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Body Talk: Natalie Fletcher’s Painted Bodies Create Optical Illusions

Natalie Fletcher - Painted Bodies

Natalie Fletcher - Painted Bodies

Natalie Fletcher - Painted Bodies

Natalie Fletcher - Painted Bodies

At first glance, these twisted, manipulated, and camouflaged bodies appear to be the work of a photographer who is very skilled in Photoshop. However, the subjects in these photographs are not the product of digital alteration, but were transformed at the hand of a simple paintbrush. Artist Natalie Fletcher uses the body as a canvas, applying her paint and imagination directly upon the skin of her subjects. Formally trained at art school, she broke away from the traditional method of painting after graduation and began her pursuit as a master of body art. The artist uses the lines and color applied by paint as a means to create a variety of different captivating and puzzling optical illusions.

In her series titled Just An Illusion, op art breathes new life on the skin of her subjects, as she covers the bodies in spiraling lines. The bends formed in the patterns seem to warp the bodies so to us they appear twisted, sunk in, and even cut open. In another series of Natalie Fletcher’s, titled Against the Wall, an illusion is still apparent, as each body has been blended into the background thanks to her painterly magic. In some cases, it is difficult for you to decipher where the wall stops and where the paint begins. Fletcher’s talents in body painting has not gone unseen, as she has won GSN’s “Skin Wars” and is in the process of traveling across the country, painting two bodies in each state.

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Lottery Ticket Art from Ghost of a Dream

The work of art collective Ghost of a Dream uses lottery tickets and romance novel covers to mezmerizing effect.  Often employing thousands of dollars worth of scratch-off tickets ($70,000 worth of tickets in the last installation alone), the work conjures a culture of hyper-materialism.  The gaudy coloring of the tickets and cheap imagery of romance novels reflect the nature of the object they cover.  Like the dream of striking it rich, the art of the collective is hypnotic and absorbing.

If you want to see more work from Ghost of a Dream be sure to check out their exclusive feature interview in Beautiful/Decay Book 9.  The collective explores Greed in this Seven Deadly Sins themed edition.

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Matthew Stone

Matthew Stone

Matthew Stone is an artist based in London who has practice in photography, performance, video, drawing, and sculpture. Stone is also a long time friend and collaborator with indie-favorite-carnal-lust-inducing fashion designer Gareth Pugh, providing soundtracks to his shows and films. Recent exhibitions and performances have taken place at the Baltic, the Royal Academy, the ICA and Tate Britain.

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Cassandra C. Jones

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Carnegie Mellon grad Cassandra C. Jones makes work that embraces the digital photography + social web revolution to the fullest extent. She combs the web for pictures that fit whatever project she may be working on (above, wallpaper made entirely from images of flamingos), many of which end up being amateur digital snapshots uploaded to Flickr or other photo hosts. Taking this found photography, she creates art – sometimes smart, sometimes clever, sometimes thought-provoking compositions.

Cassandra C. Jones was recently featured on BoingBoing Video. The interview, which I highly recommend watching, is after the jump, along with some more images of her work.

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Sculptures On Colonialism And Globalization By Yinka Shonibare, MBE

Yinka Shonibare sculpture6

Yinka Shonibare sculpture9

Yinka Shonibare sculpture10

The work of Yinka Shonibare, MBE is filled with the complexity and ambiguity that make art endlessly exciting.  Born in London, Shonibare moved to Nigeria when he was three years old and later returned to London to attend college.  In a way, his work reflects this personal dynamic between Europe and Africa.  However, Shonibare’s work makes it clear that his scope is much larger than that.  He skillfully blends traditional textiles, costume, and symbolism from various European and African cultures and times.  Through his distinctive work, Shonibare has a way of exploring issues of colonialism in an increasingly shrinking world without taking away any of its complexity.  Thus, his work doesn’t inspire political reactionism, but rather sincere thought and deep consideration.

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Greg Bogin’s Empty Paintings

It’s really hard to pull off a painting with a white center but somehow Greg Bogin has done it. With a minimal amount of paint and some carefully shaped canvases greg manages to create beautiful work that packs a powerful punch. It also doesn’t hurt that he jam packs his work with one of my favorite things in life…gradients!

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Nobody Notices Artist Lays Dead In A Public Park To Protest Michael Brown’s Killing

protest11protest12protest2In the wake of the murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri by a policeman, and the subsequent protests of police brutality, tensions have been high among many communities. On Saturday August 16 in Philadelphia, artist activists draped yellow CAUTION ribbon around the iconic LOVE statue in Love Park and actor Keith Wallace positioned himself face-down in front of the statue, wearing a white t-shirt that appeared to be stained with blood, as if he were shot from behind. Standing near him, two people alternated the holding of a sign that read “Call Us By Our Names.” For an hour, Wallace lay in front of the emblematic, tourist-attracting statue – all the while, tourists continued to pose in front of the statue, usually while framing Wallace out of the photo, or blocking the view of his body in some way.

For Wallace, an idea like this had been brewing for quite some time. “I just tried to think about a way I could use my spirit of activism coupled with my artistic passion to make a statement about what’s going on. So I just decided that for me, I’m a very image-driven artist. I think images speak louder than words can, most times. And so there’s some value in forcing a society to look at the most ugly parts of itself and just putting it out there for them to examine and discussed, and to be disgusted by, in the hopes of provoking some sort of dialogue or provoking some social change in an effort to eradicate some social ill, whatever that is.”

The phrase “Call Us By Our Names” was born from the knowledge that though we know the names of victims like Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, there are countless other victims of police brutality whose faces go unrecognized and unnamed. “I was tired,” Wallace says. “No, we’re NOT thugs, we’re not this, we’re not that. We’re unarmed citizens, so call us who we are. Call us by our names. Say ‘Michael Brown’ instead of ‘unarmed robbery suspect.’ When you give a face and a name to a victim, the public becomes socially responsible in a different way.”

According to Lee Edward Colston, a theater student who was helping with the protest, visitors to the statue expressed a variety of feelings and opinions. “There was an older white couple that wanted to take a picture in front of the LOVE statue,” recounts Colston. “The older white gentleman said, ‘Why do they have to shove their politics down our throats?’ The woman replied, ‘They’re black kids, honey. They don’t have anything better to do.'” In another account, Colston says, “There was one group of white guys who wanted to take a picture in front of the statue, but one of the guys in the group couldn’t take his eyes off of Keith’s body. His friends were trying to convince him to get in the picture. He told his friends, ‘Something about this doesn’t feel right, guys. I don’t think we should.’ One of his friends replied, ‘Dude, come on … he’s already dead.’ Then they all laughed.” Additionally, “There was a guy who yelled at us… ‘We need more dead like them. Yay for the white man!’

Colston did relate two more positive reactions to the performance. Recounting one, he says, “One young guy just cried and then gave me a hug and said ‘thank you. It’s nice to know SOMEBODY sees me.’” And in another, “There was a Latina woman with two young boys. She held her boys’ hands and said to them, ‘I want you to see this. This is important. Never be afraid to tell the truth.'”

Accompanying the silent protest, a sheet of paper was handed out that included information about rights and responsibilities, and a statement that partially reads, “I am racially charged not because I want to be, but because I have to be. I am racially charged because in certain instances, that hyper awareness may ensure that I make it home to my family at the end of the day. I am racially charged because I am not afforded the luxury to wander through life with my head in the (nonexistent) ‘post-racial America’ clouds. I see color because my color is seen, dismissed, devalued, and implicated as a threat everywhere I go. I am racially charged and if I make you uncomfortable by speaking out about it and calling attention to it, then I implore you to eradicate the ugliness I see every day in the world.” (via ra’s al ghul is dead, thinkprogress, philadelphia magazine)

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Angelo Merendino Photographs His Wife’s Battle With Terminal Cancer

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death by cancer

Five months after being wed in Central Park, while most couples are settling into a new blissful life together, Angelo Merendino and his wife Jennifer received troubling news: Jennifer had breast cancer.

Of this diagnosis, and the journey that ensued, Angelo states, “With each challenge we grew closer. Words became less important. One night Jen had just been admitted to the hospital, her pain was out of control. She grabbed my arm, her eyes watering, ‘You have to look in my eyes, that’s the only way I can handle this pain.'”

Angelo took his wife’s request seriously and his photographs, collected here, document not just her struggle with cancer, but also a certain compassionate way of looking– a presence from behind the lens that is not exploiting nor agenda-driven. Each black and white image from Angelo shows the necessity of bearing witness or being a vulnerable presence that is sharing in the difficult and very human experience of love and loss.

Angelo additionally notes, “We loved each other with every bit of our souls. Jen taught me to love, to listen, to give and to believe in others and myself. I’ve never been as happy as I was during this time.”

For those of us touched by cancer, we can relate to Angelo’s statement — sickness is not just about the disease, it’s about relationships: how we deepen with one another by practicing empathy and how this feeling palpably echoes long after someone passes. Capturing this feeling in art, the way Angelo has, connects not just two people, but many millions more.

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