Instead of using mixed media or found objects Eckart Hahn paints them. With a painful realism he creates opposing materials to find his pictures. A gorilla’s hairy body paired with crumpled garbage bags produces a strange dynamic which is visually captivating. In another, a group under multi-colored plastic bags disguised as a nativity scene is even more unique. It’s hard to find striking subject matter to paint because nine out of ten times it’s been done before. But somehow Eckart Hahn manages to reinvent. People have called his work “new age surrealism” which is true but there are also fantasy and advertising motifs at play. Hahn’s use of fast drying acrylic paint allows him to finish pictures quickly lending a spontaneity that goes well with his oddball subject matter.
Creatures appear consistently in many of Hahn’s paintings. He repeatedly identifies with different species of bird. The winged animal can represent freedom, wisdom and renewal. In Hahn’s paintings these characteristics manifest into a biopic figure, one that seems to echo Hahn himself. All art is biographical in some way or another and provides a chance for the artist to explore unresolved or untouched emotions or feelings. The bird in Hahn’s work has alluded to death, friendship, love, humor and awkwardness. Perhaps these were the same ideas he was feeling at the time of creation. The German born artist is self-taught and has exhibited his work worldwide. (via juxtapoz)
The “illuminati” is at it again! Not really, but you may think so once you see the levitating all seeing eye created by artist Guy W. Bell. He has created a real-life, levitating “Eye of Providence,” featured on the back of the U.S. one dollar bill. Made from slate veneer and distressed brass, the pyramid Bell has created is split in two, with the top half literally levitating, thanks to innovative technology involving two magnets of the same charge. Because of these repelling magnets, the top section of the pyramid not only levitates, but can also spin, giving this “Eye of God” a 360-degree view. This panoramic line of sight can be seen through the eye in the pyramid, which contains a wireless, pinhole camera, giving the phrase “the all seeing eye” a whole new meaning. The eye itself is actually a prosthetic, larger than life eye replica created by ocularist and anaplastologist Michel D. Kackowski.
The Eye of Providence has been referred to as an illuminati or Freemason symbol, and was also commonly used in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. This symbol has become such a cult image, it is amazing to see a fairly large scale, levitating, moving sculpture that really does look back at you with its uncanny and familiar eye.
A talented painter, Bell had been interested in this idea of creating this infamous symbol, but had not yet made a sculpture of this technological magnetite. Luckily for Bell, with the help of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, he was able to make his dream a reality. This incredible sculpture can be seen at Bell’s solo exhibition Fourteen Minutes and Forty-Nine Seconds presented by the Thea Foundation in Arkansas. (via The Creators Project)
We’ve covered Kris Kuksi’s Churchtanks series in the past, which invoked religion alongside symbols of modern warfare to create a curious blend of spirituality and the profane. “Ascension of Eos” is a more recent work, taking the exploration of larger than life mythos intersecting with the mortal coil.
Eos, the goddess of dawn in Greek mythology, or perhaps a statue of Eos rises up from a sea of humans. She’s being worshipped or built — or perhaps the two are one in the same. The humans around her are in a frenzy — some are tangled together in frantic sex, others are being crushed by wheels and impaled by arrows. Her congregation’s agony can just as easily be interpreted as divine ecstasy, and painted with a dark patine, the entire tableau seems truly gothic.
“I get inspired by the industrial world, all the rigidity of machinery, the network of pipes, wires, refineries, etc.,” says Kuksi. “Then I join that with an opposite of flowing graceful, harmonious, and pleasing design of the baroque and rococo.”
Beautiful, dark, and mysterious, Kuksi’s work contains tons of detail. It’s created through mixed media assemblage, which adds texture and physicality to the piece. At more than four and a half feet tall and three and a half feet wide, it looks almost like an altar or a memorial. (h/t Dark Silence in Suburbia)
In Ryder Ripps’ latest series he creates an emoticon character out of an instagram model who has 340k followers and the last name Ho. How funny. The paintings are digitally distorted versions of pix that appeared on the model’s popular social media site. In these pieces, Ripp captures our somewhat skewed vision of what’s important in life . Ho’s number of followers attest to the fact that people just want to vege out and watch an attractive person prance around in gym clothes. (She also has a casual clothing line.) Despite the subject matter, the canvases are well done and hold your attention. They peep into Francis Bacon’s distorted popes and powerful men sentiment. And despite a grotesque appeal offers a somewhat fresh perspective on the medium of painting.
Ryder is no stranger to interesting projects. One called “Art Whore” was especially riveting. For this piece he placed a Craigslist ad looking for sex workers. For their hourly rate he asked them to spend an hour with him in a room at New York’s Ace Hotel and draw. He chose a man and woman who both had very distinct but different results from the session. The woman produced abstract pictures which resembled feelings and emotions. The man created a literal essay in words and pictures of his life as a prostitute. Both enjoyed the experience immensely and the hotel known for its own funky art projects offered to promote it. (via wefindthewildness)
Japanese artist Junko Mizuno’s candy-colored works draw us into a world full of dark and erotic food fetishes. Meant as a metaphor the female sexual appetite and power, Mizuno’s illustrations feature women enjoying eggs, bacon, noodles, and more. Her maximalist style weaves geometric shapes, naked creatures, and luscious patterns into each composition. Coupled with the strong presence of a female character, it results in artwork that’s simultaneously grotesque, cute, playful, and alluring.
Mizuno’s inspiration comes from a range of historical and cultural influences, as well as traditions found in both Eastern and Western worlds. Fairy tales and the works of Aubrey Beardsley and Eric Stanton are also visible. Narwhal Contemporary writes about her paintings, stating, “One reoccurring image is that of the iconic multi-armed goddess cloaked in symbols of life and wisdom, surrounded by fleets of devoted minions and enveloped in flames that will never consume her.” They relish in their unapologetic gluttony.
Mizuno currently has work in a solo exhibition titled Ambrosial Affair at the Narwhal Contemporary in Toronto. This is the second in a three-part exhibition series titled Junko Mizuno’s Food Obsession. It’s on view until March 15 of this year.
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)
Artist Hoang Tran creates your favorite pop-culture characters, from The Simpson’s to the Ninja Turtles, all out of wax…but not just any wax. Tran carves each character from a jumbo-sized crayon! That’s right, each intricately and meticulously detailed character is carved from your everyday Crayola crayon…the same crayons that you used to make your own “masterpiece” with at age three. Each pop-culture icon is carved from the color in which it dominantly possesses, but also has hints of other colors that make up the finishing touches of the character. To do this, Tran melts different colored waxes, or crayons, and then applies the melted pigment onto the finest details of his creations. The amazing detail speaks wonders about the talent and patience the artist must have in order to master such a painstaking craft.
What is so wonderful about this artist’s crayon creatures is that only half of the wax is carved. The other side of the crayon is left intact, Crayola wrapper and all! Tran creates all sorts of characters such as Batman, Gizmo, Spongebob and Cookie Monster. He even carves out real life people such as Conan O’Brian. This series, appropriately titled Wax Nostalgic, is chalk full of infamous characters. It is a nostalgic dream. If you are a Star Wars fan, Tran has transformed a crayon into every character from this classic film from Hans Solo to Princess Leia. This impressive little treasures can be found on Hoang Tran’s website, or his Etsy site, where you can have get crayon characters for yourself. (via Inkult Magazine)
In this stunning project titled I Am Dust, photographer Olivier Valsecchi has created powerful images that embody the essence of creation and the will to survive. Currently, the project is divided between two series: “Dust” and “Time of War.” While both series depict models frozen in dynamic poses as ashes erupt off and around their bodies, there are slight thematic differences. “Dust” explores creation using Ovid’s definition of Chaos as “a crude and indigested mass, a lifeless lump, unfashioned and unframed” (Source) — essentially, an embryonic ball of matter that explodes into being. Valsecchi likens this concept to the Big Bang theory. What fascinates him is how these preexisting, scattered elements eventually fuse together, despite having once existed elsewhere in another form. Thus, in his work, he seeks to explore the reincarnation and infinitude of matter:
“What I looked for in the ‘Dust’ series was to curve around the timeline like a circle and capture, in the same image, something and its opposite, like endings and beginnings, dead and alive, floating in water and flying in dust, so in the end the viewer can never know when it starts and when it ends.”
The models in “Dust” capture this atemporal moment of creation perfectly. Their bodies are frozen in time and space, but with their eyes closed, they become expressions of pure energy. The ashes erupting off their skin resemble particles of their physical bodies being sent back into Chaos as matter lost in the violence of creation.
Ashes, of course, often occupy our imagination as symbols of death and a return to the earth. These associations make their explosive presence doubly significant in Valsecchi’s second series, “Time of War.” Inspired by the photographer’s fascination with Time, these particular images explore how Time is a circular phenomenon, and that we, as living beings, always seem to be fighting against it. As Valsecchi writes:
“I wanted pictures that would blur the viewer’s perception of before and after, and maybe, think about [the present moment]. Thinking about now, about our impermanence and our urge to live, in regards to our environment. Wars, conflicts, power, money: it is a struggle. That’s why ‘Time of War’ […] was more about surviving, standing up to the tests, [and] going forward.”
Demonstrating survival, the models twist and turn against an unseen threat, pushing against the darkness that surrounds them, while ash signifying their own material death sheds from their skin. Valsecchi has made powerfully visible our eternal struggle against mortality.
Curious about how Valsecchi created these dynamic shots, I asked him about his creative process. Not surprisingly, his method was just as interesting as the philosophies and perspectives driving his work. Each photo session was a ritual achieved in stages of inspired motion, mimicking the slow-but-accelerating process of creation itself. He describes the method as such:
“Before anything, I would explain the intention and say: ‘The ashes symbolize Death and it wants to [cover] you but you have to get rid of it.’ Or: ‘Close your eyes, you don’t want the ashes to blind you, plus you will focus on your energy and forget you’re naked.’ […] Then the model would undress and kneel down. I would shower him or her with ashes. […] Then I would stand in front of the model and show what kind of movement I’m expecting to shoot. […] The model and I are gradually sharing a trance, because the process is three or four hours long, and in the end, due to the jumping, swirling, and the closed eyes, you kind of lose your marks and only [feel] the energy.”
At this point, the challenge would be to capture the ashes before they diffuse into the air. But it goes without saying that the results are remarkable, and each dynamic photo captures the body’s struggle amidst and against Chaos.
Valsecchi hinted that there will be a third chapter in the I Am Dust series, which he will be working on this summer. Check out his website and follow his Facebook page to keep up with his compelling and thought-provoking work.