Rik Garrett is a photographer who uses alternative and outmoded techniques to infuse his images with symbolism and dark surrealism. We featured Symbiosis in 2013, a series wherein Garrett applied paint to images of coupling nude figures in order to make them resemble a single, intimate unit. Last year he published Earth Magic, a book of images that depict nude women stalking through shadowy forests, engaged in strange and arcane ceremonies. The highly detailed yet slightly deteriorated look was created through Garrett’s use of the wet plate collodion process, a photographic method introduced in the early 1850s.
According to the project statement, Earth Magic seeks to explore “historical and personal relationships between witchcraft, femininity, and nature” (Source). Channeling the legends and embedded superstitions about the feminine occult—the woman in tune with wild, decentralized, and hidden powers—Garrett’s images are haunting and empowering. He meshes bodies and woods together in unsettling contrasts of soft skin and jagged, dead trees. The black and white tones resemble moonlight, conveying the hours of witches and ritual. With their faces blurred and eyes shadowed, the women resemble beings crossing over from the other side—part human, part goddess, part ghost.
Australia based artist Patricia Piccinini creates disturbing yet enticing human-animal-plant hybrids. Her work probes your brain in a very uncomfortable way, forcing you to come to terms with the potentiality of a sci-fi engineer’s fantasy come alive. Her work spans various media, however her silicone, fiberglass, and human hair sculptures seem to take the cake of most striking. These alien plants and what may resemble sea creatures made from human flesh are not exactly easy to digest — yet, they are unquestionably inventive and just as hard to look away from as they are to look at. She begins her process by drawing through her thoughts. Once her idea becomes developed thoroughly, she plays with material. Her ideas manifest themselves through media spanning anywhere from photography to drawing to sculpture. She is able to develop a project anyway in which she believes will best connect the viewer and the concept. Her sculptures range in process — she uses both traditional approaches such as hand sculpting using plasticine models as well as digital techniques such as CNC and 3D-printing. Through provoking thoughts of genetic mutation and the potential of biotechnology, each piece questions the boundary of possibility and perhaps aims to be the foresight to the alarming possibilities of the future.
Patricia Piccinini has been active in the art scene for more than two decades. In 2014, she won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Melbourne Art Foundation. (via Illusion)
Spanish artist José Manuel Castro López seems to have the ability to transform the structural properties of rocks. He manipulates the surface of stone to create a new formation. He turns a classic object of solid nature into something strange, malleable and soft. His work, for just a moment, forces the viewer to question reality. For what should be “as hard as a rock” becomes reminiscent of having a materiality as flexible as dough. With loose folds, simple cut outs and pinches, it seems the artist is able to sculpt rocks as if they are as supple as clay. Each piece has a certain sense of humor to it, as it is an optical illusion that kind of asks the viewer to reflect upon his or her own common sense. Yet, simultaneous to its comical, light hearted absurdity, the work also has an almost unusual, uncomfortable resemblance to flesh, giving the work a darker, more complex facet. With these flesh like objects — quite literally for some of them, as they depict faces — the properties of what seems like skin begin to become distorted, perhaps depicting the moments directly after pain has been inflicted. For example, his sculpture of what looks like a ring puncturing skin. Or, the sculpture of what looks like the result of flesh that has been stretched through it’s ability to be elastic. With a large array of pieces, José Manuel Castro López creates clever work that truly plays tricks on your eyes. (via deMilked)
Sean Yoro (aka, Hula) is a globetrotting artist known for his tranquil murals that merge human figures with urban and natural environments. In a new project called A’o ‘Ana (The Warning), Hula traveled north, to an area with icebergs that had broken off a glacier nearby (for legal reasons, the exact location must remain undisclosed). There, using the icebergs as a canvas and the sea as a frame, he painted serene portraits. In the following statement, Hula describes his experience:
“In the short time I was there, I witnessed the extreme melting rate first hand as the sound of ice cracking was a constant background noise while painting. Within a few weeks these murals will be forever gone.” (Source)
Hula’s project is one of ephemerality, both beautiful and disturbing; the paintings, much like the state of the “frozen” north, will one day vanish into the rising sea. As he describes in a statement to The Creators Project, he doesn’t simply wish to forewarn of impending disaster, but rather shed light and urgency on the fact that people are already being affected by climate change (Source).
In Lee Griggs’ pictures, each face has a different shape yet the same human features. The Madrid-based artist is playing with distorted skin and exaggerated stretches by using 3D scans. He is a digital sculptor not afraid to shock. The renderings appear bizarre yet close to reality and open the door to multiple interrogations.
The artist creates his faces by using Arnold for Maya, a program allowing subjects to be twisted and contorted digitally. In his series ‘Deformations’ he uses Maya to deform and Arnold to apply shade and light. The purpose of Lee Griggs is only empirical. Never knowing where his experiments on his software will lead him; he keeps on adjusting, erasing and reapplying the tools on the portraits indefinitely.
The final result is intriguing, the features of the faces are kept as close to reality as possible. The wrinkles, eyebrows, expression of the eyes and the skin tone remain intact. But the character’s expressions are dead serious. The duality between the exaggeration of the faces’ shapes and the stern looks demonstrate the artist’s will to communicate irony and to question the meaning of norms. By creating realistic looking anamorphic portraits Lee Griggs creates a space for introspection. (via Sweet Station)
Made With Color is an online platform that allows artists to showcase their work without having to set up a complicated portfolio site. It helps create clean and sleek websites that are responsive for smart phones and tablets and best of all you can have your site up and running in minutes! Each week we, at Beautiful/Decay, pick a Made With Color user and share their artworks. This week, we present the exquisite work of Bart Exposito, an artist raised in Los Angeles and currently working in New Mexico.
Harmony between the graphic lines and the soft color schemes on the background. Bart Exposito’s paintings look like pure abstraction that hints at representation. The ‘Strange Alphabet’ series depict a gathering of lines that come together to weave a geometric alphabet that only the artist can decipher. A subtle combination of shapes and colors speak to the viewer while enticing their imagination to wander and interpret the meaning.
Exposito is inspired by locations. His recent move to New Mexico has unleashed a new vision of the land and the sky. Transferred onto the canvas, his experiences are singular to his story. “The language of painting can occupy a space inherent to its own, affected by its surroundings, allowing me to conflate such disparate visual tendencies to create a personal, idiosyncratic, and nuanced body of work that could not have been produced in any other environment than New Mexico itself”. An invitation to the viewers to relate and share their story through the interpretation of his vivid paintings.
Stefan Glerum is a Dutch artist known for his playful and eye-popping illustrations. He spent four years studying illustration at Academy St. Joost and also worked as an assistant to Joost Swarte, a celebrated comic book artist. His work is characterized by clownish figures engaged in various dynamic acts. Described as “a melting pot of illustration heritage,” Glerum’s style draws on the Art Deco, Russian Constructivist, Italian Futurist, and Bauhaus movements, infusing this creative mash-up with popular themes (Source).
Recently, on the wall of a housing complex in Amsterdam, Glerum designed a massive and unique work of site-based art: two stained glass windows installed on a housing complex that depict a cartoonish collage of the location’s history. Located on the front and back of the building, each window is 60 feet high. Heren 5 Architects built the complex, and Atelier Schmit fabricated the stained glass. The AFK supported the completion of this project.
The longer you look at this stunning work, the more you’ll unravel about the surrounding location. First and foremost, the windows are aligned like a chimneystack, referring to a Oostergasfabriek (a nineteenth-century gas factory) that once stood out in that area of Amsterdam. Following the abandonment of the factory at the beginning of the twentieth century, the area hosted other industrial and public spaces. The front window shows a swimming pool, an animal shelter, and the Don Bosco School; the back depicts a public bathing room for factory workers, the laboratory of Professor Ernst Laqueur, and musicians of the Red Fanfare who formerly rehearsed there. You can read a more thorough description of each window on Glerum’s website, and there is a video about the construction here.
What makes the windows so spectacular is the artist’s seamless combination of historical periods and human environments. From military maneuvers to the coal industry to animal care, his loony figures crash together in a time-transcending and spirited symphony. Glerum’s art is not unknown to B/D; he is included in our Book 7: Class Clowns, and even designed the cover art. If you enjoy Glerum’s work—and, furthermore, are curious about artists who use similar styles of humor to engage and challenge us—you can purchase a copy of Book 7 on our shop page. Limited copies are still available.
South Korean artist Lee Yun Hee creates narrative ceramic pieces inspired by literature and story telling. She uses both Western and Eastern influences, creating a style of her own that is striking, unique and undoubtably contemporary. Her work is fragile and flawless, almost creating an aura of effortlessness. She uses her work to reflect upon stories of everyday people; their struggles, fears, hopes, and anxieties. Yet, most importantly to her, she is truly interested in documenting their “cures” — the sort of “up from below” type stories that end with a protagonist who has had the strength and endurance to overcome a difficult task. For example, her piece La Divina Commedia, reinterprets the classic 14th century poem by Dante. In her version, she depicts a young girl’s search for truth. She explains the tale behind the piecein an interview with Brilliant 30. She states,
“there was once a girl that received an oracle, telling her future. The knowledge, the predestined desire and insecurity left her troubled. In search of happiness and peace, she embarked on a journey. Along the way, she encountered many obstacles; but at the end, she discovered the peace she has been striving for…By overcoming anxiety and suppressing desire, the girl reaches a state of ultimate peace.”
Her work acts as windows into her own version of a fairy tale; she is able to re-create morality stories within her own framework. She refers to her self as a collector— she takes influence from everything she sees. She explains, “I have been keen on collecting images since I was a child. I would rather cut out the pictures from cartoons than read them. Even the encyclopedia wasn’t safe. These processes have had more influence than anything else on my background as an artist.”
Lee Yun Hee’s work is mystical and fantastic. Though balancing modern, classic, Eastern, and Western styles, she has creating an epic body of art that is honest, profound, and truly unique.