Guillermo Lorca is a Chilean artist who infuses Baroque- and Renaissance-influenced paintings with touches of surrealism, fantasy, and paranoia. In scenes of luxury and violence, bright-haired children wander around in the company of shadowy, mythical beasts. The classical style and carefully planned (and almost theatrical) compositions lend Lorca’s works an air of gravitas and serenity, but among his innocent and otherworldly characters are signs of deep trouble and impending chaos, such as smoke-filled skies, bloodied animal carcasses, and snarling dogs. Similar to the Flemish vanitas, his works are beautiful, symbolic visions that teeter on the verge of becoming nightmares of death and human excess.
The ambiguity that permeates from Lorca’s paintings allows him to tell stories through metaphor, thereby exploring the shape of the human soul. Just as fairy tales transmit their veiled messages across generations, his imagery can be unpacked to uncover layers of meaning. For example, there is savagery and madness in the dogs that demolish a pristine-white table setting into a mountain of blood and gore; there is obscenity and greed in the animal-headed clowns who topple over platters of uneaten meat; and the child sitting courageously in the burning field alludes to a loss of innocence. The beautiful thing about Lorca’s works, however, is that their immense detail and seductive atmosphere allows the viewer to extract his or her own meaning, one that resonates across time to masterfully portray symptoms of the human psyche and experience.
Artist Emma Kohlmann creates ink drawings of amorphous figures performing sexual acts. Her delicately explicit work almost mimics a Rorschach Test. Upon first glance, we are confronted with an abstract, puddle-like treatment of ink. As we enter the work further, we find ourselves in an intimate realm of masturbation, cunnilingus, voyeurism and fluid erotica.
Kohlmann uses source material such as vintage porn and Japanese erotica. Her large collection of content allows her to generate a prolific body of work. A major aspect of her process is simply the act of her constant making. She states:
“Most of this work is an exploration of repetition. I like having a accumulation of images and working in multiples because I can never create the same image twice. Every time I create the details I focus on change. I like focusing on androgyny or addressing sex as multiplicity in finite or non binary.”
Kohlmann’s distorted figures are simultaneously omniscient and innocent, similar to the portraits of Marlene Dumas. Each drawing is both commanding, yet self conscious, a dichotomy that exposes the true complexity of the sexual being. Her work has a natural rawness that is almost brutally honest and inherently feminist, as sex can be both an act of power and shame. There is an innate sense of relatable vulnerability. Her nameless, faceless, genderless, figures are somehow no one and everyone, allowing them to provide an of existential sense of isolation. Her work has a softness, sincerity, and intricacy that echoes the true confusion of beingness.
For more of Emma Kohlmann’s work, check out her blog or follow her on Instagram
In her latest series of ceramic and underglaze sculptures entitled Habitats Collide, artist Crystal Morey underlines the role and impact of human beings on nature in the most melancholic sense. Her work represents human beings with stern looks on their faces “encased” in the bodies of animals. Morey states that the animals she has chosen for this series are either endangered or extinct, which adds to the thoughtful aspect of her project.
She states that her work is inspired by the Byzantine, Renaissance and Ancient Egyptian eras. It also bears a strong resemblance to Native American totem art, due to the visible ridges in the pieces which are designed to look like fur as well as the merging of human and animal forms. Her work, being inherently totem like is thought provoking on many levels beyond its aesthetic composition.
Her representation of human beings as both a part of nature and a problem for nature is in line with many current debates concerning the role of humans as linked to the impact we have had and continue to have on our environmental surroundings. She states that her work seeks to address “current psychological, environmental, and cultural feelings”, which she does perfectly through the facial expressions of the human components in her work. She hopes to create a dialogue centered on technology, progress, and, on a greater scale our relationship with nature.
In her series, Real American Beauty, photographer and filmmaker Liza Mandelup invites us to follow her on a challenge to define the word Beauty. Throughout the series, we travel with Mandelup to different regions of the country where she exposes each place for its own unique glamor.
The first episode takes us to Mr @ Ms Hair Studio in South Central, LA. Here we meet a group of women who speak about their time spent getting dolled up as therapeutic revival. The second episode brings us to a prom focused suburb in Long Island, New York. There we meet a town of mothers obsessed with their daughters’ ability to fit in. In the third, most recent episode, we are introduced to a boxing community of young Cuban men in Miami, FL. The members yearn to look tough and to stand out (and believe they can do so with the perfect hair cut).
Through her short documentary series, Mandelup stimulates us to question if there is such thing as a singular beauty. Her work hints that the notion of beauty is in no way universal. Her series conveys to us that, possibly, our perceptions of beauty are ingrained in us no differently than our senses of right and wrong. Maybe our aesthetic prerogatives are just as complicated as any other set of ideologies. Here we see that the concept of style is just as vastly extensive as identity itself. Perhaps Liza Mandelup is showing us that the word “beauty” has itself become obsolete.
Combo is protective if his street art. In response to an anti-graffiti brigade repainting one of his piece, the artist took a picture of this man and turned him into a collage a few days later. The part the man was covering was the tagged area and the part representing Donald Duck’s nephews Huey, Louie, and Dewey was left undamaged.
Based in Paris, France; Combo depicts mischievous and entertaining street art. He feeds his obsession with interaction by opening a conversation with the walkers and his followers. He usually starts out by tagging the beginning of a sentence and seeking the end on his Facebook page. He asks his fans to finish it. The ending that has the most likes gets to be tagged.
The artist focuses on diverting visual images from their original meaning by adding foreign elements. These elements are usually familiar, coming straight from pop culture, cartoons and video games. By using popular symbols he speaks to the mass and can therefore vehicle his messages. Most of the time the topics covered are injustices within our society. Combo engages with its viewer in a disruptive manner but he always makes sure he does not cross the line of judgment. (via Lost At E Minor).
Ondrej Konupcik is a Czech artist offering organic and original watercolor brush strokes and ink splatters on a tattoo. He depicts explosive impressive animals like hawks, foxes and wolves but also other simpler objects. Customers don’t choose from catalogs when they come to Ondrej Konupcik, each drawing has to be almost custom-made.
The artist, who also goes by Ondrash, has to feel a connection to the subject before starting the process of tattooing. That’s the reason why he only takes care of one person per day. He wants to know on a deep level the story behind the tattoo. He traces directly on his customers to embrace their bodies and curves. He illustrates their wishes and desires from what they reveal.
A lot of the time mistaken for watercolor paintings applied directly to the skin, Ondrash’s tattoos has gained the appellation of compositional, figural art and today art brut tattoo. He gets his inspiration by browsing the web, getting ideas from other artists andpainting daily for himself using watercolor and oil. Ondrash also tried to graffiti. Enjoying the way the colors evolve in front of his eyes at a faster pace than when he tattoos, this could maybe his lead to a new project. (via deMilked).
In a darkly poetic new video titled “Quand c’est?” (When it is), singer and songwriter Paul Van Haver (aka, Stromae) sings a chilling address to cancer. The video, shot all in black and white, depicts Stromae performing for an audience of animated alien limbs and nettle-like growths—a creative portrayal of the disease. His words are emotional, bold, and honest:
“Oh yes, we know each other well
You even tried to get my mother
Starting with her breasts
And my father’s lungs
D’you remember then?”
As the video proceeds, Stromae dances across stage, moving in the same strange, articulated fashion as the disease that seeks to devour him. As the music builds, his graceful movements unravel into desperation as one of the limbs seizes him while another—approaching unseen from the back—strikes him dead. The remainder of the video spirals into a fervor, depicting his ghost being his cast into a black pit festooned with the bodies of countless others.
Stromae is known for his videos that touch upon topics of an important nature; the award-winning song “Papaoutai,” for example, explores the experience of growing up without a father. “Quand c’est?” (which is also a homophone for the French pronunciation of “cancer”) explores the trauma of the disease from both an intimate and universal perspective; the majority of us have been touched by cancer in some way, as is expressed by the network of bodies trapped in the alien nest. Weaving together vocals, dance, and animation, Stromae’s haunting performance is an expressive embodiment of human pain and perseverance.
Artist Tsuyoshi Imamura’s latest series of watercolor paintings delivers a dreamlike depiction of the human body. Through the use of black, grey, and various shades of pink, blue, and purple, he creates an abstract view of the human body as a composition of shapes and forms. His series of darkly colored watercolors depict men and women in various sensual positions and bring another angle to perceptions of rigidly defined beauty.
The watercolors are a series of gradients in which light and dark colors work together perfectly alongside the water that is necessary to their composition.The presence of water in these compositions is both essential to the paint on a chemical level and an essential part of the paintings themselves in the sense that it contributes to the fluidity of the paintings and compliments the gestures the figures in the paintings are making.
The dancing figures are reminiscent of Matisse’s Dance in both their physical form and in the ways their bodies are moving. The simple beauty of these bodies, which are almost water spots make Imamura’s work both stunning and original. The ways in which the light work with the dark in his work gives each painting a dreamlike property and enhance the musicality of the human body in motion.