Artist Randy Ortiz has been tantalizing the eyes of illustration fans for years, illuminating concert and movie posters both professionally and as creative tasks for a great imagination. While past work emphasized ink line work and detailed black and white charcoal drawings, recent work has become more colorful, with flat background colors which perhaps surprisingly emphasize the darker thematic weight in the mystical figures and composition.
The self-taught Canadian artist uses evolved techniques to illicit a near-Surrealistic response from his often-human figures, draped in masterfully rendered drapery and fabrics. Despite the often serious undertones immediately noticeable in his work, the obvious sense of humor is evident (mutant visual remixes of Drake’s oft-mocked album cover seen below for example). In other works hooded figures clamor over each other, all reaching for a disembodied hand holding a small heart talisman representing love, or mystical-triangle-eyed cats eye floating balls of string. With Ortiz’s visual narratives and painting style evolving at a rapid pace, he is definitely ahead of other illustrator/artist to watch.
Since his tragic death, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s image has fluttered on and off of our computer screens more times than we can count. When we lose celebrities who’ve influenced us, we might search for solace in a single work of art that captures an intimate expression of some larger cultural current; we elevate the photographic likeness of stars to the status of a late relative, bookmarked online rather than carried in a wallet.
A few short weeks ago, Hoffman and fellow actors sat for the photographer Victoria Will at the Sundance film festival, and her photographs serve as a testament to the worshipful and nurturing ways in which we consider celebrity. The series is unusual for Will’s choice to use tintype, a photographic process popular in the mid-1800s. As the artist positions her sitters behind a reverent lens, the prolific subjects themselves becomes elevated by the sheer amount of work needed to produce their image. In this way, the work harkens back to an era when people treasured the photograph of a loved one and maybe only sat for one shot throughout a lifetime.
Will refers to the process as “finicky” and “honest;” the images recall the work of Moyra Davey, a photographer who wrote on the power of accidents in the medium. With the remarkably delicate crinkling of emulsion and subtle and unintentional chemical happenings, each subject becomes marked and qualified by the artist’s accidental movements and sporadic perceptions. With each astounding frame, our idols beg the question, “Will this be the image by which you remember me?” (via 22 Words and Esquire)
We at Beautiful/Decay don’t usually post about our own work but we thought that our readers would enjoy this short documentary about Beautiful/Decay founder and artist Amir H. Fallah. Documentarian Edward Symes traces the origins of B/D from zine to magazine and also gives you a glimpse into Fallah’s studio and new series of works. You can also read a short interview with Fallah on Symes’ Frontrunner Magazine.
Overloading, as you can clearly see, is a serious problem in China; about 80 percent of trucks (or any means of transportation used to transport goods) are overloaded. These vehicles have been damaging the country’s already-crumbling highways and they have been the cause of collapsed bridges in the past. This bizarre collection of photographs,published by China Foto Press, reveal the heartbreaking reality of the statistics, as we see here the incredible amounts of junk that these tiny transportation vehicles carry on a daily basis. Although amusing and puzzling at first, these colorful and peculiarly beautiful compositions beg for awareness and possibly a chance for change.
“Highway and bridge tolls in China are too high for transportation companies. Sometimes, they can account for as much as 20 percent of the total expense. Therefore, many companies carry too much freight to try to make trips more profitable and compete with rivals.” - Cui Zhongfu, secretary-general of the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing.
The rivalry over transportation companies has cost China about a dozen collapsed bridges each year. For instance, Qiantang River in Hangzhou, a bridge that was designed for vehicles weighing only 30 tons and trailers weighing 55 tons, was abused by truckers carrying loads in excess of 100 tons. The bridge finally gave in and collapsed in July 2011, when a 129-ton truck tried to cross it. In the same month, a bridge in Yancheng and another 301-meter steel-arch bridge in Wuyishan, Fujian province, collapsed. Both bridges had been built about 10 years ago. (Via Amusing Planet)
In the photographic series Processed Views, valleys of Fruit Loops surround a lake of milk, while marshmallows create a hazy, pillowy landscape. Shot as a collaboration between Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman, the photographs interpret the frontier of industrial food production as the line between science and nature grows thin. In a statement about the work, the pair writes, “As we move further away from the natural sources of our food, we head into uncharted territory replete with unintended consequences for the environment and for our health.”
These photographs are simultaneously appealing and disgusting. Ciurej and Lochman have set the scene and produced grandiose, often idyllic looking landscapes that mimic splendor you’d find in the natural world. However, when you remember that these a mixture of real food and unpronounceable chemicals additives, it’s hard to find them as attractive. The crashing waves of syrupy sticky Coca-Cola is not somewhere that I’d like to visit.
The style of Processed Views references the work of Carleton Watkins (1829-1916). He is famous for his photographs of the American West, framing it as a land of endless possibilities. Ciurej and Lochman go on to write about the photographer, who was commissioned by the corporate interests of the day including the railroad, milling, and mining industries. “Watkins embodied the commonly held 19th century view of Manifest Destiny – the inevitability of America’s bountiful land, justifiably utilized and consumed by it’s citizens,” they write. Now seen as the land of excess, the series is a metaphor for the manifest destiny of processed foods. (Via Makezine)
In her recent series I Don’t Know The Names of Flowers, photographer Kristina Knipe examines her struggle with self-harm by documenting the marks and personal effects associated with the trials of others similarly suffering. Through the vulnerability of her subjects– some of whom she knew and others whom she found over Craigslist– the artist reveals a richly specific portrait of her own injury.
Inspired in part by the work of Alessandra Sanguinetti, Knipe situates her subjects within a decidedly natural world. Against a backdrop of wildflowers and floral patterned sofas, her portraits courageously reveal a tension between the beatific organic landscape and the angled, mechanical patterns of scarred and restitched flesh. The title of the work amplifies this sense of alienation, laying bare the tragically unfulfilled desire to connect with the simple purity of a budding rose.
Gently evoking poignant feelings of nostalgia and loss, this notion of innocence and corruptibility is explored further by Knipe’s expertly uncomfortable use of childlike imagery. In Andrew’s Dress, she presents a tiny article of clothing that for a grown man serves an unknowable purpose; as it wavers in the wind, viewers are forced to confront permanent blood stains. Similarly, a Raggedy Ann doll splays herself almost obscenely in a bed, revealing the words I Love You carved into her chest in red. For a particularly devastating image, Knipe shoots a page in a journal, revealing the terrifyingly pained visage of a girl scribbled in crude and childish lines.
Amidst this haunting sense of innocence lost, Knipe’s sprinkles her photographs generously with a dangerous sense of addictive ecstasy. Her photographs are decadent, richly colored and tonally mesmerizing. Scarred flesh is gleaming and sensual, and a beer can explodes orgiastically over a blissful subject. With relentless passion, Knipe invites viewers into a private world, colored by highs and lows that are equally difficult to navigate. (via Feature Shoot and Tischtography)
Beautiful/Decay has partnered with premiere website building platform Made With Color to bring you some of the most exciting contemporary artists working today. Made With Color allows you to create a sleek mobile/tablet optimized website that is easy to use with just a few clicks and no coding involved. This week we bring you the works of Arizona based artist Kristin Bauer.
Kristin Bauer wants you to not only read her artworks visually but literally as well. Working in a wide array of media from neon to assemblage to painting, Bauer combines and mixes high and low iconography, imagery, and texts that will make you play a mental game of connect the dots. Unlike most stories however, Bauer’s works aren’t supposed to have a beginning, middle, and end – leaving the viewer to fill in the blanks between her references to anything from Renaissance sculpture to Jayne Mansfield, Shakespeare to Spielberg films, The Great Gatsby to Cheap Trick.
About her work she states:
I am influenced and inspired by the nature of how humanity derives meaning when presented with the combination of word and image. Our culture is highly visual, and rises and falls with the crests and waves of marketing and propaganda. I draw from my background in Masters studies of Psychology and Therapy practices and my related interests in Social Influence Theory as well as my love of music, film, classical literature and pop culture.
While some of my art seems socio-politically subversive, I do not have a concrete message with the work. Rather, what I am after is the dialogue and internal response of viewers that arise from how they put together visual and written information.
Camilo José Vergara’s 40-year project, “Tracking Time,” chronicles urban transformation in some of the poorest and most segregated communities in the Northeastern United States. In Camden, New Jersey, one of the poorest cities he regularly visits during his documentation, he captures what he calls “Paired Houses”: two dwellings that share a wall, one of them occupied, the other empty. Because each dwelling is part of the same building, Vergara is able to capture the stark contrast between deteriorated and maintained habitats, reflecting the declining state of Camden’s housing market. For some of the photographs, Vergara returns to a building he’s previously documented in order to chronicle the absence of formerly dilapidated buildings.
In his photo essay for Slate, Vergara writes,”If a resident of a middle-class neighborhood dies or moves to a nursing home, or if a dwelling burns, the empty house is usually guarded or secured by the owner’s family. The police keep an eye out for it. Neighbors, well-aware of the impact of a deteriorating eyesore on property values, alert city officials whenever they see a house falling into disrepair. The situation is quickly brought under control.
It’s different in a crumbling inner city like Camden. Even Walt Whitman’s old house at 328 Mickle St.—the only home he ever owned—was by the 1980s adjacent to a vacant three-story dwelling and just two houses away from a ruin. House values in Camden are low and likely to remain so since the population of the city is declining, unemployment is high, and there is little new demand for houses. The number of vacant houses is likely to increase; many will eventually be acquired by the city, which is too poor either to board them up or to demolish them.”