There is always something wrong about Yvonne Todd‘s photographs. By utilizing the effects and techniques of commercial photography studios, Todd creates quietly strange images reminiscent of 90s glamour shots, or of head shots that always turn out looking amateur. Full of ill-fitting clothes, cringe-worthy props and awkward poses, Todd pushes the ideas of what is conventional beauty, and how quickly these norms change.
Her palette in itself is very rarely considered beautiful – saturated with sickly pinks, boring beige, flat creams, dull greys and flooded with unflattering light it is hard to find these images attractive.
The subjects appear confident at first glance, but there is an underlying sense of sadness, longing and an unease about themselves.
These people are reminiscent of trophy wives; of people obsessed with vanity and image; of compulsive individuals determined to be the best version of themselves. Men sitting uncomfortably, surrounded by objects they are unsure of; women staring into the mirror, practicing how to be seductive; girls striving to act above their age; amateur dancers trying to appear more skilled than they are. These poses are so often seen in modern advertising, and popular media. Todd says:
“My interest is a bit broader than beauty and artifice; I’m really interested in manipulating the conventional and familiar. I feel compelled to create “revised” photographic conventions drawn from advertising imagery, stock photography, catalogs, brochures, corporate portraits, mass-market fiction, religious cults, soap operas, show business, and the glimpses and fragments that resonate in my memory and imagination.”
These photographs may seem outdated and surreal, but could as easily be a reflection of all that is toxic in our modern day western capitalist society and our focus on image and representation of oneself.
A portrait tries to capture the essence of a subject. By honing in on a solitary figure usually from the chest up, we’re able to delve into the eyes and see beneath the surface. There’s some seriousness involved because the traditional portrait is used to capture a visual record which can act as a long standing account of that subject. Taking this and flipping it, painter Austin Lee creates cartoon-like portraits of re-imagined people and animals. Bursting with neon color and loose line, his subjects have nothing to hide and let it all hang out. His work associates with characterture and gestural expression mostly ending up as vignette laden pictures.
With titles like Dunno, Mr. Worry, Facepalm, and Taboo the idea of community and friends surface as the subject for many of his pictures. In one, two figures appear in the front windshield of a car, the anticipation in their faces is that of a destination thay are unfamiliar with. In another, “Crush” a Mona Lisa type portrait peers out from a cabinet frame portraying someone the artist has a crush on?
Using a similar approach Lee creates heads out of 3D prints and acrylic paint. These look like self-portraits and capture certain aspects of his personality with the least amount of rendering. To some degree both his painting and prints reference minimalism in their quest to strip away and find the core of its subject.
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Yuken Teruya skillfully cuts intricate trees and other shapes out of banal, everyday objects like dollar bills, toilet paper rolls, and cereal boxes. The artist completely transforms what usually amounts to trash into delicate, beautiful art. Really makes you reconsider which material objects are “special”. Even the things we constantly overlook are full of creative (and even spiritual) potential. Teruya has a new piece in a recently opened group show at Denver’s David B. Smith Gallery. (via)
Justin Scrappers aka Scrapperstown is an art director and artist based in Portland, Oregon who creates on the motto of “crazy ideas, low budget, fast pace, bare-bones crew and all the other magical things it takes to make sure nothing gets in the way of the work.” And as the main creative thrust of the Portland Mercury (the city’s one and only weekly newspaper), he really seems to have become the mayor of Scrapperstown. Shows you really CAN get the job done without having any less fun.
These images may look like simple abstract paintings, or cut out pieces of cardboard collaged on top of each other, but they are anything but. They are actually a product of one of the most avant-garde photographic processes being used today. Brooklyn artist Liz Nielsen‘s current exhibition Wolf Moon is an eloquent display of a very strange technique. She places different objects and shapes cut from transparent colored gels directly onto photographic paper and exposes them to light resulting in dramatic compositions.
It is a negative process, so that colors are reversed. It has taken many years of dedicated darkroom experimentation to layer the overlapping shapes so that a subtle color results instead of pure white. The resulting unique chromogenic prints in Wolf Moon are singed with red from leaked light in the darkroom and populated by abstract shapes reminiscent of terrestrial and extraterrestrial forms. (Source)
Nielsen’s exhibition has a focus on landscapes, celestial shapes and beautiful phenomena (like electricity and lightning). The subject matter mirrors the strange and wonderful process she uses in developing the images. See more of her unique C-prints at the exhibition – running from Jan 29 – March 8 at Denny Gallery in New York. (Via Pattern Pulp)
Mark Moore Gallery will open “Ultrasonic V: It’s Only Natural,” its fifth annual survey of emerging artists, Saturday, September 11 from 5-7. The exhibition will be on view until October 16. The exhibition assesses our fascination with self-contextualization, namely through means of archive, taxonomy and cognition.
To celebrate this collection of not-to-be missed talent, Beautiful/Decay went behind the scenes to give you a sneak peek at all of the participating artists. We’ve included a selection of works, as well as interviews surveying each artist’s aesthetic, advice for other creatives, inspiration and more.
Read on to find out about: Dave Dean’s paintings, typifying concepts of the indigenous and “otherness” in the face of societal development; Carrie Moyer’s fantastic acrylic and glitter canvases; Colin Roberts’ delicate sculptures and graphite drawings that oscillate between the sub/conscious; Dani Tull’s hilariously metaphysical wax compositions; Andrew Guenther’s installations that denote our need for “cultural repositories”; Brion Nuda Rosch’s found art collages; and David Rathman’s sparse, yet introspective watercolors.
Emerald Rose Whipple captures innocent moments and transforms them into large-scale oil paintings. The result is a modern dream-like landscape reminiscent of Monet’s Impressionism. The subjects are the artist’s friends and models she knows from her former career in fashion. The loose strokes applied to the color scheme chosen by the artist create a tie and dye effect around the portraits, creating an eerie atmosphere.
Looking like photographies, the pixel paintings combine the aesthetic of classical 19th century paintings with modern snapshots taken by an smartphone. The purpose of Emerald Rose Whipple is to stay away from any medium that’s disposable. To perceive and project the essence of each individual on a canvas is an intense process requiring the artist to meditate before a painting session. She doesn’t want to inject any negativity into her work as it would translate immediately.
She is inviting the viewer into a world of reverie and to let go of any misconception. Obsessed with the painter Balthus and especially with the painting Thérèse Dreamingrepresenting a young lady sitting in a nonchalant pose, she is fascinated by the original non sexual intention of the painter. She is suggesting that the viewers, when looking at her artwork, disconnect from their reality to dive into the reality of her paintings; reflecting from far and coming up with their own interpretation and visualizing natural beauty.