One of the most highly acclaimed contemporary artists from the Philippines, Ronald Ventura has garnered enormous international attention in recent years. He is noted for paintings featuring complex layering, combining images and styles raging from hyper realism to cartoons and graffiti — as well as for a significant body of sculptural work.
Ventura takes the layering process in his work as a metaphor for the multifaceted national identity of the Philippines. Over the centuries, the profound influences of various occupying powers – Spain, Japan, and the United States – along with the underlying indigenous culture, have produced a complex and at times uneasy sense of identity. Ventura explores this historical and psychic phenomenon through a dialogue of images evoking East and West, high and low, old and young – seen, for example, in allusions to Old Master paintings or Japanese and American cartoons. He draws our attention to the “second skin” of cultural signifiers that each person carries with him, however unwittingly. Ventura views skin as an expressive surface – written on with tattoos, concealed under layers of imagery, or exploding outwards to reveal an inner world of fantasy and conflict.
Photographer Hassan Hajjaj‘s latest project focuses on the sub culture of young women bikers from Marrakesh. Titled the “Kesh Angels”, he created striking images of groups of women wearing colorful veils and djellabah straddling worn scooters and motorbikes.
They represent something quite traditional, yet also astoundingly subversive and daring.
The women all hold strong poses, and are somewhat confrontational. Hajjaj places them within bright and beautiful frames – choosing different images and symbols from the Medina, all with a distinct Pop Art feel.
Primarily a portrait photographer, Hajjaj is well versed in bringing out the colorful character of his subjects. He started his career taking photos of friends, artists, musicians and strangers on the streets of Marrakesh. His style perfectly embodies the social, active and vitality of the culture in northern Africa, while offering a glimpse into the more unknown aspects.
Using a slight hip hop influence, Hajjaj also reflects on issues of consumerism, branding and globalization and how these issues affect a place like Morocco. The subtlety and humor he uses to approach such complex subjects is very effective. Seeing these women in traditional clothing, branded with Nike is unsettling at the very least – and that’s not even mentioning the motorbike in the middle of the scenario. Engaging in what is usually a male dominated activity, these women are breaking many taboos, and display an easy confidence about it all.
Hajjaj has been involved in many projects aimed at raising awareness of the treatment and roles of women in Morocco. With such a strong visual language, he is definitely succeeding in capturing our attention.
Mark Jenkins’ sculptures occupy the uncanny valley. His work, in which he recreates the human body, places “people” into odd and often disturbing situations. Some of them are as fantastic as they are strange. One of the most interesting parts of Jenkins’ work is the way they are installed. His people are on the streets. They are life sized and dressed in conventional clothing, so they look as though they belong in the landscape. In reality, they don’t. His sculptures are standing in trash cans, on the edge of buildings, face first into a public fountain, and more.
Seeing Jenkins’ work amongst people is partially what makes it so successful. Seeing the reactions of others to these sculptures is both amusing and at times discerning. People walk by them as if they are nothing, as if they are completely normal. Sure, they stare at them, but they are never captured intervening on their behalf. Some, of course, aren’t believable. Others, like a woman stuck in a trashcan or laying on the top of the billboard would elicit some reaction. But, instead, she remains in the can.
The subversive nature of Jenkins’ installations is satisfying, especially if you are in on the joke and know it’s all fake. You could watch people for hours as they pass by, try and interact with the sculptures, and ultimately fail. The artist is taking the art outside the gallery and entering a world that combines art lovers and non-art lovers alike. (Via Hi Fructose)
Roland Topor (1938–1997) was a French illustrator, painter, writer, filmmaker, actor and whatnot mostly known for his macabre and surreal cartoons. His illustrated book “Les Masochistes” was first published in 1960 and features a number of absurdly humorous masochistic actions that people perform on themselves.
The grotesque situations depicted in “Les Masochistes” perfectly convey Topor’s artistic style and approach towards the world. He infuses the grim reality of Nazi dictatorship (Topor and his family were Polish refugees of Jewish origin) with humor which was probably the best coping mechanism at that time. As described by Bernard Vehmeyer, a quote from Topor’s novel “The Tenant” perfectly sums up his world view:
He was perfectly conscious of the absurdity of his behavior, but he was incapable of changing it. This absurdity was an essential part of him. It was probably the most basic element of his personality.
Most often, Topor’s illustrations were based on surreal scenarios with deeper allusions to sex, erotica, rotting mankind and such. According to closer friends, artist had repetitive periods of extreme depression where he would balance on the verge of death and it reflects in his work.
Kime Buzzelli, born in Ohio, is currently located in Los Angeles. Her work derives inspiration from music, voyeurism, magazines, story telling, and fashion. She paints a colorful, mystical world filled with beautiful ladies. Buzzelli as well explores 4 dimensional art as a costume designer and an installation artist, which showcase her love for clothes and printed fabric. Love her work? You can visit her gallery/boutique Show Pony and/or wear her fresh kicks, commissioned by vans for their 2009 fall women collection.