Romanian artist Bogdan Rata’s highly psychological sculptures contort and mold the human body. Using polyester, synthetic resin, paint, and metal, he forms hybrid realism in his mutated versions of our anatomy. Where skin usually holds a warm glow, his work exhibits a pale, lifeless aura. Limbs sit detached from the body, or even more disturbing, emerge from an unnatural place, like the face. Both unsettling and intriguing, Rata’s sculptures twist and contort, making us feel uncomfortable and suddenly very aware of our own bodies.
The sculptor’s deformed misfits reflect on the imperfection felt about our own bodies and appearances. Our own insecurities are met and reflected in Rata’s psychologically surreal artwork. His work is not only hard to look at due to their grotesque qualities, but the positions many of the sculptures are in appear painful and awkward. Each piece seems to be uncomfortable in its own skin, uncertain of its own body and what to do with it. This is a feeling we can often relate to, as becoming confident in our bodies is often a difficult part of life. Rata hints at the confusion and difficulties brought on by self-identity issues in such works as his bust of a man with no face. His distorted figures are lost, looking for acceptance. Although they at first seem misshapen and horrifying, a strange beauty and compassion can be found in Rata’s fascinating work.
Bara Prasilova‘s photography is both playful and disturbing. She uses soft pastels with pops of neon color to evoke feelings of nostalgia and innocence; simultaneously, she hints at themes of restraint and constriction. In her project for the Hasselblad Masters Book, she’s chosen to explore the theme of “evolve.” Her prop of choice is hair: a natural material that she portrays in a surreal and absurd fashion.
In one photograph, a woman jumpropes with a long Rapunzel-esque whip of hair; in another, a thick braid wrapped around a woman’s neck looks suffocating yet elegant. Prasilova explains:
“Through my photographs, I have been trying to understand human relationships and connections: long hair symbolises the invisible strings we use to strap somebody to us or, perhaps, the opposite, to let somebody loose. They are the threads of our emotions, worries and fears that we are afraid to loosen like hair.” (via I Need a Guide)
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Matthew Lock lives and works in New Jersey. His drawings and paintings are steeped in science fiction and almost always feature a post-apocalyptic landscape. The subjects that litter his work are both futuristic and decrepit. Death, decay, and disorder are prevalent in Lock’s grim wastelands that are rendered in a rough yet cultivated style championed by Raymond Pettibon. Lock takes inspiration from dark medieval imagery and filters it through his brand of futuristic grunge.
For American Asylum, photographer Jeremy Harris captures the abandoned interiors of American mental institutions that operated during the 19th century. With the increased presence of psychiatric hospitals, the mid-1800s were characterized in part by a growing fear of the mentally ill. State-funded hospitals were often overcrowded, and there existed a widespread panic that sane people were being wrongfully institutionalized. Nearly two centuries later, Harris hauntingly presents these hospitals, these strange sites of psychological trauma, in decay.
Harris’s soft natural lighting is startling reminiscent of Francisco de Goya’s early 19th century painting The Madhouse. Emptied of its residents, the space seems darkly oppressive, colored in sickly greens and putrid browns. Shot with a profound depth of field, endless hallways house tiny rooms like some perverse dollhouse. The curved ceilings, now in ruin, frame the photographs in currents of claustrophobia.
Even in the shots in which we are offered some escape—the relief of an open door or wide-set window—viewers are compelled to stay within the confining space. Amidst chipped paint and rotting walls are signifiers of some ancient humanity, long forgotten by time: a rusted organ, a tilted chair, a message on the wall. The traces of life and bodies persist in old sinks and forgotten parcels. Somehow, these haunted spaces are beautiful, bathed in light. The people who lived here, once removed from and silenced by society, speak out in the ruins of the building that once contained them, as if to say, “This happened. We were here.” (via Lost at E Minor)
Perhaps taking some influence from the Hindu god Shiva, Korean artist Ahn Sun Mi creates self portraits depicting herself as some type of all seeing entity. In a surreal sense the photographs Mi creates depict the many emotions and feelings one experiences throughout the day. It conveys the complexity of human behavior by showing multiple eyes or arms. These represent the many things we see and do throughout the course of our lives. The numerous changes we undergo each day become in Mi’s work another mark in our psyche which is visually or literally depicted in her work.
While studying in Paris Mi became interested in the concept of metamorphosis which resulted from her being away from home in a strange land. Some of her photographs resemble a moth about to turn into a butterfly. Others have her struggling out of a cocoon like a covering made out of her arms. It helped her deal with all the emotions which stemmed from her new surroundings and mirrored how growth is good even though somewhat painful. By using herself in the photos we not only experience the ideas she’s trying to communicate but also get to see the biographical side in a literal visual sense. Historically Mi’s work finds reference to artists such as Yayoi Kusama and Rene Magritte. (Via faithistorment)
Spanish artist Alica Martin’s dynamic installations of books flowing out of buildings is the perfect example of how a pile of mundane objects can be transformed into a powerful installation. Creating a wire and aluminum structure with thousands of books attached to the outside frame, Martin’s creates a waterfall of literature that spill into the streets as if a crazed librarian turned on the mother of all book faucets. Pages and book jackets flap in the wind mimicking the spontaneous and erupting movement of water materialized in solid form. (via mymodernmet)