At Beautiful/Decay we have been partnering with Craftsy, a cutting-edge, multileveled online art class platform and community that brings art classes to your home with versatility and convenient features. One of the classes at Craftsy that we think is exceptionally strong in content, instructional style and artistic relevance is “Painting An Allegory: Concept To Canvas” taught by artist Martin Wittfooth. For a limited time only, Craftsy is generously offering this class at the deeply discounted price of $19.99 exclusively to Beautiful/Decay readers (offer expires 12/01/14).
Photographer Todd Davis doesn’t just take snapshots of gas and fluids, he creates beautiful, ever-interesting abstract images that are impressive and captivating. In his Viscosity Series, he presents different forms of smoke in hundreds of variations – as a colored lump, twisting and turning in on itself, or as a light and airy wisp, silently falling down and fading into the background. Reminiscent of lava lamps, or science experiments when you test different chemicals out against one another, Davis’ work is a gorgeous juxtaposition between weightlessness and form. The smoke exists on the boundary of disappearing or falling apart. Here’s an excerpt from his representative gallery:
The Viscosity Series is a photographic study of the fleeting, random shapes created when two or more dissimilar fluids are introduced. The series is called Viscosity because fluids of different densities permit a moment of suspension before they disseminate in the other giving one the appearance of being more viscous. (Source)
In true abstract fashion, his photos take on many different ideas and images. They can look like paint thrown at a wall and left to coagulate into gooey lumps, or some strange marshmallow cake that’s spilled over the edges of it’s dish, or like a blob of inks and dyes dumped into a glass of water.
Davis not only is able to flatter inanimate subjects (including beverages and tabletop set ups), he also takes beautiful portraiture photography, showing off his skill with intricate lighting configurations.
Artist Yoon Ji Seon crafts her collection of self-portraits by intricately stitching photographs with a sewing machine. It’s an ongoing series titled Rag Face, and her facial expressions change with every piece. While they appear to us as similar-looking individuals, Seon changes it up with different colors and hairstyles. Despite these idiosyncrasies, each portrait has the same features. Most notably, these are hanging threads that mimic hair or tattered rags. The multiple layers of colors and stitches give these works a painterly effect, as if they are gestural and loosely handled; Seon obscures her images by working with her materials in this way.
In 2015, the artist will have a show at the Yossi Milo Gallery in New York City. They describe the her underlying concepts:
By sewing the photograph, a second image is generated on the back that is both a reflection of the front and a completely new image. The two images, combined with the original photograph as a third representation, recall the Buddhist theory that an object exists in many forms and there is no true form. Yoon Ji Seon’s work addresses Buddhist ideology deeply rooted in contemporary Korean society and confronts issues such as plastic surgery and suppression of speech. (Via My Amp Goes to 11)
Australian sculptor Paul Kaptein handcrafts laminated wood into exquisitely seamless sculptures. Interested in materialism and inspired by both nature and the concept of time, Kaptein creates works that are realistic yet surreal, rooted simultaneously in real life and in fantasy.
To Kaptein, the use of laminated wood is central to his practice. Representative of the dialogue between expansion and contraction and the relationship between interconnection and incompleteness, “the panels slip and slide, creating their own holes which exasperate the gaps in the fabric of the universe.”
While his wooden works vary in subject matter—a common motif being hooded, faceless busts—they all convey Kaptein’s innate interest in portraying of “the immaterial as an expression of the overt reliance (and ignorance of the composition) of materialism as a somewhat naive description of reality.” In one of his most recent works, And in the endless sounds there came a pause, the artist tackles reality through illusion: while the meditative figure is clearly distorted by the river-like grooves of his robe’s drapery when observed from the front or back, he appears perfectly normal when viewed from either side.
Ultimately, with its deceptive composition and well-crafted aesthetic, And in the endless sounds there came a pause merges two qualities characteristic of the artist: his interest in fabricating new realities and, of course, his undeniably superb woodworking skills.
In 2011, a woman named Erin Hart stole artist Jessamyn Lovell’s wallet, and eventually her identity, racking up credit card charges, parking tickets, and even a theft charge in Lovell’s name. As an act of retribution for this infuriating and frightening experience, Lovell created an art exhibition called “Dear Erin,” featuring documents, surveillance photos, videos, and interviews documenting Erin Hart’s crime spree. Hell hath no fury like a woman with a stolen identity.
“Using a camera and occupying the varied roles of victim, stalker, investigator, artist, spy, and vigilante, Lovell offers a body of work that touches on contemporary concerns of surveillance and selfhood within the information age.”
The thoroughness of “Dear Erin Hart” is impressive and somewhat alarming. In the attempt to “[understand] this woman and the course of events that brought their lives together,” Lovell hired a private investigator and even photographed Erin Hart being released from jail, a series of photos that are disturbingly stalker-like. The project was exhibited at SF Camerawork from September 3 – October 18, 2014.
Now, in a continuation of the project, Lovell hopes to contact Erin Hart in order to deliver a letter she’s written. She’s raising money for her trip (from Albuquerque, NM where Lovell lives to San Francisco, CA where Hart lives) through the sale of her own photos on Etsy and using a crowd funding campaign posted on her Facebook page.
“Lovell says that her hope is to reach out to her identity thief one more time in an attempt to get her most burning questions answered. Lovell also says that even if her attempt fails and Hart refuses to talk to her, she will at least know Hart knows of Lovell’s existence. She also hopes that Erin Hart will accept the invitation to allow Lovell to interview her and agree to be recorded.”
Erin Case stole Jessamyn Lovell’s identity, time, and peace of mind. Lovell, in relentlessly pursuing her thief, robs her of her anonymity.
San Francisco-based artist Lizabeth Eva Rossoff has created a mashup of iconic statues and and characters in contemporary popular culture. By physically combining China’s ancient Terracotta Army with the heads of Bart Simpson, Batman, and Mickey Mouse, they fuse Eastern and Western culture. Rossoff class her series Xi’an American Warriors.
The artist explains that her work, “playfully explores the concerns of American media’s global influence and China’s industry of counterfeiting the copyrighted properties held by said media.” In essence, these sculptures represent a cycle.
Each stately clay piece stands 18 inches tall, and their appearance was created by using the same process that built the original third century BCE warriors from Lintong District, Xi’an Shaanxi province. She even worked with a Terracotta Warrior replica studio in Xi’an who make their clay sculptures using the same ground that was used so long ago. And, for a limited time, these artworks are available to buy on her website. (Via Endless Geyser of Awesome)
Korean artist Chun Kwang Young began sculpting when he came to New York as a means to processing what he witnessed as a materialistic society ceaselessly searching for “more.” Using newspapers, which he folds into small prisms, these sculptures form as a compilation of our verbal recording of history, opinion, and discovery. Figuratively, the sculptures emerge like topographical maps of rocky landscapes, or planetary surfaces. Points and crags describing a rocky terrain that is nearly unnavigable. Metaphorically, this work is a culmination of the floating lexicon of our time; the ongoing conversation of man compiled in a three dimensional format, echoing the voices that pass each day through our print media. Each figure is a time capsule of pieced data and voice. Although the sculptures themselves are mute, each has a strong story to tell. As Young describes his work:
“Every piece of information is the end product of a struggle for hegemony, as well as an accumulation of human experience. One hypothesis ceaselessly conflicts with another, and finally becomes a new knowledge. While these kinds of processes are sometimes made in a peaceful way through debates and publications, they sometimes happen in the shape of physical conflicts like wars led by the governing class.”
His work is a symbolic expression of how words form into actions and become words again- a speech becomes a call to action, which becomes a war, which is then recounted through story. Everything seamless weaves into itself, a cyclical timeline we hardly noticed as we are so permanently bound to it. (Excerpt from Source)
Pierre Commoy and Gilles Blanchard – Pierre and Gilles – have made portraits of Madonna, Jean Paul Gaultier, Andy Warhol, and Iggy Pop, just to name a few. The portraits are sexually charged and totally fantastical. Their subjects are placed under water, surrounded by flowers, or in what looks like a McDonalds ball pen (a not so subtle reference, in the tradition of most of their portraiture). Their kitschy and outlandish aesthetic has had them attain international recognition; they’re included in collections like the MoMA’s and have had a major retrospective at the New Museum in 2000.
Not only do they work together professionally, they have also been together as a couple for the duration of their shared career. Pierre is the photographer, and Gilles does the painting afterward. According to a VMagazine interview, the entire process of one portrait takes them about three weeks:
“We do everything from creating the décor to taking the picture to constructing the frame. We are always inspired by the person’s personality.”
Although their sexual orientation is a large part of their public persona, they say they are cautious not to pigeonhole themselves into what they call the “gay ghetto” and for this reason take portraits of a variety of celebrities they admire, while maintaining their own distinct style.
Their aesthetic is whimsical and edgy. Certainly setting a man up fully nude peeing into a garden of flowers is not an image you will see every day. It’s provocative, but not aggressive, probably because of the teasing, over-the-top nature of the accompanying imagery. They find a way to playfully bring the mainstream out of its comfort zone so it seems like every day should be filled with sexy nuns riding bedazzled horses!