Gary Ward uses charcoal, graphite, oil pastels, and an overall sharp wit to examine humanity’s mess of emotion over the confusion of body and identity.
His Archeology Series, collected here, is a playful response to the quandary of life after death: how, despite fame, class, or notoriety at the end of it all, we are basically just a slew of skulls with slight form variations.
Regarding process, Ward, a self-taught artist based in Los Angeles, says he is “interested in how the mind and hand talk to each other in one uninterrupted sitting.” He likes to see the authorship of a flawed line and honors how each mistake can spontaneously charge the work in a new direction.
“Hermaphrodite [sex … is] the sex of the angels,” explains Claudette, an intersex sex worker, to the photographer Malika Gaudin-Delrieu. The pair began their collaboration after meeting in Claudette’s native Switzerland, where Gaudin-Delrieu was documenting the country’s legalized prostitution. With her recent series of photographs, the artist elegantly dispels stigma around complex gender identities; as seen through her lens, Claudette is a woman, a husband, and a father.
Ideas on prostitution, a field often associated with the abuse and exploitation of women, is also complicated by the work. Here, sex work is seen as a means of self-actualization and joy; “Claudette is the opposite of a victim. She controls her life, makes her choices clearly and knowingly. She does more than just live her life, she loves it,” says Gaudin-Deirieu of her subject. A courageous activist for sex workers’ rights, our protagonist stands before a dark auditorium, bathed in spotlight, silently inhaling, poised to speak.
Laced throughout the work are subtle moments of love and intimacy. The series, romantically titled La vie en rose (presumably after the love song by Edith Piaf, a prolific French singer who was cared for by sex workers), focuses in part on Claudette’s 52 year marriage to her wife Andrée. Claudette’s quiet warmth and affections, seen in her and Andrée’s sleepy embrace, permeates throughout the entire visual narrative; with the same profound care, she counts her earnings, dresses in lingerie, rubs her neck.
Claudette describes her work as “[assuming the role of] ultimate femininity […] with happiness and a sense of relief,” and her nuanced relationship with her sensual yearning shines through in the images. We follow her as stops in the street, seduced by a lingerie shop window, as she dresses herself, fingering the textured fabrics as they cling to her body. Claudette’s life, as seen through streaming sunlight and soft darkness, is magnetic, alluring, and unexpectedly soothing, and viewers are left to ponder an indescribably complex global sexual and political landscape. What do you think? (via Feature Shoot and HuffPost)
Writer’s note: Gaudin-Deirieu’s work and this post are in no way meant to be taken as a generalization of the lives of sex workers; instead, they are meant to highlight the life an individual. As the artist explains, there are as many views on prostitution as there are people practicing it. For many, it’s a form of abuse; for Claudette, it is not.
The word “hermaphrodite” is usually considered to be offensive, and in no way is this post meant to condone or encourage the use of the word under most circumstances. Here, it is used only because Claudette herself identifies with the word.
Dan McPharlin is an illustrator who is concerned with the “future past or past future,” as he notes on his webpage. His artwork live in a realm of speculative reality, where space is the final frontier — or perhaps the first of a civilization beginning to rebuild itself.
There are dystopian touches in his illustrations: in one, an astronaut gazes on temple ruins; in another, we see the haggard remnants of a bridge that looks like it used to be golden. It’s a little reminiscent of the final scenes of Planet of the Apes, a familiar monument from a world long lost. McPharlin’s work utilizes rich colors that are once neon yet muted. His palette is one that includes the golden rod yellow of futuristic smog as well as the earth tones of somewhere decidedly not-Earth. There is certainly a quality of nostalgia to his work, though for what, we don’t necessarily know.
“These are the worlds of dreams and half-memories,” McPharlin says on his webpage. “The collision zone of past-futures and futures-past, derived from blueprints laid down decades earlier on the pages of battered sci-fi paperbacks, fantasy art books, and mid-century design quarterlies.” (via Dark Silence in Suburbia)
I feel like I’m breaking the rules looking at Ukrainian photographer Alexander Alekseenko’s work in the office. Between the girl-on-girl action and the shirtless marauding men, I can’t help but blush. Alekseenko told Mint Magazine “I love spontaneous shots, stories and mostly all of my works are pretty much spontaneous.” Wait, if this is the kind of stuff that just happens in the Ukraine, I think we’ve found the next spring break hotspot. And it looks a whole lot classier than Cabo.
The work of artist Kris Kuksi has a decidedly consistent style. His amazingly intricate sculptures are often dark, reference both the classical world and the industrial landscape, and comment on religion and politics. His Churchtanks series, though, seems to especially encapsulate his philosophies. Kuksi seamlessly fuses gaudy cathedrals with modern war tanks to create one imposing structure. In a strange way, the aesthetics of each seems to compliment the other. Kuksi effectively uses the structural blending to comment on a connection between religion and violence.