Dan McPharlin is an illustrator who is concerned with the “future past or past future,” as he notes on his webpage. His artwork live in a realm of speculative reality, where space is the final frontier — or perhaps the first of a civilization beginning to rebuild itself.
There are dystopian touches in his illustrations: in one, an astronaut gazes on temple ruins; in another, we see the haggard remnants of a bridge that looks like it used to be golden. It’s a little reminiscent of the final scenes of Planet of the Apes, a familiar monument from a world long lost. McPharlin’s work utilizes rich colors that are once neon yet muted. His palette is one that includes the golden rod yellow of futuristic smog as well as the earth tones of somewhere decidedly not-Earth. There is certainly a quality of nostalgia to his work, though for what, we don’t necessarily know.
“These are the worlds of dreams and half-memories,” McPharlin says on his webpage. “The collision zone of past-futures and futures-past, derived from blueprints laid down decades earlier on the pages of battered sci-fi paperbacks, fantasy art books, and mid-century design quarterlies.” (via Dark Silence in Suburbia)
Brian Cattelle is an American photographer who has embarked on a nation-wide project to photograph one nude model in each of the USA’s 50 states. Driving his concept is an exploration of the contrast between natural, nude beauty, and the decay of manmade environments; explore his current collection, and you will see female figures integrated within architectural wastelands, the black and white tones highlighting the illumination of soft skin amidst shadowy, shattered rubble. Entitled BARE USA, the project emerged from Cattelle’s desire to challenge himself and his work. In a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay, he explained:
“I wanted to tackle a project that would prove I was able to work with models in often difficult and uncomfortable situation. I wanted to show I was willing to go to any lengths to get a great shot. I also wanted to show the level of organization, execution, and dedication I was capable of. It seems that my initial intention was to prove these points to others, but in the end the true reward was proving them to myself.”
Part of what makes Cattelle’s project so imaginative and emotionally evocative is his approach to abandoned places. “People often express sadness about some of these great abandoned structures,” Cattelle observed. “They don’t make me feel sad. Change is change […]. I do find myself captivated by a sense of awe and wonder when I soak in my surroundings. I think about how much effort went in to building these places, how much work took place here, and how quickly that can be lost.” By incorporating nude models, Cattelle reinvests desolate spaces with hope and optimism for the future. As he concludes, “I think my work is important because I am creating art and bringing something beautiful to this world by injecting new life into these dead and forgotten structures.”
Last summer, Cattelle completed successful shoots in 30 states, and is working on completing the final 20. If you like his concept, check out his Kickstarter project. There, you can learn more, make a pledge, and receive beautiful fine art prints in return. Visit Cattelle’s website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see more of his work and follow him on his journey.
British artist Sophie Derrick paints directly onto her skin and adds colorful layers of swirling pigment to her face and neck. Once she’s completed it, she’ll photograph the result and then paint onto that image. The result is a multi-layered, textured portrait that gives the viewer an incredible sense of depth. Derrick’s painting style is abstract – focusing on bright pinks, blues, oranges, and more – and she’ll vary how the paint is applied. It often looks like she uses a palette knife to make thick, frosting-like strokes, but she’ll also use the paint tube to draw lines on the skin.
“I have a great interest in the materiality and substance of paint, and execute this interest through photography, creating a juxtaposition of the two mediums,” Derrick writes. “My body becomes the canvas for the paint, questioning the traditional concept of painting and portraiture, and the barriers between painting and photography. The body becomes both object and subject in the work.” (Via Art Fucks Me)
Jason Borders has been collecting different animal skulls from before he started school. Always looking for more objects to add to his cabinet of curiosities, he explored his local neighborhoods picking up bits of bones and cartilage. Years later, he has turned that obsession into an art form, showcasing his talent in galleries, shops and collections around the country. He carves patterns and designs that resemble traditional Mehndi tattoos. He usually lets the shape of the skull or bone that he is working on dictate the design he carves. He then covers the work in ink or a striking color.
Borders remembers the day his hobby turned a bit more serious with amusement. After discovering the carcass of an elk while in the desert, and loading it all into his car – an action that almost got him arrested, took it back to his garage. There he cleaned the bones and noticed something that helped him take his craft to the next level.
Looking at the Dremel and looking at the bones next to each other, I picked it up and started working on it. The garage was right underneath my house, and I ended up filling the house with bone dust, and made myself really sick and made my wife really angry. Then I did it another four years, but I’m much more careful these days. (Source)
Borders also paints and carves other items, but has a particular affinity toward skulls. He treats his work as a way of overcoming his fears – particularly ones concerning mortality. He says because he is always working with the idea of death – quite literally, it helps him live his life with intent and purpose. And what a great purpose he has found. (Via Faith Is Toment)
Australian artist Elspeth McLean takes ordinary ocean rocks and turns them into colorful, geometric Mandalas. Through intense detail and repetitive patterns, the artist finds meditation in painting these found stones with endless acrylic dots. The acrylic paint used on her pocket-sized creations allows her to add an element of dimension in her already layered colors. These intense colors create a palette so crisp and brilliant, it is as if the stones are encrusted with jewels. Painting dots has become so embedded in McLean’s art process, that she even coined the term “Dotillism” to describe her unique style. Each dot that is painted to create her intricate, endless patterns takes an incredible amount of patience and focus. Although completing these Mandala patterns may seem like a difficult task, McLean describes this process as a grounding experience where she can find enjoyment and experience reflection.
The Mandala is a spiritual symbol in Eastern religions that holds meditative properties. It is no wonder McLean has chosen such a strong, healing symbol in her work, as she believes in the healing nature of color and art. She pulls influence from seasons, cosmos, mythology, and ancient art to create her hand-held Mandalas. Her interest in the cosmos can be seen in her stones that are painted not as a geometric pattern, but instead as incredible constellations, still painted in her dotted signature style. An avid traveler, the Australian artist is now living in Canada, gathering inspiration from the new landscapes she perceives throughout her journey. (via Demilked)
Using an off key palette in his latest series of paintings The Inevitable, Hong Kong based artist Simon Birch fuses gestural marks with the figure. His pictures of young subjects twist through various painted emotions trying to break free of youthful angst. In the process they achieve a rebirth witnessed through thickly impastoed swatches. All the faces in Birch’s paintings seem disguised and obscured by paint thus suggesting an inner life. He depicts his subjects as breaking loose or apart from something. The marks obscuring the faces seem to be attacking Birch’s figures and become powerful metaphors concerning age and maturity. The underlining violence in his work can be taken a number of ways. It can be viewed as the violence we bring upon ourselves due to insecurity and peer pressure. Since most of the work in his current series either focuses on the nude body or just the head, we are reminded that the brain rules the body not the other way around.
Birch is a British born artist that has lived in Hong Kong for the past twenty years. He has had a long career engaging in everything from painting, video to installation. Along with visual art he has been involved with urban dance music, organizing club nights in the UK, Australia and Hong Kong where he showcased the scene’s most prominent DJs. An interesting fact about Birch is that early on in his art career, he took a job in construction as a way to make money helping to build the Tsing Ma, the world’s ninth largest suspension bridge. (via myampgoesto11)
Daniel Aristizábal is a graphic designer and illustrator who creates incredible digital works of art that are surreal and transport the viewers to a topsy-turvy Rube Goldberg-esque world. His Huevos series is playfully inspired by Dali’s “Eggs on the Plate without the Plate,” showing colorful variations on the common egg.
In some of Aristizabal’s work, the 3D elements pop out, almost like digital sculptures. Other works, such as his “Glitched Cubism” piece, utilizes the 2D GIF format to play with the dimensions and perspective of cubism. In an interview with Instagram, he says that his work is a “retro, colorful, geometric bonanza.” His art seems to draw on a palette that is by turns neon and sherbet but always whimsical.
Aristizabal continues to say:
“My main sources of inspiration are random thoughts that pop in my mind, like memories of dreams and places that I used to imagine when I was a child. I think the term ‘pop surrealism’ works well for me. My work is full of simplicity and organic shapes. It is nostalgic in its essence.”
Nathalie Croquet is a French stylist and journalist who has cleverly recreated high fashion and beauty advertisements in an Instagram series entitled “Spoof”. Having once worked as Biba’s fashion editor and Jean Paul Gaultier’s photo director, Croquet is deeply familiar with the types of imagery that have defined such marketing campaigns, from Eric Bompard’s pink-toned whimsy to Isabel Marant’s sultry and pseudo-dishevelled aesthetic. The lighting, makeup, and styling are remarkably similar between the originals and their spoofs (the studded plaid shirt in the Eleven Paris parody appears near-identical, for example), with the critical differences lying in the models themselves: they encompass a diversity of body types and ages.
Playful and light-hearted, Croquet’s imagery reminds us of the theatricality of fashion advertising; lighting, makeup, and costumes are carefully arranged to appeal to marketed notions of high-end beauty. The “Spoof” models do a great job recreating the postures and facial expressions to reveal both the parody and the construction of the original campaign imagery. Visit Croquet’s Instagram and website to learn more. (Via AnOther)