Toshio Saeki (b. 1945) is a Japanese erotic illustrator who creates controversial images of violence and morbid sexual acts. Perusing his collection is like stepping through the various moonlit rooms of a grotesque dream; as silent voyeurs, we witness placid-faced men, women, and demons engaging in strange, lust-filled scenarios that often involve necrophilia, murder, cannibalism, and genital mutilation. Images of sex and death uncomfortably collide as a woman kisses a skull and gropes herself with the corpse’s bony hand, while elsewhere poisonous snakes writhe out of a man’s tattoo during sex. Whether it’s aroused bodies swarming with cockroaches, or glaring eyeballs in the place of genitals, Saeki has an uncanny way of exposing the unconscious and disturbing the imagination in new and surprising ways. As he writes in an interview with Dazed:
“Leave other people to draw seemingly beautiful flowers that bloom within a nice, pleasant-looking scenery. I try instead to capture the vivid flowers that sometimes hide and sometimes grow within a shameless, immoral, and horrifying dream.” (Source)
Saeki’s hallucinatory and alarming style draws on a long tradition of Ukiyo-e woodblock prints and paintings from Edo-period Japan. In a variation called Shunga, these pieces depicted erotic scenes; take, for instance, Hokusai’s “The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife,” a 1814 woodcut design showing a woman in the erotic embrace of an octopus. Many of Saeki’s works reference this image, incorporating “tentacle erotica” alongside unsettling situations that arrived from a combination of comic books, childhood nightmares, and lewd pictures he drew in high school. Depicting eroticism, power, and lust in startling and depraved ways, Saeki evokes conflicting, visceral sensations that both fascinate and repulse the viewer, making it hard to look away.
Saeki is now 70 years old and currently lives in rural Japan. Known as the “godfather of Japanese erotica,” his works have gained him fame and notoriety alike at home and abroad (Source). (Via Cvlt Nation)
In her series of paintings entitled After Caravaggio, artist Jamie Vasta gives Caravaggio a kitsch makeover. Endearingly reminiscent of cat themed embroideries one might find in a dank second hand shop, Vasta’s series is a perfect definition of modern. She has taken well known models and themes and completely reappropriated them in such a way that they have been given new meaning, without straying too far from the original “text” of Caravaggio’s work.
She uses “contemporary props and costumes to create new narratives” and, by doing creates not only a new artwork, but also pays homage to Caravaggio and his influence in the art world. The use of glitter in these paintings underlines the contemporary nature of Vasta’s creations and contributes vastly to the kitsch aspects of her work. The balance between the baroque and the kitsch fits perfectly together and the glitter gives something of a humoristic element to the compositions.
The dramatic themes addressed in these paintings are not undermined but somewhat lightened by the use of glitter. The color contrasts and playful expressions of the subjects give the paintings a touch of humor and a somewhat cheerful nature. The overall originality of Vasta’s work is both intriguing and has somewhat of an edge.
Martin Roth’s installation (untitled), debris, re-creates a site of war-torn Syria. Through scattered debris and rescued animals, he allows the viewer to experience a sense of destruction on a more personal note. He aims to materialize a war that, despite its large spanning presence in the news, is still quite intangible for those in the Western world. The physicality of the installation, absent of the gory images often presented in the media, explore a means to understanding the conflict on a more tangible, yet subtle manner.
When entering the gallery, the viewer is confronted by a visually familiar, but perhaps physically unknown territory. The space has been covered in dirt and rubble directly taken from the border areas of Syria and Turkey. The experience of discomfort is furthered by a reverberating ambient noise; the sound of a siren blaring in the distance. The downstairs room has been flooded in three inches of water, smelling of mold.
However, there is more to this work than just a presentation of the wreckage. Roth has also allowed his installation to become a platform for the living. Within the main installation site, the viewer is greeted with the flight and chirps of small green parakeets that have been rescued from abandoned pet shelters. The downstairs is inhabited by toads that were to be sold in Chinatown to be consumed.
The presence of animals take us out of the realm of the polarized, politicalized war, and bring us into a softer, yet more complicated truth. Here, we see a quieter realm, without images of death. The removal of human reality, somehow, speaks even more frankly about the true human condition; without the complications of ideology, scenes as these would not exist. What do sites of war really mean, free from philosophy, ethics and misunderstanding? (via: The Creators Project)
Kris Aaron and Andy Walker are slightly modifying the purpose of fine China dishes. It’s now decorated with messages and gay illustrations. “Shit again”, “Cock monster”, “I’m going to fuck you” and pornographic images are hand drawn onto plates and kitsch ceramic ornaments. They either paint slogans or sexual images on small objets such as a tiger or a swan or desert plates. The couple just wanted to check “how cute it would be if they were more gay.”
All the pieces in the Pansy Ass ceramics series are one of a kind. Already collectors of similar items, they redoubled their research in thrift shops and vintage flea markets to find the perfect antique China dishes for their collection. Their intention was to accentuate the kitsch side of plates and objects. “For instance, we have this swan that’s the gayest thing I’ve ever seen,” Aaron says, “and we thought it’d be funny if we painted ‘masc’ (like masculine) on it.” The result is a weird combination of classic patterns and graphic scenarios.
Ideally, the artists would want their embellished dishes to be displayed at Macy’s. From porno chic to porno kitsch there could a part of the market interested in inviting their grandmother to a fancy cucumber sandwich tea party. (via Lost At E Minor).
X-Ray photographer Roy Livingston’s latest series is at the junction of retro and modern. X-Ray Visions is series of electric x-ray photographs which radiate neon colors. His series is composed mainly of photographs of toy robots and toy guns brings a sort of eerie atmosphere to the compositions regardless of the heavy use of neon. The fact that the inner workings of the objects are visible makes them all the more captivating and fascinating to look at. Being able to see the cogs and gears of the toys in the photographs gives them a sort of scientific feeling.
The process behind theses colorful x-rays is also interesting in its own respects: Livingston starts off with black and white xrays which he then edits digitally ino order to achieve the final neon result. Livingston is not only about the final product of his work but also focused on the process itself and what he refers to as an “artistic joyride” .
X-Ray visions is the product of a well thought out process, fueled by Livingston’s fascination for industrial design and the digital manipulation of photographs. His combination of both old and new media makes for a captivating project that speaks to the audience, not only with regard to the process but also the symbolic nature of retro-futurism and the neo 80s mindset.
Colorful, textured creatures imagined by designers Andy Reisinger and Ezequiel Pini from The Six and Five Studio. The series called “Morbo” is a rendering of 3D printing and digital coloring. The result is bluffing. Easily mistaken for real existing sculptures or hyperrealistic paintings, the designers have had to explain themselves a lot about the disturbing aspect of their work.
Pushing the limits of art and design, the Argentinian duo Andy Reisinger and Ezequiel Pini like to explore the three dimensional world. Stranded on the beach after an apocalyptic episode, the creatures are found as they are presented to us. Raw, shapeless and twisted by the centrifugal force of nature, they mix elements which has nothing to do with each other. Hair, coral, gelatinous paste, plastic, porcelain and more are harmonized in objects that, in the end, make sense to the eye.
At first glance, the creatures seem ugly. Part of it is due to the fact that we can envision a living hairy animal coming out of it. Once the process of creation is understood, the look on it changes. The designers are interested in that shift. From unpleasant to attractive, our curiosity grows as we discover that these fantasy ‘things’ do not really exist. Leaving us wondering if beauty is better off restrained within our minds instead of being exposed out there. (via booooooom)
In her series Reno, a component of her larger project, Wandering In Place, Jennifer Garza-Cuen captures a hidden America.Through images of abandoned theaters, plastic covered casinos, dust collecting disco balls, women bound to decks of cards, and quiet, empty, almost pallid landscapes, she is able to inherently provoke an aura of nostalgia. She describes the work as a “metaphorical memoir,” pulling at the strings of what “the American dream” truly means and looks like. In a country formulated through vast histories, how does a cultural identity extensively exist? What does it mean to be an American? Her work captures a more subtle, yet convoluted portrait of identity, proving that the American identity is innately faceless and multifaceted.
Her photographs confuse cultural memory, bringing us back in time, despite depicting the present. In what she refers to as a “constructed-documentary style,” she dances around the idea of documentation versus constructed narrative, blurring the line between fact and fiction. She brings us into a dreamland where it seems time has stopped. Her photographs capture moments of silent contemplation. They are almost cinematic period pieces. Perhaps, stills of the scene directly following aclimax. Her photographs are not clear portrayals of darkness nor light; they provoke the viewer to search for an almost Lynchian meaning. She displays moments of what may be misfortune, missed opportunity, or confusion. She allows a sense of yearning and misunderstanding, getting at the very ethos of Reno. She states:
“Reno is a place that embodies ideas of Western idealism, the frontier spirit, of transience and the gambler’s impulse to risk everything for the chance at a better life. It was founded as a toll, a passage across the Truckee River, and on silver from the Comstock Lode. In Reno I attempt to come to terms with the defining force of place while returning to my own experience of being a wanderer, a state that obscures identity and embodies what it means to exist outside the codified order of the defined.”
Brooke Shaden is an American fine art photographer who brings her imagination to life in ethereal scenes that traverse the line between dreams and awakening. Each of her photos is filled with an otherworldly fog, melting skin and landscapes together in muted, painterly hues. Featured here is a selection from Shaden’s Fine Art Nude series. Throughout the images, bodies stretch and curl together in sunbaked deserts and rain-dark forests. Their faces are almost always obscured, rendering them anonymous, but their poses unfold with layers of universal emotion; slumped shoulders under the dawning sky stir with a quiet strength, while elsewhere, arms shield against the gloom of oncoming night.
Shaden’s photography is often dark, but fearlessly so. Inspired by the co-relation of life and death, she seeks to confront the questions of existence while also capturing the delicate beauties that run throughout. As she wrote in a fascinating interview with Ezra Magazine,
“I have always had a fascination with dark art and anything that made me think outside of my normal spectrum. To me, darkness is something that so many people shy away from because it forces us to question things that we often need not think about. It allows us to access a part of ourselves that might not get let out all the time, but when it does, it frees us from our fears.” (Source)
Shaden’s ghostly models do not seem afraid of the dark realms which they inhabit; instead, they move slowly, manifesting with ritualistic grace and bodily awareness the pangs and joys of living and letting go.