Situated before me in the below picture are an assortment of Coarse‘s owl-like omen creations, including their newest interpretation of the form, the four-piece Omen – Help series. While we’ll ultimately be discussing these specific examples, it’s important to take a moment and note how the Omen debuted as part of Coarse’s November 2012 exhibition Souls Gone Mad, a solo show at Chicago’s Rotofugi Gallery that seemingly thrust artists Mark Landwehr and Sven Waschk, the duo behind the Coarse alias, into a new period of their career.

Coarse’s Souls Gone Mad

Souls Gone Mad focused on a girl named Ruth and boy called Fever who become trapped in an strange forest of dreams and nightmares. And it is these vulnerable souls that the bestial monster called the Void needs for his secluded island, stealing them away to his dark corner of the dream world for reasons unknown. But the Void is not alone in this endeavor, he employs winged henchmen in the form of Omens, their adorable appearance and hooted lullabies luring innocents to the Void’s boat.
But the Omens aren’t all bad. While some serve the Void and choose to feed lost souls nightmares from their beaks, others gift those they find with peaceful dreams, guarding them in their nests while they sleep.
Now this narrative didn’t start off so thoroughly explained, but it was evolved through a series of limited edition vinyl sculptures, like 2013’s Tainted Ember and The Passage sets as well as countless individually issued Omen versions.

Coarse’s Omen Versions

Aside from various color scheme variations, Coarse’s omens have been issued in three different sizes: the 3½-inch tall Omen Blinks, the 7-inch tall quote-unquote regular Omens, and the massive 14-inch tall Omen Totems. Beyond this, there are three eye variations predominantly employed, which can be seen displayed through the tiny pupils of Hoot, the wide eyes of Hush, and the more regular gaze of Bells.

My Impressions of Coarse’s Omen – Help! Series

But the tale of the Omens took a decided turn recently when several of them flew too close to a full moon. And much like Icarus from Greek mythology, there were consequences for being overly ambitious: these Omen – Help renditions lost the features they loved most about themselves. And this concept manifested as four unique Omen variations: the faceless Scowl, the eyeless Smile, the mouthless Squint, and the almost normal looking Stare, who I assume doesn’t have pupils under his closed eyelids.
All featuring milky white bodies with gray accents, there’s a feeling of minimalism to them that wonderfully carries over to their varying facial details — or omissions thereof. And lacking these attention grabbing elements, one can really concentrate on the beauty that is the sculpt of the Omen shape. Angular in a lot of their details, omens still feel very fluid in form, every aspect flowing naturally and perfectly to the next.
But should the lack of decoration atop their moveable heads bother you, one can opt to add any details that one sees fit, just like Coarse’s own Sven Waschk offers to do, time allowing, at events he attends. Made in both the 3½-inch tall Omen Blink forms as well as 7-inch tall renditions, these pieces were issued individually but look most striking, I think, when placed together as a set. And, after they debuted at May 2017’s Thailand Toy Expo, the Omen – Help series has become available from a variety of finer art toy retailers worldwide (see list here).

Pieces in the Omen – Help! Series [show]

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