Pierre Commoy and Gilles Blanchard – Pierre and Gilles – have made portraits of Madonna, Jean Paul Gaultier, Andy Warhol, and Iggy Pop, just to name a few. The portraits are sexually charged and totally fantastical. Their subjects are placed under water, surrounded by flowers, or in what looks like a McDonalds ball pen (a not so subtle reference, in the tradition of most of their portraiture). Their kitschy and outlandish aesthetic has had them attain international recognition; they’re included in collections like the MoMA’s and have had a major retrospective at the New Museum in 2000.
Not only do they work together professionally, they have also been together as a couple for the duration of their shared career. Pierre is the photographer, and Gilles does the painting afterward. According to a VMagazine interview, the entire process of one portrait takes them about three weeks:
“We do everything from creating the décor to taking the picture to constructing the frame. We are always inspired by the person’s personality.”
Although their sexual orientation is a large part of their public persona, they say they are cautious not to pigeonhole themselves into what they call the “gay ghetto” and for this reason take portraits of a variety of celebrities they admire, while maintaining their own distinct style.
Their aesthetic is whimsical and edgy. Certainly setting a man up fully nude peeing into a garden of flowers is not an image you will see every day. It’s provocative, but not aggressive, probably because of the teasing, over-the-top nature of the accompanying imagery. They find a way to playfully bring the mainstream out of its comfort zone so it seems like every day should be filled with sexy nuns riding bedazzled horses!
KwangHo Shin is an artist based in Yeongdeok, South Korea, who paints abstract portraits of human emotion. On massive canvases, Shin outlines the contours of a face before filling them in with thick, messy layers of oil and acrylic. As his process videos on YouTube demonstrate, he works from dark to light, allowing the paint to stream down and across the canvas before blending it out. The result is a series of “faceless” portraits, faces transformed into technicolored and monochromatic landscapes that exude a raw range of seemingly conflicting sensations: rage and sensitivity, fear and confidence, sadness and hope.
Shin’s intuitive, creative process—from blank canvas to storms of emotion—allows him to express the deep nuances of his subjects. As curator Myung-Jin You describes, “[The] complexity of human emotions, which is hard to be defined in one word, is left as momentary traces on the empty space, after the long agony of the artist’s inner side.” Following this, “the fear of blank space is collapsed, and [Shin’s] inner side’s fear and the ecstasy . . . coincide” (Source). The finished piece is a culmination of Shin’s energy that dissolves the facades of muscle and skin to reveal the textures of internal experience.
Film maker and photographer Michael Shainblum captured familiar city scenes in a way you’ve likely never seen them. Shainblum captures time lapse sequences of cities such as Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicaog, then folds it in on itself. The urban landscapes are seamlessly divided and replicated into four segments. In a strange way, this hypnotic abstraction of the city nearly seems to make it easier to see the city as whole. Each metropolis appears to pulse and glow as if it were a living being or complex computer system. The video allows the viewer to step back and see the city as a complex collective system. [via]
Like a butterfly stopping by to smell the flowers, Geraldine Javier pauses to interpret her subjects in a manner that they begin to come to life again. She combines both classic and contemporary compositions, injecting Filipino cultural references into each piece. Her attention to detail remains evident, and she even takes it further in her three-dimensional works, using materials like textile, preserved beetles and butterflies, embroidery, and resin to create her arresting works.
My good buddies at Two Rabbits Studios have recently updated their site and online store. If you haven’t heard of these fellas, you should put your ears to the ground more often. Though they may be named after a small gentle animal, they are a stampeding herd of buffalos who will trample you with their design and printing skills. They’ve done concert posters for all of your favorite musicians and probably your mother’s favorites as well. (P.S. They silk screened one of the inserts in Book 2).
Bold colors, playful typography, and iconic illustrations are the key ingredients that make the work of New York and Sydney based design duo Craig And Karl stand out from a sea of repetitious designers.
Born in Vietnam but raised in the USA, illustrator Tran Nguyen earned her BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in 2009. Fascinated with the human psyche and interested in the psychologically therapeutic potential of art, Nguyen’s creations are often surreal, dream-like scenes. Sometimes tree stumps have eyes, twigs grow through ear canals, and miniature figures live in the folds of a gown. Besides being visually arresting, often the titles of her works are quite intriguing as well — for instance, “I Came Across a Wilting Cognition” (seen above), “We Vomit Carcasses of Unattended Thoughts,” and “Living Parallel To an Infectious Pigment,” to select a few.