Swiss artist Till Rabus combines hyperrealism aesthetics with a touch of surreal scenarios to create his sexually charged, marginal paintings. Rabus’s inconvenient art consists mostly of suggestive anthropomorphic still lives and tangled up limbs, all engaging in provoking sexual situations. His immaculate attention to real-life detail makes it hard to distinguish a painting from a photograph.
Regardless of the intended eroticism, Rabus’s paintings are far from vulgar. His works rarely depict straightforward sexual objects, rather use symbols to create the desired connotation. Viewer is left with phallic confectionery, oysters and other inanimate objects that stimulate the imagination. Even the orgiastic compositions don’t reveal the full story but depend on observer’s ability to give personal meaning.
The clash between hyper-realistic style and symbolic, surreal content is what makes Rabus’s works so eye-catching. An also unexpected symmetry and palette of complementary colors induces a sense of order in an otherwise chaotic Rabus’s world of fantasy. (via Asylum Art)
In 2012, Paris-based photographer Floriane de Lassée was in Ethiopia when she came up with her “How Much Can You Carry?” series. While there, she took notice of the varieties of weight that people would carry above their shoulders. Since Ethiopia, de Lassée has traveled to 6 other countries - Rwanda, Nepal, India, Japan, Indonesia, Bolivia, and Brazil - documenting an even more diverse array of humanity and its essentials. de Lassée says, “‘How Much Can You Carry?’” is above all a tribute to the bearers of life; those whose life is heavy and where smiles and laughter become the key to a livable existence. This series can be read on two levels. The first refers to these modern caryatids; the second, more secret, talks about various weights we all carry, whether physical or psychological (the weight of tradition, education, family, etc).” (via junk culture)
Thomas Demand meticulously recreates scenes from photographs he finds through mainstream media entirely out of paper. The images are next to indiscernible from the real thing, and complicate the process a step further, the artist destroys his creations and only presents a large-scale photo print of his paper sculptures. Thus the viewer is not allowed to examine the execution, and is left all the more baffled by the precision of his pieces. He never includes people in his work, perhaps for logistical reasons as much as aesthetic, but it gives the photos an eerie quality that was already present in the clean cuts of the paper. No matter his effort to maintain a natural messiness and used quality to the spaces he creates, there is still subtle evidence that something is off, due to the lack of ware on the objects themselves.
Demand also creates animations (see a clip after the jump) using the same paper sculpture technique. His most ambitious production is Pacific Sun. Demand took the footage from a YouTube clip and completely recreated it in paper (editing out the people, of course). The clip is from the security camera on a cruise ship caught in a storm in the South Pacific. The animation tracks hundreds of objects – from tables and chairs to a straw – sliding back and forth across the dining room as the ship pitches in the waves.
The photographic series Day & Night by Atlanta, Georgia-based photographer Forest McMullin showcases the dual lives that people lead. As the title may suggest, it captures the difference between what people do during the day versus their evening activities. This often results in the visual dichotomy of the socially acceptable paired with the taboo.
Each composition features side-by-side images of people or a couple. In the photograph on the left, we often see them in professional attire sitting in their living room or at their job. The image on the right, however, tells a different tell. We see the same person clad in leather, completely nude, tied up, gagged, and more. It’s a stark contrast and a side that only a select few get to see.
McMullin’s photographs are meant to challenge the notion of what is considered normal and acceptable. Obviously, in the sexualized images are not seen as common and even deviant to some viewers but are a form of expression and freedom nonetheless. (Via Dark Silence in Suburbia)
A beautiful car crash. A lovely death. Chilean artist Fernando Gomez Balbontin paints haunted and haunting scenes in his series “Thoughts About Life and Death.” The subject matter is difficult, though not gory. Crumpled cars rest on roadsides, smashed and crushed beyond repair—these can’t be anything but fatal crashes. The figures next to the devastated vehicles are often otherworldly. A seeming specter of death wears a dark hood. Girls’ faces are obscured with blobs and blotches of color. Is it blood? It’s impossible to be sure. A priest stands next to one ruined car, the pope another. A man flees the scene.
Yet there’s beauty among the wreckage. The colors are often candy bright. A geometric structure floats, untethered, dripping in a way that’s reminiscent of tears, or blood. There are lots of these drippings in the works, adding an organic element to the mechanized disasters.
Balbontin paints the loveliest skies—peach and purple, cyan and gold. Nothing should go wrong underneath those skies, and yet…
“Denying death is denying life. So perhaps it is necessary to understand that tragedy is not the supposedly reality of death. Tragedy is about not accepting this possibility and consequently, not having enough time to live.”
Yugoslavian Bernharda Xilko‘s illustrations are stark nightmares packed with active nudes and foreboding giants exploring unfolding landscapes and black-eyed lovers. Xilko’s sexually charged figures climb scaffolding, push open folding screens, and confront over-sized replicas in barren mountain ranges where platforms unstably rest. There always seems to be a sense of teamwork, but it is teamwork that is either ignorant of the task’s ultimate result or work that feels intentionally ominous. When clothing is adorned it often feels as if it is from the decades of black and white television which provides a conceptual link for the lack of color, and the garbs warn feel blue-collar and commonplace, making these figure’s lives and mission feel almost ant-like in its diligence and insignificance. The work shares the vibe that the Twilight Zone often evokes but in a more grotesque and explicit manner.
Bernharda is also a co-founder of NOVO DOBA, an annual Belgrade comix and underground culture festival that shares his aesthetic of dark worlds. You can also see more of his work here.
Kamolpan Chotvichai explores the limitations of paper by carefully hand-cutting portraits of herself and rendering an effect of dissolution based on the Buddha’s teaching on anatta (no self). Parts of Chotvichai’s human form appear warped and melted, almost glitchy, as if they are about to disintegrate; the artist’s careful attention to the direction and shape of her cuts produces an elegant illusory effect. Chotvichai explains,
One’s adhering to something can cause the greatest misery in life especially being attached to self-existing. The idea of this self-existing is actually self-formed and leads to variety of emotions. The temper, the mind and the body altogether gradually form the idea of being alive but when putting into consideration, without any substance, it is merely the thought that we think we are existing…The way I create my work is to set consciousness and concentration by slitting and cutting on the portrait of myself which is considered to be the unconditional action of effort and attempt. This action is therefore to destroy and create the emptiness which will lead to the stage of naught.
Chotvichai was born, raised, and educated in Bangkok, where she currently resides. (via my amp goes to 11)
Tanaka Tatsuya has taken it upon himself to make a miniature scene a day, every day for the past four years. The artist uses miniature people to scale the environments he creates and form narratives between the objects. His most successful pieces are his simple ones. One of my personal favourites is the tape as treadmill piece, because it works perfectly and seemingly without effort. Having made so many of the pieces, Tatsuya must now have an eye for the world in small scale. His ability to transform the context of the object while emphasizing its essential qualities is impressive, as with the staples as hurdles or the bed sheet as wavy water.
The artwork provides an interesting way for the viewer to consider their own scale and proportion, and imagine themselves in the absurd scenarios Tatsuya creates. Although most of the scenes are of environments within our own experience, some fantastical ones are interspersed throughout the calendar, making them all the more surprising when set beside an easily recognizable scenario. These are Tatsuya’s more humorous works, an example being the astronauts exploring a field of pistachios that look like boulder sized budding flowers. One that seems to encapsulate all of Tatsuya’s strengths is the Google Maps cantaloupe; simple, funny, absurd, and recognizable, it is one of his most successful pieces yet. (Via Spoon and Tamago)