Beauty is a treasured thing in our culture, and Turkish artist Merve Morkoç, aka Lakor mis, turns this ideal on its head. At first glance their paintings are of seemingly young, glowing-skinned models, but a longer gaze reveals that these subjects all have something seriously wrong with them. Coupled with their well-coiffed hair are fantastical disfigurations that you’d see in a horror film. Warped eyelids, caved in faces, and rashes exist on these young women.
Any sort of pleasant response you initially had is probably gone, and the works are like a train wreck that you can’t look away from. The strange details are intriguing, and it speaks to Morkoç’s expert handling of the medium that they are easily able to fool us into thinking something that’s repulsive is actually beautiful. (Via Hi Fructose)
Last Summer Evan Gruzis openned up his studio for a visit with B/D. His work struck a chord with me. It’s the way he takes “cheesy” tourist imagery, 80’s nostalgia, and advertisements; and then intellectually flips-that-shit to create paintings that deal with death, infinity, and desire. It was like he was reading my mind, because those are the first three things that occur to me when looking at an add for a cruise ship or a Caribbean resort. His work interested another website, sightunseen, and there’s a new studio visit where they get into creativity and the aspects of hallucinogenic perception.
Lunakhods is an art collective comprising two Toronto-based photographers. Drenched in color and filled with a luminescent haze, their images resemble daydreams experienced beneath the heat of a midday sun. With a touch of surrealism, otherwise familiar landscapes are made unearthly: glowing wells appear in deserts at twilight, and eerie fogs cloud out distant views of mountains and trees. There is a competing sense drowsiness and vitality, transcending consciousness and materializing an alternative reality.
Lunakhod’s photography conveys an emotional and almost cinematic experience of the world. Human behavior is turned into a bizarre and deeply metaphorical reflection of itself; like muses of our solitary, dream-wandering selves, masked figures haunt dark roadsides and rooftops. Elsewhere, someone holds aloft a garden flamingo in an act of both absurdity and reverie. Time is suspended; past and present collide in images aged with dust. In the world of dreams that Lunakhods creates, temporality and concrete meaning become irrelevant — instead, their images explore the spirit, eternity, and subjectivity of a semi-lucid moment.
Platonov Pavel’s portraits of a figure wearing a ski mask are full of rich psychological mystery and intrigue. They take a basic subject matter and create a complex narrative with just a few elements and well placed use of color.
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.
Loyal B/D reader, let me introduce you to Erik Beehn, a supremely talented painter, photographer, printmaker, and all around excellent artist. Erik’s work tends to focus on spaces, and the details that define those spaces. Says Erik, “It is the small details within a space, such as the lighting, textures, shadows, and even the balance of negative space between objects that grasps my attention. My work investigates the use of emptiness within a space, and its relationship to either its viewer, or its occupant.” Erik recently moved his studio to Las Vegas, and has been working like mad on several different projects, while always keeping his eyes open to the subtleties of the american landscape. I caught up with Erik the other day, and asked him some questions about his former life as a master printer, his unusual painting techniques, and his new life in Sin City.
Jessica Drenk is an artist currently living and working in South Carolina. I’m fascinated by her series of inherent sculptures made of the ‘old school’ HB pencils we can all remember using in elementary school days. For me, I enjoy these for nostalgia sake and also how she can create such organic, free-flowing shapes from such a rigid, preconceived mundane tool that we can all relate using to write our abc’s with. (via)
Polish photographer Pawel Fabjanski serves up a nice blend of commercial/fashion aesthetics and personal input within his work. He brings a mysterious, postmodern edge to everything he does, whether it be a portrait of a girl with red pyramids attached to her face, or a troop of nondescript people in weird, pink lab attire (above). Touching on themes of alienation and “man’s response to the environment”, each photo gives you just the right amount of chills. Fabjanski also spends time teaching at the National Film School in Lodz.