Joel Tretin calls himself a Photo Humorist and that description seems perfectly apt. His photo series Stranger in Paradox “looks at what’s true and totally screws with it.” At first glance, the pictures seem deceptively straightforward—portraits of the city shot in a somewhat generic ad-agency aesthetic. Hidden in plain sight are the visual jokes: a parking ticket on the windshield on a sports car in a building height ad; a carousel over a revolving door; an elephant walking though the green murkiness of a subway. The Photoshop manipulations are mostly seamless—it really looks like that woman is pushing an eight-seat stroller, and that sporty yellow cab looks real next to its stodgier brother. A stack of cars make the most of a lone parking space.
The subtlest images make you work for them. A lit Wall Street façade, American flags… oh, there. The don’t walk sign is flipping the bird. The traffic sign points to the “Road Most Taken” an apparent play on Robert Frost’s Road Less Taken.
Photo manipulation in art is often used to create surreal imagery. And these pictures are surreal in that they portray things that are unreal and often fantastic, but the photos lack the intention and technique that transform pictures into fine art. Which seems to be just fine with Trentin, who says:
I am a failed stand up comedian, who now tries to make people laugh through photography.
I’m not very knowledgeable in the field of commercial photography, but there’s something subtly funny about many of Bryce Duffy’s photographs. In fact, it seems a bit stupid to even call it “commercial” photography vs. just plain old photography. I guess the difference is that you can hire Duffy to create his artwork for you to particular ends. However, in most of his work there’s a sort of looming 70’s kitsch hilarity lurking just under the surface. Burt Reynolds photographed under a giant painting of himself? Genius!
Anthony and other boxer connecting punches. (Old Fire House Soho, February, 2012)
The crowd consisting of a large number of Charlie’s friends celebrate as Charlie wins his match. (Old Fire House Soho, September, 2012)
Two boxers pair up before their match. (Old Fire House Soho, September, 2012)
Ring girl entertaining the crowd in-between rounds. (Old Fire House Soho, February, 2012)
Photographer Devin Yalkin points an unflinching eye to the underground world of illegal fight nights, capturing their raw intensity. These “Friday Night Throwdowns” happen in secret locations and venues all over New York City. In Yalkin’s series The Old One Two, this hidden world is revealed through intimate, black and white photographs with a Film Noir flavor to them. This powerful series gets you up close and personal to the fighters and the erupting crowd cheering them on. The compositions in this series can be as hazy and chaotic as the fight itself, capturing the true atmosphere of these fight nights. You can see the unrefined aggressiveness and brutality between the fighters, but also feel the excitement and energy from the audience.
Devin Yalkin allows us to take place of the spectator, seeing every bead of sweat and drop of blood on the skin of the fighters. The high tension and motion happening during these Friday Night Throwdown’s can be felt in each photograph. It is as if we are standing next to each eccentric character; the screaming fan, the eager fighter, or the elusive woman in lingerie whose role is somewhat unknown. All of the individuals shown in Yalkin’s series seem to come from all walks of life, having only the love of the fight connecting them.
Make sure to check out Devin Yalin’s new strange and beautiful series Abductions, which captures ominous scenes of which we cannot place, mysterious and alluring.
Henrietta Harris is an Auckland-based artist and illustrator working with watercolour, biro and gouache. Although her work uses traditional techniques, her beautiful portraits retain a modern subject matter and style, and have been used by numerous publications and companies worldwide.
Gary Taxali is a multi-talented designer, illustrator and artist. His playful style is reminiscent of the golden age of 1950’s advertising, where wholesome, larger than life characters such as the checkered suspendered, pompadoured smiling Bob’s Big Boy still reigned supreme (and were not ironic yet.) Taxali’s bold style has earned him dozens of clients, ranging from Rolling Stone, MTV, Lev’s and Converse just to name a few. Beautiful/Decay recently got the chance to interview Taxali.
Daniel Zeller’s practice involves meticulous and obsessive pattern making creating forms that resemble maps, isolated body parts, and blood streamed arteries. I’m drawn by the labor intensive repetition, its lingering between sci-fi staging and topographical landscape, and the undulating and vibrating ebb and flow of each compacted form. Step close to the surface and be astounded by the articulate and precise thin lines, step back and let your eyes adjust to the accumulated network of organisms pulsing throughout the picture plane.
Artist Anne Ten Donkelaar‘s series Broken Butterflies takes its inspiration from a children’s book. According to the story, because of his dream to create a mix between a flower and a bird, the protagonist Arno is banished to an insect workshop. In a way, Donkelaar works from her own insect workshop. She says:
“I had my own collection of damaged butterflies, so I decided to repair each one differently according to their needs. So in a way, I now have my own workplace with butterflies and give the butterflies a second life.”
Much of her work begins with objects that are often overlooked. Infusing them with renewed attention and narrative, Donkelaar then reintroduces the object to the viewer.