Ryo Yoshii is a Japanese artist who produces beautiful and evocative watercolor portraits. With an impressive control of the medium, Yoshii is able to capture the minute details of the face — such as the lines around and light within the eyes — while also introducing a surrealist blur: hair melts into the paper, tears streak and divide the body, animal faces are fractured over top of human ones. In a haze of dreamlike pastels, the portraits express both external character and internal life, unveiling moments of deep introspection.
Brimming with depth and sensitivity, Yoshii’s work can be read as metaphorical explorations of inner emotional worlds. Despite the stoic faces, which steadily meet the viewer’s gaze, there are signs of fluidity and instability within. The unpredictability of the watercolor medium lends perfectly to this depiction of inner turmoil and intensity, as the colors — much like our emotions — bleed invisibly from the body into the surrounding environment. As expressed in the beautiful blend of colors, no emotion exists in singularity in Yoshii’s work; instead, everything fuses together in a spectrum of experiences.
Romy Maxime has been experimenting with an interesting medium of late – Infrared film (typically used in military surveillance). Her series Lucid Dreaming is a soft, romantic, hazy collection of portraits of musicians based in Berlin. She uses the unusual candy colored tones of the film to evoke a strange surrealism from her subjects and their surroundings. Her images look like dramatic fairy-tales, or stills from some sort of film noir. Maxime talks about those influences on her:
This ongoing personal project was born out of nostalgia, a love for classic art films and the style and colors of photographs from the 1960s. (Source)
Growing up between Zurich, Cape Town and Cannes (she now calls Berlin home), Maxime translates her gypsy tendencies and ease with nature and quietness onto film. Working mostly in fashion photography, and portraiture, Maxime loves to create fantastical images that are like an exaggerated reality. She talks about her favorite parts of fashion photography:
It’s totally unrealistic! It’s the fantasy genre of photography – mostly an illusion with every excuse to include beautiful things. I do try to create some sort of story when I shoot fashion otherwise the clothes remain just beautifully cut textiles on a model. (Source)
She also talks about the effect yoga has had on her and her work – the calmness, serenity, and quiet that is all practiced in yoga gives her the focus she needs to capture the right mood in her shots. Read a full interview with her here on the International Foundation for Women Artists Blog. And be sure to see more of her many beautiful images on her Tumblr page and her Facebook page.
Sometimes less is more. By adding just a tiny bit of contrast artist Elliott Walker turns all black glass sculptures into striking objects with a flash of color. His motifs usually consist of bottles and bowls paired with a vegetable or fruit sliced to show a striking hue. Walker uses the color to create a pulsating heartbeat effect. Besides the obvious aesthetic value there’s hidden metaphor which can be open to interpretation. By highlighting the various skins of the produce portrayed Walker brings the potential health benefits of these foods to light. Not only is it the part of the vegetable or fruit which pigment is made from but also contains the flavenol quercetin a blood pressure lowering chemical found in onion skin. These give the objects not only a pretty nature but also represents important health benefits.
At times, the black glass Walker uses give the sculptures an excavated post-apocalyptic look which adds to the drama of his subject matter. Normally glass is produced to have an ultra pristine aesthetic which is broken away from here. It takes on more of an alien feel perhaps a table set for a Martian dinner party. (via fubiz)
René Benjowski is a Berlin-based self-taught photographer who finds beauty, horror, and sensuality in dark, private rooms. Delving into the worlds of surrealism and erotic portraiture, Benjowski’s quiet, hazy, and provocative work skillfully traverses the line between passionate intensity and a reverence for the strength and symmetry of the human figure. The images are like intangible visions of a dream: in silent, dusty corners with bare, iron bed frames, bodies twist with a sensual — almost demonic — rapture. Colliding intimacy with images of death, skulls are clutched in hands and worms emerge from open mouths. The fetish element is visible: bodies embraced in ropes engage in silent power dynamics with an unseen participant, playing chess or attempting to reach a hanging book.
Contortion and mystery are important elements in Benjowski’s beautifully macabre works. Deviating far from conventional portraiture, these images convey a desire to experiment with strange angles and uncanny positions: knees twist, backs arch, figures levitate. The black-and-white shading adds an extra element of bleakness to the beautiful physicality of the twisted forms, producing bold, intimate contrasts between shadows and illuminated skin. In addition to the raw energy brimming within each surreal photograph, there is also a truthful power: not only do the images explore the subversive, alternative edges of desire and eroticism, but they leak with a physical honesty and agency, exploring the capacities of the body as it bravely endures unseen, emotional forces and its own physical limitations.
Artist Pierre Schmidt constructs surreal worlds filled with the inner horrors of the subconscious, both terrifying and beautiful. Using photo-manipulation, illustration, and collage, he combines both traditional and digital methods to create scenes of people with faces dripping right off their skulls. Many of his disturbing, melting face runs down the composition, only to reveal sudden bouquets of flowers. Using vintage photographs, he collages imagery of 1950’s housewife types lounging about, only to be caught up in a peculiar and fantastic scene. Schmidt’s work is highly psychological, as many of his pieces have titles based on the theories and writings of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. His flowing faces crack open the hidden psyche, pouring out its contents for us to examine. The face being a vessel of identity, Schmidt strips his characters of this so that we may look inwards into our own mind.
The Berlin based artist offers us a glimpse into a strange world of bizarre happenings, filled with faceless ladies, lush flora, and silhouettes that contain galaxies. Schmidt’s work is full of emotion and internal awareness, leaving us to sort out his stunning and complicated mash of imagery. We are left to decipher his sliced open heads, melting eyes, and rainbows oozing from faces. Like stream of consciousness, Schmidt melds together his illustrations with a unifying flow, effortlessly forming captivating and magnetic work. (via Hi-Fructose)
In a place usually left to stillness and silence, black waters churn ceaselessly. Anish Kapoor, a London-based artist known for his sculptural installations using stainless steel, PVC, and other media, has created a whirlpool beneath the wooden floorboards of a former movie theater in San Gimignano, Italy. With a spine-tingling power that seems to suck your gaze to the center of the earth, the vortex pulls endlessly downward into a lightless void. Darkly beautiful and hypnotic, the waters evoke feelings of both admiration and fear. Appealing to the fascination we have for black holes and infinite space, Kapoor has created an existential zone of disturbing liminality, a place which exists between presence and absence, here and there. Speaking of his fascination for spatial emptiness in the press release, Kapoor explains:
“All my life I have reflected and worked on the concept that there is more space than can be seen, that there are void spaces, or, as it were, that there is a vaster horizon. The odd thing about removing content, in making space, is that we, as human beings, find it very hard to deal with the absence of content. It’s the horror vacui. This Platonic concept lies at the origin of the myth of the cave, the one from which humans look towards the outside world. But here there is also a kind of Freudian opposite image, that of the back of the cave, which is the dark and empty back of being. Your greatest poet, Dante, also ventured into a place like that. It is the place of the void, which paradoxically is full – of fear, of darkness. Whether you represent it with a mirror or with a dark form, it is always the ‘back’, the point that attracts my interest and triggers my creativity.” (Source)
By creating this zone of dread — a vacuum of inverted reality that threatens our mortal existences with its apparent soullessness — Kapoor’s whirlpool unveils a special form of significance. The whirlpool is a world “which is paradoxically full,” for instead of beauty and safety, we are confronted with a vital impulse: a void brimming with life-affirming fear that destabilizes our constructions of reality. The whirlpool evades all concrete meaning by always moving, existing beyond our knowledge, troubling us with the notion of infinite absence.
Avid glass blower Kiva Ford spends most of his days making complex glass instruments for use in the science lab. After completing a college degree in Scientific Glassblowing, he creates some pretty wild creations. But not only does he do it as a professional job, Ford twists molten glass in his spare time too. As a hobby, he makes other kinds of complicated glass forms – these ones are geared more toward art and commerce. He crafts delicate, miniature versions of bottles, goblets, pendants, domes, vessels, Champagne flutes and vases, all made from glass. Any even though they are tiny in size, they don’t lack imagination or incredible details.
As a member of the American Scientific Glass Blowers Society, he creates custom made glassware for research and discovery. He makes things that can’t be made by a machine or mass produced – all of his creations are as artistic as the next. For Ford, there is no real difference between the two.
I get just as excited about scientific glass as I do artistic glass. The whole process is beautiful to me. (Source)
Enjoying a tradition started a few thousand years ago in Persia, Ford enjoys using the same techniques that haven’t changed – blowing glass over an open flame. He says he loves coming up with new ideas – trying to see what is possible, and what isn’t possible. He even manages to create tiny animals from glass and fits them into other glass containers – achieving something he says, he hasn’t seen anyone else be able to.
For Ford his main aim is to focus on one skill – and get good at what he does. And it is pretty obvious he is well on his way to being a full fledged master of glass. (Via Trenf)
The work of Los Angeles based artist Nike Schroeder is full of a complex hybrid of mediums, as she integrates textiles, painting, and installation into her art. Her installations are creates from fiber where the colors of the threads have a very intentional meaning, as they draw their palette from the hues of the horizon at dawn. In one installation, the thread cascades to the floor, dripping off the canvas. Schroeder includes this same aesthetic in many of her other works, including her embroidery. The artist creates portraits out of needle and thread, with certain colors of thread hanging loose so to draw your eye to certain areas. Often, these bright colors and hanging thread come from the subject’s eyes or lips. Other times, this thread is not hanging loose, but cutting across to the other side of the canvas, dissecting the composition with multi-colored fibers. The harsh line Schroeder imposes onto her portraits guides your eye to specific elements.
As if Schroeder’s fiber-based installations and intricate embroideries were not impressive enough, many of her textile pieces are extremely large. Her nude portraits of women, which examine the beauty ideals of the female body, are actually life-size! These, again, contain long, hanging thread pouring down from certain elements, jolting our eyes to an “unlikely” part of the women; their pubic hair. This series among others in Schroeder’s expansive body of work include not only thread but paint as well. The artist often applies paint like she does fiber, with flowing drips. Schroeder’s work can be seen on view at Walter Maciel Gallery in Los Angeles from May 30th through July 11th.