Fabio Esposito is a London-based (Italian-born) fashion and beauty photographer with an alternative and darkly sensual style. Among his impressive list of collaborators are the designers Jitrois, Pam Hogg, Úna Burke, and Jay Briggs (who we featured recently — read more here), as well as the artists Amanda Lear and Francesca Belmonte. No matter what Esposito is shooting — be it leather couture, surrealist still lifes, or bizarre head apparatuses — his results are consistently expressive, using powerful lighting and color schemes (often in monochromatic tones) to evoke emotion and tell a story. When I inquired about how he would describe his style, Esposito explained:
“My style keeps changing with my emotions, but it’s always a fight between my dark side and the part of me that could not live without vibrant colours. When you strive to express your inner world and somehow show it through your work, then this is what I think makes it different and unique.”
There is no doubt that Espostio brings an original and exciting element into fashion and beauty photography. Inspired by artists such as Dalí and Caravaggio, his work follows artistic traditions while transforming them into something new; like a contemporary Dalí, many of Esposito’s works contain strange and surprising elements, such as the armless, nude woman wearing a mask that resembles a crossover between a disfigured classical sculpture and a cyborg. Recalling Caravaggio, Esposito’s photos often have a chiaroscuro-type effect, using blotted shadows to create bold contrasts on the skin of his models. The result is a set of images that are classical, honest, and seductive in their beauty, yet buzzing with a distinctly modern and alternative edge.
I love patterns, and I definitely get my fill through Daniel Brereton’s work. We are featuring yet another renaissance man who not only exhibits his lively work in galleries, but also works in music videos, apparel design, and etc.
Toward Obliteration, 2012 Ash wood, Glass, Laser-cut Baltic Birch and 4000 live Honeybees
From 2010 to the present, Lauri Lynnxe Murphy has been collaborating with bees in the creation of her artwork. Despite a bee allergy, Murphy remains committed to her practice, which she describes as being “research-based.” Seeking to understand the nature of bees, Murphy depends on them to make works such as Listen, symbolizing the need to pay attention to the signals bees use for communication. Or We’re Sorry, Murphy’s apology and simultaneously the bees’ apology for any disruption either collaborator may have caused the other. Similarly, her honeycomb sculptures are co-created with the bees. Murphy chooses to work with bees, or other materials that she feels allow her to appropriately explore issues surrounding ecological and political concerns.
Other than the current threat to the bee population Murphy has recently been concerned about nuclear power, particularly following the tsunami-induced collapse of Fukushima. Murphy produced a series titled, Doilies of Imminent Destruction. That’s an amazing title for some pretty delicate work. The series began as a “meditation on the banality of our dialogue surrounding our fearsome power to irreparably alter an environment, and an investigation into the corporately chosen, idealized representations of these disaster sites prior to the disaster.” Each doily depicts the site of a nuclear disaster: Chernobyl, Deepwater Horizon, Fukushima and Three Mile Island. Why doilies? Murphy recognizes the doily’s function as beautifying, or covering up the ugly or tarnished. They also reference an old-fashioned nostalgia of domesticity and desired perfection.
I am drawn to Murphy’s work not for the beauty of it, although it is quite captivating, but rather for the delicate, yet powerful call to arms it requests of the viewer. Whether it is her work about nuclear disasters subtly imploring us to concern ourselves with the danger of this technology, or her work about bees suggesting we need to be aware of the beauty and vulnerability of the bee’s ecosystem, Murphy’s work merits our contemplation.
Russian born illustrator Andrey Smirny uses the sharp angles, bright colors, and deceptively flat depiction of spatial relationships found in early NES video games to illustrate the drama and humor of the ongoing exchange between people and their modern technological environments. He was born and raised in the Soviet Union in late 80s, and attributes the sudden flood of easily accessible Western media post-Iron Curtain as moments that have made lasting impacts on his artistic expression and aesthetic. He spent his youth watching bootlegged American B-rated action movies on VHS (“weird John Carpenter movies like Big Trouble in Little China and The Thing”) and exploring similarly illegally obtained Nintendo games like Double Dragon, Battle Toads, and Tanks. He went on to study Fine Art and Graphic Design and fell in love with the DIY comic scene, exploring GIFs as his main medium. Currently he draws on the style and constantly evolving work of self-taught artist Todd James as one of his biggest inspirations, along with the otherworldly ideas of his barber Nikolai and “his addiction to UFO-related YouTube videos and belief that angels truly live on Mars.”
Japanese artist Yoshitoshi Kanemaki’s Camphor wood sculptures show a wide variety of wondrous human abnormalities. From a nine headed school girl to a 20 something young man with his skeletal structure resting outside his skin, kanemaki combines surreal imagery and painstakingly precise carving to bring his figures to life.
British street artist Phlegm’s works don’t use bold fluorescent colors that we usually associate with street art but reference the ancient art of woodblock prints and engravings. With mythical imagery of dragons, elongated fishermen, and unearthly beasts, Phlegm’s detailed black and white drawings use the contemporary medium of street art to take us back to mysterious centuries from long long ago.
As digital technology takes over analog traditions it becomes harder to keep alive the tried and true methods of yesteryear. Case in point, analog photography. This is why British photographer Richard Nicholson began documenting the few remaining professional dark rooms in London before they all slowly disappeared and were replaced with high resolution digital cameras and massive digital printers. Will these labs one day only live in history museums and through the work of such photographers such as Richard? Only time will tell.
Documentary photographer Cristina de Middel’s striking new series, This is What Hatred Did, displays a collection of beautifully cinematic photographs that bend the boundary between reality and magic. Her photographs are both playful, yet inherently insightful. The series acts as a photographic narrative of Amos Tutuola’s book, “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts,” a novel loosely based on Yoruba folklore. Written in child’s prose, the book follows a 5 year old Nigerian child whose village was attacked by soldiers, leaving him without his mother, and provoking him to flee in order to avoid the chaos. He manages to find his way into a magical bush where no humans are allowed. The novel follows him for 30 years, during which he achieves many states of being. Tutuola’s book, published in 1964, caused him to flee the country due to a violent reaction, leading him to open a new path for African literature. Cristina de Middel explains the series; she states:
“The series “This Is What Hatred Did” (derived from the mysterious last sentence of the book) aims to provide an illustrated contemporary version of the book, adapting the characters, and ambiance to the current situation of the country. The “Bush” is now the Lagosian neighborhood of Makoko, a floating slum with its own rules, commanded by Kings and community leaders, often the subject of popular media coverage. A place where logic does not prevail and forbidden for those who do not belong. With the conviction that contemporary issues should be described in a way that includes the agent’s traditions, perspectives, fears, and hopes, this series documents the enhanced reality of one of the most iconic places in Nigeria.”
Cristina de Middel, a spanish born artist now living on London, is known for her important, self-published photo book, The Afronauts, 2012.