Michael Massaia’s haunting new series Seeing The Black Dog is based on a saying truck drivers use to describe hallucinations that occur as a result of sleep deprivation during cross country runs. When they see the “black dogs” scampering across the highway they know to pull over and get some sleep. The moment they make that decision is when Michael sneeks up to their trucks while they’re in the cabs sleeping and captures the moment the dogs melt away (it’s also the moment Michael tries not to get his ass shot off). All of the images were taken between the hours of 2am and 6am along the New Jersey Turnpike.
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With a serious understanding of classic carpet-making techniques, Azerbaijani sculptor Faig Ahmed is able to stretch, distort and reinvent an iconic symbol steeped in tradition and cultural significance. “The carpet is a symbol of invincible tradition of the East, it’s a visualization of an undestroyable icon,” Ahmed states, noting that the manipulation of the woven medium gives visual form to ideas he has relating to “destroying the stereotypes of tradition to create new modern boundaries.” The rug, as a medium, works well for Ahmed, helping to deploy a deeper message about the stretching, bending and restructuring of physical and political boundaries in the Middle East. His technical mastery is evident in the movements of each thread, and his generous use of color gives the work an overall vibrancy—perhaps hinting at the artist’s sense of optimism in a time of great uncertainty and turmoil.
Robert Jackson is a contemporary still life painter. But don’t let the genre often associated with morbid colors, candles, skulls and wine bottles leave the wrong impression. This painter’s canvases are littered with bright colors, clean compositions and a healthy amount of humor. Jackson’s comical paintings feature assemblies of cakes, water balloons, candies, apple boxes, toy dinosaurs, cactus plants, and balloon dogs.
Jackson actually assembles his scenes in his studio, and is then able to accurately capture the playfulness of the mood – creating something that looks like it came from the Toy Story movies. He paints moments where we sneak a look in on the action figures setting up traps for each other, or skateboarding around the room, crashing into the other toys.
Eager to create moments full of narrative, Jackson develops a simple idea that will either pique your interest, or at the very least being a smile to your face. His balloon dogs go fishing for lobsters; the panda bear toys set up daring tight rope adventures for each other; the dinosaurs all fight over a slice of chocolate cake; and apples mischievously balance water balloons on their head, waiting for the impending disaster.
Jackson uses his whimsical, absurd and post-pop paintings as a tool for people to expand their imagination. He says by using mundane objects as stand ins for people, he can talk about deeper subjects without being too confrontational.
It’s like Star Trek addresses racism, but the audience doesn’t realize that until after the show is over. I have a couple of apples fighting and it’s not until a couple minutes after looking, that the viewer realizes that ‘Oh! This is talking about war!’ (Source)
The surrealist artist Cristina Burns creates tiny, magical worlds made of skulls, toys, and delightfully kitschy knickknacks; her series Through the Mirror appeals to the subconscious mind, inviting viewers to engage with seemingly disparate materials that together form a strangely cohesive narrative. Inspired in part by the Oniric movement, the bizarre and delightfully pink work allows viewers to make surprising associations within carefully constructed scenes; the familiar and the frightful work in tandem, frantically blurring the lines between fantasy and reality.
Burns’s images, imbued with the innocent connotations of budding flowers, baby deer figurines, and Victorian lace, introduce comically dark elements: a round eyeball, brains served on a platter with a fork. Together, the delightful and the dangerous work to create arrangements that might be viewed as manic and surreal altars to the dead. In one elegant image, a skeleton attracts the attentions of a large beetle, an insect often symbolic of decay, with the presence of budding funereal flowers and sweets.
The meticulous symmetry of Burns’s compositions heightens the idea of supernatural harmony between purity and sin, between life and death. Much of the work centers around a symbol of man and especially womankind’s fallenness: Eve or Snow White’s skull bites an apple, or a mermaid figurine peers woefully at a deteriorating skull at her feet. In this state of death and corruption, there exists too a powerful sense of play, as seen through delicate china mice, candy hearts, and Disney princess dolls. In this way, Burns’s imaginative and feminine dreamscapes capture the allure of mischief, for in our disobedience and fallenness lies a magical sort of madness and celebration.
In French photographer Fred Lebain‘s series “Spring in New York”, the artist visited various sites around New York City, photographed them, and then returned to these sites with a large-scale print of his photographs. By lining the landscape and the photo up perfectly, he creates a cheeky illusion which is often given away by a corner of the poster curling up, or the print shifting in the wind. Turning the 3-D world into a 2-D image brings light to the incredible amount of detail in each composition, and to the fact that recreating these scenes perfectly is impossible, especially in a landscape as dynamic as New York City. Lebain also reminds us that our surroundings are temporary and ever-changing, as minute details between his photographs and their surroundings indicate. By the time Lebain has printed his image, the landscape has already changed. Each moment in life is unique and will never happen exactly the same way again. His work is also reminiscent of another urban camoflague master – Liu Bolin, a Bejing artist who paints himself into his surroundings, rendering his body almost completely invisible.
For many people, eating gluten-free is a way of life. But, what happens when you not only remove wheat products from your diet, but from art history, too? The amusing Tumblr called Gluten Free Museum shows us just what that’d look like. It strips the offending protein from paintings, advertisements, and Chief Wiggum’s hands.
There’s a “before” and “after” element to each Gluten Free Museum post. The before, of course, is the original artwork, and the after is it sans grain. You don’t necessarily realize how integral gluten is in artistic compositions throughout history. Suddenly, though, things look bare. There’s no bread on the table, and the peasants are just picking at the ground without purpose. It demonstrates just how large of a role gluten plays in the art world, and sometimes, it’s at the center of it.
Brooklyn based artist Russel Cameron creates lifelike sculptures of amputated human body parts. Displayed almost like trophies, Cameron’s on gong series, Flesh and Bone, acts like a collection of the living bizarre. Using classic materials such as clay, paint, wood, and metal, Cameron, a self taught artist, is able to perfectly achieve the goal of many artists: he attains the ability to accurately mimic human flesh. This handiwork allows his work to truly provoke, probe and disturb; each piece acts as a slight ode to the abnormal, forcing the viewer to imagine the the entire creature attached to the individualized parts. The details are what allow the work to feel so real — his minor hints of flesh tonality and careful placement of wrinkles and creases give enough information to perhaps create a full narrative for every piece. His work is influenced by artists specializing in dark and fantastical subject matter such as Zdzislaw Beksinski, the Polish dystopian surrealist painter, Hieronymus Bosch, the Dutch painter known for his detailed absurd landscapes, and H.R. Giger, the Swiss “biomechanical” surrealist painter and special effects artist known for Alien. He also takes inspiration from classicists such as the infamous Spanish romanic painter Francisco Goya. Through his work, Russel Cameron aims to glorify the beauty in what can be often found as grotesque.