB

Grey Gardens – Art and Architecture

Quick off the mark, I took in the first day of the latest exhibition at Dundee Contemporary Arts. The trouble is, it’s taken me about three weeks to finally get round to sharing these with you.

Luckily, the exhibition runs until May this year, so plenty of time to take this one in.

Dundee Contemporary Arts

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As part of Scotland’s ongoing Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, Dundee’s quite fantastic DCA complex hosts this fascinating exhibition exploring art and architecture inspired by modernity and nature (although, truth be told, it was more the modernity element I was interested in) from the mid 1900s to the present day.

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While the whole exhibition is a very interesting, I was specifically drawn to the work on the Peter Womersley designed Bernat Klein Studio in Selkirk, deep in the Scottish Borders. Subsequently, I found out that Gala Fairydean Rovers FC’s main stand is also one of Womersley’s – another structure I’m really fond of (see directly below).

Womersley Gala

Described quite interestingly as “a challenging Modernist manifesto of a building”, any time I’ve come across photographs of it I’ve been really captivated by it.

You can almost imagine Klein strolling from his house through the woods to this stark building, set in huge contrast to the forests of the borders, captured in some amazing black & white and colour photography from Colin McLean.

Unfortunately the images were difficult to reproduce without playing a starring role in the reflection…

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Having not visited the studio, it was also interesting to take a look around a 1:50 model by Jonathan Middleton.

Clearly no substitute for visiting in person, but allowing you to understand the full construction after viewing the photographs was really helpful to figuring out the size and shape of the building.

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Special mention to the really cool video piece by Smith/Stewart, focussing on the Womersley building south of Maidens, near Turnberry in Ayrshire.

It has fallen into disrepair, and while the video piece captures the line it treads between the cliff and the sea, it also catches it as it rides a knife edge between existence and demolition.

Womersley Ayrshire

Other highlights that made the trip more than worthwhile were the images of Morris & Steedman’s incredible private modernist creations (see directly below for the most spectacular – difficult to capture this one, however) and David Harding’s art in Fife town Glenrothes.

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Within the new towns of Scotland, Harding’s work, early on developing as sculptures – later conceptual, offering memorable landmarks within the uniformity of housing estates.

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Catch some of the other interesting pieces, and check out more of the layout of this exhibition in the short video clip I made while visiting. Better still, make the journey along before May 1st to take this one in – a must for modernist architecture fans, especially within Scotland.

Steven
UKB

Smug’s latest Glasgow mural goes viral

Completed last week, Sam Bates aka Smug revealed his latest addition to the Glasgow mural scene on the high street. I took a  trip through to have a look on an especially wet day in Glasgow.

The Australian born artist, like many working in contemporary street and urban art circles started his creative endeavours as a tagger back in a small town near Wollongong.

However, it’s his photo realistic murals that have turned him into a bit of a local hero in Glasgow. His latest mural has been shared a staggering amount over all social media channels lately, and here I am throwing in my two cents.

For the Commonwealth Games in 2014 he made even more of a mark in the city with additional pieces to tie in with the sporting spectacle.

The Glasgow City Council also created a handy mural tour – something I’ll be making a trip back through to check out shortly.

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Steven
UKB

A forgotten Parisian urban utopia

This week I discovered the suppressed architectural alter-ego of Paris. Pretty unusual opener to a blog post.

Forget the Roman, Medieval, Renaissance, and Classical look of the city as we know it. This modernist view is something entirely unexpected but compeletely engrossing.

Local French photographer Laurent Kronental has captured a briefer moment somewhere between the 50s and 80s where a burst of modernist architecture predicted a futuristic utopia. I reckon very few of us living elsewhere would associate this look with the French capital.

As the capital continued to grow with an influx of immigrants and urbanisation, a housing crisis followed and a solution was needed. The answer was to build these imposing modernist buildings, that sadly, within a couple of decades would reflect a forgotten Paris. Younger families moved out, enticed by affluent inner city Paris, older residents stayed put.

This series, titled ‘Souvenir d’un Futur’, looks at the residents of these neglected buildings and what he describes as ‘the poetry of ageing environments’.

Can’t keep my eyes off these.

Really fascinating stuff. It’s almost like a bizarre alternate-universe Paris. I love them, a perfect example of “urban culture” and how a proposed utopia 30 years ago can shift quite drastically from what was envisioned.

What do you think? As always, get in touch in the usual places on social, or in the comments below!

Laurent Kronental

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Steven
UKB

Images © Laurent Kronental