In her latest series of ceramic and underglaze sculptures entitled Habitats Collide, artist Crystal Morey underlines the role and impact of human beings on nature in the most melancholic sense. Her work represents human beings with stern looks on their faces “encased” in the bodies of animals. Morey states that the animals she has chosen for this series are either endangered or extinct, which adds to the thoughtful aspect of her project.
She states that her work is inspired by the Byzantine, Renaissance and Ancient Egyptian eras. It also bears a strong resemblance to Native American totem art, due to the visible ridges in the pieces which are designed to look like fur as well as the merging of human and animal forms. Her work, being inherently totem like is thought provoking on many levels beyond its aesthetic composition.
Her representation of human beings as both a part of nature and a problem for nature is in line with many current debates concerning the role of humans as linked to the impact we have had and continue to have on our environmental surroundings. She states that her work seeks to address “current psychological, environmental, and cultural feelings”, which she does perfectly through the facial expressions of the human components in her work. She hopes to create a dialogue centered on technology, progress, and, on a greater scale our relationship with nature.
In her series, Real American Beauty, photographer and filmmaker Liza Mandelup invites us to follow her on a challenge to define the word Beauty. Throughout the series, we travel with Mandelup to different regions of the country where she exposes each place for its own unique glamor.
The first episode takes us to Mr @ Ms Hair Studio in South Central, LA. Here we meet a group of women who speak about their time spent getting dolled up as therapeutic revival. The second episode brings us to a prom focused suburb in Long Island, New York. There we meet a town of mothers obsessed with their daughters’ ability to fit in. In the third, most recent episode, we are introduced to a boxing community of young Cuban men in Miami, FL. The members yearn to look tough and to stand out (and believe they can do so with the perfect hair cut).
Through her short documentary series, Mandelup stimulates us to question if there is such thing as a singular beauty. Her work hints that the notion of beauty is in no way universal. Her series conveys to us that, possibly, our perceptions of beauty are ingrained in us no differently than our senses of right and wrong. Maybe our aesthetic prerogatives are just as complicated as any other set of ideologies. Here we see that the concept of style is just as vastly extensive as identity itself. Perhaps Liza Mandelup is showing us that the word “beauty” has itself become obsolete.
Combo is protective if his street art. In response to an anti-graffiti brigade repainting one of his piece, the artist took a picture of this man and turned him into a collage a few days later. The part the man was covering was the tagged area and the part representing Donald Duck’s nephews Huey, Louie, and Dewey was left undamaged.
Based in Paris, France; Combo depicts mischievous and entertaining street art. He feeds his obsession with interaction by opening a conversation with the walkers and his followers. He usually starts out by tagging the beginning of a sentence and seeking the end on his Facebook page. He asks his fans to finish it. The ending that has the most likes gets to be tagged.
The artist focuses on diverting visual images from their original meaning by adding foreign elements. These elements are usually familiar, coming straight from pop culture, cartoons and video games. By using popular symbols he speaks to the mass and can therefore vehicle his messages. Most of the time the topics covered are injustices within our society. Combo engages with its viewer in a disruptive manner but he always makes sure he does not cross the line of judgment. (via Lost At E Minor).
Ondrej Konupcik is a Czech artist offering organic and original watercolor brush strokes and ink splatters on a tattoo. He depicts explosive impressive animals like hawks, foxes and wolves but also other simpler objects. Customers don’t choose from catalogs when they come to Ondrej Konupcik, each drawing has to be almost custom-made.
The artist, who also goes by Ondrash, has to feel a connection to the subject before starting the process of tattooing. That’s the reason why he only takes care of one person per day. He wants to know on a deep level the story behind the tattoo. He traces directly on his customers to embrace their bodies and curves. He illustrates their wishes and desires from what they reveal.
A lot of the time mistaken for watercolor paintings applied directly to the skin, Ondrash’s tattoos has gained the appellation of compositional, figural art and today art brut tattoo. He gets his inspiration by browsing the web, getting ideas from other artists andpainting daily for himself using watercolor and oil. Ondrash also tried to graffiti. Enjoying the way the colors evolve in front of his eyes at a faster pace than when he tattoos, this could maybe his lead to a new project. (via deMilked).
In a darkly poetic new video titled “Quand c’est?” (When it is), singer and songwriter Paul Van Haver (aka, Stromae) sings a chilling address to cancer. The video, shot all in black and white, depicts Stromae performing for an audience of animated alien limbs and nettle-like growths—a creative portrayal of the disease. His words are emotional, bold, and honest:
“Oh yes, we know each other well
You even tried to get my mother
Starting with her breasts
And my father’s lungs
D’you remember then?”
As the video proceeds, Stromae dances across stage, moving in the same strange, articulated fashion as the disease that seeks to devour him. As the music builds, his graceful movements unravel into desperation as one of the limbs seizes him while another—approaching unseen from the back—strikes him dead. The remainder of the video spirals into a fervor, depicting his ghost being his cast into a black pit festooned with the bodies of countless others.
Stromae is known for his videos that touch upon topics of an important nature; the award-winning song “Papaoutai,” for example, explores the experience of growing up without a father. “Quand c’est?” (which is also a homophone for the French pronunciation of “cancer”) explores the trauma of the disease from both an intimate and universal perspective; the majority of us have been touched by cancer in some way, as is expressed by the network of bodies trapped in the alien nest. Weaving together vocals, dance, and animation, Stromae’s haunting performance is an expressive embodiment of human pain and perseverance.
Artist Tsuyoshi Imamura’s latest series of watercolor paintings delivers a dreamlike depiction of the human body. Through the use of black, grey, and various shades of pink, blue, and purple, he creates an abstract view of the human body as a composition of shapes and forms. His series of darkly colored watercolors depict men and women in various sensual positions and bring another angle to perceptions of rigidly defined beauty.
The watercolors are a series of gradients in which light and dark colors work together perfectly alongside the water that is necessary to their composition.The presence of water in these compositions is both essential to the paint on a chemical level and an essential part of the paintings themselves in the sense that it contributes to the fluidity of the paintings and compliments the gestures the figures in the paintings are making.
The dancing figures are reminiscent of Matisse’s Dance in both their physical form and in the ways their bodies are moving. The simple beauty of these bodies, which are almost water spots make Imamura’s work both stunning and original. The ways in which the light work with the dark in his work gives each painting a dreamlike property and enhance the musicality of the human body in motion.
Toshio Saeki (b. 1945) is a Japanese erotic illustrator who creates controversial images of violence and morbid sexual acts. Perusing his collection is like stepping through the various moonlit rooms of a grotesque dream; as silent voyeurs, we witness placid-faced men, women, and demons engaging in strange, lust-filled scenarios that often involve necrophilia, murder, cannibalism, and genital mutilation. Images of sex and death uncomfortably collide as a woman kisses a skull and gropes herself with the corpse’s bony hand, while elsewhere poisonous snakes writhe out of a man’s tattoo during sex. Whether it’s aroused bodies swarming with cockroaches, or glaring eyeballs in the place of genitals, Saeki has an uncanny way of exposing the unconscious and disturbing the imagination in new and surprising ways. As he writes in an interview with Dazed:
“Leave other people to draw seemingly beautiful flowers that bloom within a nice, pleasant-looking scenery. I try instead to capture the vivid flowers that sometimes hide and sometimes grow within a shameless, immoral, and horrifying dream.” (Source)
Saeki’s hallucinatory and alarming style draws on a long tradition of Ukiyo-e woodblock prints and paintings from Edo-period Japan. In a variation called Shunga, these pieces depicted erotic scenes; take, for instance, Hokusai’s “The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife,” a 1814 woodcut design showing a woman in the erotic embrace of an octopus. Many of Saeki’s works reference this image, incorporating “tentacle erotica” alongside unsettling situations that arrived from a combination of comic books, childhood nightmares, and lewd pictures he drew in high school. Depicting eroticism, power, and lust in startling and depraved ways, Saeki evokes conflicting, visceral sensations that both fascinate and repulse the viewer, making it hard to look away.
Saeki is now 70 years old and currently lives in rural Japan. Known as the “godfather of Japanese erotica,” his works have gained him fame and notoriety alike at home and abroad (Source). (Via Cvlt Nation)
In her series of paintings entitled After Caravaggio, artist Jamie Vasta gives Caravaggio a kitsch makeover. Endearingly reminiscent of cat themed embroideries one might find in a dank second hand shop, Vasta’s series is a perfect definition of modern. She has taken well known models and themes and completely reappropriated them in such a way that they have been given new meaning, without straying too far from the original “text” of Caravaggio’s work.
She uses “contemporary props and costumes to create new narratives” and, by doing creates not only a new artwork, but also pays homage to Caravaggio and his influence in the art world. The use of glitter in these paintings underlines the contemporary nature of Vasta’s creations and contributes vastly to the kitsch aspects of her work. The balance between the baroque and the kitsch fits perfectly together and the glitter gives something of a humoristic element to the compositions.
The dramatic themes addressed in these paintings are not undermined but somewhat lightened by the use of glitter. The color contrasts and playful expressions of the subjects give the paintings a touch of humor and a somewhat cheerful nature. The overall originality of Vasta’s work is both intriguing and has somewhat of an edge.