About Nathaniel Smith

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Fra.Biancoshock Insists His Street Interventions Are Not ‘Street Art’

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Fra.Biancoshock insists he is not a street artist, but rather the Milan-based experientialist noticed that his street-level installations and interventions spoke using the same language as Street Art. In regards to the movement of Street Art in regards to his work, the mysterious, identity-protecting Fra. says, “For me, that phrase is a provocation: I have not studied art, I do not frequent artistic circles, or amicidell’amicodelcuginodelfratellodelsuoamico … And I have no particular technical and artistic skills. I just have ideas and I like to strain my mind in trying to propose to the common people through what I call “Unconventional Experiences.” I think mine are “experiences” rather than works of art.”

With ties and intentions closer to Performance and Conceptual Art (for those paying off MFA degrees, think Guy Debord), the man who would become Fra.Biancoshock developed the performative avant-garde school of art he calls Effimerismo (“The Effimerismo is a movement that has the aim of producing works of art that exists in a limited way in the space, but that they persist in an infinite way in time…”) as a means of exploring and categorizing his specific means of street engagement (or as he is known to call them, “speeches”).

Operating in this very-intentionally public mode of communication, Fra.Biancoshock uses the streets as a forum, installing temporary interventions to call attention to themes of poverty, urban blight, modern stress and decay. Present in most works is how Fra deals with serious themes with a disarmingly light-hearted approach. His work has mostly been viewed (often quite temporarily) in Europe, though as Fra. says in his Manifesto-like statement, “Prior to founding the movement, [Fra.biancoshock] has made ​​more than 400 speeches on the streets of Italy , Spain , Portugal, Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Malaysia and the State of Singapore, and has no intention of stopping.” (via hi-fructose)

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Georgia Theologou’s Morose And Glittery Portraits

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Georgia Theologou (or Georgia Th as she is also known) is a self-taught Greek artist who paints hauntingly beautiful portraiture. Created by combining traditional and digital media, Theologou’s intentionally limited palate and trademark visual rendering gives both a soft lushness and a harsh reality to her subjects, like mascara tear trails being transformed into softly dabbed paint glitter.  In a conversation with Beautiful/Decay (and with the help of Google Translate), Theologou explains what inspires her symbolic subjects,

“Creating something is a way to express the feelings that are inside me that I maybe didn’t even know about before. It’s a way to explore myself and what I have on my mind, so when I am making my work I feel like I find something new about me and about how I see things that I did not even realize was present.”

Theologou’s internalized subjects are taken from many sources of art research and random bits of internet ephemera, and blended with other imagery that gives each portrait an allegorical depth and visual tension. Noting themes of nature ranging from human and animal, the stars and the cosmos in many of her colorful works, Georgia explains these combinations, saying

“I don’t paint people but the existence of a person. The subject of my paintings is the feelings of this existence or the situation they experience that moment. All of the objects I use in my paintings are random, but this helps me to create the right place and mood, so I choose objects that are common on fairy-tales and dreams. Nature and space are also places with the same strong sense of vitality, so the person can feel closer  to his/her inner world. My paintings are not about a story or a specific idea or symbol, I think about painting “that” moment.”

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Kostis Fokas’ Sexually-Charged And Inventive Photographs (NSFW)

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Kostis Fokas is a rare photographer who possesses the innate ability to both create and capture personifications of the provocative in our human form. Challenging and sexually-charged, the work is visually reminiscent of fashion photography, but pulls inspiration equally from painterly compositions by using the body as a metaphor for sexuality, potency, and humanity. In a conversation with Beautiful/Decay, the London-based, Greek photographer explains, “Through my photos I wish to present a new take on the human body and explore its infinite capabilities. The use of quirky, and sometimes hidden faces communicates exactly that. Unlike photography that seeks to reveal the feelings of the objects portrayed through the use of faces and expressions, I shift my focus on the complete freedom pertained to the image of a human body. Stripped from its clothes, I leave it fully exposed and completely surrendered.”

With faces hidden and bodies often stripped bare, the human form becomes a landscape of tension, fully exploring the paradox of submission. A balding man running a brush over his head becomes a metaphor for self-conscious impotence and existential awareness, while a naked woman hovering over a cactus represents a more immediate (and less philosophical) danger. In Fokas’ work we realize that submission is often related to acceptance, mirrored by the artist stating, “Submissiveness often conveys surrender to something greater and more powerful than us.”  This duality becomes both a metaphor for the nature of photographic direction, as well as for life, as the human experience is compressed into simultaneously simple and complicated gestures arranged by the photographer with willing participants, and captured on film.

When asked if the work’s sometimes daring exploration of sexual themes and sexuality is ever misinterpreted, or even offensive, Kostas diplomatically responds, “My images aspire to touch on some of these issues, among others, and definitely raise many questions but it is ultimately left up to each individual viewer to decide and reach his own conclusions.”

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Ludovic Florent’s Mesmerizing Photoseries Of Nude Dancers Engulfed In Dust (NSFW)

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Ludovic Florent‘s new photoseries Poussières d’étoiles (which translating as Stardust) features the natural beauty of the human body in motion, capturing dancer’s poses in moments of ecstasy, distress and grace. Each photograph is highlighted by the staging, a chalk and sand floor which enhances each movement, with dust clouds mirroring the appendage’s motions to create a dramatic physical presence of their own. Florent says, “In our changing society, my photographic work is guided by a humanistic look, willingness to foreground the natural beauty of the body, free to express his grace and personality.”

The Metz, France-based Florent created Poussières d’étoiles for Gallery HEGOA, and in anticipation for the European Festival of Nude Photography in Arles, France in May, 2014. The photographer further explains his work, “‘Behind every carnal envelope hides a soul that is both sensitive and flamboyant as I try to capture in each of my photographs.’ We certainly enjoy his work guided by a humanistic look, finding expression in a series that is both, sensitive and vivid.”   (via ignant)

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Andrea Hasler’s Sculptures Made Out Of Flesh And Guts

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The sculptural work of Andrea Hasler has always created a dichotomous dynamic – push and pull, revulsion and attraction. The Zurich, Switzerland-born artist (previously featured here) has used her trademark visual medium of sculpted fiber-glass covered with wax to insinuate the human body, with equal parts inference to our insides as well as outsides. 

Her newest work is title Embrace the Base, a commission for Greenham Common in Berkshire, England by New Greenham Arts. The site, which held the longest women’s protest against a site storing nuclear weapons in the early 1980′s, is rich with history and emotion. The larger pieces in Hasler’s commission recall the tents that these women protesters erected in their camp outside of the military base which now serves as a cultural meeting place.

“For the New Greenham Arts Exhibition, I have created a new sculptural body of work that takes Greenham Common’s history as a starting point, particularly with the Women’s Peace Camp with its tents situated on the site during this time. This new work also takes into account the historical perspective. as well as entwines with the recreational aspect of how Greenham Common as a site, is being used now, as well as the New Greenham Art gallery being located in the former American Army’s entertainment quarter. Metaphorically I am taking the notion of the tents which were on site during the Women’s Peace Camp, as the container for emotions, and “humanise” these elements to create emotional surfaces.

Hasler mentions that with Embrace the Base she is taking a political element as a starting point and then involving body politics. In Matriarch and Next of Kin, two tent forms, cloaked in skin-like covering, recall the tents that these protesters erected in the Women’s Peace Camp. While one tent is a full-sized replica, the other scaled down, and as the artist hints, most likely represents a mother and child relationship. Often working with skin as a loaded (and typically, simultaneously literal) metaphor, Hasler says, “It’s almost like I am taking the fabric of the tent, the sort of the nylon element of the tent, and I make the fabric, this skin layer as sort of the container for emotion, or sort of the container to hold emotion, as in the skin holding emotion.”

Embrace the Base is on view now at the Corn Exchange Newbury & New Greenham Arts through April 11th, 2014.

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Carolyn Frischling’s Dynamic Works Brings Printmaking Into The Digital Age

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While many mediums have a constant back and forth debate between an emphasis towards using traditional, conventional methors or more recently available techniques, printmaker Carolyn Frischling does not concern herself with the argument. The Pittsburgh-based artist investigates new techniques in both image creation and printing methods, while continuing to honor the constantly-evolving history of the medium. “I’m proud that printmaking comes out of a long line of democratic, inclusive ideals, that today is at the forefront of technology and creativity.” Like many makers of prints, Frischling uses several simultaneous techniques to achieve the airy and colorful visual textures in her work, differentiated only by the image creation beforehand using computer editing programs. When asked by Beautiful/Decay to explain the benefits of working digitally versus using traditional methods, Frischling first explains, “Digital art enables me to use the same thought processes of traditional printmaking without the toxicity of using traditional materials on a daily basis.”

These moody and ethereal digital works are printed with archival inks on paper, silk, glass and aluminum, heavy with an abstract beauty attached to their process. Frischling further explains her methodology, “Digital printmaking is incredibly nuanced. There is so much more I can do that I couldn’t do in traditional printmaking, although the only reason I understand digital as well as I do, is because the thought processes are the very same. Sometimes I do miss the physicality involved in other kinds of art-making, but my art isn’t about physicality, so I think in this instance,”The medium is the message.”

Ultimately, whether created by physical process or digital manipulation, the works speak for themselves with strong compositions, moody palates, delicate forms and attest to the time spent mastering any artistic discipline. When Frischling explains, My instinct is always to create movement and energy through use of color and form”, it is a goal separate from process and more located in ambition.

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Christopher Janney Bathes Travelers With Sound And Technicolor Light

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Christopher Janney’s work often activates multiple senses simultaneously, using both visual and auditory stimulation to evoke emotional responses to viewers. Calling it a ‘sonic portrait’ of Miami, his work Harmonic Convergence combines sound, light and interactive elements to emulate a positive experience of place in an otherwise sterile airport environment.

Located in a pedestrian walkway leading from the car rental buildings to the airport proper, Janney replaced the existing windows with a prismatic arrangement of colored glasses. Columns and design elements were also repainted white, to better catch the sun’s lights streaming through the colored glass. This was Janney’s second installation at the airport, succeeding his previous piece, Harmonic Runway.

Like most of his work, sound plays an important part of this installation as well. According to Jenny Filipetti at Designboom, “Speakers installed at regular intervals along the walkway create a continuously changing ‘sonic portrait’ of South Florida as they play the sounds of tropical birds, thunderstorms, and other environments native to the region. Video sensors at either end of the passageway track visitor movement, causing changes in the density and composition of the sound piece relative to the number of passengers in the space.” (via designboom)

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Randy Ortiz’s Mutant Drake Covers And Other Surreal Wonders

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Artist Randy Ortiz has been tantalizing the eyes of illustration fans for years, illuminating concert and movie posters both professionally and as creative tasks for a great imagination. While past work emphasized ink line work and detailed black and white charcoal drawings, recent work has become more colorful, with flat background colors which perhaps surprisingly emphasize the darker thematic weight in the mystical figures and composition.

The self-taught Canadian artist uses evolved techniques to illicit a near-Surrealistic response from his often-human figures, draped in masterfully rendered drapery and fabrics. Despite the often serious undertones immediately noticeable in his work, the obvious sense of humor is evident (mutant visual remixes of Drake’s oft-mocked album cover seen below for example). In other works hooded figures clamor over each other, all reaching for a disembodied hand holding a small heart talisman representing love, or mystical-triangle-eyed cats eye floating balls of string. With Ortiz’s visual narratives and painting style evolving at a rapid pace, he is definitely ahead of other illustrator/artist to watch.

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