Beautiful/Decay has partnered with premiere website building platform Made With Color to bring you some of the most exciting contemporary artists working today. Made With Color allows you to create a website that is professional and easy to use with just a few clicks and no coding. This week we bring you the beautifully grotesque paintings of Christian Rex van Minnen whose clean and sleek website was built using the Madewithcolor.com platform. See Minnen’s solo show entitled “Welsh Rats” at Robischon Gallery in Denver Colorado running through May 4th 2013.
“Welsh Rats” is a complexly layered presentation of new and recent paintings by emerging, New York-based artist Christian Rex van Minnen.Extolling his lavishly ornamented personal vocabulary of subtle and outrageous grotesqueries, van Minnen’s unsettling and disfigured, yet comical portraits hang alongside still life paintings of twisted tulips and hyper-real glistening entrails. Equally tangential, the exhibition title of “Welsh Rats,” is the Anglicization of the German word ‘Weltschmerz’ a reference by John Steinbeck in “East of Eden” meaning “world pain.” This sincere yet somewhat naive American (mis)interpretation of weighty European concepts of the past, reflects the confusion of language and history which is crucial to van Minnen’s artistic stance. This extends not just to the artist’s perception of European culture and painting but, also to how Native American and other ancient histories are also assimilated through art. Likened to a modern Archimboldo, van Minnen states, “I find myself either suppressing or indulging of my own desire to associate personal narrative to the raw visual information inherent in the material and process. Construction, destruction and reconstruction are symbiotic elements in the creative process allowing the image to fluctuate between abstraction and representation, truth and illusion, personal and archetypal.”
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.
CF, offspring of Fort Thunder, and Providence-based artist/musician has consistently created some of the best comics in the underground genre. His work in undeniably his own, and although it is often duplicated, his work remains distinguished from the rest. The delicacy and humor of his masterwork, POWR MASTRS (1,2,3), puts him easily in my top 10 for contemporary comic artists. He blogs and twits, he is a Picturebox regular, and he performs under the moniker Kites while he blasts out sonic booms. He is a gem.
Artistic duo Fantich & Young, featured previously for their “power suit” made of human hair, are at it again with a new pair of shoes for little girls: an adorable pair of Mary Janes with a sole of human teeth. Upon first inspection, the tiny shoes are certainly the height of innocence, with their shiny surface and chunky red strap. With the addition of the teeth, top and bottom rows muddled together monstrously, this beacon of cuteness becomes dark and deadly. The festive footwear, which we might easily imagine paired with white ruffled ankle socks, are embellished with actual dentures, signifying old age and decay. The yellowed incisors, crushed brutally underfoot, provide quite an arresting contrast to the quaint little shoes.
In another recent addition to their ongoing project Apex Predator, Dominic Young and Mariana Fantich construct an egg from human dentures. Here, the themes of birth and death, innocence and corruption, emerge more readily. The egg, art historically a symbol of both the fragility and comfort of the the womb, abandons its delicate shell for hard, armored enamel. Arranged in careful rows, the teeth threaten predators who seek to steel the egg from the safety of its nest. This symbol of youth and birth adopts new meaning when made from teeth designed for the old. When hatched, the baby bird is fed his food pre-chewed, regurgitated into his mouth by his mother; this egg comes fully equipped with gnawing teeth. What type of creature might emerge from this monstrous orb? Take a look. (via Design Boom)
Japanese photographer Daikichi Amano creates strangely sexual tableux that bring to life the ancient woodblock tradition of “Shunga” erotica. Vaulting bizarre fetishes to the next level, animals twist into obscure props in some kind of alternate world vision, in which powerful sirens are enveloped by sea creatures and warriors posture. Amano’s White Witch parallel universe is as enchanting as it is macabre. The figures all have a certain allure and potency radiating from them that I can’t explain…. I read somewhere that Amano eats all the animals after the shoots so as to not waste them in a weird, extended, Tantric-magician performative move, perhaps….
Thinklab’s video “Caskets” for musician Damien Jurado is hauntingly beautiful and embodies all that is possible with the joining of hi-def technology and a great sense for poetics and nostalgia. Great work.
Kristen Liu-Wong is a Los-Angeles artist who paints darkly humorous and bizarre scenarios—ones that often involve violence and/or human depravity. The bright colors and cartoonish figures are initially misleading; look closer into her grotesque doll house of images and you’ll see people decapitated, vomiting, and performing sexual acts. It’s a bit like the Sims on bad acid; people stand around in ordinary-looking rooms while engaging in absurd (and placidly horrific) situations. It’s all in good humor, however; Liu-Wong’s characters smile diabolically and carry on, no matter what mayhem is occurring around them. She also paints still-life-like images with the same surreal edge.
Liu-Wong draws her inspiration from a variety of styles, ranging from American folk art to Japanese paintings to 90s “lowbrow” artists. She cites Clare Rojas as a main source of inspiration (Source). Her subject matter—a figurative representation of the world and human behavior—is a product of her vivid imagination. Visit her website, Tumblr, and Instagram for more high-energy and detailed scenarios that will leave you amused and guessing. There is an interview with the artist available on Pacific Dissent. (Via Art Fucks Me)
Artist/designer Mr. Kiji has already had a prolific career for someone so young, but his work across mediums and markets (ranging from paint to pixels) is all part of a much bigger vision he has for living a wholly creative life. In this video, he gives some sage advice to young upstarts, and discusses how he pulls inspiration and enthusiasm into every single project—whether it’s art or advertising creative for giants like Google and Converse.