Emily Burns’ Pin-up Ladies and Taxidermy

Paintings and drawings by Emily Burns.

“My recent work references a variety of artistic techniques and influences from traditional oil painting and modern digital photography to the iconography of ancient Egypt , the American pin-up and nineteenth-century taxidermy. In this group of work, I seek to chronicle the relationship between the genesis of female icon objectification and its historical development. These works describe the psychological juxtaposition between the inherent urge to exploit one’s own short-lived youth and the pressures of adhering to social expectation. I explore the push and pull of these two concepts, asking how they have affected the female psyche and as well as how society has actively created its own vision of the idealized female.

My source material includes a range of visual elements, attempting to portray diverse visualized vernaculars, both past and present, into single compositions. My centralizing of the female figure illustrates the tensions and conflicts between the power of their beauty and strength of their character, as well as their inevitable vulnerability. Historically, artists have exploited the tradition of realistic oil portraiture not only to create a likeness, but also to embody the essential character of the subject. My paintings reconcile traditional portraiture with the more modern idea of an active subject, depicted not solely based upon her social status, but immortalized for her beauty and appeal. Similarly, the inclusion of taxidermied trophy animal heads alludes to the vulnerability of a creature that is prized for its beauty, complicating the notion of power attributed to the anthropomorphized deities of the ancient Egyptians. Finally, the figures are foregrounded against fragmented views of digital interruption and pixilation, serving to remind one of how computerized communication has profoundly affected how we reimagine the female form.”

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Atomic Bomb Tests Recreated in Fictional Photo Series

As part of our ongoing partnership with Feature Shoot, Beautiful/Decay is sharing  Alison Zavos’ piece on photographer Clay Lipsky.

“I was raised during the height of the Cold War, when the threat of nuclear war loomed between two superpowers. The dramatized depictions in TV and film of such an apocalyptic demise both intrigued and scared me as a child. Yet the actual historical record of the atomic age was full of antiquated, black and white images that seemed dated and a world away.

This series, Atomic Overlook, recontextualizes a legacy of atomic tests in order to keep the reality of our post-atomic era fresh and omnipresent. It also speaks to the current state of the world and the voyeuristic culture we live in.

Imagine if the advent of the atomic era occurred during today’s information age. Tourists would gather to view bomb tests, at the “safe” distances used in the 1950’s, and share the resulting cell phone photos online. Broadcast media would regurgitate such visual fodder ad nauseum, bringing new levels of desensitization.

The threat of atomic weapons is as great as ever, but it is a hidden specter. Nuclear proliferation has gained even more obscurity through the “rogue” factions that can now possess them. Meanwhile America’s stockpile of weapons continues to be modernized and will probably never cease to exist. I can only hope that mankind will never again suffer the wrath of such a destructive force, but it is clear that the world would not hesitate to watch.”

Clay Lipsky is a fine art photographer & graphic designer based in Los Angeles. His photos have been exhibited in various group shows, including those at the Annenberg Space for Photography, MOPLA, Pink Art Fair Seoul, PhotoPlace and Impossible Project NYC.

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LEE MATERAZZI’s Manipulated Bodies Crammed Into Uncomfortable Spaces

Lee Materazzi uses her body to manipulate her photographs (as opposed to giving in to digital manipulation). In her newest series she explores the thin line between finding oneself and losing oneself. She references artists like Charles Ray and Anna Mendieta as she “attempts to achieve a resolution of the body’s role within contemporary art.”

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Tim Flach’s incredible Photographs of Dogs

Everyone love a cute photo of a dog but London based Tim Flach’s dog photographs show mans best friend in a completely new light. Bringing the viewer into close-up proximity with their animal subjects, painstakingly lit, carefully cropped for maximum graphic impact and animated by telling gestures, these photographs place us in an intimate relationship with their protagonists. They are far removed from wildlife photography’s documentary images of animals observed in their natural habitat. In fact, the treatment accorded to these particular creatures is not dissimilar from close encounters with individuals that are the stuff of human portraiture.

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Hugh Kretschmer’s Surreal and humorous ad campaigns

Native Los Angeleno Hugh Kretschmer is one of those rare photographers who has the ability to completely transform a commercial ad campaign or editorial piece into a magical story that will move you. Using metaphor and hand crafted trick-the-eye elements he transports us to surreal narratives full of humor and intriguing mystery where anything can happen.

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Joram Roukes’ Morphing Figures

Dutch painter Joram Roukes’ large scaled oil paintings of collaged images bring together moments of abstraction, figuration, and pop iconography together to create dynamic mutating and morphing figures. His imagery refers to the moral dilemmas one may find himself in, viewing today’s western society. Through experience by participation Joram Roukes reflects not necessarily on an opinion on society’s flaws in his work, but rather observes and reports on typical western phenomena, leaving judgement up to the viewer, who thereby, establish their own position in these matters. (via)

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Photographing the Yakuza Crime Family

As part of our ongoing partnership with Feature Shoot, Beautiful/Decay is sharing Greta Rybus’ interview with Photographer Anton Kusters.

Anton Kusters is a Belgium-based photographer specializing in long-term projects. In 2011, he published his first photobook on the Yakuza, the Japanese organized crime families, that he photographed for two years.

Tell us about your Yakuza project.
‘YAKUZA is a personal visual account of the life inside an inaccessible subculture: A traditional Japanese crime family that controls the streets of Kabukicho, in the heart of Tokyo, Japan. Through 10 months of negotiations with the Shinseikai, my brother Malik and I became one of the only Westerners ever to be granted this kind of access to the closed world of Japanese organized crime.

‘With a mix of photography, film, writing and graphic design, I try to share not only their complex relationship to Japanese society, but also the personal struggle of being forced to live in two different worlds at the same time; worlds that often have conflicting morals and values. It turns out not to be a simple black versus white relationship, but most definitely one with many, many, many shades of grey.’

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Michael Bevilacqua’s An Ideal For Living On View at GERING & LóPEZ GALLERY

Michael Bevilacqua current exhibit at Gering &Lopez Gallery in NYC  showcases a single, monumental painting titled An Ideal For Living; a canvas that the artist has spent more than the past year painting. As with a number of Bevilacqua’s works, the title references a particular source of music, in this case the 1978 debut album by the post-punk rock band Joy Division. The band became an obsession for Bevilacqua, so much so that the painting grew along with his focus, consuming his attention and mirroring his state of mind. Each song, each lyric began taking on particular significance for Bevilacqua, who found many parallels to his own life and reflected his outlook on his surroundings. An Ideal For Living in fact created the rhythm of the artist’s life over the past year, further loosening his painting style and bringing about a series of work that he refers to as ‘the New Dis Order.’ Clearly diaristic in nature, the 30’ painting features an eclectic mix of color, text, visual styles and process. As rich as one would expect a yearlong work to be, the painting is also nuanced, with areas of sharpness and clarity layered upon washes of color and moody hues. Juxtaposed against this singular outpouring, other new works take a different approach, becoming extremely minimal and hauntingly symbolic, drained of color or highly textured.

An Ideal For Living is on view at Gering &Lopez Gallery through August 24th.

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