Medium rare

Think you've seen it all in art? Our series on unusual mediums might just change your mind

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Rosemary Fiore

Rosemary Fiore, unusual art mediums painting

US artist Fiore's brightly coloured abstract works could justifiably be termed 'explosive' - they're created using the smoke and residue left by fireworks and other combustibles carefully lit over paper.

While Chinese artist Cai Guo Qiang is well-known for creating works using similar techniques, Fiore's practice is far less random, her effects carefully controlled by guiding her unusual pigments across her composition - at a safe arm's length, naturally. (below).


Firework painting, Rosemary Fiore

images © Rosemary Fiore

Zhang Huan

Zhang Huan contemporary art

Still on the subject of setting things alight, artist Zhang Huan was so intrigued by the piles of ash left by incense burnt in Chinese temples that he decided to work with it as an artistic medium.

Early pieces consisted of minimal, process-based sculptures in which the ash was compressed into ephemeral, crumbling blocks, but by mixing the ash with water and glue, Zhang was later able to create more complex figurative works as well as ash paintings.

Zhang Huan

images © Zhang Huan

Matthew Albanese

contemporary art, unusual mediums; Matthew Albanese

New Jersey artist Matthew Albanese styles and takes photographs which, while dramatic enough, probably wouldn't provoke too many second glances without the knowledge that the landscapes are actually models - and not just any old models, but dioramas cunningly created with everyday items.

The arid desert shown left (detail), for example, consists of a combination of nutmeg, paprika, chili powder, cinnamon and charcoal.

The highly convincing storm clouds and twister (detail, below) are made of the steel wool used to scour pans, while the prairie consists of a mixture of moss and ground parsley.

Of course, model makers have always used the unlikeliest items to achieve the effects they require, but Albanese makes a point of steering clear of specially manufactured props, relying instead on his ingenuity. Quirky art with a definite novelty value.

Matthew Albanese
Images © Matthew Albanese
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