Fantasy presents the works of American artist Jeff Koons, German photographer Florian Maier-Aichen, American painter Mary Heilmann and Chinese media artist Cao Fei in an exploration of how the imagination is brought to life in unconventional ways.
Jeff Koons examines the ethical and spiritual dimensions of art through his computer-aided hand-made sculptures and paintings. His contextual sleight-of-hand, which transforms banal items into sumptuous icons, takes on a psychological dimension through dramatic shifts in scale. The subject of art history is a constant undercurrent in his work, whether Koons elevates kitsch to the level of classical art, produces photos in the manner of Baroque paintings, or develops public works that borrow techniques and elements of seventeenth-century French garden design.
Mary Heilmann explains how her spirituality shapes the function of her abstract art installations. Imbued with recollections, stories spun from her imagination, and references to music, aesthetic influences, and dreams, her paintings are like meditations or icons. Her treatment of colour and paint is often surprising, creating an eye-catching experience for the viewer that often pulls in multiple dimensions.
Alternately romantic, cerebral, and unearthly, Florian Maier-Aichen’s digitally altered photographs are closer to the realm of drawing and fiction than documentation. He creates scenes that push the viewer just past comfort, with purposeful technical mistakes and “God’s-eye view” of landscapes. Always experimenting, he marries digital technologies with traditional processes and films, restoring and reinvigorating the artistry and alchemy of early photography.
Cao Fei’s surrealist multimedia projects blend documentary and magical-realism as they study themes and examples of role-playing. Her questions of perception and self-image reveal the discrepancy between reality and dream, and the discontent and disillusionment of China’s younger generation.
Art21: Art n the 21st Century is an award-winning series of 24 programmes in which 100 contemporary artists explain their creations, their creative processes, and their perceptions of art. Available for the first time on DVD in the UK, Art21 covers a wide range of artists and contemporary visual art.