The paintings of artist Jeff Soto are nightmarish and captivating, as they seem to glow iridescently in cool colors of greens and purples. As if from another planet, Soto’s artwork shows landscapes of an extraordinary nature, covered in shiny crystals, mossy skulls, and unforgettable owl-like creatures that stare at you with hypnotizing eyes. Each painting is a world upon a world, as many of his figures and forms sprout out from even more bizarre, living things. Even his frequently repeated spiky, happy heads contain an eerie quality. Each painting seems to have a story behind it, perhaps representing a mythical fable.
The Los Angeles based artist is a triple threat; a painter, illustrator, and muralist. As you may have guess by his surreal style, his technique is influenced by traditional painting methods, but with a razor sharp edge. Inspired by graffiti and street art, Soto’s otherworldly landscapes heavily embody a pop-surrealist, contemporary style that appears almost futuristic; like a window into the future when our planet is transformed into a whimsical landscape with foreign creatures. This is a place both frightening and beautiful, full of strange magic. His work leaves us filled with a sense of wonder, wishing that we could travel and explore these unusual places and meet these frightening creatures. Jeff Soto’s amazingly adventurous body of work draws inspiration from youthful nostalgia and pop-culture. With an ominous and haunting palette, Jeff Soto’s unique style exudes originality and imagination. (via Hi-Fructose)
Throughout mythology, the moon has represented the visible unknown, a mysterious force whose own phases influence human behavior and identity in subtle-but-powerful ways. In a series titled Luna Tabulatorum, which will be featured at an upcoming exhibition at the Stephen Romano Gallery in Brooklyn, artist Rithika Merchant has painted esoteric scenes that express the enigmatic and transient nature of the moon, conjuring up compounded images of spirituality, occultism, and femininity. Whether it’s a pack of howling wolves, bodies sprouting organic matter, or vulva-like orifices opening to dark, forested scenes, her paintings represent layers of reality that unfold into multiple meanings, with the feminine body as the empowered source of these transformations. Merchant explains her inspiration for the series in the following statement:
“The moon and the sun are the foundations on which many of the world’s ancient religions have been founded. […] The monthly cycle of the moon has also been linked to the menstrual cycle by many cultures. There are links between the words for menstruation and moon in many languages. I see the moon as a meaningful universal object that links humanity by its importance, its presence, and its significance. Being particularly interested in creating links between cultures, the moon has been a very enlightening muse.” (Source)
The moon is also known for its duality—like the werewolf who shifts between states of humanity and bestiality, the moon represents a dichotomous relationship of darkness and light. This dualism is at constant play in Merchant’s works, representing the cycles of life and death; in one image, a skull-headed she-figure is borne skyward in the embrace of raven, in another, prone bodies surrender their hearts to a celestial being. In all of these images, creation and destruction are part of the same process, with the moon as the uniting force. Neutrality is key to Luna Tabulatorum—there is no good and evil, only a series of overlapping metamorphoses and becomings that defy stable notions of morality and identity.
Luna Tabulatorum will be running from September 3rd until October 15th. Visit the Stephen Romano Gallery website to learn more.
Matt Kaliner is a sociology lecturer at Harvard University with a fascinating side project: the construction of elaborate, beautifully strange sandcastles. “Although I study the sociology of art, amongst other things, I have not worked up anything particularly deep about sandcastles,” he told The Atlantic. “I am motivated entirely by the sheer joy of playing on the beach, and making something out of what I can find that day” (Source). Despite his modesty, Kaliner’s creations are remarkable works of art with imposing presences; fortified with sticks and underground braces, they rise powerfully from the sand, twisted and knotted like ancient geological formations.
Despite the tenuous, ever-crumbling nature of sand, Kaliner’s castles are surprisingly formidable; most of them are swallowed by the rising tide rather than knocked down by it. “Curious kids are the No. 1 killers of my sandcastles, which I certainly sympathize with,” Kaliner says good-humouredly. “I would have done the same at that age!” (Source) Whether by nature or meddlesome child, the inevitable destruction of Kaliner’s works makes them transitory works of art; their limited lifespans heightens their beauty and intensifies their presence.
Check out Kaliner’s work on Flickr. More gravity-defying castles after the jump. (Via Booooooom)
Monsters faces, robots and crazy looking animals made our reclaimed cardboards and boxes transformed by artist Bryan Rogers are taking over the trash spots on the sidewalks of Bushwick in Brooklyn, NY. They create a surreal ambiance in the middle of the streets. Bryan Rogers collects thrown-away pizza boxes, cardboards, boxes of any sizes from the neighborhood every week and make them into sculptures. He puts them out back on the sidewalk next to the collected trash and check if they’ve been taken or not. So far he says, the armor-clad centaur had its head taken first and the rest of its body later. He takes pictures of them and creates fun and dynamic animated Gifs he posts on his blog.
In the path of other artists designing art from reclaimed means he uses the streets are inspiration. Dag Weiser, following the same process, uses cardboards to build fantasy characters and display them outdoors.The rendering is creative, positive and ephemeral. The boxes are painted with vibrant colors, the body of the creature is punched, cut out and some small elements might be added (teeth, ears, hands and feet…). Bryan Rogers does not collect his art, he picks up unwanted materials, creates for his pleasure and ends the life of his disposable art the same way it started.
Discover the Moving Boxes on Bryan Rogers’ blog, updated daily.
Barcelona based artist Conrad Roset defines the “Muse” in his incredibly seductive works made using watercolor and ink. Pulling inspiration from the raw nudes of Austrian artist Egon Schiele, his female figures stretch and bend in elegant ways, forming distinct, bold lines across the composition. He uses deep, black ink that covers up these women’s bodies like a veil, creating a harsh contrast to their pale skin. Each muse wears this blanket of black beautifully, as if it is her own shadow. Conrad Roset uses sparks of color to highlight the flora that appear in his work and also in certain rosy cheeks and the tips of fingers and toes. The subtly of the color and line creates a delicate contrast to the richness of the heavy black ink.
Conrad Roset explains that,
“I search the beauty the body exudes, I like drawing the female figure.”
He is intrigued and focused on the female figure as a subject. The women in his illustrations are undoubtedly stunning, and can also seem both fragile and strong. They are bold in nature but delicate in beauty. Roset’s body of work has a high fashion flavor, as he has done work for clients such as Zara and Elle Magazine. His captivating works are on view now at Spoke Art Gallery in San Francisco. His debut, solo exhibition titled Pale will be on view there until September 26th. (via Hi-Fructose)
While living in Germany for the past seven years, photographer Samaneh Khosravi noticed that there were many misconceptions within the Western understanding of Iranian culture. In a project titled “Among Women,” Khosravi seeks to shed new light on a lesser-known facet of modern Iran: its diverse women’s fashion and beauty scene. In the photos, Khosravi accompanies the women as they shop, socialize, and even visit with their plastic surgeons. The images were compiled into a book titled Among Women, which Khosravi describes below:
“This photo book documents the beauty ideals of today’s Iranian society, which are hardly known outside of Iran. It focuses on the young, confident Iranian women, who define their ideal of beauty with the interplay between modernity and tradition. More often, the simple beauticians are not enough for the young Iranians, and therefore the plastic surgeons need to lend a hand sometimes.” (Source)
In a world wherein the media is so often dominated by Western standards and perceptions, Khosravi’s project is important in providing us with an authentic glance into her culture—one that hasn’t been filtered through a Western lens. We see familiar images—the nail salons, the shopping arcade, the self-conscious glance in the mirror—but Khosravi’s candid style reveals a cultural distinctness in Iran’s approach to beauty, one that has its own nuances, such as the combination of traditional head scarves with modern makeup styles. “Iran is different,” she writes. “Iran is not only different from Germany, but also from the image presented by mainstream media” (Source).
It is Khosravi’s dream to disseminate this detailed perspective of Iran to the world. She is currently seeking support to publish her book with Kerber Verlag, which means it would reach a greater number of people. If you’re curious about Iran and you wish to support an image of the country that doesn’t fall under the umbrella of Western unilateralism, be sure to visit her crowdfunding page and help her reach her goal. The book is aimed for publication in October 2015. Visit Khosravi’s website, Facebook page, and Instagram to follow her progress and learn more.
The work of Nicola Samori depicts dying corpses and mysterious portraits scraped, scratched and torn on the surface, unveiling layers of contrasting paint. Dark and intense paintings, covering layers of existing work, like flesh covering the accumulation of past experiences and traumas. The artist chooses to damage his previous paintings on purpose. He feeds the canvas, daily; until the texture becomes ’intense and palpable’. Using his fingers or a knife to destroy the apparent layer, the result of what feels like a painful process is a magnificent harmonized agony. By scraping his paintings, Nicola Samori tries to search for true identity. A person’s face on a painting is not a valid representation of who this person really is. It doesn’t give a true essence of its inner personality and soul. Exploring what’s underneath the surface is the purpose of the artist.
Body, death and painting are, for Nicola Samori, subjects of obsession. By punishing the three altogether on the canvas, he opens the wound and sets himself free. His layered macabre creations are the structure for his catharsis (act or process of releasing a strong emotion into an art form or any extreme change in emotion that results in renewal and restoration). Apart from the fact that the artist doesn’t fancy working with colors, according to him; the source of darkness does not reflect a state or a belonging; what is made from it is what’s interesting. A rough process symbolizing metamorphosis of deep emotions into meaningful and empowering art pieces
Anna Maria Bellman intricately translates cartography into her own unique style by simplifying their elements into positive and negative space. She cuts precise slices into paper, constructing sections of maps of cities all over the world. Each hand cut incision represent paths on a map, building up the framework for a city. The artist’s work is heavily influenced from her extensive travels. Originally hailing from Germany, she has adventured to an impressive amount of cities including London, Berlin, New York, Paris, and Rome, just to name a few. All of these incredibly complex and diverse cities are represented in her work as a black and white composition of crisscrossing lines, intersecting and forming the streets and rivers.
Many of her cutout maps do not even appear as such, but rather an abstract grid of geometric lines, forming different shapes and patterns like tapestries. When the light shines through Anna Bellman’s maps, you can see their shadows creating a three-dimensional affect. Having explored more wilderness destinations as well, Bellman’s other works are highly floral and inspired from lush nature. Her nature-filled works include amazing patterns cut by hand, as intricate and delicate as those found naturally in the wild. Although Anna Bellman’s body of work can represent two ends of the spectrum, nature and city, the continuous monochromatic choice of using white paper unifies her brilliant work.