Photographer Juuke Schoorl‘s collection is called “Rek,” which means “stretch” in Dutch. It’s a fitting name for both the act observed as well as that demanded of viewers as they are asked to consider all manner of textures both natural and unnatural. In her artist’s statement, Schoorl says that she “[explores] aesthetic possibilities of the human skin through a mixture of image capturing techniques.”
Using nylon fishing rope and cello tape, she creates temporary perforations and artificial patterns on what she calls “this curious stretchable material.” Some of her experiments look natural, almost like scarification. Others approach alien, such as one that tugs the side of a woman’s neck into what look similar to gills or another kind of grittier protrusion.
Interestingly, Schoorl’s subjects all look composed, serene even as viewers might flinch back on instinct. Perhaps that is the point; Schoorl invites viewers to be curious, to wonder at these new patterns and human landscapes. She wants us to consider our “biological upholstery that aside from it’s [sic] protective capabilities could also serve as a medium for aesthetic expression.” (via Juxtapoz)
Clowns can be…unsettling but however you feel about clowns, Kyoko Hamada‘s photo series called ‘Clown Care Unit’ is fascinating. In partnership with a hospital’s medical staff, these professional performers work one-on-one with acutely and chronically ill children, their parents and hospital staff to help ease the stress of illness by reintroducing laughter and fun as natural parts of everyday life.
Carlos de los Rios, a Columbian artist represented by Stephanie Bender Gallery in Munich, produces an amazing variety of pieces by working in series, this one titled 32 Memoiren. The media and subject matter may alter, but de los Rios’ work maintains a fragmented attachment to the figure, like a futuristic Rorschach Test in need of translation–I see a bird.
I haven’t seen a show that has blown me a away in some time so it was amazing to see the current show at Ace Gallery by John Millei. I wasn’t familiar with Millei’s work but apparently he’s been making abstract painting for a while, working in various styles and techniques. I had a few minutes to walk through the show but I can easily say that this is some of the most important abstract painting being done in the last 10 years. My favorite pieces in the show were the black, white, and silver paintings from the Quicksilver, and Maritime series. These are massive paintings that command attention in both their complex compositions and masterly paint handling. The photos just don’t do the work justice as the subtle colors and layering are lost in translation. If you’re in the LA area do yourself a favor and check out this show. I already have plans to make a second and third trip myself.
Michael Ferris Jr. designs mosaic immortal portraits. Made out of reclaimed wood, hand painted with vivid and brilliant colors, he translates the voyage of a mortal becoming a semi-god, confronting the humanistic presence to the abnormal traits he acquired. The technique used is intarsia, where the fields of different colors and materials appear to be inlaid in one another, but are in fact all separate pieces. He says he was greatly influenced by the inlaid gaming tables from Middle East which used to ornate his home as a child. He insists he only uses discarded wood and acrylic pigmented grout, creating an intricate geometric pattern which overlays the surface of the busts and faces.
The artist is influenced by Chinese tales of immortal beings. He imagines simple mortals like people he knows going through a physical and a spiritual transformation towards immortality. This rebirth into eternity is materialized by the complex language of drawings Michael Ferris Jr. is unveiling on the sculptures. He highlights the contrast between the remaining humanistic presence with the classic form of a portrait and the singular vibrant embellishments. We are influenced to react to a conventional human normality that has become something other than normal. ‘Ultimately my aim is to express the psychological and spiritual complexity of my subject’.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we have stumbled across this bizarre series of graphic illustrations warning soldiers against the dangers of Venereal Disease. In a nationwide crusade aimed at changing a whole population’s sexual habits and attitudes, the American government enlisted the help of creative professionals. Artists, designers and ad-men teamed up to create these striking and very frank posters.
At a time when discussion of sexual activity was anything but frank, the VD posters of World War II addressed the topic directly using clinical language, ominous symbolic imagery, and jingoistic slogans to help enlisted men steer clear of sexually transmitted infections. While American sex-ed programs have taken many forms over the last hundred years, the military’s VD campaign left a unique trail of ephemera in its wake, featuring imagery that’s both gorgeous and deeply unsettling. (Source)
Found by Ryan Mungia in the National Archives and the National Library of Medicine, this series of posters caught his eye primarily because of their aesthetic, more so than the unusual subject matter. He describes them as
…reminiscent of film noir or B-movie posters from the ’40s, those pulpy-style poster designs, and they also reminded me of the Works Progress Administration artwork, which I love. (Source)
Using bold shapes and colors, the designs were a success in capturing people’s attention. Plastered all over the walls at bases and training facilities, they were sure to get people talking – during a time when sex, and certainly not sexual diseases, were discussed publicly. After a significant drop in VD by 1945, the need for the poster campaign no longer existed. Even though the campaign was a success, the message had quite shocking undertones. Mungia explains more:
Once I was looking at them as a whole, I started to see certain themes arise. Women are often portrayed in a negative light, and it surprised me how they used Nazi imagery or depictions of Hitler and Mussolini to drive their message home. There’s somewhat of a disparity in them because the posters are very attractive, but their messages are very dark. There’s one in particular of a woman who looks like a skeleton and is walking arm in arm with two Axis leaders, Hitler and Hirohito. I think it’s so interesting that they suggest that the Axis powers were behind venereal disease. (Source) (Via Collector’s Weekly)