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Contorted Beauty: René Benjowski’s Sensual And Surreal Photography

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René Benjowski is a Berlin-based self-taught photographer who finds beauty, horror, and sensuality in dark, private rooms. Delving into the worlds of surrealism and erotic portraiture, Benjowski’s quiet, hazy, and provocative work skillfully traverses the line between passionate intensity and a reverence for the strength and symmetry of the human figure. The images are like intangible visions of a dream: in silent, dusty corners with bare, iron bed frames, bodies twist with a sensual — almost demonic — rapture. Colliding intimacy with images of death, skulls are clutched in hands and worms emerge from open mouths. The fetish element is visible: bodies embraced in ropes engage in silent power dynamics with an unseen participant, playing chess or attempting to reach a hanging book.

Contortion and mystery are important elements in Benjowski’s beautifully macabre works. Deviating far from conventional portraiture, these images convey a desire to experiment with strange angles and uncanny positions: knees twist, backs arch, figures levitate. The black-and-white shading adds an extra element of bleakness to the beautiful physicality of the twisted forms, producing bold, intimate contrasts between shadows and illuminated skin. In addition to the raw energy brimming within each surreal photograph, there is also a truthful power: not only do the images explore the subversive, alternative edges of desire and eroticism, but they leak with a physical honesty and agency, exploring the capacities of the body as it bravely endures unseen, emotional forces and its own physical limitations.

Visit Benjowski’s Tumblr and photographer’s page on menschenfotografie to see more of his darkly beautiful and varied work.

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Whimsical Bussiness Cards Of Your Favorite Pop Culture Hero’s And Villains

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Business cards exist as a tangible resource and advertisment for offering one’s trade. Benedetto Papi and Edoardo Satamato of Italian creative agency Invasiona Creativa began to wonder: what jobs would pop culture characters have, and how would their cards look?

Beginning with the idea that these characters (ranging from science fiction to comedy to horror and action films) lost their jobs, how would they rebrand? Although most of the results involve wordplay over any serious retelling of the character’s myth, the results are playful and fun, which seems to be the duo’s motivation.

On their website, the group declares, “A different approach compared to canonical style of advertising agencies: a NERD APPROACH…We will do everything to…give new life to mundane communications, to re-invent social campaigns completely useless, to regain lost contact with the consumer, to open new horizons in the world of apps…” (via mymodernmet)

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Jason Lazarus Collects Anonymous Photos Deemed “Too Hard To Keep”

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You probably have at least a photo (or two) that’s just too painful to look at. Whether it depict deceased loved one, a failed relationship, or be a symbol of a time long past, the sight is an unwelcome reminder of something (or someone) that’s gone. Since 2010, photographer Jason Lazarus has archived these images that are “too hard to keep” by their owners. He accepts the anonymous submissions and gives them a new life in the form of art exhibitions and books. Although their ownership has changed hands, their past isn’t forgotten.

These are a selection of photos that Lazarus has received over the years. With some of the images, you can immediately understand why they’re painful. One features dying cat laying on a cold metal table. Another is part of photobooth image of a couple that’s been torn into pieces. It’s also accompanied by a handwritten note.

With other photographs, it’s harder to understand why it was too hard to keep them. A seemingly-innocuous lush green landscape and a smiling snowman are another two submissions that Lazarus received. But, regardless of what they are, they meant something to someone at one time, and that’s the appeal of Lazarus’ project. It’s easy to relate to the feelings of loss, anger, and longing that these photos conjure to their original owners. These submissions are a reminder that we all hurt.

Vice is currently collecting photos that are too hard to keep, and they’ll publish a selection of the images. If you’re interested in participating, find out more here.

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Julie Heffernan

Julie Heffernan‘s paintings take all the tropes of Northern Renaissance painting, combines them, and makes them into absurd works that feel like art history collages rendered by one of the masters themselves. She has a show coming up at the Mark Moore Gallery on November 3, so if you like what you see, make sure to check out her opening, it sounds great!

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Allison L. Wade Turns Her Own Break-Up Text Messages Into Art

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Breaking up is hard to do. And, if executed via text message, it can be even harder.

In her solo exhibition, “It’s Not You,” artist Allison L. Wade explores the proliferating plague of the break-up text. Featuring much-anticipated new additions to her acclaimed series, “Break-Up Texts,” this exhibition once again draws inspiration from the artist’s own love life.

Presented as blocks of text set against painted and photographic backdrops, the text messages featured in “It’s Not You” include those both “sent and received by the artist during dissolving personal relationships.” Citing irony as the basis of her series, Wade’s seemingly arbitrary selection of backdrops—spanning solid, lurid colors, computer-generated gradients, and peculiar images lacking context—emphasize the level of detachment present in the modern-day break-up text.

By pairing emotionally-charged, life-changing words with generic, ambivalent backgrounds, Wade successfully demonstrates the inherent disconnect between break-up texts and the emotions that prompt them.

While some of the text messages featured in “It’s Not You” are bizarrely comical (“Sorry I have been out of touch this week. There was a snow storm and I have been watching movies”), others are undeniably poignant, such as the bleak declaration, “I knew you would do this to me.” Whether silly or sad, it is certain that, as individuals in the 21st Century, there is a break-up text we can all relate to. (via Rick Wester Fine Art)

Check out “It’s Not You” now through January 10, 2015 at New York’s Rick Wester Fine Art!

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Liz Wolfe’s Flowers & Dead Animals

Some people just have a knack for color and Toronto based Liz Wolfe is one of those people. Here bold still life and photographs radiate with electric colors in every corner and her juxtaposition of gorgeous floral motifs with dead chickens, maggots, and flies is the perfect mix of the sweet and the grotesque.  (via feature shoot)

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Seungae Lee’s Mythical Beasts

The mythical creatures and monsters in Korean artist Seungae Lee’s drawings twist, morph, and transform into one another while simultaneously doing battle for their life.

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Stuart Haygarth Transforms Found Objects Into Beautiful And Functional Designs

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Stuart Haygarth constructs beautiful sculptures out of recycled and found materials. He typically finds large quantities of one object, like eyeglasses, plastic bottles, eyeglass arms, mirrors, or picture frames, and builds large chandeliers or other functional installation sculpture work. Some of his work that is composed of seemingly random objects has been arranged to highlight the myriad of colors and forms that encompass his sculptures. Haygarth’s ability to recontextualize the mundane into the magical is uncanny. In an interview with Design Museum he says,  “I think there is a certain ‘power’ in a collection of specific objects. A large grouping of a carefully chosen object – be it by colour or form – gives the object new meaning and significance.”

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