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Erika Sanada’s Grotesque Yet Poignant Creatures Give Face To A Child’s Fears

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Erika Sanada’s imaginary creatures toe the line between the grotesque and the adorable; inspired by her childhood trauma and memories of bullying, the artist delves into her deepest anxieties, plucking out tiny hairless ceramic beasts, each of whom appears strangely misshapen by a nervous sort of womb. As a girl, Sanada imagined transforming her tormenters into hideous monsters, presented here as birds and rats with twin heads or dogs that display infinite rows of glinting teeth.

As if stolen from a perverse Eden, Sanada’s endearing beasts are as innocent as they are frightful. “Newborns” introduces a trinity of puppy-rat hybrids, who, despite their sharp claws and thick, bald tails, elicit our sympathies; their soft, tender eyes have yet to open, and the tiniest of baby tongues pokes out of a toothless mouth. Similarly, a hairless beast crawls across a platform, leaving a trail of sticky epoxy that resembles amniotic fluid. He has two tails, each fleshy and naked, and yet he is so poignantly small and delicate that we yearn to comfort and protect him as he makes a perilous journey into the adult world.

As if possessed, Sanada’s cast of characters, whom she charmingly refers to as “Odd Things,” reveal black marble-white eyes, absent of pupils or irises, the effect of which is wonderfully unsettling. As we confront these magical manifestations of our most secret fears, they stare back invisibly, tracking us not with sight but with an intractable knowledge of our own vulnerabilities. Take a look. (via KoiKoiKoi)
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Ralph Steadman’s Rare Illustrations Of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”

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A long-time fan of Ralph Steadman, I still encounter works of his that have somehow missed my radar. Published in 1995, a special edition of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” (currently out of print) features 100 full-color and half-tone illustrations by the artist. Maria Popova over at Brain Pickings was able to find a copy of this rare edition, citing quotations from Orwell’s “The Freedom of the Press,” the proposed but unpublished preface to the original “Animal Farm” that accompanies Steadman’s raw and gritty illustrations.

Steadman has long been known as a Gonzo artist, a reputation due in large part to his long partnership with Hunter S. Thompson, but has also illustrated other books in his signature inkblot style including, “Alice in Wonderland,” “Treasure Island,” and most recently, “Fahrenheit 451,” in addition to drawing everything from political caricatures to wine and beer labels. NPR notes that he’s even written an opera libretto.

Of his fluid style, Steadman says, “You don’t pencil in anything; you just start going and see where it leads you. It’s an adventure, a little journey. Every drawing is a kind of journey. There’s an organic quality that is quite potent, you know. You surprise yourself, and that’s quite nice.”

A documentary about Steadman narrated by Johnny Depp, titled “For No Good Reason,” is set to release later this year. The film’s director, Charlie Paul, says,  “I was concerned that Ralph’s art would be the man and that I’d end up trying to make a film with someone who had this kind of aggressive attitude towards the world. But Ralph is such a lovely, warm and generous man, and yet he goes to his table and creates these pieces of art which are dangerous and, to be perfectly honest, quite upsetting sometimes.” ( via brain pickings and npr)

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Shen Shaomin’s Beautiful And Terrifying Bone Sculptures

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Bones automatically insinuate death, and often are the only physical remnant that insinuates life once existed. Shen Shaomin‘s bone works are equal parts terrifying and fascinating, man-made memorials to human intervention on the planet. Creatures that never have been or should be are pieced together from human and animal skeletons. The bones are carved and relief-carved with text taken from several sources, including the Bible, the Koran, and various sources. Inscribed in English, Arabic, and Chinese, the texts serve as warnings to the two largest industrial nations in the world of the damage being caused to the planet.

Related to the Chinese practice of bonsai, or long-term manipulation of a living tree to one’s will based on aesthetic and stylistic choices, Shaomin has also used bonsai in past works as a metaphor for human intervention upon nature.

In an interview with the University of Sydney’s ARTSPACE CHINA, Shaomin explains the terror he hopes to evoke in his skeletal works, “China’s current situation is very much like my bonsais. At first glance you will find it beautiful, but once you look more carefully you’ll see there are terrifying things behind that beauty. China has over a billion people, but over 800 million of those people are peasants. A peasant’s standard of life in China is still pretty basic. They say that if every one of those 800 Chinese peasants showered every day it would take more than all the water on the planet. That’s a scary thought.” (via myampgoesto11)

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Brendan Monroe’s colorful paintings explore the process of becoming who we are

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Oakland based artist, Brendan Monroe, creates bizarre compositions that feature imaginary ‘moving’ landscapes and faceless, alien looking creatures that resemble the human body. Monroe takes inspiration from the study of science and his interest in existentialism and self-discovery.

His characters, often portrayed in purple and reddish hues, find themselves in these  multilayered, remote landscapes that present themselves as chaotic, or always in motion. The stringy, cool colored worlds precisely double their existence as a wonderful yet confusing space. Monroe is also interested in presenting his funky characters the same way he does his landscapes, as intricate forms that are always in motion.

We can take Monroe’s aesthetic and conceptual approach as one that tries to visually explore what it means to be human in a world that is contingent upon the variety and complexity of our actions, state of mind, or simply the passage of time and the progress it brings with it.

Each is a way of looking at and figuring out life. It’s that human question of what and who we are, how we are here. I also like the emotion and feeling of discovery and also the solving of a puzzle that was not known before. I lean in the direction of sciences I think mostly because I was raised that way, and I like to do my own investigations and draw conclusions.

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Poignant Photographs Of Dogs Denied Homes And Unfairly Judged As “Bullies”

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When the photographer Douglas Sonders met Emma, a Pit Bull, black Labrador mix, he was touched by her gentle disposition and knew he had to take her home. With his ongoing personal project Not A Bully, the artist hopes to change public perception about so-called “bully dogs,” breeds like Pit Bulls, Boxers, Rottweilers, French Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers, who together make up 40% of shelter dogs.

Tests by the American Temperament Tests Society conducted in 2009 displayed excellent behavior and tenderness on the parts of these breeds, and yet unfair prejudice continues to cloud the judgement of adoptive families, and many dogs go without finding a permanent, loving home. Emma, for instance, was nearly put down and subsequently went nine months in the foster-care system before finding Sonders.

Through a series of poignant images, Not A Bully hopes to change all that. Sonder’s canine portraits are shot with the same careful reverence displayed in his commercial and editorial captures of celebrities; seen in high resolution and saturated in rich color, the animals are desperately emotive. Personalities shine through expectant eyes and eager tongues; the dogs pant excitedly, peer curiously at the viewer. Set against the most brilliant black fur, radiant topaz eyes shine bright, and chests perk up at attention, revealing soft and tender patches of white fur. Similarly, heads bow down slightly below the center of the frame in a show of trepidation and approval-seeking. These deeply-feeling creatures—capable of joy, fear, wit, and wisdom— are clearly anything but bullies. (via My Modern Met)
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Chris McVeigh’s Customized Retro Technology LEGO Kits

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Canadian photographer and general polymath Chris McVeigh has found fame as an in-demand commercial illustrator and designer, but his recent forays into LEGO toy designs have been bringing him even more attention recently. Taking inspiration from outdated and outmoded technologies, McVeigh’s recent collection creates sets from existing LEGO parts – and offers them as kits for sale or open-source plans for those who wish to build their own.

Not only does McVeigh create toy replicas of tube-televisions, early computers and gaming systems, but he also creates miniature “sets” – realistic era backdrops – complete with shag carpet, wood-paneling, and tacky wallpaper, just so his creations fit in. (via colossal)
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Realistic Paintings Of Naked Breasts Make A Powerful Feminist Statement

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For The Breast Portrait Project, the artist Clarity Haynes draws inspiration for the feminist art traditions of the 1970s, from works that spliced and dissected the female body in ways that disrupted and challenged the male gaze. Cataloging the naked breasts and midsections of women who do not conform to traditional ideals of feminine allure—older women, women who have undergone childbirth, transgender women in the process of transitioning—the the painter hopes to assert the validity and beauty of all human bodies, including those that exist outside of narrowly defined physical standards. For Haynes, the act of seeing and of painting the body inherently necessitates that it be viewed with respect.

The theorist John Berger once posited that female subjects in art, imagined mostly by male painters, betray knowledge of the male gaze; staring out and the viewer (presumed to be male) for approval, their identities are split in two parts, namely the true self and the self that is watched and judged by men. In cutting out the female face, eyes, and mouth, Haynes cleverly subverts this tradition, and her women display their bodies matter-of-factly, without a trace of self-consciousness.

These female bodies, removed from a face that might otherwise reveal vulnerabilities and invite scrutiny, disallow the viewer to judge based on physical appearance. In lieu of typical signs of identity like eyes, expressive brows, or seductive lips, these private sections of the body become testaments to the individual self who chooses to stand out from the conformity of conventional female beauty standards; like a text that covers the nude body, stretch marks and scars become signifies of a vast and nuanced female experience. (via iGNANT)
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Hannes Hummel’s Surreal Busts Remix The Conventional With The Strange

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Graphic, motion, and interactive designer Hannes Hummel has created a series of sculptures that are inspired by music. Titled Luxury Problems, the surreal busts are chopped up, duplicated, and mirrored. They might look like the typical “art historical” bust, but upon further inspection, there’s something seriously wrong. Some have more than one set of eyes, while others feature a skull that permeates the fusion of two faces.  Hummel describes the inspiration and process of this unusual series of works.

Based on Andy Stott’s record »Luxury Problems« I created a set of 3 busts. In the same vein as his sample oriented, dark & chopped song structure, the process and methods used to create every bust are basically the same — with the help of autocad 123d catch I scanned several busts, stone sculptures and bones, recreated them digitally and created rapid prototying ready bust-remixes

The nightmarish sculptures are fascinating in the weird narrative that they create, and has you asking questions about their backstory. Why do they look the way that they do? Hummel has give us the opportunity to fill in the blanks. (Via Martineken)

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