Spanish illustrator Irma Gruenholz constructs hand sculpted, three-dimensional scenes using clay. Her surreal compositions primarily involve portraits of rosy-cheeked humans coupled with fantastical characteristics. A woman, posed like a frog, captures small human flies with her long tongue. Another illustration features a woman catching small bits of light between two chopsticks. Gruenholz forms the clay into smooth, elegant figures that don’t immediately read as handmade – they look like they could’ve been digitally produced.
A lot of work goes into crafting these illustrations. Gruenholz individually creates each character each character and scene using sculpting tools and paint. They’re held in place by stands and posed correctly. Scenes are photographed and later edited to remove the supports and produce the illusion that they could possibly be real.
Kevin Dowd creates photo collages that examine the familiar in surreal environments. An amusement park ride is suspended in mid-air; the lonely peak of a roller coaster ride frames a mysterious moon. His artwork resonates with emotional meaning, evoking feelings of uncertainty and isolation. By using the totems of our childhood — brightly colored balloons, swings, and theme park rides — Dowd also calls up a sense of unsettling nostalgia.
This is no coincidence. One of his collections is called Technostalgia: a pair of balloons tethered to a telephone pole, at odds with a wisp of cloud in the background that could either be coming or going. The artist’s intent is to examine “the nature of communication, the analogous methods of wired transmission, sound and even thought.”
Dowd is a thoughtful artist who has grand metaphorical meanings behind his work. Field Day: Ascent, the collage of children on swings rising into the sky, is meant to “capture sensations of awe and beauty, while recognizing the tentative nature of such experiences.” The photos of the roller coaster, named Babel I and Babel II, “explore the hubris of man.”
Whether or not the viewers grasp those exact interpretations, though, Dowd’s work still stirs up feelings of traveling to times and places long gone. (h/t I Need a Guide)
Since 1999, Brazilian artist Herbert Baglione has been populating the cracked walls and floors of forgotten places with shadowy, painted specters, which are characterized by their elongated limbs and emaciated, sinuous bodies. As the years have passed, his ghostly installations have emerged in dark corners all over the world, including Brazil, Germany, and France. In July 2013, Baglione found what might be his most eerie location to date: an abandoned psychiatric hospital in Parma, Italy. Down the building’s moldering, littered corridors, the artist’s ghosts aimlessly trail their wispy bodies up the walls and through open doors. At this time, the ongoing project was officially named 1000 Shadows. Describing his creative approach to forgotten places and their inhabiting spirits, Baglione has explained that “The ‘reading’ of these places allows [him] to take the shadow to a unique path, which usually feeds and broadens the discussion because it brings light to the abandoned environment […]. It is as if the soul is leaving an invisible trail on these places” (Source).
What makes Baglione’s work so simultaneously fascinating and unsettling for the psyche is that it plays with the dichotomy of presence and absence — two states of being that we often assume are fundamentally separate. By creating these shadows, not only has Baglione left his physical “mark” (his presence) for passersby to ponder (who was here? And what does it mean?), but he reminds us that other people were there long before us, and perhaps their energy still remains, making absence a form of presence. We feel drawn to these sad specters, and perhaps a bit frightened; they are traces of a persisting darkness that inspire us, emotionally and imaginatively, to close the gap in time. The wheelchair deserted in the hallway with its accompanying ghost is a particularly visceral referent for this troubling of past and present life.
Visit Baglione’s blog, Facebook page, and Instagram and follow him as he continues to occupy our imaginations and the world’s forgotten places with his signature shadows. (Via Bored Panda)
Just like a modern day Wallace and Gromit, Stefano Colferai‘s clay creations are cute, light-hearted and can be enjoyed by adults and children alike. He spends many hours with his cutting board, modeling knife and colored clay. Carving out hamburgers, candies, tacos, chicken nibbles, sneakers, boobs and self portraits (all with big googly eyes), Colferai is no stranger to having a laugh to himself and indulging his own sense of humor.
These behind the scenes videos show us a candid insight to his process and creative practice. Creating different campaigns, posters and images for many clients, Colferai approaches them all in the same way. If he’s not enjoying himself, then the viewer won’t be either. About his Boob poster creation, he says:
As a big fan of boobs, I have tried to study their shapes, reproducing some of them in plasticine. I decided to play with the consistency, trying to emphasize the materiality. (Source)
Personifying objects and giving them some sense of life is Colferai’s specialty. Like all good animators he can convincingly tell us a narrative through an unexpected image. Like his ‘Shit Selfie’ – a humorous look at a modern day phenomena. His fresh take on different ideas is what makes him an exciting talent to watch. See more behind the scenes footage after the jump.
Instead of using mixed media or found objects Eckart Hahn paints them. With a painful realism he creates opposing materials to find his pictures. A gorilla’s hairy body paired with crumpled garbage bags produces a strange dynamic which is visually captivating. In another, a group under multi-colored plastic bags disguised as a nativity scene is even more unique. It’s hard to find striking subject matter to paint because nine out of ten times it’s been done before. But somehow Eckart Hahn manages to reinvent. People have called his work “new age surrealism” which is true but there are also fantasy and advertising motifs at play. Hahn’s use of fast drying acrylic paint allows him to finish pictures quickly lending a spontaneity that goes well with his oddball subject matter.
Creatures appear consistently in many of Hahn’s paintings. He repeatedly identifies with different species of bird. The winged animal can represent freedom, wisdom and renewal. In Hahn’s paintings these characteristics manifest into a biopic figure, one that seems to echo Hahn himself. All art is biographical in some way or another and provides a chance for the artist to explore unresolved or untouched emotions or feelings. The bird in Hahn’s work has alluded to death, friendship, love, humor and awkwardness. Perhaps these were the same ideas he was feeling at the time of creation. The German born artist is self-taught and has exhibited his work worldwide. (via juxtapoz)
The “illuminati” is at it again! Not really, but you may think so once you see the levitating all seeing eye created by artist Guy W. Bell. He has created a real-life, levitating “Eye of Providence,” featured on the back of the U.S. one dollar bill. Made from slate veneer and distressed brass, the pyramid Bell has created is split in two, with the top half literally levitating, thanks to innovative technology involving two magnets of the same charge. Because of these repelling magnets, the top section of the pyramid not only levitates, but can also spin, giving this “Eye of God” a 360-degree view. This panoramic line of sight can be seen through the eye in the pyramid, which contains a wireless, pinhole camera, giving the phrase “the all seeing eye” a whole new meaning. The eye itself is actually a prosthetic, larger than life eye replica created by ocularist and anaplastologist Michel D. Kackowski.
The Eye of Providence has been referred to as an illuminati or Freemason symbol, and was also commonly used in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. This symbol has become such a cult image, it is amazing to see a fairly large scale, levitating, moving sculpture that really does look back at you with its uncanny and familiar eye.
A talented painter, Bell had been interested in this idea of creating this infamous symbol, but had not yet made a sculpture of this technological magnetite. Luckily for Bell, with the help of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, he was able to make his dream a reality. This incredible sculpture can be seen at Bell’s solo exhibition Fourteen Minutes and Forty-Nine Seconds presented by the Thea Foundation in Arkansas. (via The Creators Project)
We’ve covered Kris Kuksi’s Churchtanks series in the past, which invoked religion alongside symbols of modern warfare to create a curious blend of spirituality and the profane. “Ascension of Eos” is a more recent work, taking the exploration of larger than life mythos intersecting with the mortal coil.
Eos, the goddess of dawn in Greek mythology, or perhaps a statue of Eos rises up from a sea of humans. She’s being worshipped or built — or perhaps the two are one in the same. The humans around her are in a frenzy — some are tangled together in frantic sex, others are being crushed by wheels and impaled by arrows. Her congregation’s agony can just as easily be interpreted as divine ecstasy, and painted with a dark patine, the entire tableau seems truly gothic.
“I get inspired by the industrial world, all the rigidity of machinery, the network of pipes, wires, refineries, etc.,” says Kuksi. “Then I join that with an opposite of flowing graceful, harmonious, and pleasing design of the baroque and rococo.”
Beautiful, dark, and mysterious, Kuksi’s work contains tons of detail. It’s created through mixed media assemblage, which adds texture and physicality to the piece. At more than four and a half feet tall and three and a half feet wide, it looks almost like an altar or a memorial. (h/t Dark Silence in Suburbia)
In Ryder Ripps’ latest series he creates an emoticon character out of an instagram model who has 340k followers and the last name Ho. How funny. The paintings are digitally distorted versions of pix that appeared on the model’s popular social media site. In these pieces, Ripp captures our somewhat skewed vision of what’s important in life . Ho’s number of followers attest to the fact that people just want to vege out and watch an attractive person prance around in gym clothes. (She also has a casual clothing line.) Despite the subject matter, the canvases are well done and hold your attention. They peep into Francis Bacon’s distorted popes and powerful men sentiment. And despite a grotesque appeal offers a somewhat fresh perspective on the medium of painting.
Ryder is no stranger to interesting projects. One called “Art Whore” was especially riveting. For this piece he placed a Craigslist ad looking for sex workers. For their hourly rate he asked them to spend an hour with him in a room at New York’s Ace Hotel and draw. He chose a man and woman who both had very distinct but different results from the session. The woman produced abstract pictures which resembled feelings and emotions. The man created a literal essay in words and pictures of his life as a prostitute. Both enjoyed the experience immensely and the hotel known for its own funky art projects offered to promote it. (via wefindthewildness)