Guia Besana, born in Italy and based in Paris, has created a photography series titled “Under Pressure” that portrays women in contemporary society with its neuroses and complexes, but with an artistic and stylistic flourish – one evocative of tales from a storybook. Besana stages scenes, creating single, still images that are representative of a fictional story reflecting the pressures women face to be perfect including themes of marriage, burn-out, conflict with body aesthetics, excesses, and other questions involved in a woman’s identity. Besana’s thoughtful series is at once dark and playful and demonstrates the photographer’s artful vision- she has an eye for composition, patterns, and style, and creates a striking fine art aesthetic that pairs beautifully with the theme of contemporary women’s identities. (via dark silence in suburbia)
Graziano Locatelli creates mixed-media artwork out of humble materials: tiles, cement, glue, and metal plates. All of his pieces have some element of carefully controlled tumult, something brewing beneath the surface. Often Locatelli breaks his tiles in a precise but organic way, creating fault lines that ripple through the entire piece and create movement and a sense of tension. In one such piece, the fingers of a sculpted hand can be seen gripping the side of the jagged crack, as though peeling it back for a better look at the real world. Other works are more subtle: An impression of a human figure, outlined by hairline fractures.
According to Cross Connect Mag, Locatelli explains: “My early works are sharp and are often torn apart by heads and figures that try and break the wall and is still the subject of the breakage that bewitches me.”
Locatelli’s recurring motifs of breakage and emergency are complemented by his sculptures of materials re-made, formed into eggs or other objects. What’s interesting about his choice of tiles is that they are found so often in people’s houses, especially in places of comfort and privacy; in other words, places that have intimate knowledge of our lives. Perhaps that’s why the pieces are so unsettling, as they blend the familiar with the surreal along with elements of a Poe-esque horror.
“I wonder what meanings and feelings these (once) familiar places arouse in those who lived there,” Locatelli says. “I see them as restless dreams, spaces in ruins inhabited by ghosts that still retain an embryonic life.”
Olivier Valsecchi is a photographer with an eye for transforming bodies into emotional landscapes of strength and despair. We featured his powerful I Am Dust project last February. The series featured here, entitled Drifting, takes a different approach to human architecture; instead of majestic, stately nudes, we see men and women reclining alone and in pairs, arching their backs against bare tables and chairs with a baroque-style melancholia. The darkness surrounding the figures highlights their pale expressions of death and defeat, lending the illuminated flesh a cadaverous-yet-living quality. The series statement elaborates further on this bodily ambiguity:
“Straying the audience from their grounds of certainty, Valsecchi induces an unsettling doubt on whether his subjects are falling apart or withstanding paralysis. He investigates this tenuous and brooding space between inertia and the urge to go somewhere. His bodies appear to have been submitted to an exorcism, an epileptic trance, or a mutilation akin to a reptile being cut in two pieces — and yet still crawling.”
Drifting also channels the art tradition of still life. Posed to capture the wordless throes of pain and despair, the figures’ perfect configurations make them portraits of emotion. Speaking to the use of the genre, Valsecchi writes: “Still-life was the perfect fit for a post-war atmosphere. Beyond symbolizing the ephemeral nature of life, it relates to the notion of transitioning. I wanted to set bodies into an unfamiliar environment and infuse them with a feeling of disorientation, as if recovering from trauma or stuck in a vertigo.” Despite their static postures of grief and submission, Valsecchi’s tragic nudes tremble on the verge of healing, embodying and enduring the darkness so that they can overcome it.
Daniel Heidkamp uses combines the styles of old timers like David Hockney and Claude Monet to paint the people and places around him in the 21st century. The results are fresh, energetic, and 100% joyful to look at. If you’re not careful you could end up staring at these all day. Not that that’s a bad thing.
Originally from France, graphic designer Jean Julien lives in London. Julien designed “Le Nid”, a bar in the shape of a bird, which stretches 40 meters and sits on the top floor at the Tour de Bretagne in Nantes, France. It’s clear that lots of thought went into this detailed project. The bird’s eyes blink, and chairs are shaped as eggs. (via)
Alison Moritsugu is an artist based in Beacon, NY, who paints pieces of fallen trees with scenes of idealized nature. Her works recall the landscape paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly those of Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Edwin Church. Following the contours of the logs, she revisions their origins as trees, painting deep forests, still lakes, mountain waterfalls, and autumnal skies. The log paintings serve a dual function: first, to acknowledge and meditate on the beauty of nature, much like the artists of the Hudson River School did; second, to contrast this romanticism with the signs of its destruction—the dead wood on which the scenes appear.
“My work reveals how idealized images of the land shape our concept of the natural world—in essence, how our experiences are mediated by the mechanisms of art and culture,” Moritsugu writes in her artist’s statement (Source). Throughout history, artists have appropriated and interpreted nature, turning lush imagery into cultural symbols of peace, exploration, sublimity, and abundance. These were the types of stories that fostered an idea that nature was somehow separate from us, a land of fantasy that eventually grew to be exploited. Today, as Moritsugu points out, “photoshopped images of verdant forests and unspoiled beaches invite us to vacation and sightsee, providing a false sense of assurance that the wilderness will always exist” (Source). By producing a conflict between the serene imagery and the dead wood, Moritsugu faces us with our roles in the environment’s uncertain future.
Neon lights are no longer bound to the buzzing drone of roadside restaurant signs as they have been freed by artist Yudi Noor. Yes that’s right, his mixed media works light themselves! Seriously though, check out his cool experimentation with neon tubes.