The Mao Bride (Red Guard Blue holding the Little Red Book), 2010
The Torero Bride With A Black Suit Of Lights, remembering Picasso, 2006
While we can probably all imagine what typical bridal photography looks like (maybe you’ve even been apart of it), artist Kimiko Yoshida turns this martial norm on its head. Her series Something Blue is named for the antiquated 19th century axiom that a bride should have “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, and Something Blue” on her wedding day. The portraits feature Yoshida in various costumes that are tinged with the hue, but not how you’d expect. They look like high-fashion photographs that feature elaborate headdresses, mirrors, and even a black-light suit.
These subversive images are a form of role playing for the artist as she disconnects herself through them. The M.I.A. Gallery in Seattle, who’s currently displaying Yoshida’s work, describes it as:
…she [Yoshida] borrows an identity, tells a new story and plunges the viewer into a ceremony, where the bride keeps appearing and disappearing unexpectedly. The artist recaptures time, transfigures herself into queens, muses, warriors, and uses the shadow to illuminate the mystery and hybrid nature her ceremonial attires.
Using monochromatic, as the gallery observed, has the effect of disappearance. Yoshida is here but she’s not, showing us that when we’re painted in only one color, we become a symbol rather than person.
London-based, Spanish-born designer Ion Ander Beloki makes beautiful, challenging work out of that most unabashedly commercial (and often mundane) assemblage that is the store window display. Trained in graphic design and sculpture, Ion Ander Beloki runs his own professional window dressing studio, Ja! Studio. Perhaps I’m a little naive but I had no idea this was a job a person can have. It makes sense though – his displays convey an elegance and artfulness that certainly reflects well on the stores they’re in.
Stung by the human desire to avert one’s eyes from death and decaying bodies, Emma Kisiel presents Down to Sleep, a series of images that—-like her other series At Rest— forces us to kneel in mourning over the bodies forgotten dead animals,. As she happens upon an animal, she crouches down, fixes each within a compassionate and gentle frame, immortalizing each in a way evocative of Victorian post-mortem photography, each appearing as if he is merely asleep.
Kisiel’s subjects, their lives affirmed and dignified despite their tragic and lonesome deaths, are afforded a painfully loving final farewell. Through their passings, their bodies are sectioned off and dissected by the artist’s frame, leaving only the most poignant physical markers of a meaningful life; with each patch of fur, each tooth and eye, each clasped claw, the viewer is permitted to examine the creature with a balefully sensual intimacy.
Viewers are invited to engage with each animal in a funerary ritual free of any artifice that might make their demise more palatable; they aren’t embalmed, stuffed, or even buried. The are left, haloed in nature’s humble offerings of grass or pebbles, in the exact place and time at which their lives were taken; as time passes, we recognize that these sleepy bodies will disintegrate.
Each animal subject, shot in natural light, offers an honest rendition of death, for as hard as the Kisiel’s camera might work to give meaning to a life lost, it also relentlessly reminds us that discarded bodies will inevitably be vanished and consumed by the earth. But perhaps this is the most compassionate way in which we can examine the dead, as eventually forgotten yet eternally potent reminders of the preciousness of life; in these happenstance grave sites, a simple but meaningful meditation on existence take place. (via Lenscratch)
Aaron McIntosh reinterprets old romance novels and photographs in his art while examining the lines between abnormality and normality, pleasure and disturbance. He is fascinated by human romantic and sexual natures, and both questions and challenges our social constructions of love and sex.
“Nightmusic” (2014). Acrylics on linen, 140 x 180cm.
“Dear Darkness” (2014). Acrylics and graphite on linen, 60 x 70 cm.
“Anticipation” (2014). Acrylics on linen, 70 x 100 cm.
“Cosmic Tides” (2014). Acrylics on linen, 120 x 170 cm.
Martine Johanna is a Netherlands-based artist whose beautiful, color-drenched works transfigure female figures into surrealist expressions of layered emotions and inner thoughts. In 2012, we featured her illustration portfolio, a body of work which depicts her distinctive, artistic tradition of blending abstract elements with whimsical sensuality. Also included in her oeuvre are a number of stunning acrylic paintings — many of them produced more recently — that delve into the worlds of the conscious and unconscious minds with stunning depth and sensitivity.
Characterizing Johanna’s paintings are women — often nude or nearly-nude — posed in contemplation, their eyes deep and shimmering, faces soft and shaded with storms of inner emotion. When I enquired about the use of nudity in her works, Johanna emphasized that while sex and sexuality are parts of our identities that can be used in artistic, representational ways that hold a lot of subversive power, her work is more concerned with an exploration of the mind and the body’s relationship to it. As she explained in a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay:
“There is more layering when it comes to forming the concepts of how [my] works come into existence, [just as] there is so much more going on in a person’s mind, conscious and subconscious; it is a web of complex emotions that contradict each other endlessly. For example: we want to be loved, but being overly loved corrupts, and love in itself is complex because the motivations behind wanting to be loved are already so many, from purity to manipulation to adornment to obsession, etc. In my process I deal with parts of these contradictions, [and] these thought patterns and emotions are endlessly fascinating to me.
However, I do not plan to make a work solely based on a combination of emotions; when I make what I make, I set up the compositions and figures that I feel, at that moment, is the right visual outcome to what my frame of reference and mind is. […] A couple of years back, I had my own sort of sexual revolution and a whole range of personal emotions connected to it. This is apparent in my work, [and] also visible is that I didn’t have my material or ways of expressing under control yet, which I’m now starting to get more of a grip on.”
The products of Johanna’s artistic explorations are paintings depicting layers of both materiality and essence. We see two worlds superimposed over each other: the corporeal, sensual, and sensate body, and the abyssal ocean of unpredictable emotion which surges within each one of us.
The surrealist elements of Johanna’s works likewise express the emotional contradictions mentioned in the above quote. Recurring motifs in her paintings are dualisms, shadowy “others” who embrace and accompany the female figures (see “Cosmic Tides” and “Dear Darkness,” for example). When I asked Johanna what this signified, she insightfully replied:
“[T]here is a balance of contradictions within us. You need dark to see the light; it’s nothing new, it’s yin and yang, it’s life. Denying darkness and not dealing with it doesn’t make life better — it makes it superficial.”
Hence why, in many of Johanna’s pieces, we often see layers of seemingly “contradictory” experiences, such as beauty alongside death (“The Hunted”), and hope alongside grief (“Opaline Blue”).
Check out this interesting PSA from 1976 that explores graffiti during a time when the art form had just blown up in public consciousness. This video really allows you to appreciate the status which graffiti has achieved today, even if we’re not all the way there yet. Though it presents many views on its subject, the piece comes off as biased. Make sure to look out for gems like “kids who write on toilet walls have psychological problems – let’s help them straighten out their heads.” Watch the 13-minute video after the jump.
I kind of love Edwin Rostron’s animated short, Morris and the Other. It reminds me of a more horrifying version of The Origin of Love, which I may or may not have played on repeat in my dorm room way back when. Anyway, I have no idea how to explain this video but the artist describes it as, “a hypnotic tale of frustration and desire, lovingly drawn in 2B pencil.” Works for me. Also: which one is Morris? I feel like the Other might be the ethereal floating diamond/kite. Maybe.