Rui Pedro Esteves has a way with illustrating people. His loose, sketchy quality gives these 2-dimensional portraits a lively sense of personality. I find them quite charming….yet I’m a little frightened by the stares. He lives in Lisbon, Portugal surfing, illustrating and making short films for us to enjoy.
I was following the pack
all swallowed in their coats
with scarves of red tied ’round their throats
to keep their little heads
from fallin’ in the snow
And I turned ’round and there you go
And, Michael, you would fall
and turn the white snow red as strawberries
in the summertime…
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)
Tasty illustration work from Melbourne artist Annita Maslov. You gotta love the pen and paper approach. It’s so direct- you can almost feel the labor involved in every calculated line and stippled shadow. And Maslov’s subject matter fits well with her inky media of choice. Dark and brooding, the images sort of require drawing’s organic touch to stave off a cold, disconnected vibe. I’m pretty sure things would turn out okay if I never saw a vector skull presented as “art” again. If you’re doing stuff like this, then, well, do it like this. Please.
Seattle based artist Casey Weldon’s newest series of work is a bit unsettling. He’s painted a series of cats, each with four eyes. While the premise sounds simple enough, the product is more jarring than one might expect. Upon first viewing the paintings the animals don’t appear as mutated creatures or monstrous as you might expect. Rather, the paintings seem to be making it difficult to focus. As humans we have a sensitive awareness of faces, eyes being a primary reference point. Perhaps because of this the two sets of eyes don’t seem as much like a defect in the cat as a defect in our ability to focus on the painting. Also, Weldon’s choice of exclusively depicting cats clearly references the internet. The animal’s unexpected rise to the top of internet meme-dom, nearly makes cat’s a symbol of internet culture itself. The gallery statement for his current exhibit at Spoke Art further expounds on this by saying:
“Ranging from internal commentary on the state of contemporary culture to a satirical analysis of the internet in general, Weldon has deftly created a body of new acrylic paintings that humor and appall. Through his thematic commonality of quadruple eyed animals, Weldon intentionally disorients the viewing experience by juxtaposing a subject that is impulsively attractive yet eerily disturbing. With this subtle manipulation the viewer finds themselves drawn towards these subjects, yet can’t quite focus on them, akin in many ways to the eye fatigue experienced by countless hours on the internet, often fueled by the mindless addictive nature of social media. The choice of cats specifically as his subject matter continue on Weldon’s commentary of the internet/social media. The immense popularity of cat culture and viral cat memes is unavoidable in this day and age, a point made all too apparent by the pairing of Weldon’s exhibition with a Lil Bub art show just two doors down this month at Spoke Art.” (via supersonic electronic)
In a series of black-and-white photographs taken between the years of 1973 and 1975, Ave Pildas provides a fascinating glimpse into how, over the span of four decades, the streets and people of Hollywood Boulevard have both changed and remained curiously the same. Pildas moved from Ohio to Los Angeles in 1971, when Capitol Records hired him to design album covers and take pictures of talent. After 6 months, Pildas left to begin his own design company called Plug In and embark on his Hollywood Boulevard project.
“This place is incredible,” Pildas said when we spoke over the phone. “People escaping the winter [and] US tourists lean towards the west — and all the nuts roll towards the west as well, stopping short of the ocean in Hollywood.” Intrigued by these people who came seeking adventure (and perhaps fame in movies and music), Pildas began to collect their portraits. “My style is to interact with people,” he said, explaining his approach. He would wait until an unknown person would walk into the light, engage with them, and then request to take their picture. Some people would pose and smile, and others would hold up their hands in rejection. “For the most part, I was treated well,” Pildas said in good humor.
Among the images you will see a whole cast of characters posing excitedly (or reluctantly) for the camera. There are apathetic teenagers at the bus stop, suave fashionistas, a chef, and, rather controversially, two people dressed up as KKK members for Halloween. In comparison to present-day street photography, which favors strong contrasts, Pildas would minimize shadows by shooting on overcast days. The result is a collection of images that are nostalgic as well as beautifully muted and almost surreal in appearance.
While some of the images look a bit dated (such as the cavalier and inappropriate attitudes of the KKK Halloween-goers), they also show how some things haven’t changed. “The costumes have changed,” Pildas observed, referring to how the fashion has inevitably shifted over the decades — but many things persist. He talked about what could still be seen: the Broadway Building, as well as the variety of restaurants, head shops, trashy lingerie stores, Scientologists, and street people hanging out. What has remained fundamentally the same is the adventurous and eclectic spirit that characterizes Hollywood Boulevard.
In an exhibition titled Hollywood Boulevard: The 70s— which opened at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) on July 1st and runs until September 13th — Pildas has compiled an exciting collection of 51 photographs from the series. The images are made from scans of the original negatives, some of which hadn’t been seen in forty years and required repair. By opening the images to the public, Pildas offers a delightful journey into the lively history of Hollywood Boulevard and its people. Check out his website and Facebook page to learn more.
Johann Bouche-Billon’s photo-series Photos of my Grandfather Dying is daring in its intimacy and complete honesty. When his grandfather was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Johann used his artwork in an attempt to wrap his head around what was going on. Of all his grandparents, he was closest with this grandfather, and had never experienced a death so close in his family. Although death is a reality of life, many if not all of us have difficulty accepting it, and Johann experienced anxiety attacks and confusion at the fact of his grandfather passing. The series provides an opportunity for healing and understanding, not only for Johann, but presumably anyone experience the death of a loved one. Originally, Johann was nervous that people would take offence at such a personal subject, but has said that the series has been received well.
His photo-series is extremely revealing, and it requires a great deal of bravery to show it to an audience. The photos show his grandfather at various stages of his deterioration, with loved ones or alone, but there are also a great deal of what you could call b-roll interspersed in between. The b-roll – consisting of photos of a food spread, a television, a painting of jesus, etc. – allows moments of contemplation or rest, for the viewer and probably for Johann himself. It makes the process seem more natural, instead of only presenting chronological photos of his grandfather, he lets you breath and wander through traces of his family and the scenes surrounding the events. The series itself is 107 photographs, and so the selection of images I’ve curated for this article is disproportionately weighted towards photographs of Johann’s grandfather. In the end, he is the subject of greatest importance, but I highly recommend checking out the entire series here, it’s extremely moving. (Via Vice)