“Referencing Roman Catholic imagery and ideology and early Italian Renaissance paintings such as Piero Della Francesca’s ‘Baptism of Christ’, these figures bear bold narratives of saints, martyrs and rites of passage punctuated by often delicate yet dramatic totems to death, re-birth and the sublime.” (via Dark Silence in Suburbia)
If you ever dissected a rodent or amphibian in science class and found it nauseating, then Emily Stoneking’s knitted anatomy might agree with you. Art and science intersect through her Etsy shop called aKNITomy, and she hand-knits artwork featuring dissected frogs, rats, and pigs. The cute and cuddly are pinned (not glued) using T-pins and framed for display on your wall.
Stoneking knits the body of the animal/figure using a kid mohair and silk blend, and then she needle-felts the innards by hand. These adorable creations are the result of the artist’s larger interest, which is using cozy, crafty materials to create objects that usually make people squeamish.
Stefanos created a Euro Banknote Bombing project by incorporating minimal ink bled illustrations of a callous nature and torpid situations. The human figures he incorporates into the Euros embody the social and economic instability in Greece has been facing for the past few years. On a 100 euro, the Grimm Reaper “reaps” in the shadows. A “bomb” effect to showcase social decay and violence. This is just one of the many heartless illustrations that grace the paper.
Stefanos hijacks the European document, exemplifies artwork through a lack of reality, then returns it by spending it-sending it flight for circulation. By defacing the euro, he expresses his dissatisfaction for the economy to share in the hands of others. The graffiti euros have successfully branched all over, showcasing his depiction of this noise that Greece faces.
LOL, I have so many visas, would you like to marry me? No kidding, Leonard Combier. He takes ordinary passports and transforms them into a magnificent compact world of intrinquite drawings, quotes, tiny details and intertwined stamps. Depths of ink cover these passports with Gotham Googly looking characters with large bubble eyes.
His carefully calculated doodles are constructed with hundreds of shapes, forcing you to take a closer look at the passport and dissect the different stories. Eyeballs are common throughout his drawings and staring back at you-makes sense on a passport. This circus spectacle must be a sight for customs officer!
Artist Socrates Mitsios‘ series Postcards from Vegas document in snapshots his journey through Las Vegas and the surrounding desert with his subject, and often collaborator, Actually Huizenga. The photographer’s lively, suedo-glamorous style gives new life to the seduction of the kitschy, Americana that is Las Vegas. In this series, the scantily clad model poses provocatively, and sometimes humorously, in typical Vegas settings such as in a hotel room, in front of a casino, or on top of a slot machine. Each snapshot resembling a postcard, as the model looks somewhat like a tourist in these classic and reminiscent settings. This concept is the result of inspiration taken from the book of postcards starring Cicciolina, the Italian porn star ex-wife of Jeff Koons.
Mitsios model in this series, Huizenga, combined with Vegas’ cheesy glamour, creates a rough, strung out portrayal that is at the same time attractive and desirable. However glamourous, fake castles and costumes surround Huizenga. Her environment is an illusion of luxury that so many desire. These alluring images embody a “live fast, die young” feeling of a young generation looking for adventure and excitement. Full of costumes and props, casinos and lingerie, this series represents a lifestyle of dreaming, a journey through the spirit of Las Vegas.
‘Framed by the fantasyland of Las Vegas, these images are a cross between cheesecake postcards and Americana tongue-in-cheek idealism. Amidst the flurry of cheap promos and raunchy advertisements that litter the Vegas streets, Mitsios’s perceptive camera captures Huizenga’s genuine desire to inhabit a world of erotic ivory-tower make believe.’ –Ryan Linkof, V Magazine
London-based artist Oddly Headdepicts classic films in his series titled Hollywoodland, but it’s all with a dark(er) twist. Using iconic scenes and images from the likes of Poltergeist, Jaws, and The Wizard of Oz, he interjects different narratives. The drowned Statue of Liberty in Planet of the Apes is still but in Oddly Head’s telling it overlooks happy beach-goers. Likewise, celebrity Simon Cowell’s face appears on the Poltergeist TV rather than its original eerie glow.
By stripping the shocking/memorable parts of the original scenes, Oddly Head takes some luster away from Hollywood. Instead, he’s made them seem trivial, silly, and completely changes the tone. Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music suffers a distressingly-painful fate and is hitched to crosses. This much more sinister than its mostly-cheerful tone. Singing in the Rain also has the same treatment. As Gene Kelly belts out his the lyrics, a homeless man sleeps next to a graffitied door. Hollywoodland is part absurd and part amusing, and will definitely make you look at these films in a different light.
If you enjoy Oddly Head’s work, check out his intricate prints made from thousands of tiny vintage images.
Artist and illustrator Liam Gerrard is a master of trickery – especially when armed with a piece of charcoal in his hand. He draws meticulous combinations of animals (usually dead), pop stars, cultural icons, and beautiful snippets of nature (mostly flowers), that he describes as ‘Semi-Realistic-Gothic-Awesome-Dark-Magic-Black-Tracing’ (Source). Gerrard builds his complicated compositions from different elements to create a surreal hybrid of modern day life. Specializing in portraiture mostly, his work deals with ideas of beauty, life, death and how humankind deals with those complex issues that we are commonly faced with. Leafa Wilson writes about him in her essay:
He apprehends our desire to ‘perve’ at aesthetically beautiful things and people by giving us a few truths we may struggle to look at; ugliness executed with absolute beauty…..He underpins beauty and death through a marriage of Gothic darkness and pop-icon stellar-brightness that totally munts up the readings of his extensive visual vocabulary. Debbie Harry becomes the poster girl for Satan and Frida Kahlo is set aside with her monkeys in a surreal type vignette. (Source)
Gerrard does choose quite gothic material to focus on, but manages to turn it into something that is beautiful and wondrous. He garnered a lot of attention after drawing a 2.5 m charcoal and acrylic painting of convicted murderer Clayton Weatherston. The subject of the controversy had stabbed his 22 year old victim, Sophie Elliott, 216 times and was sentenced to 18 years in jail, without parole. And even with such a gruesome topic that many people would not care to know more about, he somehow managed to create an object of curiosity and interest. And that is enough proof of his immense talent. See more of it after the jump.
For photographer Ellie Davies, the forest is her studio. Her images are an immersive mix of realism and heightened fantasy. In a mossy clearing, for example, galaxies have been interposed with the landscape like clouds of will-o’-the-wisps, while elsewhere, stars resembling flaxen particles drift down in a column, illuminated by the sunlight. Her landscapes are not only places of mysticism and beauty, but of darkness, as well. Fog and clouds drift amongst the trees like ghostly breaths expelled from the twisted, bronchiole-like branches. In one particularly haunting photo from Between the Trees Triptych (2014), skeletal trees flank a spectral cluster of mist.
Whether glowing bright or cast in shadow, all of Davies’ images reveal a reverence for the forest, as well as her intimate understanding of the way such landscapes have manifested themselves in our cultural imaginations. As she writes in her Artist’s Statement:
“UK forests have been shaped by human processes over thousands of years. […] As such, the forest represents the confluence of nature and culture, of natural landscape and human activity. Forests are potent symbols in folklore, fairy tale and myth, places of enchantment and magic as well as of danger and mystery. In recent cultural history they have come to be associated with psychological states relating to the unconscious.”
And it is true; all of these cultural legends, practices, and traditions have made the forest — indeed, “nature,” as a concept — a construction, a story we tell ourselves to try and understand our individual connection with it. We imagine the woods as a symbolic place of “elsewhere” and “otherness,” and this cognitive distancing allows us to romanticize it, fear it, and/or exploit it.
Davies wants to confront us with these fictions “by making a variety of temporary and non-invasive interventions in the forest, which place the viewer in the gap between reality and fantasy” (Source). She creates her scenes in what she calls “small acts of engagement [that] respond to the landscape” — she builds things, creates pools of light, incorporates craft materials such as paint and wool. As I read it, the images have several effects. They resonate with our fantasies about the forest, but at the same time, we recognize their construction, which helps us to perceive that our cultural relationships to the forests of the real world are also constructed. In unveiling such narratives, Davies’ work encourages a more ethical connection to the woods: we recognize “reality” as a series of stories that have been told to us, we sense that we are not truly separate from what we call “nature,” and we accept that we can never fully understand it — an acknowledgment that fosters both respect and peaceful coexistence.