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.
Artist Pierre Schmidt constructs surreal worlds filled with the inner horrors of the subconscious, both terrifying and beautiful. Using photo-manipulation, illustration, and collage, he combines both traditional and digital methods to create scenes of people with faces dripping right off their skulls. Many of his disturbing, melting face runs down the composition, only to reveal sudden bouquets of flowers. Using vintage photographs, he collages imagery of 1950’s housewife types lounging about, only to be caught up in a peculiar and fantastic scene. Schmidt’s work is highly psychological, as many of his pieces have titles based on the theories and writings of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. His flowing faces crack open the hidden psyche, pouring out its contents for us to examine. The face being a vessel of identity, Schmidt strips his characters of this so that we may look inwards into our own mind.
The Berlin based artist offers us a glimpse into a strange world of bizarre happenings, filled with faceless ladies, lush flora, and silhouettes that contain galaxies. Schmidt’s work is full of emotion and internal awareness, leaving us to sort out his stunning and complicated mash of imagery. We are left to decipher his sliced open heads, melting eyes, and rainbows oozing from faces. Like stream of consciousness, Schmidt melds together his illustrations with a unifying flow, effortlessly forming captivating and magnetic work. (via Hi-Fructose)
In a place usually left to stillness and silence, black waters churn ceaselessly. Anish Kapoor, a London-based artist known for his sculptural installations using stainless steel, PVC, and other media, has created a whirlpool beneath the wooden floorboards of a former movie theater in San Gimignano, Italy. With a spine-tingling power that seems to suck your gaze to the center of the earth, the vortex pulls endlessly downward into a lightless void. Darkly beautiful and hypnotic, the waters evoke feelings of both admiration and fear. Appealing to the fascination we have for black holes and infinite space, Kapoor has created an existential zone of disturbing liminality, a place which exists between presence and absence, here and there. Speaking of his fascination for spatial emptiness in the press release, Kapoor explains:
“All my life I have reflected and worked on the concept that there is more space than can be seen, that there are void spaces, or, as it were, that there is a vaster horizon. The odd thing about removing content, in making space, is that we, as human beings, find it very hard to deal with the absence of content. It’s the horror vacui. This Platonic concept lies at the origin of the myth of the cave, the one from which humans look towards the outside world. But here there is also a kind of Freudian opposite image, that of the back of the cave, which is the dark and empty back of being. Your greatest poet, Dante, also ventured into a place like that. It is the place of the void, which paradoxically is full – of fear, of darkness. Whether you represent it with a mirror or with a dark form, it is always the ‘back’, the point that attracts my interest and triggers my creativity.” (Source)
By creating this zone of dread — a vacuum of inverted reality that threatens our mortal existences with its apparent soullessness — Kapoor’s whirlpool unveils a special form of significance. The whirlpool is a world “which is paradoxically full,” for instead of beauty and safety, we are confronted with a vital impulse: a void brimming with life-affirming fear that destabilizes our constructions of reality. The whirlpool evades all concrete meaning by always moving, existing beyond our knowledge, troubling us with the notion of infinite absence.
Avid glass blower Kiva Ford spends most of his days making complex glass instruments for use in the science lab. After completing a college degree in Scientific Glassblowing, he creates some pretty wild creations. But not only does he do it as a professional job, Ford twists molten glass in his spare time too. As a hobby, he makes other kinds of complicated glass forms – these ones are geared more toward art and commerce. He crafts delicate, miniature versions of bottles, goblets, pendants, domes, vessels, Champagne flutes and vases, all made from glass. Any even though they are tiny in size, they don’t lack imagination or incredible details.
As a member of the American Scientific Glass Blowers Society, he creates custom made glassware for research and discovery. He makes things that can’t be made by a machine or mass produced – all of his creations are as artistic as the next. For Ford, there is no real difference between the two.
I get just as excited about scientific glass as I do artistic glass. The whole process is beautiful to me. (Source)
Enjoying a tradition started a few thousand years ago in Persia, Ford enjoys using the same techniques that haven’t changed – blowing glass over an open flame. He says he loves coming up with new ideas – trying to see what is possible, and what isn’t possible. He even manages to create tiny animals from glass and fits them into other glass containers – achieving something he says, he hasn’t seen anyone else be able to.
For Ford his main aim is to focus on one skill – and get good at what he does. And it is pretty obvious he is well on his way to being a full fledged master of glass. (Via Trenf)
The work of Los Angeles based artist Nike Schroeder is full of a complex hybrid of mediums, as she integrates textiles, painting, and installation into her art. Her installations are creates from fiber where the colors of the threads have a very intentional meaning, as they draw their palette from the hues of the horizon at dawn. In one installation, the thread cascades to the floor, dripping off the canvas. Schroeder includes this same aesthetic in many of her other works, including her embroidery. The artist creates portraits out of needle and thread, with certain colors of thread hanging loose so to draw your eye to certain areas. Often, these bright colors and hanging thread come from the subject’s eyes or lips. Other times, this thread is not hanging loose, but cutting across to the other side of the canvas, dissecting the composition with multi-colored fibers. The harsh line Schroeder imposes onto her portraits guides your eye to specific elements.
As if Schroeder’s fiber-based installations and intricate embroideries were not impressive enough, many of her textile pieces are extremely large. Her nude portraits of women, which examine the beauty ideals of the female body, are actually life-size! These, again, contain long, hanging thread pouring down from certain elements, jolting our eyes to an “unlikely” part of the women; their pubic hair. This series among others in Schroeder’s expansive body of work include not only thread but paint as well. The artist often applies paint like she does fiber, with flowing drips. Schroeder’s work can be seen on view at Walter Maciel Gallery in Los Angeles from May 30th through July 11th.
Artist Jason Freeny scoops out the insides of our favorite toys and characters, and sculpts their inner organs and skeletons. Having a sculpture professor as a father, the artist was exposed to the medium at a young age. Freeny was originally trained as an industrial designer, until he began creating this series of adorable abominations five years ago. He begins with the toy itself, and then takes it apart to study its structure and fill it with its skeleton. Freeny began using polymer clay to create the insides of each toy. Now, they are sculpted from epoxy and carved with a variety of miniature tools like pumpkin carving tools and those used in dentistry.
Freeny has taken lovable toys and turned them into something somewhat dark, but also a bit educational in a way. The anatomical accuracy in his sculptures is impressive, as each creature or character most likely will have its own unique anatomy. Freeny gives an example of this by explaining that Mario has a skull more like a child than of a grown man. The detail in each character’s body is so intricate, that it makes its anatomy incredibly believable. Interestingly enough, the artist does not just dissect popular toys like Lego’s and My Little Pony, but strange oddballs as well. A couple of his dolls with their inner organs exposed look somewhat demented; like they could star in the next Child’s Play. Whether you find Freeny’s work fun or creepy, the time and technique involved in his process speaks volumes to his brilliant skills in sculpture. (via The Creators Project)
There’s something delightfully creepy about an abandoned house in a remote part of the woods filled with several thousand flowers. A new project called “Flower House” by Artist Lisa Waud will explore this concept. Waud and a team of florists will proceed to fill a condemned structure somewhere in Detroit with several thousand wild petaled creatures. The purpose is an attempt to beautify and invigorate a run down and dilapidated environment and promote the native flowers of Michigan and beyond.
When a flower is snipped from nature it exists in a state somewhere between life and death. Its beauty blooms for a short period mirroring life’s transience. The trial run of the project shows the flowers in a wild state in various sections of the house. It beautifies the worn down parts of the structure instantly with their beauty and also compliments the wildness of a house in disrepair. By showing the flowers as they would exist in nature gives them added appeal. Some of the installations created by local florists are quite beautiful looking almost painterly in the arrangement and placement. The main installation will take place between Oct 16-18th. (via mymodernmet)
“Shiloh” is a creative short film that uses dance footage and bursts of colored powder to explore self-identity. Created by Brooklyn-based production company Dreambear with director James Hall, “Shiloh” is a unique and contemporary fusion of dance, film, and visual art. The short narrative begins with dancer Shiloh Hodges crouching and swaying ritualistically in a spotlight. As the music picks up, she rises and moves into a fluid dance while dust falls from her shoulders. With each beautiful flourish she throws colored powder into the air, which is captured in beautiful arcs by the slow motion footage.
“How can we present our identity through art?” the video description asks, seeking to articulate what makes art such a powerful outlet for self-expression (Source). Emerging from Shiloh’s own difficulty in exploring personal identity in the oft-competitive and critical field of dance, the short film wordlessly answers this question; with a powerful self-awareness, her body resists the surrounding darkness as it moves seamlessly with the uplifting music. The rainbow-colored powder she throws evokes a spectrum of emotions, from joy, to love and self-care, to a tinge of sadness. Accenting her skin are beautiful, drawn-on “fractures,” making it appear as though the coloured powder comes from within, symbolizing her internal, heart-based experiences.
Accompanying the short film is a portrait by renowned Madrid-based artist Gabriel Moreno. Moreno became a collaborator on the project when Hall reached out to him and subsequently produced the art piece featured in the film’s final scene. As in the film, depicted in the illustration is an overlay of multiple emotions and experiences; beneath the central portrait are different outlines of Shiloh dancing. As in his other works, Moreno uses bursts of color to dramatically punctuate the illustration. Together, the film and portrait explore self-identity across mediums, immortalizing Shiloh’s beautiful dance as a powerful fruition of creativity, talent, and strength.