Zhe Chen‘s confessional photographic series “The Bearable” has spanned a few years (2007 – 2010) and is a deeply personal journey of her own experiences with self harm. Her frank photos are very confrontational as she forces us to examine our own comfortability with such a terse subject. The close ups of bruised and battered skin, weeping nipples, bloodied and soiled sheets are not easily digestible images. In fact they are so hard to ignore, and are so powerful, that they immediately break down the taboos of any open discussion surrounding this subject. She says this about her work:
‘I hope my photographs inquire upon society’s prejudice and preconception towards this community, and not become illustrations or pictorial evidence for the topic at hand: every subject is an individual, not just ‘one of them’ – his or her life cannot be predicted or dictated by any constructed social code or notion. Depression plants the seed of introspection. I hope a first glance of my work conveys the idea of secrecy and sentiments, under which lies information awaiting exposure and recognition: like an index page pointing towards all the unanswered questions.’ (Source)
The L.A. based, Chinese artist teamed “The Bearable” series of her own self-mutilation with another, titled “The Bees“. Approaching the same subject from a different angle, she features a marginalized group of people in China who are so downtrodden and alienated that they feel the need to express their emotional oppression outwardly on their own bodies. Understanding the need for self-harm is such a complex story that most people tiptoe around, Chen wants to put it directly in front of us and see how we react.(Via Feature Shoot)
James Viscardi’s current painting series at The Sunday Painter gallery has art engage with fashion in a way rarely seen. Art and fashion overlap on so many levels, whether it is a designer creating preliminary drawings for a dress or an artist incorporating the style of an era into their portraiture to record that point in time. Fashion is a form of visual expression as painting, drawing, sculpture, etc. Even the commodification of fashion can barely differentiate it from art, as portions of the art community become increasingly concerned with haute brand name artists like Jeff Koons or Damien Hirst that can easily be compared as the Karl Lagerfelds and Marc Jacobs’ of the art world.
It can’t be denied that art and fashion go hand in hand, though often it is fashion photography that will take on themes relating to art rather than artists referencing fashion. Viscardi’s artwork recognizes the expressive potential of a piece of clothing, as well as its affinities with painting materials. After all, canvas is cotton, as is your shirt. In an interesting reversal, Viscardi literally stretches the fashion element over an art structure, to repurpose fashion for art. Fashion is much more present in the general public consciousness than art is. Every person has some opinion on fashion, not every person has engaged with art. Viscardi uses both art and fashion elements to inform each other, and the result is a seamless union (pardon the pun). (Via i-D)
During a recent trip to Istanbul, Spanish artist Pejac completed a series of three murals in Üsküdar. Titled “Lock, Poster and Shutters,” each piece has been meticulously painted and employs a trompe-l’oeil technique to suggest three-dimensionality. Through painted-on shadows and methods of forced perspective, Pejac renders realistic architectural elements, including a keyhole receding into a stone wall, a ‘poster’ of a lancet window, and unlatched shutters framing a small, intricately patterned screen.
In order to impeccably blend each piece onto its architectonic canvas, Pejac utilizes lifelike, subdued hues—namely black, white, grey, and gold. To further evoke realism, the artist paints each object true to size, and even creates illusions of elemental exposure through synthetic discoloration and signs of tarnish. Echoing the existing imperfections apparent on each façade—including chipped paint, subtle cracks, and accumulated dirt—Pejac’s murals simultaneously trick the eye and call attention to the innate potential that surrounds us on a daily basis.
In an interview with Société Perrier, Pejac notes his recurring “intention to not only play with the concept but with the very perception of reality.” And, if “Lock, Poster and Shutters” is any indication, his playing proves successful.
Maria Rubinke‘s porcelain sculptures are part Precious Moments, part Chucky — these are not your grandmother’s figurines. They instead embody all the terrors of the dark forest at night, the kind that Hansel and Gretel might have walked. Like fairy tales of yore, mishap after mishap seem to happen to these children. They wander the woods and lose an eye, or they sit in a bloody bathtub with a shark for a playmate. The calamities that befall Rubinke’s chubby cheeked cherubs seem endless.
One piece, “In between, with a fading dream,” depicts a young girl in a grove of inky black poisonous mushrooms, a frog — perhaps also poisonous — perched on her head. Though described as a dream, the scene is nothing short of nightmarish.
In the days leading up to Halloween, leave a little room in your nightmares for Rubinke’s vacant-eyed children. (via Cross Connect Magazine)
Elle Hanley, a fine art photographer based in Seattle, creates captivating characters and dreamy narratives through her portraits. Initially attracted to self-portraiture four years ago, Hanley has since amassed a career in conceptual portraits, surreal photography, and fashion editorials.
Aesthetically, Hanley emphasizes color and plays with texture in her work. Drawing inspiration from nature, her pieces are often shot in outdoor settings and feature humans interacting with their immediate environments. Due to this fascination with the “natural tension that exists between the human form and the space,” most of her work explores the relationship between her models—one of which being herself—and their surroundings. Always seeking to conjure an emotional reaction from the viewer, she strives to create narratives and seeks to capture moments in time. Evoking a sense of fantasy and avoiding indications of specific place or time, her portraits suggest “something vintage and timeless from a thoroughly modern process.”
Hanley’s recent body of work ranges from seemingly traditional, straightforward portraits to surreal depictions of women in dreamlike settings. Beautifully shot and conceptually fascinating, each piece portrays her devotion to maintain both variety and creativity in her practice, and perfectly captures her distinctive style and alluring aesthetic.
Check out Elle Hanley’s work at Axis Gallery in Seattle, Washington through the month of October!
Victoria Wagner is an artist who is fascinated by unlikely pairings. Her set of gem-like sculptures called Woodrocks are comprised of wood and decorated with color, as she explains, “My eye generally and naturally tends toward tessellation and pattern, seeking a rhythm that mimics regular pulse. On the one hand, visual order provides a place for the senses to rest, while color relationships create problems for the brain to solve. I like this simultaneity.” The natural material and the unnatural oil pigments combine to create a precious object that’s small enough to be held comfortably.
Woodrocks serve as an iconic reference to the downed tree. They’re salvaged from local materials and painted to follow organic growth patterns and feature gradient spectrums.These sculptures were influenced by two books that Wagner read: The Golden Bough by Sir James Frazer and The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. “Both pseudoscientific works that examine sentience among carbon-based life forms and human revelation, practical and metaphysical,” she explains. “Both books forced a recognition in my life-of my own personal reverence for the trees being downed in the forest surrounding my studio.” The result? Woodrocks.
For years Mark Dean Veca has been painstakingly painting ornate and intricate patterns on canvases as well as walls across the US. Using a mix of references that run the gamut from 60′s psychedelic art to 90′s graffiti, Veca has managed to create an alternate world where his signature technique takes 2-D graphics and breathes new life into them.
Primarily known as a painter, Veca doesn’t hold himself to only paint and brush. For over a decade he has collaborated with some of the best brands in the world creating iconic apparel and product illustrations for the likes of Nike, Lucasfilms and Burton; so it should come as no surprise that he recently teamed up with curated online marketplace RARE to create a new signature line of apparel featuring the imagery that he has become known for.
Veca’s first collection of apparel with RARE includes bold color ways and patterns covering every square inch of the garments. You can get patriotic with the Godsmith , Flag II, and Merica II tees. If bending your mind is your thing you can toss on Veca’s The Duke shirt which takes inspiration from Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. Last but not least lets not forget everyones favorite theme, Money! Ladies can look fresh in the Red Leg$ leggings while the guys can spread the wealth with the Monopoly inspired Penny Bag backpack that has room for all your cash as well as your laptop!
Check out the complete collection on Mark’s RARE shop and learn more about Mark Dean Veca’s artwork and clothing by watching the above video.
Although the clothing and other aesthetic aspects can easily reveal the era the photos were taken, the scenes of Sage Sohier’s series “At Home With Themselves: Same-Sex Couples in 1980’s America” are strikingly honest and ever relevant. Sohier photographed female and male gay couples, sometimes with their family members and sometimes alone, in their homes. It is important to remember the context of these photographs, because of the time they were taken. As Sohier stated in an interview for Slate:
“My ambition was to make pictures that challenged and moved people and that were interesting both visually and psychologically…In the 1980s, many same-sex relationships were still discreet, or a bit hidden. It was a time when many gay men were dying of AIDS, which made a particularly poignant backdrop for the project.”
The general public very harshly rejected the gay community in America. There was a deep stigma attached to the community because of the rampant spread of aids. Sohier’s photographs provide portraits that demonstrate the humanity of the men and women who often felt ostracized or persecuted because of their sexual orientation. In media even today, there is limited representation of gay people. A list of stereotypes might include the overly flamboyant gay man, or the bull dyke. Sohier’s photographs are relevant today because they help to counteract an outsiders limited understanding of the dynamics of a gay household.