Alexander Paulus’ Grotesque Paintings Are Straight Out Of A Child’s Nightmare

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The painter Alexander Paulus works in the grotesque, visualizing the ecstatic realm of human excess; in his disturbing images, desires of the flesh are celebrated as both revolting and magnetic. In the Primitivist style of Paul Gauguin and Paul Klee, the artist weaves viscerally-charged narratives that center around the erotic self. Through Paulus’s masterly, globular brushstrokes, the human body becomes a site of lust, gluttony, and a disgusting brand of pride.

Here, the allure and seductive powers of the flesh veer into excess and are thusly robbed of their beauty; a painting titled Blond haired blue eyed beauty imagines the female embodiment of Western beauty ideals as a rounded, egg-shaped monster, her ravenous, gummy open mouth revealing gnawing teeth. Similarly, in a piece titled Bette Davis eyes, the artist reinterprets the famed Kim Carnes song; in his rendition, the teasing seductress has an absurd about of tiny, beady eyes, and she takes the form of Queen Elizabeth I, a historical figure renowned for her spurning of male suiters.

Within Paulus’s intentionally crudely-rendered paintings lies a harsh indictment of modern culture. The works, dripping with satire, lay bare society’s worshipful treatment of sexual satisfaction; Crowing glory hole shows a roughly drawn anus adorned with a primitive crown, and Mount blue balls elevates thirsty and desirous phallus and testicles, complete with an ironic smiley face, to awesome level of the tallest natural peak. In Just the tip, thick, messy brushstrokes are also equated with the phallus and sexual desire left unquenched. In Paulus’s expertly seen world, the beautiful is merely an illusion, masking our basest desires. Take a look.
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One Million Vintage Crime Scene Photographs Discovered In Los Angeles Police Archives

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Until recently, an old, deteriorated collection of no less than one million crime scene photographs rested silently in the nearly forgotten archives of the Los Angeles Police department; spanning 150 years of violence and corruption, these images were only recently discovered by the photographer Merrick Morton, who has restored and salvaged many of the images, which will be exhibited at Paramount Pictures Studios from April 25-27 by Fototeka.

The crime scene image occupies a unique place in photographic history; in her seminal text On Photography, the theorist Susan Sontag describes the medium as a means of providing evidence, proof that is often skewed, corrupted by individual biases. Sontag also proposed that the photograph necessitates complicity; when Weegee rushed to crime scenes to capture the bodies of murder victims, for example, he was partaking perhaps in the fetishistic pleasure of violence.

Morton’s collection offers new insight into the discourse between crime fighting and art; unlike someone like Weegee, the modern photographer is also a reserve officer for the LAPD. The photographs he chose to restore and exhibit embody the very human tension between revolution and curiosity, for although these images were initially used to catch and reprimand criminals, they now function to satisfy our more voyeuristic yearnings.

Without context, these bullet holes, these nude, tattooed dead bodies are entirely open to our imagination and judgment, inviting our darkest fantasies and speculation. A pair of shoes, caught (perhaps accidentally) in the corner of a forensic image, shown beside a bloody carpet and a limp hand holding a shining knife, holds deeper psychological connotations when viewed as art, as a relic of an era gone by. Take a look. (via Feature Shoot)
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Disturbing and Sweet Paintings Look Like A Dark Alice In Wonderland

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The French digital painter Lostfish creates an uncomfortable yet irresistibly alluring landscape of feminine powers; her bashful, pink-cheeked subjects reign supreme, adorned in precious jewels and sparkling crowns. The artist’s characters are abuzz with their own fertility, as expressed by bouncing nude breasts and lush flowers that seem to spring up from underfoot; also pictured are rabbits and eggs, symbols art historically associated with breeding and copulation.

The artist, influenced in part by 19th century art, works within a Victorian sensibility, reveling in an innocent, doll-like vision of femininity; her subjects, pale skinned and with impossibly delicate figures, become queens, armed with crowns and tridents. Lostfish’s female characters also seem pious, divine even; a few wear dismembered hands as jewelry, reminiscent of religious icons like the hand of God or the hand of Fatima. White flowers with yellow centers, often symbolic of the Virgin Mary in Christian art, stand in the place of youthful, milky nipples.

Yet within Lostfish’s ethereal and seductive images, there seems to linger an ominous supernatural strength within womankind. Where the Victorian woman is domestic and obedient, Lostfish’s heroines roam like wood nymphs, emboldened by their own reproductive powers; in one image depicting a human fetus within a pink oval, a foreboding reptilian creature seems to invade the womb, its grotesque navel in full view. In one painting, doll faces emerge in a group of six from blood red roses, reminiscent of biblical devil. These tempting, enchanting women dress in excess, giving themselves over to material pleasures. In Lostfish’s gorgeous imaginings the female is both delicate and demure, ravenous and dangerous. Take a look. (via HiFructose)
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Milo Moire Drops Eggs From Her Private Parts To Create Abstract Paintings

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The German performance artist Milo Moire gives birth to her paintings… literally; in pushing eggs, filled with ink and acrylic paint, from her vaginal canal, she allows them to break and splatter onto a pristine white canvas. The unusual work, titled “PlopEgg,” necessitates that the artist be nude from head to toe, and it is the first of a series of similar performances at the opening of 2014’s Art Cologne fair.

For Moire, the work embodies the creative and spontaneous powers of femininity; her exposed body and vagina give rise to streaming rivers of earthy colors: rich reds, browns, and grays. The muddied hues recall human birth, from the breaking of the water to the release of blood; her hulking, straining body stands like a statue on high, and the act of labor is elevated, made majestic and potent. The visceral image of her lengthy squat, the cracking noise as egg hits pavement, serves as a testament to the symbolic strength of the vagina, the power of both woman and the creative mind to conceive and reproduce.

Inspired perhaps by Carolee Schneemann’s 1975 Interior Scroll (and even Casey Jenkins‘s recent vaginal knitting project), Moire uses her internal sex organ to birth something external and tangible, but she simplifies the process; where Schneemann removed complex words, Moire births primitive splashes of colors. In doing so, she doubles the sensuality and feminine context of her efforts; where text is often associated with maleness, the chaotic, free-flowing aesthetic of “EggPlop” is normally iconographically linked to womanhood.

At the close of her performance, the artist folds her paper canvas like a bed sheet, sweeping over it so as to transfer the paint from one side the another. In this way, the image is reproduced; like a cell divided, one becomes two. The symmetrical of the resultant image is also evocative of the female reproductive system, vividly mirroring the uterine structure. Take a look. (via Source Fed)
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Haunting Photographs Of The Dead Laid To Rest In A Funeral Home

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In his series Evergreen, the photographer Bjørn Haldorsen visits the Evergreen funeral home in Brooklyn; like throwing flour on the invisible man, his images hope to give form to the invisible, intangible notion of death. In capturing the peripheral objects and mundane moments of embalming and service preparation, he paints a poignantly nuanced portrait of mortality.

These bitterly honest slices of a life once lived avoid sentimentality or theatricality. Unlike in Victorian post-mortem photography, Haldorsen avoids full portraits of the dead, opting instead to capture the seemingly banal elements of the business of death. Staff members arrange casket pillows routinely and perfunctorily, and only the corner of an urn is shot, revealing the accidental dust allowed to collect around it.

Yet within the work is a potent thread of emotionality and love as seen through subtle tricks of light; where a gray-haired body rests on a gurney, a figure, basks divinely in an overexposed door, as if to mourn in mysterious and unknowable ways. Similarly, a man sits in a dimly-lit room, sequestered from the lonesome darkness of the funeral space. Lifeless hands with yellowed nails seem to reach out at the viewer, exhaustedly collapsing on sanitary plastic wrapping, and swelled feet are contorted by wear, dirt still caught between their nails. Youthful hands gently insert a match flame into the wrinkled nose of the diseased; the ritual frozen forever, made to feel sacred and painfully intimate.

Haldorson’s vision of death reads as jarringly rational, offering little solace in the face of death, and yet upon closer inspection, viewers may discover hints of hope, the slightest traces of loving memory, preserved forever. Take a look. (via Feature Shoot)
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Joel-Peter Witkin’s Grotesque Yet Beautiful Photographs Capture Private Erotic Longings

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The legendary photographer Joel-Peter Witkin, previously featured here and now on view at LA’s Jack Ruthberg Gallery, weaves strange erotic narratives through his staged images, some of which take weeks to complete. His body of work reads like a love poem to the grotesque, transforming what society deems taboo into miraculously beautiful scenes.

Witkin’s images avoid judging the body, opting instead to reveal mankind’s universal but most private erotic yearnings and fears. In his reinterpretation of Canova’s famously sensual yet demurely reclining Venus, for example, naked male genitalia slip from cover as if by accident, the organ poignantly vulnerable, delicate, and human, seemingly caught between erection and flaccidity.

Sexual hunger again becomes the subject of another image that seems to deconstruct Romantic paintings like Theodore Gericault’s The Raft of The Medusa, famed for its haunting depiction of dead, drowning flesh. Here, a suspenseful, tragic rescue effort is transformed into a sort of desperate orgie on the verge of climax; a pair of heaving breasts is grabbed like melons.

The erotic, though filled with the dangers of physical and spiritual nakedness, is often elevated to the divine. A shirtless woman, her breasts bared, inserts her finger into a book much like the Virgin Mary in Renaissance paintings of the Annunciation. In these photographs, nuns pose alongside nudes, and horns (symbolic of lust) are merged with crowns of thorns (symbolic of Christ)

The gorgeous set of images challenge societal ideas of social acceptability, implying that the most exquisite beauty is often found in our most frightfully private moments of lust and longing. Within all of us, lies erotic impulses that can manifest in magical and dangerous ways. Be sure to check out Witkin’s work at Jack Ruthberg Gallery, where he will exhibit alongside his long-estranged brother, the legendary painter Jerome Witkin. (via Lenscratch and Etherton Gallery)
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Spine-Chilling Paintings By Casey Baugh Prove That The Matrix Is Real

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The painter Casey Baugh’s vibrant images are so astoundingly realistic that they could easily be mistaken for photographs if not for the eery, impressionistic brushstrokes that are only visible at close range. In rich and moody blues and blacks, the artist imagines a social and psychological landscape dominated by technology, a world where humans and machines coexist in a heightened state of tension and theatricality.

With conventionally beautiful women serving as his subjects, Baugh seduces the viewer; the photorealistic flesh glistens in soft, dreamy blues. Technology becomes a fetish object of sorts as wires coil about the curves of the female body, entangling and binding her while her sensually lit face surrenders to a strange sort of ecstasy, her body reclining suggestively.

Despite the powerful allure of technology, Baugh’s work also serves as a warning against our surrender to it. The remote, mechanical aspects of our modern lives— electronics, social media—entrap the human self with their metallic sheen and magnetic glow. A woman is seemingly choked by a collar made of industrial piping; the piece, titled Ammonoid, suggests that the foreign object has in fact integrated itself into her anatomy. Similarly, a girl is bound in glistening cellophane and confined to a cell, hooked up to televisions without chance of escape. Sadly, Baugh’s women, drawn to the irresistible blue screens, have become as much machine as human being.

The form of the work mirrors its thematic content; at first, the images look like photographs, captures of real events, but upon second glance, it becomes clear that the scene is an expertly-painted illusion. How much of our experience with technology is real? At what point do we sacrifice a truthful mortal existence for the entrancing (and ultimately fleeting) world of technology? (via HiFructose)
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MRI Scans Of Fruits And Veggies Are Astounding And Mildly Frightening

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MRI technologist Andy Ellison spends his days scanning human brains, searching for abnormalities. He began scanning fruit on a whim, using an orange in a test of the machine’s settings; the results were so stunningly beautiful and transfixing that he began bringing produce to work, scanning our favorite fruits and veggies on his time off, and posting animated sequences of cross-section images onto his blog, Inside Insides.

The high-resolution black and white sequences apply the imaging tool to the arts, highlighting the geometrical perfection of organic objects. The slow motion animations are imbued with a sense of life and vitality; like pumping ventricles, the matrices of a pineapple seem to gape open and shut. A tomato resembles a microscopic cell, seemingly splitting and reproducing with astonishing speed, and a head of garlic seems to emerge, its cloves flawlessly woven together, from nothingness.

Ellison’s slow motion animation allows mesmerized viewers to be seduced by the rhythmic revelations, and the everyday is elevated to cosmic levels; an scanned eggplant seems to explode into a complex network of stars. These food products, these mundane miracles, get a moment to shine in the imaging machine’s dense whites and pure, weightless blacks. The uniqueness of each fruit takes center stage (can you find the bruised onion?), and together, they paint a rich portrait of the natural world. These elegant plant structures, viewed in this way, don’t seem so different from our very own organs. So the next time you stroll down the produce aisle, take a moment to consider the miraculous visions that lurk beneath the surface. (via Salon and Offbeat)
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