For Brazilian artist Fábio Magalhães’ hyperrealist oil paintings, the more grotesque the better. Using gruesome body horror imagery such as hacked up, barely identifiable body parts and suffocated faces in plastic bags, Magalhães’ work is as incisive as it is skillfully rendered. The breaking down of recognizably human appendages and entrails into chopped up, stomach churning chunks is purposefully reminiscent of a real-life counterpart: that of animal cruelty. Although we’re accustomed to seeing animals deconstructed into bright, vacuum-sealed packages of meat every time we go to a supermarket, it’s only when faced with the sickening sight of what our own bodies would look like if sold in similar plastic bags that truth of the cruelty behind the meat industry becomes stunningly clear. Magalhães’ paintings are nightmarish in portrayal, and certainly something you’d never want to see in real life, but when put to canvas are strong, provocative, and memorable works. Magalhães studied at the Federal University of Bahia in the city of Salvador, where he is currently based. (via Illusion)
Petra Collins takes photos of her friends in cut-offs and puts neon Rihanna lyrics on gallery walls. It’s up for interpretation whether you see that as a form of feminism. She is a self-described feminist and walks the line somewhere between fashion and art culture. Not an uncommon thing to do, but certainly a path less easily tread by women artists addressing subjects that the fashion industry influences heavily and arguably negatively (…expectations of femininity and the female figure).
Petra’s practice sets out to embrace her own vision of what is beautiful, young and female. Conveniently, she is thin and (un)conventionally beautiful, but she has a point. There’s a definite irony in one woman telling another that what she does is somehow shameful or misrepresents the female gender. It’s slippery territory because one might wonder why Petra feels such affinity with this aesthetic. Is it because she was brought up on it, and what are the implications of that?
In 2013, Instagram deleted her profile for this picture after which she wrote an essay posted by Oyster Mag and the Huffington Post that you can read here on her website. Basically, She doesn’t want you to tell her what she can do with her body, whether you see it as feminist or not. Petra’s work is powerful, and yes, it makes young women and girls look sexy. The Teenage Gaze is a photo series from 2013 mostly of girls in highschool, bathrooms, with water, or applying makeup. It’s erotic and beautiful, delicate and girly in the most stereotypical sense. It defends the right to be as you wish as a woman, whether you fit neatly within or totally outside the box of preconceptions. See Petra’s most recent work on her Instagram feed (looks like she’s been too busy making art to update her website).
When you think of fine art, one of the last places you’d probably consider finding it is in the laundromat. Photographer Yvette Meltzer, long fascinated with the transformation of soiled to clean clothes, first sought to explore her fascination by visiting many different laundromats in Chicago. During these visits, she documented various aspects of the laundromat experience, but it wasn’t until she saw the images of dryers tumbling clothes on her computer that she knew she had captured something beautiful – animal and human forms were revealed to her through the compositions of color and texture being tossed around in the machines. Thus, Meltzer’s “Revolution” series was born, a series that transforms an everyday, mundane image into an experience of abstract mystery. Meltzer says, “What I see is not what someone else does. But people do seem mesmerized by the images and attempt to discern what it is they are looking for. People seem to have such a need for definition and tend to be uncomfortable with the ambiguous.” (via slate)
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Andi Schreiber refuses to disappear. In her ongoing series, “Pretty Please”, she documents life as an aging suburban mom in a youth-obsessed culture. “Middle-aged mom” must be one of the least sexy descriptors around, redolent of yoga pants and stretch marks and sun-damaged skin. Yet as the years have passed, Schreiber has continued to feel young and sexual, even as she’s felt that society has closed those roles to her. She says:
“When I was in my thirties I heard the expression “Invisible Forties.” I couldn’t imagine how sexually inconsequential I’d feel throughout this decade.”
The powerful documentary style photos in “Pretty, Please” beg you to look. Honest and vibrant, they are not always comfortable. Victoria’s Secret has trained us to expect sexy lingerie on a young, taut body, not on folded and stretched skin. And yet, why isn’t this just as beautiful? Grow old or die, those are the only options. Why can’t we appreciate the child-scarred body of a woman who wants to be seen?
Self-portraits are interspersed with images from Schreiber’s life. A drop of blood on the toilet seat symbolizes her ebbing fertility; the lit interior of her closet holds neatly hung clothes and shelves of shoes, but also, stashed up and away, naked kewpie dolls, whimsical and eerie.
“You get into your 40s and things are very different, your perspective changes, and the way the world looks at you changes as well.”
In “Pretty, Please” we’re looking at Andi Schreiber and she’s looking back. This is definitively her — her life, her body, her blood — and yet this desire to be seen, to be valued on her own terms, could also represent the scores of middle-aged women who chose family and stability and have had their sense of self sacrificed to their suburban houses, and diapers, and carpools.
The story of photographer Rebecca Litchfield’s traveling to the ruins of the old Soviet Union reads like an adventure tale. As she and her guides were in the midst of exploring abandoned buildings and monuments, they were discovered by authorities. She explains:
Not many explorers travel to Russia where the rules are very different, locations are heavily guarded and a strong military presence exists everywhere. There are serious consequences for getting caught. We managed to stay hidden for all of the trip, we maximised our stealthiness, ducking and diving into bushes and sneaking past sleeping security. But on day three our good fortune ran out as we visited a top secret radar installation. After walking through the forest, mosquitoes attacking us from all directions, we saw the radar and made our way towards it, but just metres away suddenly we were joined by military and they weren’t happy…
Litchfield risked radiation exposure, experienced arrest and interrogation, and was accused of espionage as she shot this series of stunning photographs. They depict areas of abandonment – forgotten monuments, peeling paint, a places where nature has taken over. The photographer offers many haunting sights never seen before by western eyes.
These images were comprised into a book entitled Soviet Ghosts. They were all taken by Litchfield, while essays and articles by Professor Owen Evans and Neil Cockwill from Edge Hill University and Tristi Brownett.
Remi Rough has been incredibly active in the past few years marking the globe repeatedly with his juicy geometric art on huge urban buildings, other unlikely structures and in numerous galleries and museums. The prolific international artist returns to SOZE Gallery in Los Angeles July 19th to open his latest installment of work in his solo exhibit “Remi Rough: Further Adventures in Abstraction.” This exhibit, featuring a mother-load of over fifty new works on canvas, wood and paper, continue the evolution of Rough’s aesthetic, adapted from the mammoth swallowing scale on the streets to intimate smaller works in juicy vibrant palettes. The crisp clean lines and darting yet fluid sense of movement in these works create a tension in their depth, while maintaining a minimal pristine quality in their draftsmanship.
French artist Didier Massard creates eye-deceiving miniature dioramas depicting surreal, mystical landscapes. From a first glance, these sets remind of extremely detailed, hyper-realistic paintings or digitally rendered images. The striking effect unfolds after closer examination, when the viewer is exposed to careful layering and thoughtful light arrangements.
Massard explains his inspiration comes from real and imagined places. The limits of real life infuses his imagination to create mythological and romantic scenarios, which he then calls “the completion of an inner imaginary journey”. China, India, the cliffs of Normandy and many other locations have been depicted in Didier’s works.
“There were many places in the world where I’d never gone that I wished to photograph. I realized that they would not at all look like the images I had of them. Reality was different from my imagination. So I started building and photographing in a studio what I had in mind.”
Artist spends months constructing his miniature worlds, thus the collection is only slowly growing in size. Massard started his career as a commercial photographer for fashion and cosmetic companies like Chanel, Hermes and others. After his first series of dioramas, titled “Imaginary Journeys”, his work was acknowledged and now Didier works exclusively on his personal projects. His work is currently on display at Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles until August 23.