Photographer Michael Massaia has been lauded for his haunting black and white photographs that catch the shadow life of cities at night. In his photo series, Transmorgify, he turns his eye not to a city caught in limbo, but rather a period of time. Massaia captures childhood treats melting into swirls and psychedelic puddles, creating traces of sugar and cream that look almost like wisps of smoke.
From the classic Neapolitan ice cream bar to more modern fare such as My Little Pony popsicles with gumball eyes, the series shows a simpler time in a moment of transformation. Set against a stark black background, though, the photos aren’t quite portraits; they seem to take a deeper look, as though putting childhood memories on a microscope slide.
More than just sticky remnants between an 8-year-old’s fingers, Massaia’s work seems to allude to something more precious and ephemeral. Viewed from one perspective, the melting ice cream has the same pastel and neon colors as a sidewalk chalk drawing, smudged by fresh rain. From another perspective, the photos speak of decay and something that can’t be revisited, sweeter maybe in memoriam.
Transmorgify is currently on display at Gallery 270 in New Jersey until May 16th.
Niyoko Ikuta sculpts with glass, creating elegant layered shapes that seem at once severe and inviting. There’s a glacial quality to Ikuta’s sculptures, imparted by both the ocean blue palette of soft blues and marine greens as well as the brittle edges of each layer of glass.
In an interview with V&A, she says, “In creating my pieces it is like imagining an architectural space when viewing blueprints, deciding on an image by reading into the intentions of the architect, or imbuing a space with dynamic energy to bring it to life.”
Her sculptures do seem almost like three-dimensional blueprints. They could be compared to a wire model, implying the way a shape might take up space or giving us a sense of motion without actual movement. The result is ethereal: delicate curves and swirls that seem like they could evaporate at any moment.
Ikuta says of her work,
“My motifs are derived from feelings of gentleness and harshness, fear, limitless expansion experienced through contact with nature, images from music, ethnic conflict, the heart affected by joy and anger, and prayer.” (via This Is Colossal)
Dan McPharlin is an illustrator who is concerned with the “future past or past future,” as he notes on his webpage. His artwork live in a realm of speculative reality, where space is the final frontier — or perhaps the first of a civilization beginning to rebuild itself.
There are dystopian touches in his illustrations: in one, an astronaut gazes on temple ruins; in another, we see the haggard remnants of a bridge that looks like it used to be golden. It’s a little reminiscent of the final scenes of Planet of the Apes, a familiar monument from a world long lost. McPharlin’s work utilizes rich colors that are once neon yet muted. His palette is one that includes the golden rod yellow of futuristic smog as well as the earth tones of somewhere decidedly not-Earth. There is certainly a quality of nostalgia to his work, though for what, we don’t necessarily know.
“These are the worlds of dreams and half-memories,” McPharlin says on his webpage. “The collision zone of past-futures and futures-past, derived from blueprints laid down decades earlier on the pages of battered sci-fi paperbacks, fantasy art books, and mid-century design quarterlies.” (via Dark Silence in Suburbia)
Daniel Aristizábal is a graphic designer and illustrator who creates incredible digital works of art that are surreal and transport the viewers to a topsy-turvy Rube Goldberg-esque world. His Huevos series is playfully inspired by Dali’s “Eggs on the Plate without the Plate,” showing colorful variations on the common egg.
In some of Aristizabal’s work, the 3D elements pop out, almost like digital sculptures. Other works, such as his “Glitched Cubism” piece, utilizes the 2D GIF format to play with the dimensions and perspective of cubism. In an interview with Instagram, he says that his work is a “retro, colorful, geometric bonanza.” His art seems to draw on a palette that is by turns neon and sherbet but always whimsical.
Aristizabal continues to say:
“My main sources of inspiration are random thoughts that pop in my mind, like memories of dreams and places that I used to imagine when I was a child. I think the term ‘pop surrealism’ works well for me. My work is full of simplicity and organic shapes. It is nostalgic in its essence.”
Artist Gabriel Schama demonstrates that lasers aren’t just for starships: He uses them to carve out incredibly intricate designs and patterns from materials such as wood, paper, and even leather. His works come alive with “surreal textures” that create a kinetic feeling, the kind you might get from studying a Magic Eye poster. There’s also the structural element, which lends his artwork literal depth as they seem almost excavated, blooming into mandalas and swirls.
The cool thing about Schama’s work is that it’s clearly informed by the natural world, some sporting the same frills as aquatic flowers and others looking like any garden-worthy blossom. There’s also a very rigid manmade feel to his work, though, not just in the precision with which he carves them but in some elements of his designs that look almost retro-futuristic chic.
Schama’s art is evolving, growing from his early hands-on approach that used mixed-media materials. In the description of his second Kickstarter project, he says:
“I have long been possessed with a desire to make my work bigger and more intricate at the same time. A modestly sized cut paper piece could take me weeks of nonstop work to execute. This project is not only the next step forward stylistically, but a means to achieve far more daring and exciting projects.”
Caterina Rossato creates 3D layered landscapes out of old postcards. She seeks to evoke both the familiar and the alien, the specific and the general. “I create landscapes made through a collage of other landscapes, combining images in which the sense of recognition of reality slips from one level to another and it is never clearly identified,” Rossato says in an artist’s statement.
The series, named “Deja Vu” plays with the idea of recognition and the sensation of recognition. Rossato explains:
“The déjà vu is a psychic phenomenon which is part of the forms of alteration of memories (paramnesie): it consists in the erroneous sensation of having seen an image or of having lived previously an event or a situation that is occurring. Although improperly, it is also called ‘false recognition.'”
It’s interesting that she chose to use postcards, which often enable us to live vicariously through friends and family who are traveling abroad. In a sense, we’ve heard about the locations and they are familiar to us in name and description; however, we often haven’t traveled to those distant lands, not enough to know them personally or to have seen them up close. In a way, Rossato’s work brings up the question of how we can truly know something — or know that we know something. (via I Need a Guide)
Rupert Shrive turns his paintings into sculptures by crumpling, twisting, and sometimes including odd materials to create architecturally evocative works. In some of his works, the three-dimensional elements complement his portraits; in others, they deform the faces of his works, twisting cheeks and lips and replacing noses and eyes to create a patchwork of various styles and colors.
When you look at Shrive’s work, you get the sense that there’s something urgent and almost desperate being communicated. At the very least, you feel a slight wince as you think about how much of a calculated risk he must have taken. In an interview with Michael Peppiatt, Shrive says of his process: “… It is painful and I’m always very scared when I start crushing them and it’s very risky because you only have so many movements you can make before you’ve lost the big dynamic crush that you’re going for.”
Risky as it is, that extra third dimension is a crucial element of Shrive’s artwork, enabling him to highlight certain features and create unique landscapes out of his portraits. (h/t I Need A Guide)
“Zła uczennica” is a collaborative series between photographer Magdalena Franczuk and Ashkan Honarvar, who is known for his rich surreal collages. The name of the series translates to “The Bad Schoolgirl” and draws its inspiration from coming-of-age stories such as Lolita.
Lush blossoms and flora bloom around the girls in the series, even as the blank spaces behind their their faces and hearts are revealed in an almost anatomical fashion. Franczuk and Honarvar evoke a sense of searching, a limbo between knowing and understanding as the girls in the photos grow and discover themselves. Some of the images seem random at first — snails and cherries — but they make sense in context: one, a hollowed shell in which the true self lives; the other, a symbol of girlhood.
It’s interesting to see the way the two artists’ work interact. Franczuk’s photography brings a subtlety of emotion and ambiguity that we might take at face value, while Honarvar’s collage elements depict the inner struggles of the subjects. In an artist’s statement, Honarvar notes that he “present[s] the human body at the center of microcosmic theaters of dichotomy in which irrationality permeates logic, serenity belies violence, and luxury secretes exploitation.” It seems fitting for “Zła uczennica” — after all, isn’t growing up one of the most universal dramas of all? (h/t I Need a Guide)