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Georgia Theologou (or Georgia Th as she is also known) is a self-taught Greek artist who paints hauntingly beautiful portraiture. Created by combining traditional and digital media, Theologou’s intentionally limited palate and trademark visual rendering gives both a soft lushness and a harsh reality to her subjects, like mascara tear trails being transformed into softly dabbed paint glitter. In a conversation with Beautiful/Decay (and with the help of Google Translate), Theologou explains what inspires her symbolic subjects,
“Creating something is a way to express the feelings that are inside me that I maybe didn’t even know about before. It’s a way to explore myself and what I have on my mind, so when I am making my work I feel like I find something new about me and about how I see things that I did not even realize was present.”
Theologou’s internalized subjects are taken from many sources of art research and random bits of internet ephemera, and blended with other imagery that gives each portrait an allegorical depth and visual tension. Noting themes of nature ranging from human and animal, the stars and the cosmos in many of her colorful works, Georgia explains these combinations, saying
“I don’t paint people but the existence of a person. The subject of my paintings is the feelings of this existence or the situation they experience that moment. All of the objects I use in my paintings are random, but this helps me to create the right place and mood, so I choose objects that are common on fairy-tales and dreams. Nature and space are also places with the same strong sense of vitality, so the person can feel closer to his/her inner world. My paintings are not about a story or a specific idea or symbol, I think about painting “that” moment.”
French street artist and photographer Etienne Lavie‘s photography series, “OMG, Who Stole My Ads?” envisions the city of Paris without advertisements, replaced by stunning classical works. Lavie photographs the street scenes and paintings separately, and combines them later with digital editing. The result is a beautifully effective and realistic utopian city where people aren’t surrounded by images that encourage conspicuous consumption, but are instead living among masterpieces that decorate their chaotic urban world. (via huffington post)
Illustrator and film lover Andrew DeGraff crafted a series of maps to help us navigate some of our favorite films. In long, epic journeys like Star Wars, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and even goofy comedies Wet Hot American Summer, it’s easy to forget where we’ve travelled over the course of the story. DeGraff highlights some key events, like Luke Skywalker’s trek in The Empire Strikes Back. If you are big fan of any of the movies that he’s illustrated, then the painstaking details will delight you.
Using gouache, the illustrator carefully draws spaceships, architecture, and foreign lands. While they are clearly maps without being the conventional road map, DeGraff’s limited color palette offers the most important information in vibrant colors, while the secondary (but still interesting) details remain less conspicuous. (Via Flavorwire)
Brooklyn-based photographer Ji Yeo creates Somewhere on the Path, I See You, a project in which the photographer captures two different types of women: one with extreme self-regulation and distorted notions of beauty that suffer from eating disorders, and the other women are aspiring actresses and models living in Hollywood, California, who are interested in the process of being represented because they carry dreams of fame.
By carefully selecting various body and personality types ,Yeo creates a sample of photos (and people) that further examine larger societal issues regarding ideas of beauty, self-definition, and self-respect.
By forcing viewers to confront images of women who by definition had been judged continuously by themselves, it brought focus to the viewers natural impulse to judge. In doing so it implicates them in the complex relationship we have with making aesthetic judgments.
In the midst of all of this, a tumblr page by the name of Pride Propaganda, takes a different and quieter yet effective approach to all the protests. In efforts to adhere to the pro-LGBT agenda, PP transforms vintage Soviet posters into brightly colored displays of men, women and children waiving and wearing rainbow flags. The familiar images of Young Pioneers, working men and loyal mothers (all symbolism for the confining ways of Soviet Russia) take on entirely new meanings when cloaked in the vibrant rainbow flags that we’ve come to associate with the global pride movement.
Participate in the protest by hastagging your tweets #PridePropaganda. (via HuffPost)
Brooklyn based artist Melissa Zexter combines photography and hand-stich embroidery to create layers of narrative and texture in a unexpected and colorful way. Zexter, an MFA holder in photography, redefines her practice, as she creates a new artistic concoction that provides more context in the already-narrative medium that is photography. The use of embroidery is a reaction to the photographs themselves, a way to overexagerate or emphasizes different aspects of the images.
For me, sewing was another way to build up a surface and to build upon the content of my photographs. I loved the meditative process of sewing – it was in such contrast to the technologically more immediate art of photography. The combination of sewing and photography brought together two very different processes that I love. The use of embroidery is a reaction to the photographs and is a process that aids in the transformation of identity of the person or place being photographed.
Some of the photographs she uses are digital prints and others are gelatin silver prints that she make in a darkroom. The thread, which she uses to compliment the images, primarily acts as a connection between the person/place captured in the photograph and the artist herself.
I always think of the photograph as something from the past and the thread as a reaction to the past and present. The thread makes the photograph more personal to me and allows me to meditate on the image. Combining the two mediums (photography and sewing) allows me to reinvent the photograph; to visually react to a person or a place.
Kostis Fokas is a rare photographer who possesses the innate ability to both create and capture personifications of the provocative in our human form. Challenging and sexually-charged, the work is visually reminiscent of fashion photography, but pulls inspiration equally from painterly compositions by using the body as a metaphor for sexuality, potency, and humanity. In a conversation with Beautiful/Decay, the London-based, Greek photographer explains, “Through my photos I wish to present a new take on the human body and explore its infinite capabilities. The use of quirky, and sometimes hidden faces communicates exactly that. Unlike photography that seeks to reveal the feelings of the objects portrayed through the use of faces and expressions, I shift my focus on the complete freedom pertained to the image of a human body. Stripped from its clothes, I leave it fully exposed and completely surrendered.”
With faces hidden and bodies often stripped bare, the human form becomes a landscape of tension, fully exploring the paradox of submission. A balding man running a brush over his head becomes a metaphor for self-conscious impotence and existential awareness, while a naked woman hovering over a cactus represents a more immediate (and less philosophical) danger. In Fokas’ work we realize that submission is often related to acceptance, mirrored by the artist stating, “Submissiveness often conveys surrender to something greater and more powerful than us.” This duality becomes both a metaphor for the nature of photographic direction, as well as for life, as the human experience is compressed into simultaneously simple and complicated gestures arranged by the photographer with willing participants, and captured on film.
When asked if the work’s sometimes daring exploration of sexual themes and sexuality is ever misinterpreted, or even offensive, Kostas diplomatically responds, “My images aspire to touch on some of these issues, among others, and definitely raise many questions but it is ultimately left up to each individual viewer to decide and reach his own conclusions.”