Photographer Samantha Fortenberry’s colorful images reveal the pleasure of a good soak in the tub. Her aerial photos are part of an on-going series called Suds and Smiles, and it features people alone in their bathrooms. Naked, they revel in water as the space is peppered with familiar objects, and it reflects their personality. “I have taken my models and either asked them to collect an array of items that mean something to them, or I designed them a set based on an idea of their choosing,” she writes in an email to Beautiful/Decay.
As we gaze at Fortenberry’s subjects, we act as voyeurs to their pleasant time. There’s genuine looks of joy on some of the model’s faces, and when juxtaposed with the bright colors and playful objects, we too derive some pleasure from it.
Suds and Smiles also celebrates the figure. “With this series I also wanted to display the nude human body in a natural and beautiful way,” Fortenberry writes. “I want to collect a wide variety of people in all shapes and sizes to display the various form of beauty each person has.”
Argentinian artist Lorena Guzman brings beautiful and twisted fairy tales to life on a daily basis. Using polyester resins and hobby materials she creates haunting scenarios complete with intricate details that continue to be uncovered the closer you look. She uses popular folk lore, bed time stories and myths as a base to her work. Guzman makes work about over-sized alligators who help monkeys cross rivers; genies who are spinning animals around on their fingers as a hypnotic trick; a surreal alpine landscape that is actually a coiled snake; an octopus who eats rabbits; and a crow who is building a cosy nest in the back of a skull.
Guzman chooses subjects that are curious, disturbing or grotesque in some way or another. Her Chihuahua Toy sculpture comments on the bizarre subculture of dog breeding and the type of monsters people choose to create. She asks if a two headed dog is really that much worse than Bull Terriers or Boxers that have been specifically chosen for features that, to some, are ugly.
Another piece is about a hunting mission that focused around catching the illusive albino hare in the Spanish town of Santa María de los Llanos. Pointing out our strange behaviors and traditions is what Guzman excels at. She has been prolifically creating work for over ten years. Be sure to check out her many other incredible sculptures.
Full of expressive, wild colorful brushstrokes and heavy layering and textures, Philip Hinge puts on a show of his playful sense of humor and confidence. Intentionally flirting with the line between ‘good art’ and ‘bad art’ in his exhibition Don’t Look Now, he approaches his subjects with a unique sensibility. Hinge paints anything from blow up dog balloons, to rock stars dressed in bridal gowns, to mermen sunbathing and boys greedily stuffing their faces with spaghetti. Choosing banal subjects and turning them into something special and surprising is his talent.
Contextual ambiguity abounds in Hinge’s work, allowing his paintings to express a subtle anxiety that is felt rather than seen. At the same time, by ironically appropriating sources as diverse as everyday kitsch, science fiction, and the canons of art history, Hinge lampoons widely-accepted tropes of high art. (Source)
Hinge manages to break down some of the traditional and existing boundaries within the painting (and greater art) world. And while his technique and style may seem primitive, his subject matter adds a subtle layer of complexity to his work. His past series include I Am The Black Wizards – an amusing look at the death metal community and the stereotypes that go with it. He has rockers stabbed with knives, swords and clubs, gripping their legs in pain, and tough guys wearing witches hats and capes, pinned to a wire fence. His light-hearted approach to certain social taboos is a refreshing thing to see.
Natalia Evelyn Bencicova is a Slovakian photographer who creates works of surreal beauty and supernatural unease. Characterized by dark, sterile rooms built of tile and cement, her settings are eerily reminiscent of abandoned hospitals and vacant catacombs. The models are washed-out and almost alien in their beauty, contorting as they pose nude, or draped in cloth with additional limbs that reach from underneath. They appear human, but also inhuman — and no better is this obscuration of humanity demonstrated than in the images portraying piles of nude bodies sprawling on the floors, crawling up against the walls, or aligning themselves in fleshly, geometric structures. With their faces obscured by torsos and furniture, they seem engaged (or possessed by) a strange ritual that is more about the multitude than the individual.
Part of what makes Bencicova’s work so powerful and provocative are the environments and quasi-theatrical narratives she creates. The hospital-like settings foster an atmosphere that is unsettling for the psyche; writhing and embracing on cold floors or groping at sterile furniture, the characters resemble ghosts in an abstract, emotional ballet. In some of the images, the bodies look like they have been stowed away and forgotten, and are struggling to survive. But in all of Bencicova’s works, there is a haunting magnificence, a reverence for the strength of the human body, and an “opening up” of beauty that extends into the alien and absurd.
Bencicova’s Tumblr is a stunning journey into her darkly alluring and innovative worlds. You can also see more of her work on Behance, and be sure to follow her on Facebook.
With the innocent and untainted imagination of a child, Japanese artist Misaki Kawai thrills us with her collection of blockheaded animals and misshapen figures. Her own unique point of view is currently at critical mass and Kawai has turned into a kind of poster child for slacker art. Kawai first got her start selling zines, drawings and paintings on the streets of New York City and in true Basquiat fashion eventually caught the attention of a few local galleries. After exhibiting her colorful and engaging pictures she quickly gained mainstream recognition and began showing on the international art world circuit.
Kawai’s lastest project consists of a blow up doll pool toy made in collaboration with The Grey Area. The piece debuted at Art Basel Miami Beach this past winter where she also created a teepee installation at the Mondrian Hotel. Her oeuvre encompasses all media and as her celebrity grows we see her floating down a rockstar path which also includes diy merchandise. Some of the products for sale in Kawai’s tent include a series of pink fluffy art dogs in three sizes, pin and keychain. This is a faithful replicate of the arty doll she has exhibited on a massive scale all over the world at such diverse locations as the Life is Beautiful Festival in Las Vegas , Museum of Contemporary Art Japan, Watermill Center in upstate NY, Malmo Konsthalle in Sweden, and many more.
Collage has fascinated artist Matthias Jung since he was a child when he built his first fantastical buildings in his father’s photo lab. Not much has changed since then, and he still cut aparts photos to make them into new scenes. He doesn’t want help from digital technology in his artwork, and doesn’t use Photoshop.
Jung explains why he focuses on structures, writing:
I am always amazed at how architectural details can evoke certain associations and feelings. This is how a latticed window conveys coziness; one might even say it is soulful. Framework is soothing, sometimes touching. Antennas have something sinister about them. They point to something outside the picture. Concrete is cold and foreign – but maybe interesting for just that reason.
He began with the series Houses in January 2015, and developed seven complex images within a few weeks. “All the images used have been photographed by me,” he explains. “Many were taken during trips in northeastern Germany. My last trip took me to the Ruhr region where there are abandoned steel mills and heaps of coal. I find that to be very exciting.”
Matthis says that his dreams are collages, and that for them to “function properly,” he also has to consider design rules.
Thus, the relationship between order/disorder and homogeneity/diversity must agree. A building has to first be stable and credible before I can add some “disorder,” to let it fly for example. One such disorder refers to another, only hinting at reality. I weave, so to speak, spiritual realities into everyday things.
Artist Romain Crelier has transformed the already ornate and beautiful interior of Bellelay Abbey with reflective pools of used motor oil. This unique and unlikely installation is created by pouring pools of motor oil into an extensive and organic-shaped vessel that holds the oil into its form, brilliantly complimenting the architecture. This Swiss Abbey contains intricate and ornate 12th century architecture, including Baroque style monasteries and elaborate stucco paintings. The dark, glossy oil is a stark contrast to the bright, white interior, creating a harsh but remarkable juxtaposition. The already dramatic interior is complimented by this reflective source, mirroring not only its complex architecture, but also the viewer.
Motor oil is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of an attractive, shiny material. This is definitely not your traditional installation. Normally thought of as a messy material, the deep, sleek liquid creates a deep impact on the viewer, full of mystery and awe. The church is often a place of reflection, where you can go to experience a sense of stillness or tranquility. Crelier furthers this experience by giving you a literal reflective liquid to gaze into while you roam this space. The wonder you might feel by entering such a monumental place is magnified through this installation, moving you to a place of awe. This installation has a seemingly simple concept, but results in an immeasurable effect on the viewer, creating layers of visual possibilities. Romain Crelier’s installation, titled La Mise en Abime, is just one of the incredibly colossal installations the very talented, Swiss artist has under his belt. (via MyModernMet)
Pulp Drunk is an exhibition of strange book cover art and a fascinating display of the wildly weird side of pop culture. Designed to attract new readers to read the words inside the books, the covers of post-war American literature were attention grabbing and bizarre at the best of times. But not only was it the American market who was trying out these tactics – illustrators were having a good time in Mexico as well. There, the cover art tended to be even stranger. Still aimed at selling books, but they tended to be less about in-your-face-sex, and instead included violence, crime, mystery, psychedelia and sci-fi details.
They featured characters having hallucinations and apparitions; super-strength robots throwing cars on a destructive rampage; jealous gorillas who are furious they didn’t end up with the girl; a thieving woman stealing a piglet under the cover of nighttime; and circus murder mysteries. These delightfully weird scenarios could be seen to mirror the supernatural side of Mexican culture and their attitudes toward life, death and mysticism. The press release from the exhibition explains further:
These sensationalized images from the sixties and seventies often feature surreal and lurid images of extraterrestrials, robots, dinosaurs, killers, Zorro and many other icons involving suspense, mystery, romance, and the supernatural. The central characters in the narratives tend to be ordinary people facing the common challenges of day-to-day life. They are not gallant martyrs but commoners who have found themselves confronting outlandish and startling predicaments as a result of poor decisions or risky behavior. (Source)
The Pulp Drunk exhibition may be over, but you can see more bizarre covers after the jump.