You’ve probably seen Mat Maitland‘s images before – and if you haven’t, when you do, you will remember them. The London based graphic designer has a knack at creating brightly colored, striking pop designs with a surrealistic twist. Producing album covers for Basement Jaxx, Michael Jackson, Prince, Goldfrapp, Kanye West and also brand campaigns for Kenzo, Jean Paul Gaultier, and The Tate Gallery, Maitland is experienced in generating eye catching and original compositions. Referencing fashion, vintage magazines, music, paintings and films, he is able to produce something very modern and compelling.
His slick backgrounds, layered textures, saturated colors and juxtaposing textures all blend together beautifully. He is able to eradicate the usual borders that exist between fashion, illustration, photography and design. He talks to Creative Review about some of his intentions behind the Kenzo campaign here:
I wanted the film to be an extension of my illustrative world, to bring that to life, so the jungle itself is quite surreal and otherworldly, a kind of electric parallel universe. I imagined the story as though dreamt by a wild cat, lucid snap shots of a neon jungle world that only make sense in a dream. (Source)
His images do indeed seem like you are exploring an exotic dream, full of strange and wonderful wildlife and patterned beasts. If you want to travel further into Maitland’s world, see his films and moving images here.
Beautifully designed costumes sets the stage for artist/photographer Uldus Bakhtiozina’s pictorial essay “Russ Land”. Shot in a rural setting, Baktiozina, recreates a narrative based on Russian folklore. Through magic and her own designs she sets forth in capturing a time when the earth was occupied by knights, fair maidens and the forest. She features characters called Baba Yaga (the old woman with knowledge) and Mikulishna (the beautiful), who are familiar figures in fairytales known throughout the world.
The photographer’s hand made costumes are elaborate variations on a theme, most notably in the head dress which the artist emphasizes with great detail in this series. The intricate construction embraces the forest itself, ranging from crowns made of nest like sticks to black and white spider webbed veils. She works with a generation of young Russian artists, who she claims is the inspiration for her pictures and continues to challenge stereotypes in “Russ Land” by showing women as knights and a fair maiden as lothario(a).
Bakhtiozina was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia from a mixed religious background. She received her education from the University of the Arts London and is credited as the first Russian speaker at TED. She frequently features herself in her work first gaining recognition for a project called “Desperate Romantics”, a series of ironic self portraits. Instead of a digital camera, Bakhtiozina prefers using analog stating ‘it’s better suited at capturing the nature of an object’. She currently runs a studio dedicated to the visual arts in her native Russia. (via demilked)
Adam Martinakis is an artist who uses computer-generated visual media to explore the body’s relationship with life, death, and sexuality in the digital age. His images are intensely expressive, displaying the human figure in various states of destruction, transformation, and relation: people crumbling apart into darkness, disembodied limbs reaching from iron walls, and lovers with bodies resembling circulatory systems embracing in various states of intimacy. In a world wherein cyber culture is so often equated with alienation and artificiality, Martinakis has done a brilliant job redefining that realm as a facet of human identity, infusing our digital existences with the same love, passion, grief, and pain we experience in our corporeal world.
To Martinakis, the body is not an isolated, autonomous vessel; it is “a small chain link of a big project in the history of existence,” and compressed within it is all the beauty and mystery of the cosmos. Interested in multiverse theories, Martinakis tries to express the vast range of human experience through his artwork. His creations are intensely expressive and visceral; you sense immediately what aspect of life he has rendered. However, they are not simply about life, death, or sexual expression in isolation. All of these experiences are depicted in perpetual co-relation — life becoming death and vice versa, the architecture of the body being made and unmade and made again. Desire, too, is not simply a solitary, material instance, as his interlaced lovers signify; it is a fluid phenomenon, implicating both molecular connections and intricate (and sometimes violent) power dynamics.
“The human body is a wonderful and expressive tool, which gives me the ability to experiment with aspects of human nature,” Martinakis explains. The physical body, of course, is the medium through which we manifest our existences and relationships in the world — something that our immaterial, digitized lives might complicate. For this artist, however, cyber culture is a new beginning of self-understanding, and “it is also a new opportunity to redefine our own nature and the comprehension of perception.” Visit Martinakis’ website and Facebook page to further explore how he has visualized the vast possibilities for bodies and identities in the digital age. (Via beautiful.bizarre)
Korean sculptor Cha Jong Rye shapes, carves, sculpts and manipulates wood to not look like wood. Whether it’s building the material up into pyramids sprouting up from a 2D surface, or forming wood into a free standing spiky form, or making it resemble a scrunched up ball of paper, Jong Rye is one competent carver. She splices different layers of wood together and builds up new shapes, alluding to the actual growth patterns of the raw material. The spikes, recesses, folds, indents and bubbles she makes are her way of allowing the life and energy of the wood come to the surface. One curator talks about her work in a very holistic way:
Flowing with immaterial energy, her sculptures represent the external and inner rhythms of all beings in nature in the state of complete absence of ego. Those little sharp forms composing each work are wriggling upward as if to touch the sky. They, that is, the modules are getting smaller upward as if to indicate the layers of time piled up in nature and universe. They are twisting upwards in their own disparate directions, until they evaporate or disappear into the limitless, leaving only their points. (Source)
Whatever the wooden forms of Jong Rye represents, she does inject a beautiful serenity into them. Her sculptures have a calming effect about them; as if we were there with her in a meditative trance while she was making them. The physical act of her carving the repetitive forms are for sure some sort of way of Jong Rye closing herself off and letting the wood be wood, or in this case, letting it be whatever it wants to be. (Via Dayraven)
Artist Gianluca Traina’s series titled Portrait 360 combines photography and sculpture to create alluring, mysterious objects. Mannequin-esque heads are covered in distorted, mosaic-looking squares that are simultaneously recognizable humans yet pixelated and indiscernible. To craft these works, Traina first shoots photos of anonymous subjects and focuses on their faces. He then uses a warp and weft technique to weave the 2D-images into 3D paper busts.
In the blurred surface photos, you can tell where the skin ends and the hair begins, as well as where features like the eyes and nose are. But, those things don’t always match up with the attributes of a bust. Eyes are on the back of the head and hair covers the nose and mouth. There’s no front or back anymore, and instead there’s a constant play between photographed surface and the sculpted one. (Via Hi Fructose)
Commercial photographer Neil Dacosta decided to have a little fun with The Book Of Mormon. He added the words “missionary positions” to the title and created a pictorial that would have the latter day saints turning beet red. In response to a passage in the LDS handbook which says sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally wed, Dacosta proceeds to photograph two geeky males as they engage in various textbook “missionary positions” fully dressed.
The missionary position is considered the proper way for christians to engage in sexual intercourse. In the text definition, there’s a term “intercural intercourse” which is defined as the “homosexual missionary position”. The act is described as the polite way for two males to engage in sex. Its deed is described as rubbing between two thighs and has been referenced to bisexual men such as Abraham Lincoln, Alexander The Great, and lonely soldiers in the battlefield. According to most religious conservative groups, homosexuality is wrong and deviant. Dacosta’s Book Of Mormon is a clever, and forthright way to protest such absurdity.
Most of Dacosta’s other work has an edge. He has shot various campaigns involving snowboarders, runners and motorcross. In the shots, the athletes appear small against the landscape. It fits in well with another essay examining vulnerability called Astronaut Suicides. Here, the photographer shows a fully dressed astronaut in different death induced scenarios. Again, it plays against the idea that no matter what identity we choose whether on purpose or fate, we’re all human beings at the core.
Nick Smith‘s playfully arranges Pantone swatches to paper to re-create famous paintings from “Girl with a Pearl Earring” to “Mona Lisa.” Though his work uses broad swaths of colors, the pictures are still recognizable, looking almost like 8-bit art. He takes classic pieces and brings them into the 21st century, adding a little twist of tongue-in-cheek pop art to it along the way.
Smith’s previous work has also been largely representative, such as his “Shades of Lust” series, which labels various shades of pink Pantone swatches with suggestive yet simple titles such as “NIPPLE” and “BOUNCY.” (via I Need a Guide)
Katsuyo Aoki creates stunningly intricate porcelain skulls. Her work is almost like a three-dimensional expansion on the tradition of calavera, decorated skulls made of sugar or clay to commemorate the Day of the Dead. She touches on this in her explanation of work, commenting that elevating the skull, which could be considered macabre, can make the viewer feel, “tranquility and awe that can almost be described as religious, as well as an image as an object of worship.”
The patterns on her skulls range from elegant swirls to jagged spikes that look like prehistoric teeth. Others unfurl like deep sea creatures from another plane of existence, stretching their frills out like anemones from beyond. The name of the exhibit, “Predictive Dreams,” further emphasizes the mystical qualities of the artwork, recalling a time when prophets and seers would study bones and entrails to gaze into the future.
Aoki says of the work:
“The decorative styles and forms I allude to and incorporate in my works each contain a story based on historical backgrounds and ideas, myths, and allegories. Their existence in the present age makes us feel many things; adoration, some sort of romantic emotions, a sense of unfruitfulness and languor from their excessiveness and vulgarity.”