Charles Clary, a paper artist, has begun a body of work calling to the nostalgia of the 80s and 90s. Taking VHS boxes from old movie favorites and the containers for childhood games, like Operation and Monopoly, he cuts into the cardboard and weaves through a layered paper sculpture.
The concept is interesting although it is not absolutely clear what purpose the paper layering is serving in reference to the found items. While I find Clary’s work to be provocative and unique in most of the settings he has explored, in this specific scenario, the nostalgic entertainment pieces and the paper formations seem more to detract from one another as opposed to enhancing or adding to the viewer’s experience.
As explained in his artist statement:
“I use paper to create a world of fiction that challenges the viewer to suspend disbelief and venture into my fabricated reality. By layering paper I am able to build intriguing land formations that mimic viral colonies and concentric sound waves. These strange landmasses contaminate and infect the surfaces they inhabit transforming the space into something suitable for their gestation. Towers of paper and color jut into the viewer’s space inviting playful interactions between the viewer and this conceived world.”
Illustrator Raphaël Vicenzi, also known as Mydeadpony, combines watercolor, digital media, and typography in the creation of stunning and imaginative portraits. His female characters are a troubling (but fascinating) combination of darkness and light; washed in pastel colours, their seemingly innocent faces and figures are fragmented with images and words, from swords to jerrycans to obscure declarations of “wake up” and “wolves in the house.” These interposing objects cause the sensual apathy of the faces to fall away into a richer complexity.
When I asked Vicenzi about his creative process, he explained that it is very much driven by stream-of-consciousness: “my process is to start working on an illustration even if I am not sure where I am going.” He builds his pieces bit by bit, exploring and discovering them as if they were living entities. And while the results are beautiful and eclectic, Vicenzi admits that his art involves “a constant struggle, battling with myself about this or [that] decision.” However, the results are powerful, multimedia creations. “It’s worth it,” Vicenzi writes. “No pain no gain.”
Mydeadpony’s pieces speak to us with a familiar melancholy, as they explore the underlying nature of our emotional lives; beneath every face is an interplay of longing, pain, desire, anticipation, and nostalgia. The name “Mydeadpony” itself emerged from a photograph the artist found of himself: a child sitting on a white pony. Upon realizing the pony was long dead, this experience made him profoundly aware of the irreversible passage of time, and how we experience transformative loss and change at several points in our lives. This is the emotional, visceral core of Vicenzi’s work; hard to describe, but intensely palpable. Check out his website for a gallery of his pieces.
The instrument of horror in the performance was The Apollo Chair, which was infamously used by Iran’s secret police. Saunders would be strapped down into it; Duncan would wield a stun gun capable of emitting 5 million volts. An altogether harrowing performance piece, the nightmare was completed by a tin can placed over Saunders head in a grim mask that is practically funereal.
In preparation for the performance, Saunders submitted himself to torture by his own hand as well as those of his friends. During each painful session, he created a series of mixed media art pieces named, “While Being Tortured,” a raw collection of first-person suffering. The series is painful to look at, a searing indictment of the terrors and evils human beings are capable of.
Each piece evokes a claustrophobic sense of helplessness, reduced to an almost primitive artform. Some are more coherent, showing clearly the entry wounds, where the bone is being bent and the skin is being torn. Others are jagged jolts of color and furious scribbling, as though coming straight from the lizard brain. The primal shapes and lines are disturbing suggestions of the kind of seismic experience tearing through the artist.
We’ve featured Saunders’ art before as he explored the effects of drug use in his artwork. Similarly, “While Being Tortured” is a visceral window into others’ experiences in a way that might not be accessible otherwise. “In no way do I wish to equate my experiences with [victims of torture] or belittle their experiences with my art,” Saunders says. “My goal was simply to create a different way of bringing awareness to something that is currently happening in over 200 countries throughout the world.”
Photographer Amy Friend‘s series Dare Alle Luce is a visual interpretation of the Italian saying – ‘to bring to the light’ (in reference to birth). She has birthed new light (literally) into something old. Sourcing vintage photographs from markets and online, she has pierced them with hundreds of holes, tracing around silhouettes and filling shapes with delicate perforations, flooded by light. Initially starting the project by embroidering the images, she found the effect of hundreds of little needle holes more interesting and decided to pursue that technique instead. Instilling new life into these images from the past, Friend has created hauntingly mysterious objects that exist in between historical and contemporary worlds. She says of her motivation:
I aim to comment on the fragile quality of the photographic object but also to the equal fragility of our lives, our history. All are lost so easily. By playing with the tools of photography, I “re-use” light by allowing it to shine through the holes in the images. In a somewhat playful and yet literal manner, I return the subject of the photographs back to the light, while simultaneously bringing them forward. (Source)
She goes on to say:
In my work I gravitate towards ideas relating to time, memory, impermanence, and the fluctuations of life…. In my practice I tend to work within the medium of photography, however, I am not concerned with capturing a “concrete” reality. Instead, I aim to use photography as a medium that offers the possibility of exploring the relationship between what is visible and non-visible. (Source)
Rachel Suggs is a Baltimore-based illustrator whose soft mixture of water-based media and (sometimes) pencil conjure both beauty and intrigue. Her colorful-yet-desaturated compositions, often fantastical, feature people whose lives are intimately tied to nature. Tall trees, weeping branches, and florals are both background decor as well as the main characters in her illustrations.
Symbols and metaphors are prominently featured in Sugg’s works. We aren’t always given a clear sense of where a person or thing is, but based on the environment surrounding them, we can infer the emotions and motivation behind the subjects in her illustrations. Snakes and serpents show up in her work, which could communicate danger. Sometimes, we see birds and bugs, which, depending on what they are, could mean a metamorphosis or rebirth.
Are you still scrounging for some amazing, last minute gifts for your friends and family? Send them some Beautiful/Decay art!
For example, the poignant, purple-and-gray two-tone piece above is one of my favorite poster prints commissioned for Beautiful/Decay.
Entitled Music in Your Head by Sylvain Bousseton, this piece is evocative of an Ishihara color blindness test in some places, and then Campbell’s Yellow Submarine animation in others. The crownlike headphones royally pump tunes into the skull. A runic star map floats in one teardrop orbit, and an arabic style glyph is suspended in the other–– all while Beautiful/Decay is written where the tongue once was.
You can find this incredible and intricate piece in the recently relaunched Beautiful/Decay shop today, in high quality full-color print.
But there’s more. Not only is the above print for sale but you can now find everything on our shop for 25% off for the rest of 2014! Get three B/D books for the price of two, then take an extra 25% off that. Grab10 classic issues of the B/D magazines for $35, but then take an additional 25% off––two unspeakably good deals here. Don’t miss this offer, it expires December 31st at the stroke of Midnight–– just enter promo code beautifuldecadence,and you’re golden. Enjoy!
At the intersection of fashion, photography, film, stagecraft, and design, artist Marina Fini creates hallucinatory, alternative worlds. Based in California, she collaborates with friends and artists alike in the staging of these otherworldly scenes, using colorful costumes and her own handmade, plexiglass jewelry to turn her photographic subjects into ethereal cyber goddesses. When asked how she builds these characters, Fini remarked, “there’s something about transforming someone into someone they wouldn’t normally be … that is, creating an extension of themselves that I see in them.” All of her characters exude a captivating power, like the whimsical and intangible figures seen through a psychedelic dream. By exploring alternative selves in familiar contexts – a convenience store, or the Californian seaside, for example – Fini explores how subjecthood is fluid, and how such creative “shape-shifting” can alter they way we perceive our immediate reality.
While beautiful, there are also darker and more satirical elements in Fini’s work; in her own words, there’s something compelling about “juxtaposing what we associate as innocent with something horrific or insane.” In her short film Tree Temple, for example, a group of forest sprites — their faces eerily obscured by their colorful hair — dance feverishly around an altar made of Apple computers. Shortly after destroying the altar in their frenzy, they fade into mourning and death. As this film exemplifies, integrated throughout Fini’s scenes are emblems of our contemporary cyber culture — the Apple logo, wifi symbol, hand cursor, and so on. Speaking to this, Fini says that the use of such icons “specifically pokes fun at our internet-obsessed culture,” thereby producing a playful — and sometimes dark — cultural critique of our digitized existences.
In addition to her photographs and videos, Fini is well-known for her aforementioned jewelry, as seen on many of the models in these photos. In pursuit of new projects, she has recently announced that she will be phasing out her jewelry, but her Etsy shop will remain open until mid-January 2015. If you enjoy immersive art and playful reconfigurations of reality, check out the surreal worlds she has created on her website and Tumblr pages.
Italian photographer Giampaolo Sgura has put together a whimsical, colorful photo shoot for the December/January 2015 issue of Vogue Paris with supermodels posing as lifelike Barbie dolls trapped in commercial packaging. He has turned the idea of Prêt-à-porter into something quite literal – into a pre-packaged sartorial commodity that you can carry away. The idea of purchasing a look or an outfit from a catalog is now conceptualized as something that it has always been – a highly stylized and idealized situation amplifying our fantasies and desires.
Supermodels Magdalena Frackowiak and Elisabeth Erm take the place of childlike dolls, dressed up in highly fashionable clothes, surrounded by desirable products and placed in boxes labelled with luxury labels such as Dolce and Gabbana, Chanel, Valentino and Miu Miu. They seem to bring the concept of fashion full circle in that they are now animations of the thing they are selling. Fashion photography has always projected an idealized representation of how one could live in the clothes it markets, this time we are shown the truth of the illusion.
As Alfred Stieglitz once said,
In photography, there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality. (Source)
And that is exactly what Sgura’s photography is. It is so real it becomes surreal. It is a stark commentary of the commodification of fashion. He captures the reality of the representation of modern women in modern times – not just as consumers of fashion, but also as objects. (Via Design Boom)