As part of our ongoing partnership with In The Make, Beautiful/Decay is sharing a studio visit with artist Christopher Russell. See the full studio visit and interview with Marci and other West Coast artists at www.inthemake.com.
Christopher lives on a quaint and quiet street in Glendale, just outside of Los Angeles. We met him at his studio, a converted freestanding garage that looks a lot like a barn that he’s set up as both an office and an art making space. Christopher’s work employs photography, writing, bookmaking, and digital printmaking to create subversive, psychologically dark artwork that often explores an unsavory and unsettling side of humanity.
Celebrity photographer Blake Little has taken his love of portraiture to new heights. Pouring honey all over his models of different ages, races and genders, he has created a series of dramatic images that look like photos of wax models. While he normally snaps pictures of famous faces like Kevin Spacey, Tom Cruise, Glenn Close, Samuel L. Jackson, Jane Fonda, Gwyneth Paltrow, this time he placed a Craigslist ad asking for some not-so-familiar faces. Seeing over 90 people, all ranging in age from 2 – 85 years, he asked them to take their clothes off and get covered in a thick gooey layer of honey. Little talks about his process:
Preservation began through a process of experimenting with honey. Initially, I started shooting the way it pours and drips on just the face or specific areas of the body. After several sessions, it became clear that completely covering the figure as much as possible and with varying thicknesses created a quality that I had never seen before. The honey has a way of diffusing the personal qualities of the subjects, often making them unrecognizable and democratizing their individual traits into something altogether different and universal. (Source)
The result of the intense studio session is hypnotic. The models look like they have been frozen in amber, or resin, or caught in the volcanic eruption of Pompeii. All of the subjects in his new book Preservation look like they are in a deep slumber, and all have lost any idiosyncrasies they may have had. It seems like Little has compiled a reference of what is it to be human – a kind of catalog of frozen specimens where we can, in the future, look back and compare similarities and differences between us all.
His show accompanying his new monograph opens at Kopeikin Gallery in Culver City, CA from March 7.
Hamburg Germany based painter Till Gerhard’s images are psychedelic narratives with dark undertones filled with unsettling atmospheres.
“The scenes he chooses to memorialize—dimly felt moments from that tumultuous decade in 20th Century American history when counter-culture briefly flourished—are rendered with a discreet maleficence that belies their offbeat humor and whimsical color-scatterings. Thus, an otherwise banal preoccupation with “hippy bullshit” is transformed into effectual social commentary.”- David Marcus
Michael Cina has created a world-renowned career by fusing elements of both design and art into a signature style of technically-sound, visually striking, and uniquely glossy works. This approach has brought massive clients ranging from Facebook to Coca-Cola to MTV, as well as fine-art success. His latest efforts involved opening up control of his personal practice, however, as Cina worked side-by-side, though miles away, with a collaborator. For over a year, Cina and New York-based photographer John Klukas worked together to create a new body of work, which they began to call “digitally handmade” – a true synthesis of each creator’s respective styles. This collaboration yielded some twenty works, which are collected in the exhibition, She Who Saw Deep, at Minneapolis’ Public Functionary.
Beginning their complicated collaborative process with photos of the exhibition’s singular muse in Klukas’ New York studio, Cina then took the images and digitally overlaid his handmade paintings in his Minneapolis studio. Working the files back and forth between the two several times, the finished files were often so large and dense that they were as large as 16GB. These pieces were then printed and mounted, where Cina made final edits by hand – embellishing, spraying, drawing, and painting each piece to give them their own unique finish.
The digitally handcrafted images in She Who Saw Deep are then titled around the loose parallel of the Epic of Gilgamesh, “where the hero passes through the absolute darkness of grief, fear and death to be reborn into the light…the resulting works in this exhibit are both a visual and conceptual interpretation of this classic and universal human story.” Public Functionary, which offered support for the printing and creation of the works, is offering unique, limited-edition prints of these collaborative works, which can be purchased here.
Laylah Ali’s meticulous, exactingly executed drawings take months to complete. Her works investigate a variety of psychological and socio-cultural dramas, including race, conflict and violence. Interestingly, Ali seems to almost be drawn to the formalist implications of race and “color,” in a decidedly art historical sense of the word. Ali notes, “I’m fascinated, how a different facial color directs you. Green absorbs you into it. Pink or red comes out at you. Light pink doesn’t recede into the page but has a flatness. Bright pink jumps out. Those phenomena affect your reading of the figure- nothing related to anything but what a color does, how it affects your eyeball.”
Like looking into the private thoughts of a diary, photographer Adeline Mai creates narratives of intimacy, portraying poetic scenes of human interaction. In her body of work, she creates ethereal images of profound closeness between her subjects. With titles like J’ai Embrassé L’Aube D’Été, French for I Embraced the Summer Dawn, Weightlessness, and Dirty Weekend, the names of each series are just as lyrical as the photographs itself. The Parisian artist captures stunning images of contorting bodies, displaying breathtaking views of the human body. In her series I Embraced the Summer Dawn, each photograph contains a stark emptiness except for the two, nude figures beautifully entwined as if they are attempting to become one body. This same sense of intimacy is embodied in her series Dirty Weekend. Only instead of gracefully posed, flawless bodies, we are now given a view of a more natural nudity, out in the woods and in more candid positions. Mai not only captures a playful kind of nakedness, but a shared closeness between clothed subjects as well. She is a master at capturing tender moments between her subjects and laying them out for all to see.
Mai having the ability to brilliantly capture light on her subjects, her series Weightlessness includes floating figures with soft, warm light consuming their surroundings. These figures appear to be floating, but they are actually underwater! The photographer has turned this normally cool-colored environment into a glow of yellows, reds, and oranges. Adeline Mai’s entrancing photography pulls you in to its intimate scenes of magnificent nudes being swallowed up by a sea of color or by human embrace.
Sculptor, Thom Puckey has been in the game for some time now. His beautiful marble sculptures are breathtaking and his style is that of the iconic saying “sex, drugs, and classical greek sculptures?” YEAH. Pretty fun stuff.