Spine-Chilling Paintings Of Suffering by Dr. Kevorkian, Practitioner Of Assisted Suicide

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The late Dr. Jack Kevorkian, known for his life’s work of advocating assisted suicide and for helping to end over 130 lives with his ominous-sounding Thanatron, or “machine of death,” was also an oil painter. The doctor, who spend 8 years in prison, created a little-known body of work tinged with the horror of pain; illustrating his controversial ideas on compassion, the paintings take aim at his religious critics and appeal to a nuanced moral ideal where death is seen simultaneously as a terror and an escape.

Kevorkian’s Thanatron takes its name from the ancient Greek personification of death; in his paintings, he also uses mythological themes. In “Fever,” he illustrates a hell composed of the ill and suffering; like Dante’s Virgil, he leads his painted patient through the depths of agony and fear with wide, sweeping brushstrokes. The Christian Brotherhood is reimagined as a monster characterized by multiple grotesque, sharp-toothed heads vaguely reminiscent of Inferno’s Satan.

Seemingly drawing inspiration from symbolist painters like Paul Gauguin and Edvard Munch, the artist, often referred to as “Dr. Death,” distorts the form of his subjects so that they might express psychological despair and heightened anxiety. In one image, titled “Coma,” a man, draped in a bed sheet, is inhaled by ghostly skull, his body absurdly foreshortened and his lined feet disproportionately swelled to express profound weariness. As the monstrous spirit of “coma” sucks him in, his tiny, darkened eyes beg for release. In “Paralysis,” the body becomes a prison, the brain removed and bound in chains.

When exhibited alongside the doctor’s paintings illustrating his love of music (Johann Sebastian Bach, a treble and bass clef), as they are at Gallerie Sparta, the more frightful images take on a strange operatic quality, evoking eery tonal climaxes with expressionistic bursts of color. 11 of the doctor’s paintings will be on view through April 30. (via Huff Post)
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Per Johansen’s Grotesque Photographs Of Meat Stuffed Into Bottles

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For the photographer Per Johansen’s new series, the artist shoots plastic bottles filled and overflowing with raw and bloody meat, exploring human consumption and calling into question the ethics of the meat industry. The project, titled Mæt (meaning Full) uses recycled plastic bottles to stand in for the human stomach and appetite; each is then stuffed with chicken, eel, sausage, liver, fish. When viewing this disturbing and probative project, viewers are forced too to consider the morality of using a once-living being in art; if the work makes a statement against cruel techniques in meat production, is it then exempt from the same ethical criticism?

Shot under expert lighting to reveal the textures of the dead flesh, each image reads like a scientific specimen, an objective and disturbing archive of meat production. The stomach-turning images are hard to look at; like organisms preserved in jars and formaldehyde, the meat products look less like food and more like grotesque captives. Their biological beauty is expressed through the ridges of a snail shell; a compressed cephalopod fleshes emerald hues, and the shiny metallic glint of scales presses against the cruel plastic. A pair of eel eyes appear deadened, and an eel mouth seems to open in a silent scream, a head thrust from the bottle neck.

Here, the human appetite for meat is shown as wasteful, the stomach equated with the plastic bottle, an object associated with careless consumption. The work’s website asks viewers, “Are you full now?” This idea brings us back to our initial question: is it humane to use meat for creative purposes, or is it degrading and wrong to use once-living organisms in such a way? Does the answer change when the work is meant to protest human gluttony and the grotesque nature of mass meat production? Let us know what you think in the comments! (via Feature Shoot)
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Spilled Wine Stains Made Into Ghostly Artworks With Exquisite Embroidery

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The artist Amelia Harnas creates dazzling portraits from spilled wine, using embroidery thread to trace and refine her crimson-faced subjects. Like delicate watercolor, the wine has an ethereal texture; the artist admits a certain unpredictability and instability in her unique process. Using wax resist on soft white cotton fabrics to set the images, she cannot determine how long the delicate images will last, and the transient images float like ghosts across the page while thread guides the eye.

Art historically, wine is associated with the god Bacchus, the god of drink and sexuality who inspired mortals to drink to the point of confusion, a state where the lines of identity and gender are blurred. Here, the spilled wine soaks the fabric in such a way that only the slightest mark provides a hint into the distinctive temperament of the subject. It is the thread that defines personhood, outlining the divisions between eye and flesh, hair and scalp. Without the meticulous embroidery, men and women become murky, drunken figures.

The miraculous tension between accident and purpose heightens the drama of each face. The cotton foundation is seemingly drenched in reds and pinks, the colors chaotically spreading throughout the image and creating serendipitous halos around the portraits; in stark contrast, the embroidery is distinctly rational and deliberate, forming complex geometric shapes like concentric circles, squares and triangles.

As the volatility of wine stains collides with the reason and order of human craft, Harnas presents a startlingly complex vision of the human condition. As illustrated in this work, art, like man, is governed by both passion and sound intellect, doled out in equal measure. Take a look. (via Colossal and Oddity Central)
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Split Screen Portraits Of Drug Addiction Show Subjects Before And After

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The photographer Roman Sakovich has gotten some heat for his project Half, a series of images detailing the effects of drug abuse, particularly with respect to methamphetamine addiction; his subjects stand, face forward, their lefthand side polished, even proud, while on the right, their bodies are ravaged by scars and scabs characteristic of addiction. The jarring split-personas are achieved not through photoshop but with expert make-up and styling.

The artist has been criticized for his simplified portrayal of drug dependency; by his own admission, the images, in their shocking nature, exclude a more nuanced exploration and rely in part stereotypes. Problematic for some is the fact that the non-addict self is styled professionally in suits and crisp button-downs, while the addict wears more urban attire, the implication being that class and drug use are profoundly connected.

Regardless of the controversy (and perhaps even because of it), the shocking series inspires much-needed and critical discussion on drug addiction, an illness that plagues tens of millions nationwide. Avoiding blaming and scapegoating individuals, the artist provides an intimate approximation of selfhood torn by addiction, one that inspires empathy, not disgust or prejudice.

Sakovich’s subjects, their identities split in two, are as you and I, lead by hopes, fears, and complex yearnings. A doctor, stethoscope slung over her shoulder, hair in a tight chignon, directs a placid glance comfortingly at the viewer; only after allowing our eyes to drift across the print do we see this figure of heath and safety cruelly overtaken by substance abuse, her eye downcast and purpled, a dried lip furrowed and lined. We read these bodies from left to right like strange texts, imagining personal and intimate narratives in order to reconcile the two faces before us. Ultimately, we are left with the powerful warning, “This could happen to you.” What do you think? (via My Modern Met and Feature Shoot)
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Poignantly Raw Photographs Show An Uncensored Motherhood

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The photographer Elinor Carucci’s recent series Mother reads like a visual diary of the pains and pleasures of motherhood, a raw and uncensored confessional of love and a complex relationship to the female body. Within the aesthetic framework of more traditional portrayals of the mother, she highlights the visceral and bodily with romantic reverence.

Carucci relies in part upon the image of the art historical Virgin Mary, mirroring Renaissance paintings in which the virgin clasps the child in her lap, his soft baby limps coiled around her abdomen. Similarly, a strange and beautiful self-portrait features the artist in a hospital bed, a mysterious and seemingly divine light shone directly over her womb. With symmetry evocative of Renaissance art, her newborn twins nurse at her breasts, each head resting on a pillow of deep blue characteristic of the virgin.

Mother transforms our understanding of the divine, expanding it to apply to real, mortal women, our bodies and our fears. Unlike Mary, our protagonist is not a virgin; instead, her sexuality is the source of her creative energy; her milky breasts are shown alongside the vulva, her stretch marks and scars creating s subtle cross in the center of her torso. Her daughter, appropriately named Eden, sneaks a look down her mother’s underwear, marveling at the beauty and power of the genital area with moving innocence, her face bathed in light.

With the beauty of life and love comes the poignant fact of growing up and innocence lost. As the girl’s hair is cut, her green eyes are stricken with fear, the bothersome remains of lost hair littering her face. Similarly, a child bears a wound, which swells painfully from her lip like a ripe pomegranate seed; during bath time, she wriggles from her mother’s arms, shot in relative darkness, desperate to return to a state of play. Take a look. Mother is currently on display at New York’s Edwynn Houk Gallery. (via Beautiful Is Now and Feature Shoot)
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Tristan Pigott’s Paintings Capture Social Awkwardness And The Male Gaze

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The painter Tristan Pigott heightens the drama of everyday awkward interactions by imagining the mundane in dreamlike ways; altering proportion and shape to express his subjects’ self-conscious anxiety, he constructs an uncomfortable world dominated by the uncertainty of twenty-something men and women. As they form their adult identities, Pigott’s subjects fret over their appearance and public behavior.

Alcohol, hip clothing, makeup, and grooming products cease to be superficial or incidental and are transformed into poignant markers of inner dialogues. Two female subjects abandon words, opting instead to communicate through their own physical presentation; one applies mascara in her skivvies, while the other furrows her brow at a magazine advertisement. An attractive persona is of the utmost importance; a seductive lip tattoo becomes the subject of another painting, and similarly, a lady is shown carefully eating a hamburger that perfectly coordinates to her outfit, sure not to spill on her blouse.

Further heightening the psychological importance of public surroundings and everyday objects, the artist plays with perception, placing an out-of-context wine glass here, a gravity-defying newspaper there. Similarly, a see-through table alters the hue of the legs below as harsh brushstrokes break the illusion of realism, and a man peers at his watch, his anxiety seemingly circumventing the laws of physics and allowing his body to float above ground.

In this world where identities are malleable and uncertain, the male gaze is uncomfortably prominent. Where a man is shown to watch himself in the mirror, the women are seen with a subtle degree of voyeurism. In mixed company, women peer thoughtfully, even fretfully, at the viewer, where men seem to please only themselves, remaining blissfully unaware of onlookers. When the male subject is nude, his back and face are turned away, but breasts and glances of the unclothed female are directed outwards. Dominated by familiar social anxieties and uncomfortable sexual politics, Pigott’s imaginative public space is perhaps not as surreal as it might seem. (via iGNANT)
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Anatomically Correct Body Art Turns The Human Body Turned Inside Out

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The best art strives to make visible the invisible, and the body painter Johannes Stoetter takes his work literally, seemingly turning his subjects inside out to reveal internal anatomy; with his vivid colors, he traces anatomical parts that linger below the surface of the skin, visually peeling away layers of his models’ body.

With each work, he digs deeper below the surface, moving from sinewy muscles to organs, and ultimately into the psyche of his subjects. He begins by staying relatively true to human anatomy, depicting detailed tendons and muscles in eye-popping red, yet throughout the series, the artist’s allegiance to science softens, allowing him to paint with more unrealistic, emotionally evocative hues.

Without discernible facial features, his models rely solely upon the apparent tensions of the biceps or the illusion of blood flow to express their identities, opening the door for Stoetter to experiment with non-literal anatomies. The placid woman is painted with the natural world associated iconographically and art historically with her sex, while a male model is shown as having a geometrical machine beneath his flesh.

Each landscape nurtures the perception of the body and heightens its beauty, and the painted bodies cease to be individual and come to represent the coherent, unchanging nature of humankind; in each of us, there ticks the same robot heart, flows the same river of blood. Though nude, the models are desexualized by the obscuring of their flesh, and we are invited to marvel at the organic majesty of anatomy, both physical and emotional. Take a look at Anatomy and more of Stoetter’s astounding work below. (via Lost at E Minor)
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Hilarious, Touching Photos Of Dogs Dancing And Shaking

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Few images of dogs can capture the magical abandon with which they move and express themselves, but the photographer and animal care expert Carli Davidson has done just that with Shake, a delightful series composed of high-speed, freeze-frame captures of canines mid-shake. Each shot miraculously pinpoints the moment of release; a wakeful stretch, the passionate freedom from a wet, unpleasant bath.

The photographs are comical for the strange elasticity of skin and fur, which seem wobble and move according not to the laws of physics but to the emotional governance of the animals; blissfully, floppy puppy ears swing from tiny heads, as if to take flight from the body. Similarly, hungry, drooling lips express the subject’s uncontrollable excitement.

Within Davidson’s humor lies a beautiful reverence for the canine subjects. The miracle of the animals’ instinctual motion creates sweeping, mystical swirls across the frame; drool, fur, and flesh move in tandem. Eyes open wide with the ecstatic motion of loose skin, and a Komondor’s dreadlocked hair swirls about like Medusa’s wild snakes. After a bath, water droplets and strands of shedding fur compose a starry cosmic landscape, lit radiantly against a black backdrop.

From the Chinese Crested to the Springer Spaniel to the glorious mixed breed, these canine subjects engage in a frenzied and physical expression and enjoy themselves in ways humans rarely do; in viewing their images, we are invited to do the same. Take a look at the joyous images below, and check out the print publication of Shake here. (via Colossal)
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