Paintings by Devon T.S. Tsuno…
Bones automatically insinuate death, and often are the only physical remnant that insinuates life once existed. Shen Shaomin‘s bone works are equal parts terrifying and fascinating, man-made memorials to human intervention on the planet. Creatures that never have been or should be are pieced together from human and animal skeletons. The bones are carved and relief-carved with text taken from several sources, including the Bible, the Koran, and various sources. Inscribed in English, Arabic, and Chinese, the texts serve as warnings to the two largest industrial nations in the world of the damage being caused to the planet.
Related to the Chinese practice of bonsai, or long-term manipulation of a living tree to one’s will based on aesthetic and stylistic choices, Shaomin has also used bonsai in past works as a metaphor for human intervention upon nature.
In an interview with the University of Sydney’s ARTSPACE CHINA, Shaomin explains the terror he hopes to evoke in his skeletal works, “China’s current situation is very much like my bonsais. At first glance you will find it beautiful, but once you look more carefully you’ll see there are terrifying things behind that beauty. China has over a billion people, but over 800 million of those people are peasants. A peasant’s standard of life in China is still pretty basic. They say that if every one of those 800 Chinese peasants showered every day it would take more than all the water on the planet. That’s a scary thought.” (via myampgoesto11)
Roland Topor (1938–1997) was a French illustrator, painter, writer, filmmaker, actor and whatnot mostly known for his macabre and surreal cartoons. His illustrated book “Les Masochistes” was first published in 1960 and features a number of absurdly humorous masochistic actions that people perform on themselves.
The grotesque situations depicted in “Les Masochistes” perfectly convey Topor’s artistic style and approach towards the world. He infuses the grim reality of Nazi dictatorship (Topor and his family were Polish refugees of Jewish origin) with humor which was probably the best coping mechanism at that time. As described by Bernard Vehmeyer, a quote from Topor’s novel “The Tenant” perfectly sums up his world view:
He was perfectly conscious of the absurdity of his behavior, but he was incapable of changing it. This absurdity was an essential part of him. It was probably the most basic element of his personality.
Most often, Topor’s illustrations were based on surreal scenarios with deeper allusions to sex, erotica, rotting mankind and such. According to closer friends, artist had repetitive periods of extreme depression where he would balance on the verge of death and it reflects in his work.
This week’s B/D Apparel artist interview features Yaiagift. Yaiagift contributed our “Bikes N’ Roses” shirt, which reinterprets the iconic Guns ‘n’ Roses album cover to give new meaning to today’s bike/fixed gear culture. His aesthetic mixes a broad range of influences, from underground comix, punk rock, skate culture and beyond. Yaiagift’s process apparently begins as a “really awful sketch” that “looks like if someone with no artistic skills made it.” Read on to find out how he transforms a work’s humble origins into a polished final product, and the one artist anyone who ever holds a pencil in their hand must check out! More images of Yaiagift’s personal work and design process after the jump.
Artist Ron English is best known for his bright and playful pop culture aesthetic, and a blending of high and low art cultures, something he refers to as “popaganda.” A multitude of characters and references populate his works, and it’s this accessibility that lends his work its effectiveness. One particular painting – Picasso’s Guernica – represents a modern template for English that he has interpreted over 50 times, and English approaches each interpretation aware and reverent of the original’s cultural significance.
English writes, “[Guernica] is a visual shorthand for the overwhelming and gratuitous horror of modern war. But I argue that the cultural takeaway of Guernica is actually the opposite. It transforms incomprehensible tragedy into a cartoon narrative, something we can more easily absorb. This is part of the human process, to distance ourselves from the immediacy of undiluted, overwhelming emotions by overlaying a narrative that simplifies, and in effect, takes us down from three to two dimensions. And this is the underlying concept that I grapple with in all my many versions of Guernica.”
English’s approach to the Guernica template resonates throughout much of his work; the artist often interprets our visually-saturated cultures, recontextualixing familiar imagery in order to critique or present ideas that can be more easily absorbed. In order to capture particular lighting and angles, English constructs 3D models of some his concepts before painting them. While each interpretation is unique in its imagery, English admits he’s “…always riffing on the same basic message — that cultural bias is embedded in our narrative. [His] Guernicas call attention to the product placement of global corporate culture, using war as entertainment and entertainment as war.” (via huffington post)
Hair. That’s right, I said HAIR. Agustina Woodgate gives new life to discarded human hair. After I saw “I Wanted to be a Princess” and “Sleepers“, I knew immediately that this was stretching the boundaries of what people consider art. Woodgate creates with stunning realism a portion of a castle reminiscent of one from Rapunzel, made with 3,000 blocks of human hair. In Sleepers, she constructed a pair of… slippers, perhaps even sturdy enough to wear outside. Through her work, she explores the relation between everyday objects and places and the overarching narratives that condition our unnatural relationship to the natural world.
It may take a few glances to realize the work of Juan Carlos Manjarrez are paintings and not photographs. Manjarrez captures an amazing amount of detail and realism in his work. His black and white palette coupled with a photographic sensibility only add to his paintings’ hyper-realism. Amazingly, Manjarrez is a self-taught painter – though he has attended graduate school, he majored in architecture. Manjarrez has been exhibiting professionally for the past twenty years.