Artist Alex Garant paints dizzying works of women that have multiple eyes and are seen in double vision. The traditionally-styled oil paintings are a unique take on the standard portrait, as they combine optical-illusions, realistic renderings, and repeat patterns. This offers a graphic element to her compositions where the background and foregrounds fuse to flatten the entire thing.
Garant finds inspiration in early ink printing, vintage pop surrealism, baroque tapestries, and retro kitsch. So, it’s no surprise that we see these patterns edging on and covering the faces of these subjects.
According to the artist’s website, she uses “patterns, duplication of elements, symmetry and image superposition as a way to engage the viewer into her imagery.” The standard, front-facing portraits are made unique with offset facial features and a clash of visual cultures throughout time. (Via L’ACTE GRATUIT)
The ceramics of Jess Riva Cooper are gross, majestic, fragile and poetic. Her Viral Series is a collection of clay heads bursting with groups of insects, tree roots, branches, leaves, flowers, stems and buds. Mostly white with a heavy glaze, Cooper subtly decorates areas of her sculptures and adds accented color. The pieces show a beautiful understanding of the circle of life, or rather how things are destroyed and created simultaneously. Cooper talks about how something seen as destructive and parasitic is no different from the form it is overtaking. She treats all areas of life as equal, and each creepy crawly is as beautiful as a lotus flower.
My work, Viral Series, is a continued exploration into the death and regeneration taking place in deteriorating communities. Places and things, once bustling and animated, have succumbed to nature’s mercy. Without intervention, nature takes over and breathes new life into objects, as it does in my sculptures. (Source)
Cooper has researched heavily into different cultures and how this same idea is treated. In most eastern philosophies, the idea that birth and death are part of the same spectrum rings true. She takes that idea further and looks a bit deeper into one culture in particular:
I also study the foundation myths of the Golem and Dybbuk spirits in Yiddish folklore and reinterpret these traditional stories through a female lens. I see a direct parallel between my interest in insidious plant life and a malevolent Dybbuk spirit, which takes over the human body. In both situations a loss of control is suffered as the parasitic entity subsumes the host. (Source)
Cooper’s ceramics remind us that even though things of beauty are there to be admired and celebrated, it is also a fine thing when those things are disrupted and replaced by other things.
The detailed paintings of Shawn Huckins portray common, day-to-day imagery while flawlessly integrating it into what seems to be miniature paint swatches. Although you may think that the artist paints directly on tiny paint cards used as color samples at hardware stores, but they aren’t actually small at all. In fact, these are not real paint cards, they are fairly large paintings that, thanks to Huckins’ finely crafted skill, are made to replicate exactly the different hues and segments of a paint card. If this was not impressive enough, the realistic imagery included in this series titled The Paint Chip Series, seem to fit perfectly into their settings. He creates a breathtaking mountain range on top of ”Cool Jazz” blue, and a “Pacific Sea Teal” has a pool splash erupting from its color patch. However, not all of Huckins’ imagery perfectly matches their chosen color. Many of the swatches have an unexpected twist, as his “Spring Moss” yellow has a car melting and sinking into the rich tone.
Huckins’ work is inspired by the beauty in the everyday, along with influential artists like Ed Ruscha and Andy Warhol. His work explores common imagery, like people sitting in chairs and an employee pushing a shopping cart, and their role in our lives. Even the paint cards are familiar objects that one might find in any home improvement store. Huckins explains these universal commonalities as a way to connect to our everyday surroundings and explore their meanings.
Mimicking the exact proportions, font, layout, and hues of miniature paint cards found at a nation-wide home improvement store, bands of color we may choose for our most intimate spaces—bedrooms, kitchens, family rooms—are an ideal stage to examine the everyday people and objects that occupy our world.
Julien Salaud is a French artist who creates incredible thread drawings that light up like constellations under ultraviolet light. His otherworldly installations feel larger than life and look like futuristic cave paintings, brimming with both raw primitive energy as well as evoking the sense of some neon-splattered future.
His latest series of installations, called Stellar Cave, brings to life a mythology of their own. Their pantheon includes scenes from the natural world: birds of prey caught in mid-flight, deer-like creatures, and even a human figure who seems draped in the regalia of some minor forest god.
“There are different kinds of beauty. I suppose the one I am interested in is like a fruit: I am not following a logical analysis, and I am not trying to have some concept. I am rather into contemplation, which implies taking some time.”
Observing Salaud’s work from the darkness enables viewers to reflect and contemplate the world as we know it from a different point of view — one that seems almost extraterrestrial. (via This Is Colossal)
Young Unbecoming (2015). Ceramic, glaze, glass, resin, epoxy, and plasticine.
Young Unbecoming (detail view) (2015).
Lunacy (2015). Ceramic, glaze, glass, resin, epoxy, and plasticine.
Coupling (2015). Ceramic and glaze.
Meghan Smythe is a California-based (Canadian-born) artist who creates expressively disturbing sculptures of crushed flesh and glistening viscera. The muted, peaches-and-cream colors are initially deceiving in their innocence; emerging from the twisted monuments are dismembered and defleshed body parts, shaved down and mashed together. Like a theater of the grotesque, faces gasp from beneath piles of entrails and moldering skulls, and limbs reach and splay in dynamic expressions of violence, love, lust, and tenderness. Much like the contortions of passion and death, the energy rolls throughout the compositions, oscillating between states of vigor and exhaustion. Leah Ollman, having reviewed Smythe’s recent solo show at the Mark Moore Gallery, provided this spot-on description of “Young Becoming” for The Los Angeles Times:
“Limbs are entwined, tongues extended. Clay is rarely, if ever, this carnal. Some of the skin is mannequin-smooth but veined with cracks. Some seep a pink foam or a pale fecal flood. Erotic pleasure plays a part here, but is only one of many competing charges” (Source).
By displaying representations of body parts in surprising (and unsettling) reconfigurations, Smythe brings the charges of pleasure and agony, beauty and squalor to the operating table. Displayed for us are simultaneous births and deaths, made almost indecipherable by the material realities of the body: the fluids, the waste, the mess of living, and the will to survive. In “A Light Culture”, for example, a man with a severed arm and scarred flesh sits quietly, wounded but pensive, while a disembodied hand gropes at his erection. Elsewhere, in “Lunacy”, a decapitated subject grimaces in despair while reaching for his heart. More tenderly still, in “Coupling”, two hands lie adjacent to each other and touch lightly. In moments of both intimacy and horror, Smythe turns the possibilities and limitations of the flesh into sculptures and makes them strangely beautiful.
Visit Smythe’s website and the Mark Moore Gallery to learn about her work and see additional images. Check out Ollman’s article for a captivating description of the solo show.
Russian artist Salavat Fidai creates miniscule sculptures with a ubiquitous yet unusual material – graphite pencils. Their tips are fashioned into figures of pop culture like Yoda, Bart Simpson, Batman, and many more. The amount of detail that Fidai achieves is impressive considering the scale of these figures. Eyes, feathers, and the draping in Yoda’s robe is all expressed through angular carving. Considering how dark the graphite is and all of the characters’ tiny features, Fidai might’ve used a softer lead for his work. A pencil in the “B” would probably be easier to cut and form.
It’s possible to buy one of Fidai’s creations. He has them for sale in his Etsy shop. In addition to these unconventional sculptures, the artist also sells paintings on pumpkin seeds. (Via Demilked)
Nail artist Hatsuki Furutani has combined the love of designing incredible patterns for nails with her interest in cute narratives and scenarios. She has applied her active imagination in this new project to take her nail art designs next level. The Japanese manicurist has teamed up with a talented group of animators and software engineers to produce a few short animations telling beautiful little stories. After designing the nails on computers planning out exactly what parts of the nail would move, and in what way, the team processed the designs through a 3D printer. Over 500 nails were then printed out and applied to human hands. The fingernail creations were shot frame by frame and edited together.
Furutani likes to show the beauty and attraction in the things around us. She says there is mystery and charm in everything, in all
Living things, dead things, objects, phenomena, men’s mind, soul and imagination… Inorganic and organic matters, works of art… (Source)
Her animations see origami birds coming to life, colorful fish flapping around, wheels spinning, balls and blobs bouncing from nail to nail. Her video is full of life, joy and positivity. For more of her uplifting designs, be sure to check out her website, and maybe go and get a manicure afterwards – it will surely raise your spirit. (Via Design Boom)
Tomohide Ikeya is a Japanese photographer whose underwater nude portraits walk the line between serene beauty and the terror of death and drowning. In three series, titled Wave, Breath, and Moon, Ikeya explores the body interacting with the ocean in various ways: struggling on the shore, reaching for the surface, and surrendering to its darkness. The images are disturbing in a poetic way, depicting people expressing the primordial will to survive, while others curl up and quietly succumb, turning the surrounding water into a simultaneous womb and deathbed. Breath — that vital act — often goes unnoticed, but Ikeya’s work makes it visible in the form of bubbles, open mouths, and deathly stillness. “Perhaps the essence of life, granted to everyone, is to live while struggling against death,” Ikeya writes in his description of Breath. “Life is not just about visible beauty, but also about true strength, which we have from birth” (Source).
For Ikeya, the neutrality of water makes it the ideal medium in which to explore the rhythms of survival. Water gives life, and also extinguishes it. “Water is not the Mother of Creation or the Master of Destruction,” Ikeya states; it simply exists as an essential but unfeeling element (Source). By photographing the body in a physical struggle against water, Ikeya’s works are dark portraits of the value of life and the concurrence of death. The boundaries between unforgiving “nature” and the indestructible “human” are literally subsumed, washed away into emotional and physical gestures of life-defining resistance against — and fatal integration with — the ocean. The moment of struggle becomes the affirmation.