Ave Rose is a writer and artist whose love for the beautifully macabre has manifested itself into a collection of undead, baroque-styled robotic dolls. Using tiny bones and taxidermied animal parts, Ave brilliantly assembles morbid objects into miniature characters, each one uniquely adorned with intricate clothing and glimmering stones. From rings on clawed fingers, to bejewelled masks, to a delicate, golden dress tailored for frog hips, the detail she crafts is incredible. Each creation is animated with motion mechanics, allowing them to move and sway along with accompanying music, like grotesque music box ballerinas. In an anxious (and sometimes satirical) collision of materiality with the horrors of death and rot, Ave’s living-dead creations ultimately represent the “beauty that can be found in decay and disarray” (Source).
This collection, titled Bestiary of the Automata, was featured as part of the 3rd Biennial Taxidermy Show (2014) at the La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Hollywood. In addition to her dark menagerie, Ave crafts a collection of other motion-infused works, such as mechanical butterflies and Watchbots, which are “miniature robots made of watch parts” (Source). Her works are characterized by compelling double-effects, blending beauty with the bizarre, technology with tradition, and youthful whimsy with the cold, mechanical realities of death. Behind all of the clockwork, darkness, and hints of satire, Ave’s creations celebrate life by fearlessly confronting themes of a macabre nature.
Michigan-based artist Pat Perry creates surreal drawings and paintings that play on the relationship between identity and memory. Often, they feature a single person who has imagery swirling around in their head or the rest of their body. Perry is an avid sketchbook keeper, and he draws these complex, alluring compositions on yellowed paper. It’s clear that he is a skilled draftsman and is able to balance of small details with blank space.
Landscapes are a prominent part of Perry’s work, and you can’t help but think that these subjects are recalling that specific place. But why? His work begs us to take the narrative further and imagine the stories behind these people. (Via Design Crush)
German artist Mike Dargas paints hyperrealistic works of women’s’ faces covered in honey. The luscious, visceral images are up-close, frontal portraits that show the gentle creases in skin as well as the viscous glare on the liquid as it travels down their face. It’s fascinating to see people dripping with thick substance – it’s as if they’re frozen in time.
Dargas finds the models for his painting in everyday life, and they aren’t limited to specific types. According to his website, “He portrays young and old, beautiful and dark, fragile and strong people. They are lost in thoughts, show inner conflicts or transmit a unique and sometimes even holy calmness.”
When someone loses a lifelong partner most people think of their loss in terms of daily companionship and financial security. Mourners rarely talk about another very important aspect; the loss of intimacy. A new product showcased at Milan Design Week by Dutch designer Mark Sturkenboom could change that and make the sexual transition a little bit easier for the open minded. 21 grams allows the partner of a deceased lover to use a sex toy filled with the decease’s ashes and symbolize the union that once was. It gives added meaning to keeping the fires burning and even though some may think strange is a unique and creative way to remember.
The device is made up of a memory box containing a hand-blown glass shaped dildo containing a small gold-plated urn which can hold up to 21 grams of a deceased partner’s ashes. The idea is to connect the living to the deceased again in a physical and intimate way. Accompanying the toy is a perfume diffuser, gold-plated key and iPod slot for music. The title comes from a study in 1901 by Duncan Macdougall who conducted an experiment on five dying patients seeking to prove that a soul existed and had ‘weight’. In the test patients were weighed before and right at the moment of death. When the final breath occurred all weighed 21 grams lighter thus proving Macdougall’s controversial theory. (Via dezeen)
Like floating into a dream, Jason Mitchell’s photography takes you into a new place of existence, stuck between worlds. His series Dream Away displays ghostly bodies in a different state of being, exploring a sense of awakening. Inspired by metamorphosis, his figures are placed in a blank space, not knowing exactly where they are except for in a place of uncertainty. Even still, they seem tranquil and ready for whatever is to come next. Each image contains an ethereal quality, as the figures delicately glide through the air. In this series, we cannot tell if Mitchell’s figures are falling or floating, as there is no sense of direction, like they are underwater. With bright whites and light shadows, the absence of almost all harsh shadows creates an angelic atmosphere around these women.
Hinting at themes of afterlife and a higher state of being, Mitchell’s figures almost do not appear to be human. They are transcending their bodies on a journey of oneself.
“I ask my subjects to explore a loss of control, but a sense that they are being guided, pushed and pulled by another sentient being, as they make their way to a new self. They represent the soul of a magical creature on a journey through the limbo that connects their past understandingto this new unknown.”
– Jason Mitchell
Although all of Mitchell’s work holds a striking beauty, his series Dream Away truly exhibits stunning detail and imagery. Photographs from this majestic series will be on view at 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco, CA until May 30th.
Jessica Dalva is a Los Angeles-based artist who creates beautiful, wall-mounted sculptures depicting dark, fantasy imagery and the exploration of internal struggle. Recurring throughout her works is the feminine figure in various states of intensity and solemnity, such as sinking in a sea of grasping hands or engaged in somber rituals. Like religious artifacts, each sculpture carries a spiritual energy intended to resonate with the viewer. With metaphorical, mythological prowess, Dalva visually expresses the torments and transformations of subjectivity, from personal battles against fear, to moments of rapture and emotional healing.
Dalva’s works are currently being exhibited in a feature show titled Hapax Legomena at the La Luz de Jesus Gallery. “Hapax Legomena” refers to words that only occur once in a text or within a language, which often makes them untranslatable; Dalva uses the term to explore the singularity and ephemeral nature of an individual’s inner struggle. As outlined on the exhibition page:
“These experiences can be difficult to convey due to the lack of a context to anchor them, as well as the inherent gap between understanding and expression. The pieces are singular expressions of an idea, hapax legomena, in that they are representing distinctive concepts, as well as attempting to communicate the untranslatable through the imperfect language of art.” (Source)
An encounter with Dalva’s work is intended to be a subjective event, representative in some intuitive way of the hurdles encountered by everyone. Dalva’s darkly mystical works do an incredible job communicating the physicality of emotional pain and restoration; with their eyes fogged and eerie, the feminine figures become transcended forms, their bodies acting as expressive vehicles. It is left to the viewer to interpret the spiritual/emotional passage in which they are engaged.
Artist Fabien Mérelle’s delicate drawings revolve around insecurities and nightmares. His surreal images often feature himself as the main subject, and Mérelle doesn’t exactly paint himself in the greatest light. He’s seen naked, being attacked by giant bugs, and struggling to hold the weight of an entire elephant on his shoulders. It doesn’t look pleasant and the misery seems unavoidable.
While Mérelle’s drawings are self portraits, they speak to a larger audience. Anyone who has felt crippling anxiety, stress, or even just an unpleasant feeling will be able to relate to these heavily symbolic images. They are what nightmares are made out of – not the gruesome ones, of course, but the kind where you feel emotionally spent and groggy when you wake up. (Via Cross Connect Magazine and Hi Fructose)
C. Owen is a Chicago-based artist who creates eerie, black-and-white portraits of insects and animals — particularly those that have died or have been resurrected as taxidermied objects. The series featured here, titled Ordinary Overlooked, explores the alien beauty of dead insects that Owen finds outside or in the corners and windowsills of her house. With a strange alertness and intimacy, the images capture with startling detail the characteristics of each tiny body — such as the hairy legs, segmented antennae, and compound eyes — that otherwise go unnoticed. What was once creepy and “ordinary” becomes familiar and nuanced. In a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay, Owen explains:
The insect world is something the average human rarely pays any close attention to — that is, unless they are invading your home. Something ordinary as a moth, housefly, or ant can easily be overlooked and considered a pest. For me, they have opened my eyes to a tiny new world. […] The more I photograph these insects, the stronger my curiosity grows.
What makes Owen’s images especially uncanny are the states of limbo they portray. Floating in surreal, nocturnal worlds, each insect carries the illusion of life while curled in the postures of death. As manifestations of uncertainty and ephemerality, they are transformed through the camera’s gaze into sentient ghosts, lost in purgatory; “taken in one hair at a time, the images are suspended somewhere between metamorphosis and reincarnation,” Owen writes. The result is a series of contemplative photographs that provide both the time and focus in which to foster respect while exploring the beauty of alternate, living worlds.
Visit Owen’s website to view more of her work, including Trophies, a haunting portraiture series of taxidermied animals who likewise trouble us with the indistinctness between life and death.