I feel like most people dream of falling in love one day, but what if that day turns into a year – and then another? What if the act of falling in love becomes an all-consuming force that necessitates the creation of your own color-coded language? What if your name is Michelle Jane Lee, and this series of ‘what ifs’ has actually been your life for the last three years? The end result of that experience might resemble a thirty-foot love letter and a mountain of other drawings representing your unmentionable thoughts and desires for a woman that would ultimately come to reject you. A hard pill to swallow for most, but Lee seems undeterred in her pursuit of the unattainable. After all, true obsession is captivating – for both artist and audience in this case. Her work is incredibly personal, absolutely honest, and exceptionally beautiful. If you are in or around Los Angeles on April 7th – I recommend that you attend the opening reception of her most recent solo exhibition at Gallery 3209.
The Argentinian street artist known simply as Elian works with a clean and seemingly effortless style rare in street art. While his large abstract murals would be at home on a magazine page, they work to a powerful effect inhabiting entire sides of buildings. Often using colors reminiscent of a graphic designers CMYK color palette, Elian maximizes the simplicity of each mural. A buildings bland blank wall becomes a space for an exercise in composition and color.
Joanna Black, a photographer, entrepreneur and collector in Edinburgh, UK, uses surrealist images to show us what ugly doesn’t look like. Her “Black Teeth White Heart” series is a compilation of Black’s nose, eyes, lips, and even toe nails in a style that is hauntingly beautiful.
In describing “Black Teeth White Heart” Black begins by saying, “people always told me I was ugly.” As a child, Black suffered from an acute form of scoliosis, causing her to live, sleep and play in a waist to neck metal brace. Her brace in addition to blackened teeth, which were caused by a treatment of tetracycline, were devastating. In an artist statement she recalls the pain of being pitied by adults and mocked by her peers. By the age of 13, however, the brace was removed and her teeth corrected and she left behind that “ugly girl.” It seems impossible that Black, now the owner of Miss Bizio, a couture vintage clothing shop in the Stockbridge neighborhood of Edinburgh and partner at Black Appointments Executive Search, could be ugly or pitied. Relatively new to professional photography, Black has already been shown at the Rencontres d’Arles (2015) and the International Photography Awards (2014).
In “Black Teeth White Heart,” Black takes intensely close photos of her body that, while pinpointing her physical idiosyncrasies, leaves you feeling like you are gazing on your beloved. Reminiscent of Dora Maar portraits by Man Ray in the 1930’s, many of her black and white photos capitalize on Black’s ability to be completely at ease in front of the camera while simultaneously executing the shot. Others are developed to include shadows and graininess and, at times, seem to allude to the many x-rays that Black must have undergone throughout her childhood. Her color photos are more playful and sexual, accentuating her mouth and parted lips. Close photos of her staring eye feel more medical than voyeuristic and her toes a reminder of our fragility.
While “Black Teeth White Heart” covers a lot of photographic ground, the core of the piece, an investigation into beauty, comments on the singular perfection of our features.
Nobuhiro Nakanishi produces beautifully mesmerizing atypical landscapes. The Osaka, Japan-based artist creates the works, which he called “Layered Drawings,” by photographing a scene over a period of time. He then laser prints each image and mounts it to acrylic. Subtle changes emerge in each frame, and once they are layered they portray an untraditional landscape. As a viewer walks passed the work he or she experiences, to some degree, the passing of time within this particular place.
Interested in the way sculpture is defined by the thought, awareness and the method it employs, Nakanishi seeks to analyze the way we perceive the world. Experiencing a photographic landscape is generally a two-dimensional process whereby a viewer stands in front of an image. She can then empathize with the artist, seeing what he saw in the captured scene, but the experience is always a viewer looking at a flat surface. With Nakanishi’s works, the results are wholly different. The more physical, dimensional aspects of Nakanishi’s sculptural landscapes contain infinitely more detail. The effect is a richer experience. Our minds momentarily transport us to Nakanishi’s foggy forest in the morning, or to his hill overlooking a gorgeous sunset. Nakanishi’s landscapes trigger our memories and senses in a way traditional landscapes cannot.
A good collaborative gallery show is like a good relationship—each artist’s work supports the other without being repetitive or unharmonious. “The Give and Take,” an exhibition in The Joseph Gross Gallery at The University of Arizona School of Art by Kristin Bauer and Emmett Potter, works on both levels. The married couple often collaborates and has exhibited together on numerous occasions.
The artists both work in multimedia and they share a similar aesthetic and point of view. Bauer says,
“I often juxtapose two or more iconic references or material of my own creating, drawing from a wide range of sources that spans anything from Renaissance sculpture to Jayne Mansfield, Shakespeare to Spielberg films, the Great Gatsby to Cheap Trick. How we make meaning of things as cognitive creatures, what we attach to and what we are repelled by is what keeps me engaged.”
Similarly, Potter incorporates vintage comic book imagery into his work. He combines different color palettes and emphasizes what is absent against what is present, making pointed statements about pop-culture. Both Bauer and Potter adapt, appropriate, alter and excavate our shared public domain in an attempt to decode how we attach meaning to the iconography of our culture.
On exhibit since May 28, a closing reception for “The Give and Take” will be held on August 29 from 5:30-7 p.m.
Vincent Kohler’s Turnaround series is an artistic project focusing on the theme of the baseball bat.It consists of a collection of thirty baseball bats, turned in different species of woods, each unique in form, and a book combining texts by various authors and photographs specially done on this subject.
Sneak peak of a part of the front cover for issue:1
Everyone has been asking us what we’ll do after Issue Z. In our tradition of innovation, Beautiful/Decay will reinvent itself in a brand new, expanded format with Issue 1 in July.
Beginning as a hand-photocopied, black and white ‘zine over ten years ago, Beautiful/Decay has always proudly put artists—and quality content—first. We are re-launching Beautiful/Decay to have all the benefits of traditional magazine subscribership, while taking the form of an expanded, limited edition, more voluminous publication.
In keeping with the spirit of our independent DIY philosophy, we have decided to break the mold of traditional magazines and change the way we do business. In this economy, most publications are either going out of business or watering down their content to appease advertisers. Rather than conform to the publishing industry’s new rules, we’ve decided to create our own business model that allows us to flourish and increase the quality of our content.
One thing we’ve always disliked about the mainstream print industry is that it can be wasteful. Newsstands throw away all unsold magazines, averaging a 40-60% waste rate. In keeping with our commitment to staying green, Beautiful/Decay will instead send issues straight into the hands of subscribers, rather than dumpsters.
Here’s what the new B/D will look like:
• Eliminated ALL traditional advertising
• Made an 50% increase in page count, meaning 164 pages of pure, unfiltered content
• Features now have double the page space, with more full-color images & articles
• Articles now run 16-20 pages, providing some of the most in-depth coverage of emerging artists available today
• Released in limited edition format of only 1,500-2000 copies, each one hand numbered
• Each issue comes with a limited edition collaborative artist projectranging from inserts, stickers, posters, to original artwork
• Presented in new format & size, including French flaps and multiple printing processes within
• Released 3 times a year (once every 4 months)
To celebrate our new expanded format, Issue 1 will feature a hand-drawn, original artwork by previously B/D featured artist Kyle Thomas. These will sell out, as we already have 1000 subscribers on our list so be sure to subscribe in order to reserve your copy.
I hope that you’re all as excited about this as we are at Beautiful/Decay. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the new direction.
Guy Denning of Bristol, UK has been putting out emotive, figurative paintings for almost two decades. He works mostly in oil, perhaps the perfect medium for working with the human figure due to its unique luminous qualities, and he takes the guesswork out of using art as a mirror for the human condition by directly rendering our anguish and strife in muted, stylized tones. He also maintains a pretty awesome daily drawing blog.