Enter the gallery of premeditated patterns by Amir Nikravan. Envision a blank city sidewalk with freshly poured concrete and carefully combed patterns—some resembling giant thumbprints. His paintings create a galaxy of perceptions through repetitious surfaces with hidden fabric, heaped in layers of paint.
Deceivingly flat from a far and pickled close to the eye. This illusion is demonstrated through his use of photorealism in combination with painting and photography; his muted color palette supports this physical illusion.
Primarily delicate shades of whale gray occupy his paintings, along with earthy tones including sapphire blues and burnt siennas—walking into a space of pieces by Amir Nikaven might feel like San Francisco on a beautiful foggy day. A softness and mellowness exudes from the rough textures he perfects in his work. This mix of harsh contours and subdued color present them with a bittersweet perception.
Sculptor Beth Cavener Stichter carves dramatic, expressive human-size animals from clay which exhibit the extremes of human characteristics and emotions. She has goats, wolves, lambs, snakes and rabbits display acts of greed, betrayal and jealousy. Using the malleable nature of clay, Stichter produces wonderfully sensitive pieces loaded with drama and theatricality.
In her latest series Four Humors, she takes a theory developed by the Ancient Greeks which describes what a psychologically healthy human body should look like. The Four Humors were black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood. If a body had too much of any of these substances, then that would correspond to a personality deficiency. Stichter says she was intrigued that people could be evaluated solely by the amount of liquid they contained in their bodies. Stichter explores multiple base theories and ideas in her work. She goes on to say:
There are primitive animal instincts in our own depths, waiting for the chance to slide past a conscious moment. The sculptures I create focus on human psychology, stripped of context and rationalization, and articulated through animal and human forms. On the surface, these figures are simply feral and domestic individuals suspended in a moment of tension. Beneath the surface they embody the impacts of aggression, territorial desires, isolation, and pack mentality. (Source)
See if you can recognize yourself in more of her sculptures after the jump. (Via Art Fucks Me)
Photographer Jefta Hoekendijk’s series Aura features shimmering bodies in motion and dazzling colors. The feel of these images is electric as nude models are coated from head to toe with a metallic covering. Bright greens, purples, teals, and more radiate from their every movement.
The eye-catching effect was done without the use of post-production enhancements. “This is metal body paint and lighting effects directly made [from] shooting,” Hoekendijk writes. Any sort of movement will cause these trails of jewel-toned light. The result is a series of seductive and alluring photos where you’re focused on the invisible now made visible.
Hoekendijk experiments with painting, photography, sculpture, and video that’s centered around movement and the human body. Above all, his work is interested in the body as a vessel for expressing his varied artistic voice.
If you think carving a pumpkin is challenging, wait until you see the “prayer nuts” made by Dutch artists in the 16th century. These small, neurotically detailed treasures were carved from a single nut to resemble religious scenes. Each nut holds a spectacularly complex scene that contains a numerous amount of characters to construct religiously important events such as the crucifixion. All of this amazingly crafted imagery is inside a nut that is only a few inches in diameter! Not only are the interiors of the nuts carved into a fine detail, but the outsides are elaborately carved as well. The exterior shell of each nut features a decorative design carved into it, which is revealed once the prayer nut is closed. This way, whether the nut is open or closed, it shows off its stunning design.
Artisans created these delicate masterpieces during the Middle Ages so that individuals could use them privately when they pray. They were small enough to be carried in a person’s pocket and beautiful enough to hang on a rosary. Because the prayer nuts such took incredible skill, not to mention an unbelievably steady hand, only the wealthy and powerful could afford them. Because of this, they also became a social status of wealth. The same thing can be said about many products in contemporary society. Possessing something expensive that creates a convenience to you and can also fit in your pocket – this is not unlike the modern day smart phone. Valuable and beautifully crafted items are still in high demand today. However, these 16th century prayer nuts are much more rare than the latest iphone. They can be found in museum collections all over the world including the British Museum in London and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.(via Juxtapoz)
Photographer Cheuk Lun Lo‘s series of hair in media rinse is stylish and playful. The hair is teased into tangles and swirls, white shampoo tinting the curves like seafoam. Some of the spikier specimens begin looking like sea creatures if you stare at them too long; another is reminiscent of a hedgehog. One photo, an unassuming, almost shy curl of hair, looks like something you might find in a shower drain — a big cowlick, basically.
According to My Modern Met, Lo’s photo series first appeared in the Chinese magazine Numero Magazine. The photo series in a way defies conventional standards of beauty: the meticulous grooming, the impeccably ironed clothes, the put-together and perfectly powdered face. Instead, Lo’s photos show that the unusual can be captivating; pinned to a dark background, these half-washed yet fully conceived hair styles are mysterious and lovely in a way that perhaps wouldn’t be possible for a finished product with a shiny veneer. (via My Modern Met)
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The strange expressions in Laura Krifka’s figures exude a feeling of tension and surprise. The collection of paintings displayed in her latest show, “Reap the Whirlwind” at CB1 Gallery in Los Angeles, offer a tableaux of sexual awakening, youthful lust and rough mischief. Each character seems glazed over in some type of expensive plastic yet the narrative refers back to old masters such as Rembrandt and Boticcelli. This is part of the reason Krifka’s work is intriguing. It embraces a juxtaposition which is not often seen. The other is her painting ability.
A skilled technician, Krifka renders her weird realistic narratives of lustful desire with relative ease. Her placement of characters in the great outdoors lends a plein air quality which enhances her scenes of multiple partnered sexual encounters and voyeurism. At times the figures resemble renaissance blowup dolls which adds humor. Even though it mostly depicts sex, there is no real sensuality in the paintings , instead Krifka captures the awkwardness of adolescent awakening.
Accompanying the paintings in the show are a series of small sculptures and video. The sculptures are tiny and even though relate in narrative to the paintings, its characters look a bit more rag dollish. Well, maybe not a little but a lot more. This makes them even more intriguing. Actually, I believe these are models for the video, which isn’t accessible on the web. There is a still on the gallery’s website which does hint at this fact and one could conclude the video consisting of a sexualized rag doll version of Little House On The Prairie.
In December 2006, American photographer Tim Mantoani embarked on a unique and fascinating project to document living photographers with their most iconic images. Since then, he has collected over 150 portraits, ranging from the historic to the contemporary, the cultural to the political. Included among the vast series is Harry Benson and his famous photograph of The Beatles engaged in a pillow fight (1964), as well as Lyle Owerko holding his devastating image of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers (2001). All of Mantoani’s portraits are taken on the “rare but mammoth format of a 20×24 Polaroid,” using a large camera originating from the 1970s (Source). Only a handful of these Polaroid cameras still exist (you can learn more about the devices he uses here). Mantoani’s reasoning for using such unique, classic technology is rooted in a respect and passion for the photographic tradition; as he explains, “If you are going to call the greatest living photographers and ask to make a photo of them and you are shooting 35mm digital, they may not take your call. But if you say you are shooting 20×24 Polaroid, they will at least listen to your pitch” (Source). As further homage to these artists, as well as their impact on the history of photography, Mantoani has had everyone write a story about their iconic image on the bottom of their portrait.
Mantoani’s project is simultaneously intimate and historically significant. It is an undeniably powerful experience to see the faces behind photographs which have defined cultural eras and signified shifts in social consciousness. So often, despite the impact of their work, photographers remain the unseen observers while framing the world in profound ways. We don’t often have the opportunity to connect with the mind and personality behind the lens. Mantoani’s work crystallizes these important artists in the records of photographic history. Suddenly, with the Polaroid and its accompanying, hand-written inscription, we can imagine Steve McCurry in 1984 in the midst of the Soviet War in Afghanistan, capturing the face of Sharbat Gula (“Afghan Girl”), who would wordlessly tell the world an intimate story of hardship and perseverance. In regards to an iconic moment in the history of American music, Jim Marshall’s portrait shows us the face to which — for an intense, fleeting moment — Johnny Cash held aloft his middle finger. These portraits bring the bodily, human presences back into the images and their associated histories.
In 2012, all of these stunning portraits were compiled in the book Behind Photographs, published by Channel Photographics. The book is available in multiple formats, including a regular edition, a slipcase limited edition, as well as a cloth-bound deluxe limited edition that comes with signed collector cards. It is also available as an eBook. The print versions are available for purchase on Mantoani’s website. More photographer portraits after the jump. (Via 123 Inspiration)