Cutting edge: collage in contemporary art

Jacob Hashimoto

Contemporary collage - Jacob Hashimoto

Poised (beautifully) between collage, handicraft and sculpture, works by US artist Jacob Hashimoto (b. 1973) are constructed of dozens of hand-made components fashioned in the manner of Japanese kites.

Jacob Hashimoto - contemporary collage artists

Rice-paper or silk is cut into geometric forms which are then attached to delicate bamboo frameworks.

Individually decorated with collage elements (detail, left), they are then strung in layers between opposing rows of wooden pegs to create rich abstractions principally suggested, according to Hashimoto, by landscape.

Further sources of inspiration, besides obvious references to the artist's Japanese heritage, range from "...early emphasis on grid-based abstraction and minimalism to more painterly works that ... reference everything from board games to Peter Halley to Murakami to Marden to Buckminster Fuller to Bridget Riley (and) Maya Lin...."

Jacob Hashimoto - contemporary collage artists

Hashimoto's practice pushes at the precepts of collage by incorporating individual elements within a formal structure that is neither fully fixed nor entirely mobile; each tiny 'kite' is free to flutter slightly around the axis of its string.

The artist describes his work as "... oscillate(ing) between small individual collaged compositions and visually spacious overall compositions", but the temptation to regard it as collage within collage extends definition of the medium beyond its French etymology (from the verb 'coller', to paste or glue) into less rigid realms of execution.

Some of Hashimoto's most recent works expand his characteristic materials further into space to produce enveloping, ethereal installation (below).

With artists such as David Thorpe, Kristine Roepstorff and Thomas Hirschhorn all envisaging collage as hybrid or installative structures, and the stratified, pinned wall reliefs of Eliot Hundley equally liberating the medium from its traditional cut and paste production, collage is increasingly associated with a new freedom that Hashimoto's practice both taps into, and promotes.

Collage now - Jacob Hashimoto



Jelle Martens

Jelle Martens - contemporary collage

The coolly precise graphics of young Belgian designer Jelle Martens pair the influence of spare Flemish modernism with early 60's design; an aesthetic which, in slightly more flamboyant form, defines his striking 2009 photomontage series In The Quivering Forest (below, left).

Jelle Martens

Coupling geometric composition with multiple photographic viewpoints, the works successfully convey a sense of movement, spaciousness and freedom within a rigorously defined structure - a perfectly resolved tension between fluidity and constraint which characterises Martens' work in general.

A slightly later series, aptly named Puur, plays neatly with the very nature of collage by superimposing two similar images, then segmenting the entire composition with fine lines (below).

Contemporary collage: Jelle Martens

Initially appearing to mark a division between different source materials, perception of the line as boundary momentarily impedes recognition of the 'real', circular cut-up at the heart of the composition.

Delighting not only in elegantly persuasive design but fascinated, too, by the perceptual and visual conceits which inform the work of many recent artists, Martens' cleverly constructed collages forge a convincing path between graphic design and the wider concerns of fine art.

Jelle Martens

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