Do you revel in hot, anguished tears rolling down the innocent face of a child? We certainly do not. How can you solve this world-wide problem? We suggest you subscribe to Beautiful/Decay. As artist C.W. Moss has illustrated in Reason #2 of our hand-painted illustrated series, a subscription a year will erase every child’s tear.
Artist Andrew Scott Ross is interested in the ancient past, and uses it to better understand the present. Curious about the way museums present items from the past, Ross creates paper-dioramas, drawings and sculptures to display his own versions and representations of history.
In his 2013 work Tilden and the Theban Hero, for instance, Ross used photographic reproductions of Greek and Roman art from the Michael C. Carlos Museum near Emory University’s campus as a point of departure. He then cut by hand several elements and combined them to create an imaginative, large-scale installation. The piece employs Greek mythology as well as elements of Ross’s personal history. Informative, fun and engaging, Ross’ installations almost come to life before a viewer’s eyes.
See his work later this summer at the Winter Gallery at Millersville University in PA.
Cao Hui‘s ultra realistic sculptures manage to be intriguing while stomach turning. Cao sculpts every day objects such as furniture or clothing as if from butchered flesh and innards. His strict attention to detail can be seen from the entrails spilling out of a slashed cushion to a couple swollen armrest stitches. Though constructed from resin, his artwork appears to bulge, droop, and tear much like actual flesh. Cao juxtaposes inside and outside, essence and appearance in a very literal (albeit gory) manner. While disturbing, Cao effectively executes his work with a certain dark humor. [via]
Conceptual artist Can Pedekmir creates digital portraits of imaginary creatures. According to the bio on his website, he works on the “deformation of human and animal body using various methodologies,” one of which he lists as applying “mathematical equations.” Other methodologies seem to include using hair. Lots of hair.
Pekdemir’s portraits are in stark black and white and appear like artifacts from an alternate dimension. His subjects are creatures with no distinguishable features; instead, their faces and entire heads are coiffed, tangled masses of hair and other biomatter. The result looks something like Where the Wild Things Are by way of Edward Gorey. Alternatively, it’s as though an entire forest undergrowth developed sentience and decided to pose for some erstwhile photographer.
Pekdemir’s work was featured most recently at the Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam, which ended late last month. He’s listed as a photographer, which only serves to highlight the eerie surreal quality of his art. Part photography and part elaborate fiction, his work blurs the lines between what is and what could be. (via Hi-Fructose)
We posted about Jamie a few years back, but four years have passed since then and she’s only gotten better. Her images about gross, awkward, uncomfortable, and funny moments that would be really easy to make poorly, and a lot of people do. What sets her apart from the herd, though, is her smart, tight framing; focusing us in on exactly what makes this country great–mystery meat, batman, butts, and birthday cake. She even photographs middle America (Jamie’s based out of Kansas City) with the American style that ranges from family to paparazzi photos–bright, garish flash. More Americana after the jump! ( via )
Earlier this week we featured the work of photographer Eric Lafforgue, who documented the scarification practices of the Omo Valley Tribes in Ethiopia. Today, in a series titled Ugly Becomes Beautiful, he takes us far into the hills of northwestern Myanmar, where the tattooed women of the Chin culture live. It is uncertain when the practice began, but as Lafforgue writes, some believe that long ago, “the royalty used to come to the villages to capture young women. The men from the tribe may have tattooed their women to make them ugly, thereby saving them from a life of slavery” (Source). Over time, although it is a declining practice, the tattoos became symbols of culture and beauty.
There are three types of facial tattoo patterns: the spider web, the dotted B pattern, and one where the entire face is inked. They are created using needles made of bamboo or thorns, and the ink is a blend of cow bile, pig fat, soot, and plants. The process—which takes one to three days, depending on the pattern—is painful. Lafforgue relates one woman’s experience:
“I was 10 years old. The day before the tattoo ceremony, I only ate sugarcane and drank tea. It was forbidden to eat meat or peanuts. During the tattoo session, I cried a lot, but I could not move at all. After the session, my face bled for 3 days. It was very painful. My mother put fresh beans leaves on my face to alleviate the pain. I had no choice if I wanted to get married. Men wanted women with tattoos at this time. My mother told me that without a tattoo on my face, I would look like a man.” (Source)
Today, facial tattoos are deemed illegal by the country’s military junta; hence, many of the women were reluctant to have their photos taken. In these immersive images, Lafforgue provides a rare glimpse into a practice that, tested by modernity, transforms notions of “ugliness” into the diverse beauty of tradition and cultural meaning.
Visit Lafforgue’s website to learn more. Click here for our article on scarification in Omo Valley.
French artist Fabian Mérelle creates surreal illustrations that are as nightmarish as they are beautiful. Rendering incredibly detailed scenes with a dark side, his depictions of monsters and strange creatures are reminiscent of Goya’s more sinister illustrations. Fabian Mérelle constructs fantastic and elaborate scenes of dreamlike proportion, stretching the imagination and filling our minds with mystery. Each scene is like a fairytale or fable that may not have a happy ending. The foul creatures that invade Mérelle’s intriguing work seem to have come from mythology or legend.
The drawings are showing an obsession for detail veering on mania and pointing out the precision of a line layed minutely with China ink. If he pays homage to the Little Nemo comics, he projects the spectator in a universe much more complex, mixing evil spirits, watches and childhood fears. -Fabian Mérelle
Many of Fabian Mérelle’s drawings are somewhat simple in nature, but speak volumes to the artist’s skill once we examine the attention to detail made with ink. His muted palette is balanced with a shadowy atmosphere and a hazy mood. What is so amazing about the artist’s work is that even the most bizarre subject is anatomically correct, even with gargoyles picking at the figure’s body, an elephant standing on its back, or when the figures is halfway turning into a fallen tree. Although holding an ominous tone, Mérelle’s illustrations captivate us and throw us head first into childlike imagination.
Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Pride, and Envy have been explored—and challenged—for centuries by artists, scholars, and writers. In this issue of Beautiful/Decay, you’ll find artists who explore these themes through a contemporary lens, either by explicitly calling out those deemed guilty of committing one of the Seven Deadly Sins, or by turning the sweeping notion of sin right on its head.
James Gobel tackles Pride through felt portraits of colorfully clad, sexually charged, plus-size bears, and continuing the exploration of Lust, we have the raw and lascivious Polaroids of Jeremy Kost. View Tom Littleson’s bloody portraiture drawings and their relationship with Wrath. See how cover artists Tim Noble & Sue Webster’s adept use of personified garbage channels Gluttony. Libby Black’s paint-and-paper sculptures replicate Envy-inducing luxury brand goods, while paintings and drawings from Brendan Danielsson address the social and physical epidemic of Sloth. Finally, Greed lies at the center of Ghost of a Dream’s hypnotic sculptural art and immersive installations. We’ve also invited international artists, illustrators, and designers to create original pieces for our Project Pages based on all seven sins.
Other featured artists: Carolyn Janssen, Okay Mountain, Colette Robbins, Cleon Peterson, Micah Ganske, Zoe Charlton, Penelope Gottlieb, Paul Mullins, Keith Puccinelli, Travis Somerville, Kara Maria, Aideen Barry, Travis Collinson, Geoffrey Chasedy, John Knuth.
Each copy of Beautiful/Decay: The Seven Deadly Sins comes blind packed with either a zine by Terence Hannum or Heather Benjamin or a limited edition silk screen print by Paul Nudd!