The photographer Sarah Anne Johnson snaps shots of the most intimate kind, asking friends and acquaintances to sit for her while engaging in sexual activity: intercourse, foreplay, kissing, masturbation. Later, the artist enters into a new kind of dialogue with the erotic photos, covering her portraits in glitter and gold plate or scratching away their emulsion in strategic places.
The form of Johnson’s series, titled Wanderlust, brilliantly echoes its content. In penetrating the materiality of the photographic medium by altering its surface, Johnson makes as much of a statement about artistic or creative lust than she does about human sexuality. The gently cracked, ashy layer of a burnt chromogenic print mirrors a lover’s tender caress; similarly, a halo of scratches parallels a couple’s orgiastic pleasure.
Despite Johnson’s unconventional process—perhaps even because of it—Wanderlust seems a powerfully honest rendering of sexual intimacy. At times, human closeness becomes cosmically infinite, a moment of love solidified in gold plate or starry glitter. But many of the photographs complicate the notion of what it means to be truly vulnerable; often, her collage work obscures and flattens one lover, leaving his or her partner alone, isolated in the frame and utterly naked.
Johnson’s work relies on this tension between connection and isolation, a theme which serves to imbue the series with a palpable sense of sexual tension; for instance, two bodies are deconstructed in Puzzle Pieces, formatted to appear unified under one complex and paradoxically disjointed aesthetic. Simultaneously penetrating the viewer and and leaving us to gasp for air, the body of work is a must-see. It is currently on view at Toronto’s Stephen Bulger Gallery. (via Art in America and Feature Shoot)
Luis Lorenzana is a Filipino artist who uses surrealist painting and sculpture to tease and reflect upon the state of consumerism and technology in the present-day world. His style is decidedly “lowbrow” — it is playful, and rich with satire and humor — but his works involve explorations of elitist cultural trends and re-interpretations of classical, “highbrow” art. This particular series is called instanity, a combination of “instant” and “insanity,” which reflects the idea of material excess and immediate gratification: we need to have everything, and we need to have it now. The fact that Lorenzana bends artistic temporalities (by painting Angry Birds into a classical landscape, for example) further shows an insane desire to compress time and space into one material instance — even the result is a little bit strange.
The characters in Lorenzana’s paintings are intentionally ugly. His painting of the Venus — recalling of course, Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus — is portrayed with an over-sized head and asymmetrical breasts, unsettling her status as a venerated artistic figure. Lorenzana’s sports-car-driving characters are likewise strange and hyperbolic, with their striped suits, cigarettes, stacked mustaches, and cavalier attitudes, all of which denote a level of excess and materiality that has turned into madness and ludicrousness. These unpleasant representations of culture poke fun at our own “instanity,” and, more generally, at the sheer monetary/aesthetic value and elitism often associated with fine art.
Lorenzana’s instanity recently exhibited at the Silverlens gallery in Singapore. Visit Artsy for a collection of his works currently available for sale.
Polish painter Jarek Puczel‘s works are arrestingly simple, yet compelling takes on the everyday. Sketching out fragments, and in-between moments pulled from everyday experiences, these pieces possess an air of the cinematic—key lighting, dramatic angles, arrested motion—all elements that tie into his overall concept of the world being one giant set for quiet, dramatic moments of ennui.
With his compositions, he explores the tension of seemingly empty moments, calling out their bare, bored elements like props on a stage. His color selections tiptoe between the real and the vivid, with punches of color tucked away in the very best places of each piece. By attempting to capture some sort of potential energy or agency within the frames of each scene, he has created a series of charged, silent stills, pulled right from the edges of someone’s daily experience. The result is a pleasing archive of slightly faded half-memories, sketched out in richly-hued oil on canvas.
Spain based artist Paco Pomet paints colorful clouds of pink and blue that consume and take over vintage scenes of landscapes. A skilled painter, Pomet uses oil paints to create surreal landscapes where his vibrant colors transform each image into something out of the ordinary. He paints his transformative palette like a wave that will eventually consume everything in its path. Pomet’s work starts out looking like vintage photos of tranquil wilderness in black and white or sepia tones, but then a burst of colored slime oozes and covers the scene. His fluffy pinks and fiery reds cut through the composition to reveal new elements, changing the situation and meaning of each image. Not only does this now distort the circumstance of the painting, but also the setting has become a whole different world where anything is possible. This is a place where tree trunks can glow, the sky can drip, and mountains can break in half. Each color is placed cleverly and adds a bit of humor and curiosity to his work.
Pomet’s paintings show influence of traditional western paintings and landscapes, with their inclusion of desert scenes, covered wagons, and cowboys. His choices of misfit colors do not only break up this traditional imagery, but ads a contemporary, dream-like quality not unlike that of contemporary pop-surrealism. His paintings hint at analogue photography, but with elements of modern design.
Paco Pomet is represented by Richard Heller Gallery in Santa Monica, CA and currently has a solo exhibition on view until February 15th. Make sure to see the artist’s incredible work in person while you have the chance!
Alex Stoddard is a Los Angeles-based photographer who produces inspiring, conceptual images exploring the beauty and pain of the human experience. Each image is charged with emotion, combining dark fantasy with images alluding to death, isolation, intimacy, and strength. Bodies lie prone on the beach, or amidst piles of torn paper; elsewhere, in a scene connoting anything from desire to sacrifice, a man collapses into the arms of a woman with arrows protruding fatally from his back. Among the images featured here are two of Alex’s series: Hunting for Pearls and Wake of Thunder, the former depicting a moon-pale water nymph wandering a dusky shoreline, the latter featuring a mysterious young woman possessed by the storm. Whether they are part of a series or standalone images, Alex’s narrative-rich works strike us with an emotional roar.
Named one of Flickr’s 20 Under 20 — a collection of the 20 most talented young photographers on Flickr — Alex has been taking the photo community by storm. His growing distinction is well-deserved, as he has worked hard to produce the images arising from his unique imagination and the fantasies of his youth. In a video posted on The Weekly Flickr, Alex describes the daring commitment that led to his burgeoning success:
“I put myself in so many different extreme circumstances. One day I would be hanging off a cliff, another day I would be throwing myself in a giant fish tank in the dead of winter, or putting a snake around my eyes. I didn’t really care if I was uncomfortable, I was just focused on creating a unique shot.” (Source)
Alex’s advice for succeeding as an artist is as equally inspiring, as he makes the astute point that “you’re never going to grow if you’re doing the same thing every day. You need to be afraid of what you’re doing to learn from it.” Just as his images depict the human body in transformative states of emotion and peril, Alex demonstrates how materializing your dreams involves staying brave and moving through the intensities and difficulties that shape our lives.
Extremely detailed machines made out of cardboard. Australian artist Daniel Agdag creates directly with his hands and scalpel. The industrial machineries he imagines and makes are a mean to raise consciousness on how human beings are powerless and ignorant over the machines they use daily.
In the ‘Principles of Aerodynamics’ series, Daniel Agdag demonstrates his ability to produce an intricate sculpture using just his imagination and memories he collects from details on architectural elements like buildings or monuments. He doesn’t sketch anything before diving for hours into his work. His process is described as ‘Sketching with Cardboard’. He conceives a hot air balloon, reel-to-reel recorder and a radar-dish without planning. The purpose remains the same : to entice the viewer’s curiosity and to generate a reaction.
The artist’s subject matter places individuals in a position of uncertainty. The machines that we use daily are complex and we tend to forget it. Furthermore, we might forget in the process that we are being helped by those machines, and that without them we could no longer pursue our effortless life. Daniel Agdad’s examination of the effect machines have on us is reminiscent of artist Jean Tinguely’s purpose. By building creative machines from garbage and found objects he ‘aimed to satirize the fallibility and unpredictability of machines and our reliance on them’. Daniel Adgad, by manipulating a simple material like a cardboard attempts to freeze time and the world we are living in. And reconnect the viewer with what he is actually capable of achieving thanks to the use of complicated machines.