Russian born illustrator Andrey Smirny uses the sharp angles, bright colors, and deceptively flat depiction of spatial relationships found in early NES video games to illustrate the drama and humor of the ongoing exchange between people and their modern technological environments. He was born and raised in the Soviet Union in late 80s, and attributes the sudden flood of easily accessible Western media post-Iron Curtain as moments that have made lasting impacts on his artistic expression and aesthetic. He spent his youth watching bootlegged American B-rated action movies on VHS (“weird John Carpenter movies like Big Trouble in Little China and The Thing”) and exploring similarly illegally obtained Nintendo games like Double Dragon, Battle Toads, and Tanks. He went on to study Fine Art and Graphic Design and fell in love with the DIY comic scene, exploring GIFs as his main medium. Currently he draws on the style and constantly evolving work of self-taught artist Todd James as one of his biggest inspirations, along with the otherworldly ideas of his barber Nikolai and “his addiction to UFO-related YouTube videos and belief that angels truly live on Mars.”
Being an only child I’ve always been jealous of talented siblings who can team up to take over the world. So it is with great saddness and extreme envy that I post the work of the talented Michael C. Hsiung, brother of Pearl C. Hsiung who graced the pages of Issue: V with her brilliantly disgusting yet pretty paintings.
We are big fans of artist Jake Fried here at Beautiful/Decay (original post here), and yet he continues to impress us. He is a prolific drawer/painter/animator, creating epically complicated short clips that he calls “hand drawn experimental animations”. Watching these pieces is quite the experience. His style is so complex, and each frame packed with so many textures and details, you must be careful to blink at the right time, so as not to miss anything!
Even more impressively, he creates such hypnotizing animations from the simplest materials – coffee, water, ink, gouache, and white-out. With titles like Brain Lapse, Head Space, Down Into Nothing, The Deep End, Fried is inviting us into his own mind, and we soon see just how dense it is inside there. Layers of mathematical lines build into a background scene and reveal a head peering out from behind them. This then transforms into some other domestic space, or rather a non-space, where objects appear and disappear into the jungle of lines and cross hatching. Eyes, hands, heads, plants, moons, triangles, and landscapes feature heavily in Fried’s work. He says of his own work:
‘Raw Data’ took about four months from the first drawing to the final film. My work is not truly narrative – the medium is the message – but for this piece I knew I wanted to experiment with metallic-gouache, technological imagery and sustained head-on portraiture. I would say it’s generally about man vs. tech and a sense that the animation watches you as you watch it. My work is not really pre-planned; it becomes itself through the process of making. I fundamentally believe that art making should be a “discovery” process; otherwise I’d have no interest. Rather than just executing a plan, I want to learn something new or follow some unknown path. (Source)
Italian photographer Giampaolo Sgura has put together a whimsical, colorful photo shoot for the December/January 2015 issue of Vogue Paris with supermodels posing as lifelike Barbie dolls trapped in commercial packaging. He has turned the idea of Prêt-à-porter into something quite literal – into a pre-packaged sartorial commodity that you can carry away. The idea of purchasing a look or an outfit from a catalog is now conceptualized as something that it has always been – a highly stylized and idealized situation amplifying our fantasies and desires.
Supermodels Magdalena Frackowiak and Elisabeth Erm take the place of childlike dolls, dressed up in highly fashionable clothes, surrounded by desirable products and placed in boxes labelled with luxury labels such as Dolce and Gabbana, Chanel, Valentino and Miu Miu. They seem to bring the concept of fashion full circle in that they are now animations of the thing they are selling. Fashion photography has always projected an idealized representation of how one could live in the clothes it markets, this time we are shown the truth of the illusion.
As Alfred Stieglitz once said,
In photography, there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality. (Source)
And that is exactly what Sgura’s photography is. It is so real it becomes surreal. It is a stark commentary of the commodification of fashion. He captures the reality of the representation of modern women in modern times – not just as consumers of fashion, but also as objects. (Via Design Boom)
I recently got an email from Skinner, one of my fave heshin’ heavy metal artists and also B/D Book 3 participant, about his show at White Walls gallery this Saturday. It read: “There will be over twenty of my new works, mystical hand crafted masks, and twisted and intricate sculptures, all of which will most definitely rock your world.” ‘Nuff said. Wish I could be there in person, but if you’re in SF, this is not to be missed!
Using recycled objects like board game pieces, party straws, and paper fans, Swiss artist Marie Rime created a fantastic set of masks and armor. The separate-yet-similar series are composed of multi-faceted objects that cover the subjects’ entire face and part of their body, forming silhouettes made from the likes of chess pawns and popsicle sticks. It recontextualizes kitsch and transforms the use of these tiny individual elements into a cohesive veil that obscures its model’s face. In both bodies of work, the emphasis is on power and competition. Rime explains her mask project and writes:
In this series, the notion of game is being questioned. I tried to express my fascination with the relationship between the players. I asked myself what the participants are looking for and whether they are trying to disturb, seduce or intimidate opponents. These reflections led to a series of pictures of a female model wearing masks inspired by primitive tribal art, yet created from elements of the games being played in the championships.
Likewise, with the armor, she states, “These costumes, realised with everyday objects, are the starting point of a reflexion of the relationship between power, war and ornament. These women lose their identity and become the support of their clothing.” (Via La Monda)
Japanese artist Fuco Ueda paints colorfully morbid pictures, full of sad and mysterious girls, glowing fauna and beautifully detailed flora. Ueda’s world is a quiet and magical one; a place where fireflies, bees and butterflies buzz and whirr past girls with long green hair and skeleton hands. Her characters are mischievous yet appear innocent; they are deceptive and deceitful, yet charming and magnetic. They seem like they are in a state of limbo – like they are making the transition from life to death, and are losing bodyparts along the way. The girls are usually surrounded by hitodama: balls of fire thought to be a spirit of the dead.
Ueda’s work is a dreamy look at the scope of human emotions. She shows great sympathy toward the human condition and wears her heart on her sleeve. The gallery that curated her latest show sums it up:
[She] portrays the feeling of loneliness that exists within dreams and reality through paintings of floating illusions. In her depiction of innocent female characters surrounded by natures bounty you get a glimpse of the “deep psyche of the human mind.” Despite bursting with intimacy, there are sounds you can almost hear but can’t and things you can almost grasp but are out of reach. (Source)
In a dark series of sculptures titled Broken Dreams, Brooklyn-based artist Sandra Osip captures the decline and decay of suburban Detroit. The works are inspired by Osip’s memories of the city: the streets she roamed as a child, the corner stores she visited, and the neighbourhood—now destroyed—that surrounded her former high school. She sculpts the skeletal husks of houses that are burnt down, collapsed, and decaying, evacuated of all life and purpose. In more abstract renderings, Osip has created “junk heaps” of urban ruin, crushed-up buildings that represent entire neighbourhoods left to the cruel forces of time and neglect. In the following statement, Osip explains the deeply personal inspiration for the series:
“Recently I visited my childhood neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan, and to my disbelief my house was no longer standing; neither was the corner store where I bought my penny candy, nor my friend’s house down the street, nor the empty lot I used to ice skate on. This is now an empty wasteland and overgrown by nature. The day after my visit the news reported that a block away from where I lived they found two decomposing bodies. The news stated at least a dozen bodies in twelve months have been found in this abandoned and neglected part of the city.” (Source)
Nostalgia is a painful concept in these sculptures; instead of comforting childhood origins, Osip is left with rootless memories, and a sense of “home” that’s deteriorating and forever changed—haunted, even, by literal images of death in the form of human bodies. “Many of my fond memories have now vanished,” she goes on to write, explaining the pain of having part of one’s personal history obliterated. She approaches the series with a profound awareness tinged with irony; one work, titled “Beautiful Homes and Gardens,” incongruously depicts a stack of cadaver-like houses. However, by consciously reworking her attachments to the now-ruined streets of her youth, Osip’s work demonstrates a courageous exercise of healing through the release of the past.