This weekend on Beautiful Decay we want to welcome you over to the dark side, where a vast amount of artists are churning out contemporary art fueled by the fire of Metal. A multitude of artists these days are making art inspired by the crushing sounds and dark spirit of Heavy Metal, Death Metal and Doom music, all of which weave in and out of several other genres.
I’ve been a huge fan for a while now of the work made by artists Skinner, Ben Venom and Martin Durazo, which are strongly informed by Heavy Metal. This past week after chatting with artist and Beautiful Decay owner, Amir H. Fallah and artist Skinner and reaching out on Facebook to learn more about artists tied into this music scene, I was turned onto a breadth of incredible artists. A lot of artists working with metal as inspiration have strong crossover into design and illustration, album art, posters (especially for the band Mastadon), band merch and murals. There’s also a strong genre of work that explores dark spiritual matter, mythology and death that is absolutely captivating. You can expect upcoming coverage of these sub-genres in coming weeks.
Here we focus on a diverse spectrum of dark and gritty works informed by metal music, ranging from murals to posters to contemporary sculptural installation. The sound and the fury of metal can be felt in these works, as well as very unique perspectives and approaches to adapting inspiration with individualized technical art practice. Work featured by Banks Violette and Martin Durazo demonstrate a formal adaptation in sculptural installation and painting of the color and energy of the music. Violette’s work tends to wrestle with more socio-psychological explorations of dark spiritual topics and fear activated by a palette of inky encompassing blacks and blown out lighting elements. Durazo’s work, specifically from his recent series “Point of Entry” centered on creating an experiential for the viewers of the fringe culture that he draws from, resulting in an abstract high art-meets-garage band aesthetic.
Skinner’s work ranges from gallery and museum exhibits of his psychedelic warlock and demon infused paintings which I have always felt a strong Jungian undertone in, to his poster, album and wearable art, as well as huge and incredibly detailed murals. Skinner’s work can be found all over the world, and as he is an artist so against the capitalism of the art world, it can also be owned in many different forms (for as little as $20 a print) through his own company Critical Hit.
The most cuddly works in this group come from Ben Venom, who has honed a unique approach to making art quilts that pull from Heavy Metal culture. His works are sometimes text-based, adapting lines from Metallica songs and others, in typography that mirrors the vibe of the music. Works by Venom that convey icons and designs related to the stylization of the scene echo a band merch vibe, while also possessing layers of complex color and appropriated scraps of metal memorabilia.
Artists Owen Rundquist and Todd Ryan White display technically proficient draftsmanship in their beautifully rendered drawings. Though both artists have a unique approach to line and stylization that stands apart from each other, I am struck by the varied softness and hardness of both of their works. There’s a sharpness and an edge that accompanies a sort of mysterious fog in the work that channels the energy of the undercurrent of metal.
Allison Lilly is an artist and illustrator who has created tons of drawings, illustrative work, poster art and murals. The unabashed darkness and nightmare quality to her images displayed here makes her one of the most hardcore in the scene. The unfiltered grit and terror bridged with seductive beauty of her work is mesmerizing.
Also mesmerizing is the artistic process of AJ Fosik. His sculptural works are utterly mind-blowing in their perfect construction, symmetry and luscious colors. Originally I had never viewed Fosik’s work being classified with Heavy Metal, yet his recent album art for Mastadon demonstrates the crossover. Whether his works originally set out to speak to the rhythmic doom and gloom of metal or not, it definitely works seamlessly as imagery for the album and holds its own strong ferocious energy in a gallery.