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Photographer Rachael McArthur Creates Eerie, Victorian-Influenced Still Lifes Exploring Veiled Family Secrets

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Rachael McArthur is a Toronto-based artist whose photography explores the fascinating crossroads of modernity and classical culture, with a particular focus on the family structure. Featured here is an ongoing project called A Family Façade, which examines domesticity and social identity through a Victorian lens. Throughout the images—each with an intentionally staged appearance—McArthur captures the gilded debris of aristocracy and repression: ornamental coffins filled with flowers, pipes and alcohol bottles arranged like cherished knickknacks, and lockable suitcases containing old family photos and letters. Pulled between beauty and contrivance, each photo produces a tension of arbitrary decoration and the muffled underbelly of familial memory and secrets.

McArthur is particularly interested in how the body can be used to project a constructed (and often idealized) identity. In the Victorian era—not unlike today—materiality and the cohesion of the familial unit were a means to manifest an air of “success” and contentment. This is seen in McArthur’s adorned sculptures; well-dressed and surrounded by beautiful, antiquated objects, they appear deceivingly calm and graceful, provided for in every material way. The absence of faces and limbs, however, tells a different story; without eyes or hands to express the figures’ emotional worlds, the viewer sees the beautiful objects for what they are—superficial, gaudy façades that merely upholster an unsettling truth.

Layer after layer of meaning can be unraveled from McArthur’s works as she examines the historical and present-day significance of family and identity. Visit her website, blog, and Instagram to learn more about her work.

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Jonathan Bréchignac’s Meticulous Ballpoint Pen Drawings Inspired By Muslim Prayer Rugs

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Intricate patterns, lines and geometric motifs drawn with a Bic, a classic French ballpoint pen. Jonathan Bréchignac, head designer of the JoeAndNathan studio based in Paris fills rather large white pages with complex drawings. The first few ones of his ‘Carpets’ series were meant to represent by their sizes, shapes and ornaments; a Muslim prayer rug.

Jonathan Bréchignac takes about six to eight months to complete a design. He painstakingly depicts directly on paper. He traces directly with no draft before hand. What he designs is directly inspired by Muslim art and architecture. He smoothly blends traditional non-figurative Arabic patterns to modern motifs and elements from French Roman, traditional Japanese, Native American and Mexican culture.

Why does he uses a Bic? A Bic is a typical french pen with a fine point which allows to write and trace minuscule details. It’s cheap, effective, lasts long and has been used for decades from French students to workers in factories. It’s the equivalent to a yellow pencil for Americans.

There’s no rush or deadline when Jonathan Bréchignac starts working on a piece. He likes the idea of dedicating some of his precious time to a long process achievement. In his field, making sketches and pitching ideas can take quite a long time and can be thrown away in a matter of seconds. The idea behind the Muslim rug drawings is to create a long lasting and pleasurable work of art. (via Design Boom).

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Stunning Hand Crafted Glass Sculptures Mimic The Magnificent Power And Beauty Of The Sea

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New Zealand artist Ben Young’s most recent work is a series of hand crafted glass sculptures. Upon first glance, it is immediately possible to distinguish the sea as his main source of inspiration. His work consists of a collection of glass sculptures mainly revolving around the theme of water. The colors, patterns, and shapes present within his work are both in color and in form vivid and depict undulating curves and ridges similar to waves.

The sculptures, having been executed on glass emphasize this and work in perfect harmony with the shades of blue, green, and turquoise of the glass which perfectly mimic the colors of the sea. His work represents a fascinating combination of abstract geometrical forms, topography, and even the human body. Through these sculptures, his background as a boat builder and his affinity for surf shine through.

The lines, ridges, and circular shapes in his work give the sculptures additional complexity and detail. The fluidity and translucence of his sculptures add to the beauty and tranquility of his pieces to the extent that one might get lost in them. The way he has managed to transform the glass makes it almost impossible to remember the fact that it is a solid material. The fluidity of his sculptures is truly stunning to the extent that they almost look like they are made up of water, rather than glass.

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Christo Dagorov’s Captivating Drawings Of Lips Reveal Hidden Worlds When You Go In For A Kiss

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Christo Dagorov’s drawings are beautifully crafted with detail and precision. With a bird’s-eye view landscape that mimics cracked lips, a forest that’s tree trunks create the illusion of small teeth, and perfectly shaped bodies as pursed lip crevasses, his illustrations truly come alive. The work is hauntingly graceful, yet captivating and complex.  Each piece is paired with a precise, one word title, allowing every drawing to become of moment of inquiry.

For example, his drawing titled Aspiration depicts a city. Here we may see a desire for or missed connection to the urban world. Or, perhaps, he is he glorifying the amount of ambition it takes for a city to be built — a sort of homage to the achievements of man.

Next there is Authenticity, illustrating trees with exposed roots. Is this simply a statement that nature is utterly and unarguably the most authentic entity?

Indiscretion shows a figure behind bars, hinting, perchance, at the recklessness of lawlessness. Or, even further, the general rashness of humanity.

The drawing Negligence portrays snakes and jellyfish — animals that can poison. Maybe this drawing acts as a warning for those who neglect either themselves, the purity of nature, or their own relationships with others.

However, Dagorov’s use of lips provoke greater meaning than just that of his titles. Lips have various powers. They have both the power to speak and to seduce. We can use our lips for acts of good, acts of lust, as well as acts of harm. Paired with these sinful versus virtuous words — are the lips creating a platform for which both darkness and light can be portrayed on equal playing ground?

Or, perhaps these lips suggest a discussion of language. Are they used as a means to hint at the the subjective nature of semantics? If language is something that simply comes from ones lips, what does it truly mean? If history proves anything, it is that language is single handedly one of the most dangerous devices of them all.

Christo Dagorov’s work is aesthetically complicated with perplexing purpose. Every drawing demands attention and reflection. For more of his work you can find him here. (via Faith is Torment)

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Rikka Hyvönen Celebrates The Hyper Colored Bruises On The Bodies Of Roller Derby Girls

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Riikka Hyvönen celebrates bruises on women’s body. Women that are rollerskating in a high level competition called ‘roller derby’. It’s an aggressive game which ends up marking the contestants for quite a long time; or at least until they heal. The artist uses hyperrealism to depict the bruises, which she calls ‘kisses’, as a trophy, a victory over the pain they are going through during a competition.

Hyperrealism is a method which consists of painting on a large scale canvas a reproduction of a photograph.Rikka Hyvönen collects photographs of the roller derby girls and chooses the bruises she considers being the most interesting. Not necessarily the biggest ones though.
The bruise on the cheek is the focus of the painting. The whole image is kitsch, pop and above all real. The different colors of a bruise are painstakingly detailed, from yellowish to grayish.

The violence we associate to bruises are the symbol of the strength defining women. They symbolize the capacity of a woman in life in general to fall and get back up again. Rikka Hyvönen is saying, through her paintings that any mark due to a battle needs to be claimed and worn with pride.  “I believe these images are charged with mental strength. They show that the player’s bodies can take the hits yet overcome the pain and still continue to play… Obviously, I am objectifying these women totally. But I am doing it exactly the way they objectify themselves: their big and strong bums are assets and to be carried with pride.” (via Hi Fructose)

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Amandine Urruty’s Bizarre Monochromatic Drawings Depict Adorably Frightening Dreamscapes That Will Haunt You In Your Sleep

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Artist Amandine Urruty’s new series of drawings delivers a collection of artworks worthy of illustrating an Alice in Wonderland picture book . Urruty’s new work is mainly done in pencil or graphite and in black and white. She depicts a mildly disturbing combination of children’s book and cartoon characters, monsters, as well as a wide selection of pop culture elements. The way she depicts nightmarish scenes and sometimes works in triptychs is reminiscent of the work of Hieronymus Bosch and, in a way she has delivered a contemporary, almost cute version of his work.

Her work unfolds in the details: she places familiar yet odd items in the backgrounds and in the corners of her pictures and you have to look closely to see the intricacy of her work. For instance one of her drawings includes a Victorian house next to a waterfall with what resembles a hotdog in a boat floating down the waterfall. Her illustrations are also sprinkled with little sheet ghosts which give her drawings an additional Halloween touch. The ways in which she makes use of the shadows in her illustrations give her work a sort of gothic touch. Upon close examination of her work, in one of her pictures, a collection of small cultural artifacts can also be seen: little men in masks with painted chests are huddled around a young girl sitting on a log while their compatriots are in the background holding up a brain with arrows planted in it.

Urruty’s wide eyed, monochromatic characters border the psychedelic, with their dark, blank stares and oscillating bodies. Her use of black and white lines and shading gives her work an extra otherworldly touch, in such a way that it almost looks like it comes straight out of the 1960s. She also says that her works contain a certain number of personal items, which gives her work an added touch of mystery and depth. Her combination of characters, albeit mildly terrifying still have a little touch of playfulness which gives them the potential to serve as illustrations in a children’s book.

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Artist Whit Forrester’s Photographs Take You Behind The Scenes Of A Queer Cannabis Farm

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Artist Whit Forrester’s photographic series, Affinity in the Tall Grasses, documents his time spent on a queer marijuana farm in California. He states:

“The work began as entertainment when I was not manicuring cannabis. I’d seen a psychic a few years prior who suggested I go back to photography which coincided with a move out west (again).  ‘Affinity’ is the documentary beginning of a body of work that continues to look at my own history within the history of cannabis, and thinking about the ways that queer history and culture intersects all of it.”

The artist explains that the work explores the connection between the legalization of marijuana in California in 1996 and the rising HIV/AIDS epidemic. He continues by stating that at the time, the Queer and Trans community (or what he refers to as LGBTTSQIQ) was heavily affected by the epidemic, and therefore, a large portion of those campaigning for legalization were within that community. Furthermore, there is inevitably a strong link between the legalization of cannabis in California and the Queer Trans community.

Affinity in the Tall Grasses is just one of many series the artist has created. His work is constantly searching for new intersections between collective history and personal selfhoods. He states:

“The work and research I do typically thinks of the ways in which identity plays into our connections, but also strives to look for new ways in which we compose our identities, and the potential ways that could change.  I am interested in larger, decentralized radical community and identify with conceptual experimentation in the service of creating new forms of social community, especially in relationship to land.”

For more of Whit Forrester’s work you can follow him on Instagram or Twitter.

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Sin-Eater Illustrates Ancient-Looking Visions Of Unearthly Beasts And The Dark Arts

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Sin-Eater is a UK-based artist who draws murky scenes of ancient beasts and the dark arts. Like fable illustrations or tarot cards, his works are replete with eerie-yet-powerful symbols, such as the moon in various phases, leaking hourglasses, human skulls, and obscure runes hidden amidst fog and fur. His intricate linework and grimly religious imagery recall the works of Albrecht Dürer, one of Sin-Eater’s influencers; in a similar style to Dürer’s 1513 engraving “Knight, Death, and the Devil,” for example, Sin-Eater depicts his own esoteric, dream-like sequences wherein the underworld seeps through the surface of the earth, manifesting in visions of twisted forests and unearthly beings.

The name “Sin-Eater” comes with its own fascinating mythologies. From Mesoamerica to the English countryside, the concept has arisen in folklores across the world, referring to people who eat or drink the sins of a deceased person, thereby purifying the spirit’s soul. Through images of death, rot, and consumption, Sin-Eater’s artwork hearkens back to these ritualistic practices, using a traditional medium and ancient imagery to figuratively dissolve the “sins” of humanity across time and space. Like polished bone beneath the rot, the result is a series of illustrations that fester in the imagination before splitting open into near-transcendent beauty.

View more of Sin-Eater’s works on Tumblr. Prints and other merchandise featuring his work can be purchased on his shop. Sin-Eater has also designed items for the Irish clothing company Nine Lives, viewable here.

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