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CANSON WET PAINT GRANT RECIPIENT: Raul Gonzalez

If Raul Gonzalez had a soundtrack to accompany his drawings, it would be a mash up of old Disney movie themes, Death Metal and Mariachi music. It’s a bizarre mix of badass and cute, (cute like a two-year old giving you the finger) all on color splotched and stained pages that make you feel like you’re getting a secret look into Gonzalez’s personal sketch book. You can imagine the free-association process that went into each image, each element building, as if at some point Gonzalez thinks to himself, ‘it would be rad if the chicken was coughing up a human tooth,’ or ‘this guy should have a beat up severed head in one hand and a flaming cigarette in the other.’ And what may look like stains or scribbles reveal themselves to be crucial compositional devices that contribute to the overall success of each illustration. Best of all is the playful freedom: while the characters are often beheaded, impaled, beaten, or in some state of peril, there is always an aspect of humor and joy. Even if it’s the kind of joy some of us got from frying an ant hill with a magnifying glass as kids. Gonzalez brings to mind some of most underappreciated cartoons to hit the glowing screens in American homes, shows like Ren & Stimpy, Beevis and Butthead, and even Itchy & Scratchy on The Simpsons. Shows that are so awesomely gross and hilariously violent they pull at the heart strings of those of us who liked to poke dead things with a stick.

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MASKULL LASSERRE

Rough industrial materials meets delicate carving in the transformative work of Maskull Lasserre. Some favorites include the jawbone carved into a picture frame and fingers carved into keyboard keys. See them and more after the jump.

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Ron Ulicny’s Patterned Sculpture Forces You To Look Closer

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When an artist works with patterns- repositioning, repurposing and giving new context to his or her subjects- it is often in the interest of creating more from less, big from small. It’s a way of demonstrating a well-worn flavor of creative vision, one that lets the world know that you not only can see the unseen, but you can create the bridge between that which exists, and that which, as of yet, does not. It’s a way of asserting how smart you are (after all you’re a step ahead of everyone else). This is a good way to be. But it doesn’t take that much effort to be smart, to see the bigger picture. For many of us, it’s really just a matter of opening our eyes. What’s really special -what separates the thinkers from the human computers- is the ability to really understand your subject. And that’s something that takes time and effort, not some abstract, bullshit self-assertion of ‘creative vision’. What’s really special is to use pattern to go inward instead of outward. To demonstrate not how one thing is actually a part of something else, but how certain elements make something not like something else. To highlight how some things are just inherently the way they are.

Take Ron Ulicny’s recent work on view at Spoke Art in San Francisco: clever sculpture and belligerently patterned works that force you to really absorb the materials from which they’re made. Ulicny’s technique finds a way of getting inside the things that we usually use to make other things. A way of finding the small structures within the already small. Forced to confront his subjects in such a direct way, we begin to feel strangely acquainted with the work.

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The Incredible And Intimate Stories Of LGBTQ Youth

Laurel Golio - Photograph

Qwill, 20, Northfield, MN, I feel like my gender is kind of a pendulum. Sometimes I feel more feminine, sometimes I feel more masculine, but I definitely swing somewhere between the genders. I don’t really have a pronoun that I prefer, so people just always use female pronouns. It’s kind of complicated if I say I want people to use all the pronouns.

Laurel Golio - Photograph

Patrick, 18, My father and I had one talk about me being gay, when I was bringing the trash to a recycling place. He told me, “I used to think that way when I was your age until I met the right woman, and then I never looked back.” He thought he was gay and then one girl asked him out. He never had a boyfriend.

Laurel Golio - Photograph

Maya, 18, New York, NY, I was just elected student council president. My platform is that the school is not as perfect as we think. Some people are racist. Some people are like, “She’s black and a lesbian and she’s our president.” Some people are really up in arms. There are a lot of people who have been against it. The kids who don’t really like me wrote “secession” on their Facebook status. If prep schools are like the houses in Harry Potter, I’m friends with Gryffindor and those kids are Slytherin.

We Are The Youth is a photo-documentary and essay project that compiles the stories of LGBTQ youth from around North America. It’s a simple project that packs an honest punch. Each story is personal and demonstrates the completely different experiences of the participants. They speak about the need for role models or their role in becoming one, about their own struggles with their identity, where they situate themselves on the gender/sexuality scale, and how that can change from day to day. The project is a collaborative effort between Laurel Golio who takes the photographs, Diana Scholl who writes the biographic essays, and of course, the LGBTQ youth. (Via Lenscratch)

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Pieter Hugo’s Permanent Error

Pieter Hugo’s new series, Permanent Error, depicts Agbogbloshie, a massive dump site for technological waste on the outskirts of Ghana’s capital city, and the locals who burn down the components to extract bits of copper, brass, aluminum and zinc for resale. Tons of outdated and broken computers, computer games, mobile phones and other e-waste are shipped to the area as “donations” from the West, under the guise of providing technology to developing countries. Rather than helping to bridge the digital divide, the equipment is transformed into noxious trash threatening the health of the area’s inhabitants and contaminating the water and soil.

Gray plumes of smoke rise from smoldering piles of disassembled monitors, motherboards and wiring, providing an apocalyptic backdrop for Hugo’s portraits of the workers. The subjects, many of whom are young men sent by their families from impoverished outlying villages, are photographed full-figure and directly engaged with Hugo’s medium-format camera. With each portrait, Hugo draws the viewer into the conditions imposed on this slum community and their effects on individuals. Collectively, the photographs expose consequences of the West’s consumption of ever-new technology and its disposal of outmoded products in poor countries ill-equipped to recycle them. See Pieter Hugo’s Permanent exhibition at Yossi Milo Gallery in NYC from  Sept. 8- Oct. 29th.

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I Am Not There and I Am Not Here

As part of our ongoing partnership with Dailyserving, Beautiful/Decay is sharing Caitlin Sutherland’s article on “At the Far Edge of Words” and “Imaginary Homelands”.

Although difficult to generalize, a common theme ties together the exhibitions currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) and the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU). “At the Far Edge of Words” and “Imaginary Homelands” engage on some level, with the complex reflections of the artists cultural identity in relation to their exchanges with western culture, concepts of otherness, and navigating the hybrid spaces between while defining ‘home’. Rather than allowing these notions to become static, absolute, or restrictive, the artists invoke politics, humour, and nostalgia as a means to mediate their competing definitions of identity.

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Shoplifter’s Vibrant Sculptures Made With Hair

Icelandic artist Shoplifter aka Hrafnhildur Arnardottir lives and works in New York. “Her body of work as a whole exists in the gray area between visual art, performance, and design. Shoplifter has worked for several years exploring the use and symbolic nature of hair, and its visual and artistic potential. For Shoplifter hair is the ultimate thread that grows from our body. Hair is an original, creative fiber, a way for people to distinguish themselves as individuals, and often an art form. Humor plays a large roll in her life and work, sometimes subtly, but other times taking over. This humor extends to her love of playing with the juxtaposition of opposites. Like with her hair pieces- they appear beautiful evoking natural forms and plant life, but at the same time hair is considered grotesque and disturbing when it is not attached to the body, like hair in the shower drain. She uses traditional handcraft techniques like knitting, weaving, and braiding to create new forms of textiles, while referring to established methods in art. She is attracted to the playfulness found in folk art, naïvism, and handicraft which all have a strong influence on her organic process of creating work.”

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Kira Ayn Varszegi Uses Her Breasts As Paintbrushes

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The painter Kira Ayn Varszegi substitutes her own 38DD breasts for traditional brushes, covering them in paint and pressing them to her canvas. For Varszegi, fun is an essential element in art making; she hopes to inspire amusement and smiles. Though her work has of course been criticized and cast aside as “frivolous,” the artist has made a name for herself, boasting at least one painting purchased in each American state.

Before we give in the the impulse to judge, let us take a minute to appreciate the product of Varszegi’s efforts. Her paintings quite resemble the work of abstract expressionists like Jackson Pollack or Mark Rothko; she, like them, hopes to inspire more primal and visceral emotions with her marbled surface of color, texture, and form.

But unlike most (but not all) of the 1950s trailblazers, Varszegi is a woman, and that fact is essential to her art making process. Where many modern art movements have been dominated by an idealized machismo, the boob artist embraces what some might call the feminine or the sentimental. Here, the breasts, symbols both of female sexuality and fertility, are the means of creation, as opposed to the paintbrush, an instrument whose form is vaguely evocative of the phallus.

The artist’s compositions mirror the “feminine” tenor of her process, their soft, glittery tones forming elusive and symbolic butterfly and floral shapes. Paint drippings and splotches swirl together in an evocative, orgiastic blur. Take a look, and let us know what you think of the project. It is groundbreaking or silly? (via Oddity Central)

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