Raised a Catholic, and using obvious religious iconography, Liz Maw like to paint other-worldly and sublime beings. By combining the faces of celebrities or people she knows and admires with pseudo-mystical relics she glorifies them. Maw draws on many different periods and styles, mixing contemporary symbols with techniques from the Old Dutch masters, her subjects in poses akin to many Renaissance works. It is this mix of old and new; mundane and divine; hyper-realism and fantasy; sacred and profane that makes her work at once beautiful and comical. As one critic said:
“Her sleek paintwork resembles air brushing in its precision, offering a surrealism somewhere between Salvador Dali and the kind of hot-rod paintings which stretch across panel vans. Liz’s paintings are drenched with a sense of desire, beauty and power.” (source)
Her “Colleen” painting features a beautiful naked woman perched on a cloud surrounded by floating seashells and in a glowing sky illuminated by lightning. Intentionally referring to The Immaculate Conception painting, Maw manages to rework something old and accepted with a kitschy, slightly erotic spin. Talking about what is “distasteful” and what isn’t, Maw likes to challenge people’s standards. She says she doesn’t understand why some people will accept a painting of a figure with one breast covered, and others would think it to be inappropriate.
“I think that female sexuality is a very mystical thing… I don’t think that romance goes seamlessly into sex for women really. Maybe it can, maybe it can’t. A lot of women disconnect romance from sex. I don’t know why that is. “
She wants to paint to encourage more warmth and softness, and less judgement. And I think one painting at a time she will.
A screenshot, or screen capture, is a tool that’s existed on computers for a very long time, and it’s an easily accessible modern-day archival method. In just a split second, we can take a snapshot of our desktop or movie screen and save it later use. For Japanese artist Toru Izumida, this simple process is used to create collage-esque artwork.
“I use selections of online media to create unexpected combinations that are finalized into a single screenshot,” says Izumida. “The exact date and signature of the creation is recorded on every work.” We see multiple screens open and contain pictures of textures, people, landscapes, and more. Izumida arranges them, varying the window size before capturing the final product on his Mac. The fractured layouts are then turned into prints, and elevates the ubiquitous tool into the realm of fine art. (Via Spoon and Tamago)
Syver Lauritzsen and Eirik Haugen Murvoll set up a paint sculpture that tracks the moods of people in Oslo (where they go to school) through their posts to social media. Each time someone tweets that they are happy, sad, angry, or what have you, a program that Lauritzsen Murvoll created assigns a colour to it. As demonstrated in the video, happy is a pink colour, angriness is black, and a number of other colours are left undefined. Though the project is small in scale, it serves an interesting purpose and leaves a lot of opportunity for further exploration. One imagines what it would look like if there were multiple posts representing different cities. It’s a great way to visualize the information.
Artist Holton Rower, who uses the paint pouring technique to create three-dimensional paintings, inspired the format for Lauritzsen and Murvoll’s project. The men had to go through a few different modes of representation for aesthetic value. They tried having each individual mood tweet release a colour, but also averaged a mood over a period of tweets. According to the artists, latter was more aesthetically appealing because the information was more simple, but the former was evidently a more accurate depiction of how the city was feeling. (Via I Heart My Art and Wired)
Norwegian-born, Seattle-based artist Sail Uselessarm has a somewhat comic-like and dark style of illustration. Most of his work is labeled as mixed media, with use of gouache and acrylic, amongst other mediums. What really stands out in his work is the stark contrast between the background and the subject, the intense and heavy shadowing within the scene, and how this tight control of light creates an ambiance of film noir that feels very photographic and, in the same breath, filmic. His tendency to off-center the compositions reveals an implied motion that is also quite cinematic.
Concerning his work, Sail related the importance of the narrative:
“I try to tell a story with each piece or at least hint at a larger narrative. Suggest a history, a movement, even if you’re only seeing a moment… I think the weight of that history should exist in that moment. We’re defined by our experiences. I don’t think art is any different. Pulling from folklore and mythology as I do a lot of these characters come with a story, so it’s hard to not have some of that come through in trying to represent them.”
Sail will have a new body of work up in his next show, titled “Canna Intrat,” opening in Seattle at the Roq La Rue Gallery on October 2nd and showing through November 1st.(Excerpt from Source)
For six years the Dutch photographer Willeke Duijvekam followed the lives of Mandy and Eva, documenting their inner and outer attempts to align their sex assignments at birth with their gender identity — both girls were born as boys.
“Willeke Duijvekam reveals how for both girls the radical transformation into self-confident young women was chiefly an internal process. Her subdued photographs show how Mandy and Eva are absorbed in their everyday activities, or in their own thoughts. They are two remarkably normal girls — the one more vivacious, the other quieter — who do nothing other than live according to the dictates of their feelings.” (Source)
Duijvekam presents this series as an ingenious photo book, Mandy and Eva. The best designs enhance the subject matter, bringing new interpretations and depth to the work without taking over the narrative. In Duijvekam’s book, the subtle photos of the two transgender girls are incorporated into an interleaved book. In the video of the book, the pages are separate but related, each girl always present in the other’s spreads, advancing and retreating at the turn of a page. It is a masterful match of form and content. The book progresses backward through time, reversing the expected progression and reinforcing that these are two girls. The bodies that they were born into are much less important than the bodies in which they have become themselves.
“In my work I am guided by what moves and surprises me. … Ideas for projects are constantly unfolding and possibilities reveal themselves around every corner. The trick is to be open enough to recognize them the moment they appear and driven enough to pursue them. Diversity is what draws me to the people I meet, but at the same time I’m fascinated by our similarities.”
Artist Juan Fontanive creates hypnotizing flip books by assembling old mechanic bits from bike parts and clocks together with images of birds and butterflies. He hand draws, paints and screen prints the images onto paper and uses them to create his magical pieces. Fontanive is able to inject life into these static images with the help of stainless steel, a few cogs, a motor or two and some electronics. These half-film, half-sculptures he is able to build are beautiful delicate mechanisms – and are a dream to watch. Combined with the sound of the pages actually turning; the whirring and humming of the bits working, it seems as if the insects are literally flying off the page.
Fontanive calls his creations “films without light” and has developed his passion of making 16mm experimental films combined with a love of drawing machines. Art writer Gilda Williams says of his pieces:
“The artist’s flapping hummingbirds and rushing fish are sculptural animations, or perhaps automata: machine-powered facsimiles of life…In many ways, Fontanive’s artworks seem strangely possessed, producing curiously moving animals that are neither living nor dead, or creating ghostly systems which seem to float mid-air and follow a pace and logic of their own.”
In the past Fontanive has created a machine that breathed life into Victorian clocks. You can see this and many other fascinating projects of his here. (Via thisiscolossal)
Susannah Martin is a German-based artist whose subject matter is timeless. Her realistically-rendered pastel drawings and oil paintings feature nude subjects who are exploring an idyllic landscape. As they wade through streams and pass by mountains, men, women, and children encounter different wild life. The poses and scenarios aren’t sexually motivated, and instead we see Martin’s figures presented in a much more classical, art historical way. She explains:
The history of the painted nude in landscape documents exactly this eternal longing. Setting aside for a moment, any erotic motivations, the nude has always also been a symbol for man in his purist form, his original form, his primordial form. Stripped of all social indicators; clothing, possessions , etc., he exists independent of identity in a time of pure being ( ein Zeit des Seins). Being is our eternal home. Nature does not possess an identity, it is. The nude in a natural setting has always been associated with our return to a time of pure being, a return home.
As time has passed and technology rapidly advances, we become more disconnected with the natural world; so much so that we’re more of visitors than inhabitants. Martin goes on to write:
Nature is no longer home to us, she is much more a tourist destination. Certainly no representation of the nude in landscape in the 21st century can escape conveying our extreme estrangement from nature, intentional or not. There is an unavoidable strangeness or feeling of dislocation which envelopes the most sincere attempt at harmony. How absurd man seems stripped of his possessions and identity crutches and yet it is indisputable, he gains strength, clarity and beauty when we contemplate him abstractly , as a phenomenon of nature. My experimentation with contemporising the nude in landscape takes place within this framework of tension between these two poles of self-perception.
… if we accept that realism now includes virtual realism, that is it incorporates a high degree of improbability, a hyperbolic realism. Man may return once again to his original landscape, his eternal home, all be it this time as a tourist, a primordial tourist.
Seattle painter Jesse Higman is the creator of a world where everything shimmers on an exaggerated scale, either macroscopic or microscopic. With the use of “Illuvium,” Higman creates within his paintings an affect of an unmistakably organic, earthly feel. Using masonite as a canvas, Higman dilutes acrylic paint mixed with mica flakes and pours the paintings onto the canvas, which is weighted to allow a slope which the paint will travel to. Illuvium, a geological term referring to the way particles settle on flood plains, is really about the art of these mica flakes settling along their course. The resulting textures are planetary, cell-like, while the mica flakes grant a shimmering presence that breathes life and density into his work.
Looking at his paintings, which are large, you see that they could be of many things: an aerial view of a retreating tide from a network of grasslands, cells and tissue seen under a microscope, the nearly mythical creatures that live in the deepest, darkest parts of the ocean, the terrain of another planet, a spray of blood, the moon.
What is interesting about this method is the active role that time and chance play in his work. Higman casts a single gesture, pouring the paint in a certain direction on a chosen part of the board, and then, for the most part, the painting is out of his hands. The mica flakes travel and settle on their own accord, an outcome that cannot be calculated or predicted.
Higman sums up the importance of his process:
“As I sit with a cup of paint in my hand, on the edge of a blank board that took days to set up, I try not to lurch forward like a horse into the stream. I promise to take more time to see how the water is flowing before I move. Once I begin, there is no stopping. Pouring over the same place twice creates craters and destroys the quietly settling particles. Investing too much energy into the system creates aberrations like cancers. I find that curiosity, confidence and play leads to beauty.” (source)