Rebecca Morgan is a wonderfully playful, expressive artist producing mostly drawings, paintings, ceramics and cutouts, all based on characters and stereotypes from her native Appalachian area in America. Long term fans of Morgan’s, we have actually featured her previous series of portraits of rednecks and peasants- ‘Deliverance‘, here on B/D. This time we are enamored with her latest ceramic collection of gnarled, twisted, almost gruesome jugs. As with her 2D work, Morgan takes inspiration from the off-beat “bumpkin” (as she calls them) folk she grew up around.
Her ceramics are quite the sight – with bulging eyes, leering at you, and with crooked smiles, mouths full of oddly shaped and yellowed teeth. Their colors are quite unsettling as well, some vases a sickly blue-green tone; another is bright pus yellow; some vases glazed in a metallic sheen; and yet another made from a dull grey ceramic with ghastly warts plastered all over it’s face.
Stylistically, Morgan embraces hyper-detailed naturalism, influenced by Dutch painters such as Memling, Brueghel, and Van Eyck, as well as absurd, repulsive caricature suggestive of underground cartoonists like R.Crumb. (Source)
The influence of underground comics are definitely evident in Morgan’s work and she makes sure to embrace a healthy dose of lewdness, as does Crumb. She obviously delights in pushing the boundary between repulsion and attraction; the grotesque and the ordinary. Thankfully these vases are neither repulsive, nor grotesque, and they are far from being ordinary.
Brooklyn-based photographer Rob MacInnis captures candid portraits of farm animals in his aptly titled Farm Series. The desaturated, vintage-looking photos provide a nostalgic and straightforward view of cows, horses, goats, and more. Staring completely calm at the camera, they pose for family photos in barns and in the wilderness. Sometimes, MacInnis will also highlight a single animal in up-close and personal portraiture. It showcases their wild, textured hair and kind eyes.
There’s something that’s delightfully ordinary about these photos. They aren’t flashy or bursting with color. Instead, they depict a simpler life that’s unfettered by technology and dense cityscapes. It’s as if by looking at these images, we’re reminded of old family portraits – ones where we’re younger and things didn’t seem so complicated. (Via I need a guide)
Paco Peregrín is an international photographer who creates experimental characters out of high-fashion images. This particular series is entitled Beautiful Monster, which Peregrín directed with the intention of exploring the effect of makeup on identity:
All photos that integrate Beautiful Monster allude to a very particular concept of beauty (sometimes unusual, alien or even beautifully monstrous), to its ephemeral nature and the passage of time. Naked men and women are on a neutral background where makeup comes great prominence, even avoiding the recognition of the models, thus reflecting on the idea of identity and a proposal for the makeup as a contemporary mask that protects us, on the one hand like a camouflage, [and on] the other helping us to build a super-ego. (Source)
Peregrín’s “Monsters” are fascinating, radiating with acid-bright color and cryptic eroticism. Most often nude, their faces are bound and adorned with rope, tape, paint, and jewels. Something happens when their features are obscured — their expressive bodies appear almost inhuman. In a style best described as hyper-real futurism, the images speak directly to a postmodern society so obsessed with beauty and constructed identities that it slips into beautiful absurdity.
Given that fashion photography is often criticized as being wholly commercialized and thus heavily restricted, Peregrín’s unique style is doubly surprising; he has worked with big names such as Chanel, Diesel, Vogue, and Vanity Fair, but still manages to bring his own creative and unconventional vision into his works. Check out his website for a gallery of his immersive and consistently experimental projects. (Via Art Fucks Me)
A young photographer named Rachel Baran is taking surrealist pictures to a new level. Mostly self portraits in strange settings, her manipulation in photoshop allows fantastical things to happen. Displaying nuances usually found only in painting, it’s no wonder people are taking notice. According to her Facebook page, she lives in Ohio, just graduated from college and seems like a regular gal except for her highly creative eye. Some significant work shows appendages (fingers) in different stages of duress. In one, two hands are fused together by skinwebs and another shows a cutoff finger revealing not blood but concrete. One does reveal blood and a montage of her cutup portrait on a clothes line to dry turns a bit, well, emotional. Whether there is any real logic to her work is another question. However, an understanding might not matter, because the pictures hold your attention. Some may dismiss them as pretentious gobbledygook, others will embrace and try to find hidden meaning. The surrealists played with subconscious. Ideas were thought about but not necessarily thought out. Comprehension was a feeling. Dali believed in Jungian and Freudian behavior. For part of his daily practice, the artist would fall asleep with a big sketchbook on his lap and be awoken by it crashing onto the floor and immediately jot down whatever was in his mind. Baran’s photographs follow a similar plan. They exist to explore a subconscious path. Through a series of latent acts, interesting moments occur and the camera is there to capture them. (via Artfucksme)
The photographic studio founded and run by Robert Staudinger and Andreas Franke (based in Vienna) have been experimenting with many different post production techniques for a while. Their recent fascination is with water. Photographing different women just beneath the surface of water, their series Barrier is like a ghostly fairytale. The women seem to either be sinking down into the depths below, postmortem, or in a state of serenity and peace, enjoying a moment of calm. We are not quite sure whether the barrier is a help or a hindrance; something to protect the women or to hurt them. The images capture an intrusive moment, either like watching someone during their final moments of life, or having an intimate bathing experience. Whatever it is, Staudinger and Franke exploit the tension between tranquility and unease; push and pull; immersion and separation.
Playing with the concept of water in the past (The Phantasy Fairytales), Staudinger and Franke seem interested in exploring the quietness and other-worldliness of the substance. By including the element in their images, it changes the mood quite drastically, and in most cases makes it seem more surreal, ethereal and eerie.
Franke has also shot an old shipwreck off the coast of Key West (Vandenberg Project), digitally adding in components later on to complete the shots. Including ballet dancers, kickboxers, a girl holding a butterfly net, a woman hanging out laundry, and a whole lot of other surreal details, Franke became experienced in recreating watery effects on his subjects to blend them in seamlessly, and somewhat believably. To see more of their beautiful skills see here. (Via Art Fucks Me)
Artist Stefanie Herr’s topographic artworks are inspired by maps. When traveling, she writes, they facilitate navigation and orientation, and drawings by cartographers are the starting point of her work. To create her sculptures, images are printed on photographic paper, mounted on matboard, hand cut into tiny pieces and assembled. They resemble maps that show changes in elevation once completed. But, instead of rivers, plains, and mountains, Herr features faces of people.
She calls these pieces experiments on landscapes models that merge photography and sculpture. They often take weeks to complete. In an artist statement, Herr writes:
Photography abandons the two-dimensional plane and sets out to conquer the space. In search of suitable maps, however, I do not only focus on the shape of the terrain, but also on place names. As toponyms can inspire strong images or even stories, they often interfere in the development of my projects. When shooting photos, I mainly choose top, side and front view representations – I particularly like making use of “aerial” views on a scale of 1:1.
In addition to this inspiration, Herr is also concerned about environmental degradation and rapid loss of biodiversity. She further explains:
Unique natural heritage is gradually being depleted or replaced for the mere purpose of economic growth, and it seems that we have completely forgotten about the aesthetic values of landscape. As a world citizen, I am concerned about contemporary landscape change and the prevailing landscape perception. Topographic Fine Art mainly deals with these issues and, even though on a reduced scale, attempts to capture some of the natural beauty that surrounds us. (Via Lustik)
Masaya Kushino‘s high heel designs are chimerical, fusing organic textures and materials with the manmade. He utilizes luxurious fur and lush jungle moss alongside meticulously stitched leather, creating works of art that are quirky and beautifully imaginative.
It’s fitting that the form he chooses to play with is the high heel: the height of artifice; impractical; undeniably evocative. It’s a choice that is brimming with meaning and possible interpretations. They’re an everyday item but commonly elevated by haute couture into something fantastical. To some people, they represent an unobtainable ideal, one that is rife with sociopolitical meaning and controversy. Whether you approve of the existence of stilettos or not, they’re admittedly architectural, intriguing in their contours and elegant curves.
Kushino emphasizes a number of these qualities, borrowing the jeweled swoop of a peacock’s tail feather and a bouquet of flowers to highlight the theatricality. In his latest work, called “Bird-Witched,” he incorporates an element of the grotesque: Three shoes that seem each an embryonic stage in the development of a chicken. The heel of the shoe is a gnarled claw, sharp-toed and grisly.
Seattle artist Joe Vollan has an inventive imagination that lies somewhere between Edward Gorey, children’s fairy tales, with perhaps a little Tim Burton mixed in there. Mechanized skeletons of birds, wild beasts, a cat dancing around a fire, all forming splices of what could be either a tall tale or a nightmare, depending on your take. His work involves the dead moving about in a world where they continue to interact, and this playful imagery is embedded in a fictionalized version of Seattle, as the Space Needle is present in one particular painting.
As said on his website: “His works describe tales of heartache and adventure. The bulk of his paintings take place in the city of Rusted Gallows, a post apocalyptic, rundown factory town populated by secret skeleton societies and strange but friendly creatures. The characters in his works demonstrate that there can be contentment and hope in an otherwise dilapidated world.”