Tattoos, historically, have been on the bodies of sailors and prisoners. It’s only in relatively recent years that they’ve entered mainstream society and lost some of their negative social stigma. Arkady Bronnikov collected photographs of tattooed Russian prisoners between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s. The amount he obtained was massive – 918 images worth – thanks to his position in the government. As a senior expert in criminalistics at the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs for over 30 years, part of Bronnikov’s duties involved visiting correctional institutions of the Ural and Siberia regions. He interviewed, gathered information, and photographed convicts and their tattoos, which gradually helped him build this comprehensive archive.
The images were later acquired by FUEL, a London-based design group, in 2013. Some of the photographs and official police papers authored by Bronnikov from the Soviet period will be published by FUEL in two volumes, the first of which was just released. Now, they are part of a current exhibition titled FUEL present: Russian Criminal Tattoo Police Filesat Grimaldi Gavin in London until November 22 of this year.
When these photos were taken, Bronnikov wasn’t concerned with composition or style. They were meant to act as a record and served a purely practical purpose. The gallery explains, “Their bodies display an unofficial history, told not just through tattoos, but also in scars and missing digits. Closer inspection only confirms our inability to comprehend the unimaginable lives of this previously unacknowledged caste.”
With Halloween just around the corner, costumes don’t have to be the only spooky things you you do to celebrate the holiday. We’ve been introduced to the lifelike, creepy cakes of Conjurer’s Kitchen, and they aren’t the only ones turning delicious treats into something sinister. So, here are a couple of other food artists having some ghoulish fun with conventional desserts.
Christine McConnell is an artist, photographer, and baker who makes elaborate delicacies like screamberries, a life-sized facehugger pastry, and chocolate-covered spiders. The details on these foods are incredible and so convincing that they don’t appear like they’re edible (though they are!). But, they look so impressive that you wouldn’t want to. (via Who Killed Bambi and Laughing Squid)
Ruth & Sira created their own version of the sugar skull by opening the top of the heads and sticking things like berries, nuts, and gummies. The walnuts look like a strange, dried-up brains while they’ve also created the more traditional-looking organs. Their creations look very sweet, and easy to pop skull after skull (as strange as that sounds) into your mouth. (via Who Killed Bambi and Boing Boing)
Complete with slick, bold colors and lens flares, artist Felipe Pantone livens up walls and urban environments with his murals. The neon-colored creations are text based and often coupled with geometric and monochromatic patterns. Their energy can’t and won’t be ignored, and it conjures up an aesthetic that’s contemporary, yet feels like it’s out of the late 1990’s thanks to a rainbow combination of gradients that fill the letterforms.
Pantone’s graffit straddles the line between traditional graffiti, typography, and design. It’s this mixture of popular cultures that gives a unique voice, and simultaneously looks familiar but is something all its own. For someone who might only be familiar with one aspect of Pantone’s multifaceted inspiration, they can find something interesting and meaningful within it (aside it just being fun to look at). (Via The Fox is Black)
German street artist 1010 uses tromp l’oeil technique in murals that occupy the sides of buildings and gallery spaces. The abstract shapes have rings of color and have just enough shading to give them the illusion that they’re different layers. It gives them the appearance of paper cutouts, with multiple colorful “sheets” highlight the incredible depth that’s on flat surfaces.
1010’s illusion makes the entire side of a building feel like something that’s as light as paper. Their scale is large enough to create a cavernous feel, like you could venture inside of these paintings. In this way, he creates a fantasy within the ordinary urban environment. You start to ponder: what if these structures really were made of something as delicate as paper? Where would this dark abyss lead, and what would be there? Considering the oddly-shaped holes, it could be anything.
In 2010, photographer and conservationist Robin Moore set out on a global quest in search of frogs and salamanders that were last seen between 15 and 160 years ago. The undertaking was accompanied by over 120 scientists in 21 countries and took four years to complete.
It was worth the time and effort, however, and Moore’s journey produced some incredible rediscoveries, such as: the Ventriloquial Frog from Haiti, capable of throwing its voice, and the Borneo Rainbow Toad, which was unseen in 87 years. And, amusingly, a new species from Colombia was introduced called the “Monty Burns Toad,” which is reminiscent of the cartoon villain from The Simpsons.
From this quest came a book titled In Search of Lost Frogs, which includes information about the project and shows over 400 gorgeous photos of Moore’s findings. The sizes of each creature, their variations in color, and image quality are crystal clear. When you compare all the different frogs and salamanders, it’s remarkable just how many variations there are. It is that sentiment- one of hope and wonder – that Moore wants you to feel; to motivate you to care about the amphibians and the potential loss of their species. He explains:
As conservationists we often get so caught up in communicating what it is that we are losing that we forget to instill a sense of hope,” Moore says. “We need to revel in the weird and the wonderful, the maligned and the forgotten, for our world is a richer more wondrous place for them. Stories and images of discovery and rediscovery can help us to reconnect with our inner explorer – they can make us feel part of a bigger, wilder world. Rekindling a connection with the world beyond our concrete boxes is the key to caring about the way we are treating our natural world.
Victoria Wagner is an artist who is fascinated by unlikely pairings. Her set of gem-like sculptures called Woodrocks are comprised of wood and decorated with color, as she explains, “My eye generally and naturally tends toward tessellation and pattern, seeking a rhythm that mimics regular pulse. On the one hand, visual order provides a place for the senses to rest, while color relationships create problems for the brain to solve. I like this simultaneity.” The natural material and the unnatural oil pigments combine to create a precious object that’s small enough to be held comfortably.
Woodrocks serve as an iconic reference to the downed tree. They’re salvaged from local materials and painted to follow organic growth patterns and feature gradient spectrums.These sculptures were influenced by two books that Wagner read: The Golden Bough by Sir James Frazer and The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. “Both pseudoscientific works that examine sentience among carbon-based life forms and human revelation, practical and metaphysical,” she explains. “Both books forced a recognition in my life-of my own personal reverence for the trees being downed in the forest surrounding my studio.” The result? Woodrocks.
Artist Henrik Aarrestad Uldalen combines something that we’ve seen many, many times throughout the history of art – figure painting. But, he does it with a contemporary approach. His moody paintings feature partially obscured people as they rest beneath the water. They are just below the surface of the dark, deep pool, and the light from their bodies is all that’s visible.
According to Uldalen’s artist statement, his work, “…explores the dark sides of life, nihilism, existentialism, longing and loneliness, juxtaposed with fragile beauty. The atmosphere in his subject matter is often presented in a dream or limbo-like state, with elements of surrealism.” Although these figures are rendered realistically, they rest in a void with little additional visual information. We can’t be sure of where they are or what brought them there. And, for some, if they are dead or alive. It’s this open-ended narrative that gives drama to Uldalen’s paintings, and the hauntingly gorgeous images are the kind that will stay with you – even if you don’t want them to. (Via I Need a Guide)
Galleries come in all sizes, even in a really, really tiny scale. Swedish graphic designer and illustrator Henrik Franklin has created an installation that’s something you’d be more likely to see in a dollhouse than anywhere else. But, instead of a bedroom, it’s located at the Odenplan underground station at Gallery 1:10 in Stockholm, Sweden. The group exhibition is titled If You Tolerate This – an exhibition about resistance. Franklin’s piece features a library of colorful books, all small enough that you can hold between two fingers.
In a show centered around worries of the future and the holding on to hope, Franklin’s tiny books represent how important literature is in our development. It teaches us the lessons of the past so we won’t be doomed to repeat them; prose also encourages and inspires us to dream and to think differently.
If You Tolerate This – an exhibition about resistance is on view until December 6.