Gregori Maiofis is a Saint Petersburg-based photographer who stages elaborate scenes that illustrate the follies and mysteries of human existence in ironic and fatalistic ways. Many of his works are based around literary and philosophical traditions, such as proverbs and fables. This particular series, created in 2003-2004, uses tarot cards as its theme, pairing dark and absurd imagery with written titles to humorously encapsulate a facet of life and/or identity. The “Fool” card, for example — the prototypical image from a deck Maiofis imagined would be called Public Sanitation — depicts a man in a ludicrous bird costume as he prepares to jump off a roof. The “Empress” card — traditionally signifying fertility, femininity, and beauty — displays a taxidermied primate. Much of his work is produced via the bromoil process, a challenging photographic process that was popular in the early twentieth century that involves ink being painted over a black-and-white photograph printed on bleached paper. Maiofis’ resulting images have both photographic and painterly qualities, appearing historical and artifactual while satirizing human existence on a trans-generational, cross-cultural scale.
Born in Russia into a family of artists and architects and further trained in new art practices in Los Angeles, Maiofis fuses his international experiences into works that explore the strength of the image to overcome boundaries of nation and culture. While those knowledgeable about Russian history, identity, and traditions may have specialized insight into the significance behind Maiofis’ dark and clever imagery, there is still a lot of meaning left for the rest of us to identify; the figure of Justice — usually depicted as a stately figure — is naked and blindfolded, straddling her double-edged sword in a sexual manner, satirizing (perhaps) the representation of justice as a “fair” and purely objective entity. What makes Maiofis’ images so mysterious and intellectually engaging is that their meanings are never directly provided. It is up to us to divine their significance (as well as their playful, biting critiques of humanity) just as we would interpret our own lives with real tarot cards.
More of Maiofis’ clever and thematic works can be viewed on his website.
Judith G. Klausner combines two of my favorite things, food and art in her Oreo Cameo series. Carving delicate portraits into the centers of Oreo cookies, Klausner’s gorgeous relief sculptures measure at only 2 inches in diameter and reference hand made crafts such as ancient placards or rare roman coins. (via 1 design per day)
The stark sculptures of Al Farrow are jolting in their simplicity. His Reliquaries series of sculptures are houses of worship and reliquaries (a container for holy relics) built from weapons and ammunition. Stacks of bullets form walls, barrels form steeples, and muzzles form minarets. Farrow’s artistic commentary on violence in connection with religion is a powerful one. Using a provocative medium to create loaded imagery (seriously, pun not intended), Farrow’s work easily elicits strong responses from viewers.
I’ve been following the work of Copenhagen based artist Tal R for over a decade and it blows me away how timeless and exciting his works are. He is one of the few painters working today that continuously experiments and shifts his technique and work without ever losing his distinct style.
Is that an amazing relief print I spy? I do believe it is!! Dennis McNett puts his impressive carving ability to work, making striking woodblock prints that tend to include mythical animal imagery. McNett, who teaches printmaking at the Pratt Institute in New York, has also designed killer graphics for Vans, Anti-Hero skateboards, Volcom and Adidas, so you could say that he’s got the serious skills to pay the bills.
Ana Maraž has captured and lulled out of me (and into) the warmth of a late summer’s afternoon. I love that simplicity in the composition of these photographs still holds expressive qualities. They just make me so happy and dreamy…(I’m also listening to Nina Simone.)
Exploring the darker roots of desire in the context of a highly politicized, acquisitive and image-obsessed cosmopolitan consciousness, Doro Hofmann probes at what influences our desires and how these forces drive and/or erode our ability to identify what truly affects our overall wellbeing. Complicating this discussion, Hofman asks whether it is at all necessary to place moral value on desire and the outcomes of pursuing it.
Drawing from present-day media, biblical texts, medieval Roman icons and the works of John Milton, Hofmann’s energetic use of electric colors and exacting hyperrealism painting creates imagined heavens of hells and hells of heavens. There, the viewer is left to decide where they are, where they want to be, and where they will actually go.