Marcelo Monreal is a Brazilian collage artist who cracks skulls in the most beautiful way possible. Digitally splitting parts of models and celebrities faces (Christopher Walken and Kate Moss are among them), he fuses beautiful blooms with the broken shapes. Small, colorful flowers grow from behind eye sockets, in the place of noses, and out of mouths. This surreal series is called Faces [UN]bonded.
In Monreal’s opinon, people don’t often tell us who they really are. Instead, they keep parts of their real selves hidden. He opens them up with his collages and reveals the rare moments in which we see the beauty that’s behind their appearance. (Via Art Fucks Me)
South Korean artist Jihyun Park creates incredibly complex images by burning minute holes in rice paper with incense sticks. He then mounts the finished ‘drawings’ onto varnished canvases. The final results are beautifully serene images of trees, mountains, clouds, forests and branches. As a kind of reverse pointillism, Park is interested in the contrasts between empty space and positive space, or by taking something away (parts of the paper, and the incense stick) to create something new (the image).
Inspired by the books Gulliver’s Travels, Utopia, and Erewhon and after seeing the Japanese animated movie Castle in the Sky, Park became interested in the ideas of utopia and harmony. He expands these connections in his work further:
My recent work, Incense Series, focuses on this relationship while searching for the promised harmonic balance that utopia brings. Ironically, the word “utopia” in Korean is “Yi Sang Hwang” and “Hwang” means “incense”. (Source)
Park also talks about the ideas of positive and negative further. He says the shadows created by the holes in the paper are playing off of the light reflected from behind them. To him this is a fine example of Yin and Yang and two opposites who complicate and strengthen each other. He also chooses to outline his subjects or to fill them in – working with reverses in an aesthetic sense as well.
The subjects addressed in my work range from the natural world to memories of the past, reflecting the constant physical and emotional changes in our environment. It is my hope that the “moments” I captures of my subjects are ones when they are at their most ideal– true utopias. While drawing them with the incense, I am “holding” a split moment of harmony in my hands. (Source)
Sipho Mabona reinvents traditional origami practices. In a series called vectorgraphics he creates forms where the paper is kept flat. Both aesthetically and spiritually it recalls stained glass windows and resembles colorful panes you might see in a new age cathedral. He furthers the conversation by mixing the pigment with sugar water and achieves a result that improves upon the medium transforming it into something else. There’s hesitation to say ‘new age’ but it does embrace qualities beyond this world.
Mabona started working with paper at a young age making traditional airplane designs. When he was a teenager he turned to origami and has since engaged in many different projects using the material. Besides graphically inspired work and traditional origami figures he has made a life size elephant. All white and made out of folded paper it is a feast for the eyes. His origami has been used to tell the Asics sneaker story. In a short entitled “Origami: in the Pursuit of Perfecton” it traces the company’s history through Mabona’s models.
Origami is the traditional art of making sculptures out of paper without glue, tape or staples. It has three distinct origins dating back to the 16th century. In China, folded paper was burned during funerals as currency for the deceased into the next world. In Japan, the first reference appeared in a short poem where a paper butterfly design was mentioned at a Shinto wedding and in Europe napkin folding became popular with 17th century nobility eventually replacing it with porcelain. (via designboom)
Alana Dee Haynes is a Brooklyn-based artist who turns the bodies of her photographed subjects into illustrated surfaces, transforming blank skin and clothing into undulating patterns and shapes. We featured some of her works a couple years ago, but since then, Haynes has been continuing to create intricate and whimsical pieces. Peruse the flowing imagery and you will see kneecaps split open into eyes, collarbones overlain with lips, and torsos swarmed with circular, overlapping patterns that transform models into scaled, serpentine creatures. In a fascinating interview with Juxtapoz, Haynes explains how she uses individual physical characteristics to inspire her illustrations, thereby exploring alternative forms of bodily representation:
“Everyone has a certain way they see the world. Some things jump out at people, while others pass them by. I see faces and patterns everywhere. When I look at people, I connect their beauty marks, and find faces in their knuckle lines. It’s just the way I live. So, naturally, I see these things in photographs too. It is not synesthesia, but it is a similar way of viewing multiple layers in things.” (Source)
Fashion also plays a significant role in Haynes’ work. Just as clothes can be creatively worn to signify individuality, her illustrations transform the models’ entire bodies into expressive surfaces. “When it comes down to it, I believe fashion should bring out emotions and be relatable, as if wearing your own skin and mind,” Haynes explained to Juxtapoz. “And my skin is definitely full of faces and patterns” (Source). Whereas the face is so often read as the sole locus of emotional and cognitive display, Haynes’ brilliant line work illuminates the dynamism and individuality that exists everywhere: in our arms, legs, hands, clothing, and more.
At first glance, the artwork of Alexandra Bastien appears to be photographs of a nude woman with a variety of skulls. However, the artist unbelievably renders her hyper-realistic drawings from layer upon layers of color pencil. Bastien’s astonishing ability to create such incredibly detailed drawings allows her to beautifully show the human body in a state of transition. The heavy symbolism that has long been attached to the skull in art history represents death. Bastien illustrates this concept in contrast to the soft, warm body of the nude woman. The women in her work are holding the skulls, embracing whatever darkness they may bring. In one drawing, both skull and human have even merged together in perfect balance. This balance of life and death is shown in a state of transition and transformation, exploring themes of rebirth and the afterlife. Seeing the many different skulls amongst a human in its natural state may be reminiscent to human origins and ancestry.
Bastien’s incredible, artistic skill and talent can be seen in this photorealistic series titled Taming the Beast. She finds inspiration in her natural fascination with the human body and form. The accomplishments of this Canadian artist are just as impressive as her skill. Her work has been included in several publications and magazines as well as been exhibited all over the world.
The installations of artist Travis Rice crush you with their intense, waves of color. Made from thousands of pieces of shredded paper, his installations resemble cascading rainbows as they explode from the ceiling and swallow up their surroundings. Each installation of his is a 3-dimensional painting, using colored paper as paint. Rice uses these tiny paper strips and applies them like paint suspended in the air, adding an element of motion to his work. Being interested in mark-making, this artist uses a balance of order and chaos to form such complex installations. The color-strips are grouped together in his work to create a larger body of color, using the chaotic and unpredictable part to construct the larger whole.
Rice’s installations roll like waves of water from the ceiling to the floor in beams of color. It is as if they possess a life of their own, becoming living organisms that seem to expand and consume everything in their path. Many of his pieces form hills and ripples, resembling landscapes and bodies of water. The thousands of pieces of paper imply a constant motion, even though the installation itself is static. Travis Rice further explains his artistic process and what inspires him to use such a tedious, yet dynamic method in his work.
I am interested in the most fundamental element of the graphic arts, the mark. I am currently exploring the idea of marks as objects and modules that repeat and evolve into larger forms. My installations explore marks as modules that accumulate to create ordered masses. The approach is similar to that of the impressionist painter but the brush stroke has been replaced by individual thin strips of paper that are the resultant product of a mechanical shredder.
Photographer Mark Holthusen shows an unexpected side to cockfighting in his aptly-titled series Pelea De Gallos (Cockfight).Instead of capturing the brutal matches, he went a more tame route. Holthusen rented a photo studio called Hollywood Fotos and invited the Partido Tres Hermanos cockfighting team in Zaragosa, Mexico to have their portraits taken.
Holthusen’s pictures focus on seven different team members that pose with their beloved rooster. Some cradle the bird in their arms with others grip it with both hands. Either way, the majestic-looking creature sits as calmly as the men do.
In a blog post about Pelea De Gallos, Holthusen shares his experience. The team is made up of people who are a dentist, teacher, businessman, and student. “In the end they were nothing but smiles, excited to have their pictures taken.”
However docile these images appear, they are tainted with the knowledge that these birds are forced into a cruel blood sport where death is an outcome. Roosters are specifically bred, fed, trained, and given steroids to make them into killing machines for our entertainment. It’s illegal in the United States but still popular and prevalent in many other countries.
If you enjoy Holthusen’s photos, check out his Second in Show series that we recently featured. It highlights the eerie similarities between show dogs and their owners.
Amy Congdon is a designer and researcher whose speculative “Biological Atelier” project brings fashion into the laboratory. The question driving her work is as follows: “What role will textile design play in the creation of biological products of the future?” (Source) Can we use tissue engineering to literally (and sustainably) grow fashion products, without creating waste, and without killing animals for their parts? As Congdon describes in the above video interview with Dezeen, her prospective collection would include a broach grafted onto the skin, and a collar attachment grown from an “an exotic mix of scales and leather.”
By combining textile design with tissue engineering, the possibilities for fashion products are virtually endless. “You could engineer specific properties into them,” Congdon explains. “They could be water repellent, or you could engineer the colour into them so you’re not having to dye them.” Furthermore — and here we enter the realm of a maybe-not-so-distant sci-fi future — Congdon hypothesizes that we could create hybrid materials, textiles deriving from combinations of organic tissues that have never occurred in nature.
While the conceptual pieces are beautiful, they may produce a sense of unease for some. Fashion, after all, usually involves commodities we put on and over our bodies, not ones that we graft on, and certainly not those made of materials birthed in a laboratory. This creates fascinating questions for the future of our bodies (and our consumer habits) — we could conceivably become hybridized by our fashion. As Congdon writes compellingly on her website:
“With one of the most controversial sets of materials becoming available for manipulation, i.e. our body, and those of other species, it could be argued that future fashion is grown from the ultimate commodity.” (Source)
Whether the concepts behind the “Biological Atelier” project fascinate or unnerve us (or both), Congdon points out the necessity for such speculative work. “We really need to acknowledge that we are living on just one planet, so we have finite resources,” she explains in the video. “So we really need to think about new ways that we might produce materials and products.” Such research, after all, may one day mean less suffering for the people, animals, and environments harmed by commodity production.