Marcela Bolivar is a Colombian digital artist who creates haunting images of women embedded in forests of sinister beauty. Encroached by thorny branches and accompanied by snakes and skull-faced birds, each character is possessed by her own dark element. Like spirits resurrected from the leaf bed, their bodies sprout and mutate, driven by ancient and esoteric powers. Using dark hues and gauzy layers, Bolivar does an incredible job blending savagery with ethereal, feminine beauty. Her work is an expression of the mysticism and secrets that lurk in the wooded landscapes of our dreams.
Bolivar is currently on display at Krab Jab Studio in Seattle. Her work is being featured alongside that of Samuel Araya and Bastien Lecouffe Deharme, artists who also compose stunning, fantasy-based visions of terror and beauty. The exhibition, called The Three Imposters, is inspired by Arthur Machen’s 1895 horror novel of the same name. The exhibition runs until November 7th. You can read more about the show on beautiful.bizarre.
Russell Leng’s paintings have an immense depth to them; his latest series, “Nature Systems,” features floating geometric shapes that look like faceted crystals. On his site Leng says he wants to “explore the relationship between constructed and natural terrains,” (which might explain why the organic yet jagged shapes suggest both a harmony and a dissonance.) If his paintings make you think he’s too calm and cool, check out his website to see him shovel cake into his face in his short film, “Let Them Eat Cake”.
Darren Holmes is a photographer whose works explore the dichotomy between instinctual, “animal” life, and the rationalizing, “civilized” mind. Entitled animals being human, this series depicts nude (or nearly nude) paint-splattered men and women engaged in strange and frisky behaviors, such as crouching and crawling on the floor, burrowing in hay, and playing with cardboard props. Each image is abstract, elaborate, and tinged with humor, with a lot of “meaning” intentionally left to the imagination: what are they doing, and for what purpose? The confounding, playful absurdity is entirely Holmes’ intention, as he seeks to unravel our innate drives and behaviors from the constructions and constraints of intellect and social conditioning. As he explained in a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay:
“To me, all of the things that unify us as really human are things beneath intellect, the guttural stuff like pain response, elation, pleasure, anguish, anger, the search for warmth and companionship, that kind of thing. They’re all concerns of the body, instinctive and what we associate with animal behaviour.
Then we have these clever, intellectual, analytical minds which maybe sit over top of it all, rationalizing, regulating us, attempting to moderate all the stuff underneath. There are probably good reasons we need to do this sometimes, to act civilly with each other. But in some ways, I think intellect becomes how we distract ourselves from facing some truths.”
What Holmes’ work signifies, then, is a playful deconstruction of the “human,” a species category which is so often defined in opposition to “animals”. In many cases, contemporary (and intellectualized) humanity has actively separated itself from earthly “filth” — mud, blood, excrement, and anything “messy” — in order to achieve a sense of species-based superiority. “I mean, we must be more enlightened than those that came before us … right?” Holmes writes, tongue-in-cheek. “Maybe we just want to believe certain things to avoid facing issues, like how little we’ve changed … that we’re just dirty, shitting, fucking, fighting primates, and how temporary we really are in this world.”
Given the delightfully absurd energy of Holmes’ photos, I enquired about his method, which he described as a “live performance”; each scene is a holistic accumulation of energy and creativity, involving “like-minded people who want to use their bodies to capture something that can only come from a sort of lengthy, improvised dance punctuated by exchanges [and] ideas.” The props are similarly spontaneous; mostly limited to “cardboard, canvas, wood, [and] paint,” the models indulge in a youthful approach to these objects, making the props imaginative and representational rather than over-intellectualized and “concrete” in their meaning. In this way, Holmes deconstructs adulthood as well, that phase in our lives when we are taught to overanalyze and constantly moderate and rationalize our behaviors.
Visit Holmes’ website and Facebook page and follow him as he explores physicality and the intimate, pre-intellectual connections that exist between all of us human animals. (Via Art Fucks Me)
Mathy art. Photographer Kelly Castro (pictures) and artist Santiago Ortiz (collage) bring you “Love is Patient,” this interactive collage of photographs that’s based on a principle called the Voronoi algorithm, which involves polygons and points equidistant to other points, (I won’t even try to explain, try wiki if you feel inclined.) Ultimately, you get this cool ever-changing mash-up of black and white portraits where you’ll never see the same face twice.
Favio Martinez, better known on the street as Curiot, is a street artist based in Mexico City. His murals and paintings are especially colorful and complex. Curiot has a well-known and easily distinguishable style. Strange creatures populate his compositions. While each creature is definitely alien, Curiot creates them using familiar animal-like components. Often, these creatures are seen being worshiped by comparably tiny people giving the murals. In a way, this pulls Curiot’s work out of science fiction and places it more as a meditation and variations on Mexican Culture. The gallery statement from a recent solo exhibit at FFDG further explains Curiot’s inspiration:
“Curiot’s colorful paintings, featuring mythical half-animal half-human figures and scenes, which allude to Mexican traditions (geometric designs, Day of the Dead styles, myths and legends, tribal elements), are rendered in precise detail with a mixture of highly vibrant yet complementary colors. “Growing up in the States sort of gave me a diluted Mexican culture, I had no clue what I was missing out on until I moved back 10 years ago”, says Curiot. “The bright colors, folklore, ancient cultures and the beautiful handcrafts are some of the things that I embraced and which influence my work deeply”. The 11 new paintings in “Age of Omuktlans” tell the story of man’s distance from his natural path as he focuses his energy on satisfying his material pleasures and the dystopia this creates.”
Portlander Kyle Jorgensen combines ethereal, cosmic subject matter with explicitly tactile media selections, and it really works. In the age of Photoshop, a lot of this type of imagery is often generated through digital means. It’s really nice to see a guy just go all out homegrown. Great palette here as well. Click past the jump, and then check out his blog for more.
Katie Miller’s images attract us and repel us equally. This double movement is due in large part to the artist’s fastidious painterly style that demands close viewing as well as from afar.
Miller, fascinated by the connotations of what she terms “animal breeding, adornment, love or lust,” creates works that give us access to her susceptibilities as an artist. Sharply attuned to formal nuances whether they are in the realm of color, or shape, or line or subject matter she has explores the arenas of excess, decadence, uncontrolled metamorphosis, and artificiality. She is attentive to aberrations, hybridity, abnormal behavioral psychology, social pathologies, behavioral psychology, and evolutionary biology. She is fascinated by dog shows and child beauty pageants. Miller is compelled to ask questions about the nature/culture divide as she ponders the ins and outs (and the no-exits) of the nurture/nature debate that centers on differing debates about the socialization process. Towards that end Miller paints with astonishing mimetic exactitude in her new work as she goes about shuffling the natural order in her interrogation of differences, limits, and of the impossible.