The makeup artist, wig maker, and costumer Elvis Schmoulianoff exists in a dreamscape where dress-up and science fiction collide. Her works, including a charming stop-motion animation titled Painted, celebrates the transformative power of disguise; operating as a character within a visual narrative, her body paint takes on a life of its own, overtaking and doing delightful mischief to the human form. Schmoulianoff seemingly draws inspiration from anything but the traditional, her work beautifully echoing that of Surrealists like Joan Miró.
Schmoulianoff’s visual trickery maintains a childlike sense of experimentation; her abstract, brightly colored shapes are seen in tension with the curvatures of the body, blurring the borders between model and medium. In some images, a Cubist-inspired oversized eye is overlaid on a closed eyelid, and the face is split down the middle, morphing in such a way that contains multiple perspectives: the full face, the profile, and even the layer beneath the skin. The artist’s expert shapes often serve to flatten the human subject, who camouflages with painted backgrounds; like a clever game of hide-and-seek, viewers are invited to discover the body within a surreal landscape.
Within Schmoulianoff’s work lies an undeniable sensuality; with glossy eye-catching paint, nipples miraculously become eyeballs, and full lips are seen in lush, starkly contrasted tones. In vibrant color and tonal blacks and whites, the body lies at the precipice of magic and wonder, with skeleton figures dancing to the beats of their red fire-engine red hearts. Schmoulianoff is committed to animal rights, and she only uses cruelty-free products for her art; to learn more, visit her website.
Malaysian artist Jun Ong has implanted a glowing star within an unfinished five story building in the town of Butterworth, Malaysia. The awkward confinement of the large luminescent sculpture within the otherwise gaping desolate space offers an air of confusion. Almost as if the star was there by mistake, perhaps stuck. The installation was indeed informed by a notion of error — the star seems to mimic a glitch. Metaphorically, this “glitch star” represents the state of Butterworth. The town, which was once an prosperous industrial port linking the mainland and island, now finds itself desolate and suffering from decentralization. The twelve sided star, spanning over the the full five floors of the building, is comprised of five hundred meters of steel cables and LED strips. The piece is created in fragments, as it is divided by the floors of the concrete structure. When entering the installation, the viewer is forced to experience each floor as its own unit, creating a multi-faceted adventure. Each floor is an experience of just a mere piece of the whole, perhaps alluding to the overarching disposition of the town itself. However, despite the installation’s “gltich” reminiscent quality and fractured formation, the star is wondrous and uplifting. The project, presented as a part of the Urban Xchange Festival, was curated by Eeyan Chauh and Gabija Grusaite of Hin Bus Depot Art Center. (via designboom)
Oakland’s Mark Schaer started making collages a year ago and has already amassed some great work. Mark’s digital collages source images of fashion models, comic books, celebrities, athletes and much more and combines them in sometimes chaotic, sometimes understated ways. When the first few images had “The King of Kong” cast and Freddie Gibbs, I knew this guy was cool.
Bobo is an art collective that emerged out of the Providence scene post-Fort Thunder. I really love Bobo’s poster “The Global Order of the Youngbloods,” it’s an overdose of occult and conspiracy infotainment. Bobo has managed to create a fun scene on their own terms. They ran a space in Philadelphia for a while, but now seem to be arranging/curating shows in New York, and performing as a band. Annie Pearlman brought them to my attention when I was doing a studio visit with Brian Belott.
Kumi Yamashita’s work is nothing without light and shadow. By subtly manipulating materials such as paper, fabric and wood, she uses strategic lighting to create shadow art installations. Yamashita focuses on the human figure and proves that an attention to detail make all the difference. She makes tiny cuts to paper and carefully drapes fabric. Coupled with a careful consideration of folding and lighting, these pieces are a feat of engineering. A minimal amount of material creates a narrative with a range of emotions. Yamashita writes about her work, stating:
I sculpt using light and shadow. I construct single or multiple objects and place them in relation to a single light source. The complete artwork is therefore comprised of both the material (the solid objects) and the immaterial (the light or shadow).
Veil (directly above) is one of Yamashita’s newest works. This piece uses fabric, light and shadow to depict a female figure laying down. Looking at it, with the spotlight shines perfectly on a sheet of fabric. It feels like we’re looking at a ghost, but it isn’t unnerving or spooky. Instead, it feels sensual, like we are the voyeur to a private time; It’s a memory. Environment, in this case, is also important to the piece. Installed on a pedestal and devoid of adjacent works, it is isolated, making it feel even more like a moment in time.
Yamashita is an engineer, creating incredible forms that are realistically rendered. They aren’t blocky or awkwardly composed; her silhouettes are very fluid. At different vantage points, you wouldn’t think that a seated figure came from a sheet of paper. But once you do, it instantly elevates her shadows. The amount of craft put in each installation is inspired.
You may be wondering if we here at Beautiful/Decay are mustache friendly. Why yes, yes we are. Super Intern Mike Hahn not only sported an irreverently dashing upper lip duster during his entire stay here at Beautiful/Decay, but graced us with tawdry tales of his mustachioed musings all while helping us at the office here with the..how you say…joie de vivre pictured above! Yes, he really wore button downs, pastel argyle sweater vests, candy striper twill Bermuda summer shorts, Dockers boating shoes and an American flag cape each day to work! Thank you for all your hard work here Mike, we will miss you as clean shaven face misses the warmth of a well manicured ‘stache in the dead of a Minnesota winter! Check out Mike’s artwork after the jump or at his website, whoismoch.com.
In the age of the internet, we are used to seeing cats, cat videos, and cat-related memes permeating our social media. But delve into the archives of art history and you’ll see that people have always been a little obsessed with cats (it was no secret in ancient Egypt). In a show held at Manhattan’s Japan Society last spring, over 120 artworks—consisting largely of ukiyo-e prints from the Edo period—were exhibited that explored Japan’s own infatuation with their feline companions. Most of the pieces were on loan from the Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation and the rest were gathered from collections around the US.
The show was divided into five sections: “Cats and People,” “Cats as People,” “Cats versus People,” “Cats Transformed,” and “Cats and Play.” The animals were represented in a variety of ways—sometimes in the cute, domesticated contexts we recognize from the internet, and sometimes in courtly (and even eroticized) scenarios. Many are anthropomorphized to partake in human activities, from argumentative social gatherings to traditional dances. In other prints, they take on a more sinister appearance, conjured as muses for cryptic samurai duals. Coupled with nude or reclining women, cats take on a sensual symbolism.
Michael Craig-Martin has been creating art since the 1960s. His wall painting installations from the 1990s and 2000s feel current with their bright colors and flat appearance, but some of the items in the paintings, ubiquitous at the time they were captured, are now relics. Among the shoes and pails rendered in black tape outlines are Nokia style cell phones and milk bottles. That doesn’t diminish the charm of these installations. Craig-Martin’s intent was to make these works in a generic style, even attempting to erase his personality from the works by using tape as outlines instead of pencil drawings. It didn’t work. The purposeful non-style of painted mass-produced items executed meticulously in a vibrant palette at enlarged scale has become one of Craig-Martin’s signatures. The choice of everyday objects for his wall installations was a purposeful one.
“I thought the objects we value least because they were ubiquitous were actually the most extraordinary. … I wanted people to realise how extraordinary everyday objects are, and think about what image-making is. The impulse was never nostalgia, kitsch or a critique of consumerism.” (Source)
Photos of the installations can only capture part of their impact. Walking around a corner only to be confronted with an enormous pink desk lamp is part of the experience, as are the shifting views of eyeglasses and belts through the arches of a candy-colored room. Only when standing next to a seven-foot extinguisher can the scale of the articles be truly appreciated.
Though he is often called a conceptual artist, Craig-Martin prefers to be called radical. It’s not just about the concept for him—the making that comes from the idea is equally important. “Throughout his career, through work in many different media, he has explored the expressive potential of commonplace objects and images.”