In Enrique Gomez De Molina’s hands, animals become chimeras—multiple animals blended into one fantasy, nightmare creature. His taxidermied beasts are at once weird and wonderful, absorbing and off-putting. “I guess I like to play God, “ he laughs in a Thrillist interview. Two swan heads share a goat’s body. A nasty little crab/rodent sneers at the camera. Bird’s bills and fur, antlers and insects join seamlessly to make creatures that defy nature. Gomez De Molina says of his strange menagerie:
“The impossibility of my sculpture brings me both joy and sadness at the same time. The joy comes from seeing and experiencing the Fantasy of the work but that is coupled with the sadness of the fact that we are destroying all of these beautiful things.”
Ironically, Gomez De Molina may be indirectly contributing to that destruction himself. Arrested for illegally importing animal parts, he pled guilty in 2012 and received 20 months in federal prison for trafficking in endangered and protected wildlife. Though he declares the best of intentions for his actions—bringing attention to the plight of endangered animals—his purchases certainly created a deathly supply for his demand. Why take such a risk? His taxidermied chimeras sold for up to $80,000 before his arrest.
Gomez De Molina’s side is that he wants “to bring awareness to the danger faced by a multitude of species: nuclear and chemical waste, overdevelopment, and destruction of rainforests.” U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer doesn’t see it that way.
“For years, DeMolina illegally imported parts and remains of endangered and threatened species, including a cobra, a pangolin, hornbills, and the skulls of babirusa and orangutans, and used them to create taxidermy pieces. … Trafficking in endangered and threatened species, whether for personal profit or under the guise of art, is illegal.”
It remains to be seen whether Gomez De Molina will return to art now that his exotic art supplies have been confiscated.
Martin Feijoo’s drawings are inspired by what he imagines the clouds in the sky to look like. His blog offers an image of his own artwork alone, as well as a comparison between the original photograph of the clouds. It’s fun, if you can manage not to peak, to look at the clouds first and see what you see before looking at Faijoo’s images. His style is illustrative and bold, which helps to see his images quite clearly in the clouds on their own. He might pursue more play between the cloud and his image as he continues with this series, to blur the lines more between reality and his imagination.
Feijoo speaks about his inspiration to start the series on his website:
When I was a child I was told that clouds’ shapes were created by expert balloon twister clowns who live in the sky, so that they can keep entertaining children. On my last trip to Mexico I remembered this and I started to photograph clouds on the road. The result is Shaping Clouds, a series of illustrations where I drew the first thing that came into my mind when I saw these clouds that I imagine someone made for me.
These images are probably not what you think. Derek Paul Boyle‘s latest project is called “Drag Paintings”, and are a result of the artist weaving through traffic, holding a stretched canvas under-foot and allowing the different textures and surfaces of the roads to create the image. What results is a very visceral, tangible account of a temporary action that has been frozen in time. Boyle says about them:
The drags are performance that result in a painting – the physical becomes an imprint of the gestural.
The drag paintings are events as objects – abstracts of the physical grittiness and intensity of Los Angeles’s traffic infrastructure.
These paintings have an ominous feel, a beauty that emerges despite first appearances. They are a violent action made light and somewhat graceful. Boyle’s work always contains a sense of playfulness and humor. He enjoys challenging the expected state of something. Either by juxtaposing the use of an object, or the context in which it is used. The Drag Series is definitely a challenge to the tradition of mark making and action painting. He surprises us by producing something elegant through the act of destruction. Boyle goes on to say:
I am interested in the power of contradiction, objects as events, and incompatible states of the self – what was once bound is made free, the known made unknown.
Artist Seth Alverson paints the body in a realistic fashion, but not in a way that looks aesthetically appealing. Severed hands, bizarre contortions, and skin linked together like a sausage casing are just some of the ways he’s depicted the figure. It stands in stark contrast to the Old Masters traditions of life-like renderings, which are all about idealizing and hiding flaws. Instead they’re in-your-face in a way that it’s hard to look away from.
There’s a range of grotesqueness, from detached body parts (bloody ends and all) to oversized hands, and finally to things that aren’t shameful, but our society dictates they are. This includes cellulite on thick legs or sagging breasts. They seem to mock the airbrushed media and when compared with Alverson’s other more ghastly alternatives, definitely aren’t as bad. (Via Hi Fructose)
Amanda Manitach’s drawings of skinny girls in t-shirts plays with gender roles and feminism in a thought-provoking way. The sparse style of these ink drawings, sometimes painted over with watercolor, offers an intriguing aesthetic.
Fair haired women standing, sitting, or walking their pet unicorns with nonchalance and a hint of lethargy. Their faces wear little more than ennui, but their black t-shirts, adorned with sardonic statements, pack a punch. There is one thing they all have in common: PENIS. Ranging from wanting penis to not wanting penis, having a penis, the problems with penis, and boner jokes, she has it all covered with wry humor. Seattle-based artist Amanda Manitach is well known for these figures, which almost remind you of Henry Darger’s Vivian Girls, on a heavy dose of xanax. Some of the girls have male genitals, which in combination with the t-shirt sayings, seems to imply a sort of hermaphroditic independence, or is it just a wet dream?
Either way, these women sure don’t seem to give a damn about having a man.
Portland based Meredith Dittmar draws on the world around her as inspiration for her delicately formed compositions. Made entirely from polymer clay, she twists, squeezes, slices and weaves different shades together to form her distinctive artworks. Reminiscent of fantasy computer games, scientific drawings and algorithms, and including organic forms of vines, leaves and trees, Dittmar’s work is a beautiful combination of science and art; man and nature; patterns and rhythms.
She cites her influences as:
“the mushrooms found in our forest, Eames power of 10, and the visualizations of complex math, science, and especially theoretical physics.”
The idea of a “Cosmic Zoom” that Dittmar displays in her work is very evident. She simultaneously depicts the Universe at a large scale, including cities, forests and planets; while also focusing in on it at a minute scale – including quarks, atoms and molecule structures.
She often includes some sort of figures in her work to add a human scale. These can be anything from human hands holding a form, or body parts being split open by triangles. Known also for designing different characters in polymer, Dittmar sculpts these into her landscapes. Alien-like creatures with big eyes bring a strange sense of humanity to her work. They make you feel like you are viewing your own world, and something quite different. Dittmar and her creations definitely bring a new sense of wonder to the simple things around us. She points out, that maybe things aren’t that simple, after all.
Dita Pepe, a Czech photographer, has made an amazing photographic series centered around imaginary lives with different men. The project started off when Pepe posed with various men she knew, conjuring a real image to the “What if?” that we sometimes ask ourselves. As her work developed, she began approaching strangers and incorporating them into her work. Sometimes she even had her daughter in the portraits. This series, titled “Self Portraits With Men,” features a hundred of these shots, which are candid family portraits of families that never existed.
The most impressive aspect is how well she fits into each scenario. She looks the part: of wife and sometimes mother, visually unfettered by the vast array of socio economic scenarios, she casually goes from childless to mother of four, to upper class, to being a hippie, all with such a light step you would hardly think it’s the same person in each portrait.
“Though obviously comparable to the work of Cindy Sherman, Pepe’s chameleon talents focus more on how relationships can utterly transform an individual than embodying specific female identities. Questions of origin, influence, and choice all come into play, the ‘what-if’ manifesting in a sometimes comical, sometimes surreal interpretation of different paths we all could have taken.”
Svetlana Karel is a Ukranian artist who molds plasticine into old masterpieces. She works as an economist at the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy in Kiev, but finds her work uninspiring. Having gone through a divorce that sent her into intense depression, she used her creations to keep herself focused on something outside of her problems. Plasticine being an unconventional medium associated with child’s play, Karel hasn’t been received too enthusiastically in her local art community. She lies in the realm of outsider artist. At one point she tried to set up an exhibition, but was unable to get it off the ground. Although her artwork isn’t too popular, she is constantly creating.
Karel speaks about how she began creating her plasticine art:
“Once, about 9 years ago, while I was playing with my kids (I have 2 daughters) I found that plasticine really helped me to forget about my problems. I touched it, started to create something and, during this process, felt myself becoming calm. So then I started to make more and more figures from plasticine and place them in to a single picture. The result was unexpectedly successful, so I continued to create pictures on childish theme for my daughters.”
The style of her creations is beautiful and a bit naïve. The figures can seem extremely realistic, or a bit caricature-like. It creates a new perspective on artworks that you’ve already seen again and again. They becomes less epic, more approachable, and certainly unintimidating. Which of her works can you recognize? (Quote and artist via Lost at E Minor)