The Victorian doll is a symbol of feminine delicacy and piety, but the Scottish sculptor Jessica Harrison has turned that notion on its head, constructing porcelain figures and painting their flesh with vivid sailor tattoos. Harrison, previously featured here for her graphic and macabre figurines, subtly builds upon contemporary dialogues of sexuality and the female body. Where Victorian women were encouraged to be sexually modest, religious and sober, Harrison’s dolls adopt the visual language associated with drunkenness and sexual freedom on the high seas. Sailors, feared for their rowdy traditions, were thought of as the antithesis of the ideal woman, who was almost always middle class, white, home-bound.
Harrison’s dolls, like many Victorian woman, wear corsets and petticoats of soft, pastel hues; one even modestly holds a fan. But these seemingly coy women obviously have some ruffian pasts. Tattooed on one woman’s pale arms are the names of a dozen conquests: Daisy, Rita, Maria, Eileen. Unlike the figurines treasured by small Victorian children, Harrison’s characters seem to have anachronistically accompanied Sailor Jerry on his boozy pin-up filled adventures. Beside a budding rose sewn into the color of her dress, a lady reveals a pair of flying swallows, an icon that appears frequently in mid-20th century sailor tattoos.
Harrison’s impressive series coyly lays bare the deeply entrenched sexism, racism, and classism of the Victorian era, during which women were not permitted to vote or visit pubs. With their waists cinched and their hair powdered into elaborate updos, these seemingly fragile porcelain figures contain an undeniable grit that transcends all social barriers.
I realize that Christmas is officially over, but to maintain that holiday spirit for as long as possible I wanted to write about Yrjo Edelmann. Hailing from Sweden, Edelmann worked as a comic strip illustrator for many years until he started to paint. His “parcels” became his signature and caught my eye as exceptional trompe-l’ oeil images. At first I thought they were just giant, poorly wrapped presents, but upon closer inspection I learned that they are in fact impressively intricate oil paintings.
Occupying a space between illusion and hyper-realism Edelmann’s paintings pull from the influences of surrealists such as Rene Magritte, Giorgio de Chirico and Marcel Duchamp. Capturing every wrinkle and tear in the paper Edelmann’s paintings float a few inches off the wall, furthering the confusion about their dimension. A viewer might wonder what’s inside these rather poorly wrapped packages, endowing Edelmann’s paintings with a sense of both mystery and humor.
I was snooping around Cargofolio today and found this lovely gem. Not only is Yu Jie Wu an amazing experimental photographer, he is a high school student. I am consistently impressed by how ambitious and talented some of the artists from the younger generation are. His work explores time, motion and repetition within a single scene. I see a lot of work that uses repetitive imagery, but I think that Yu Jie Wu has done it better. He is subtle, and the images he chooses to repeat force the viewer to notice small differences, or recognize that there is sometimes no difference at all.
French photographer Florian Beaudenon’s series Instant Life invites the viewer to relish their voyeurism as we spy on people caught from above. The intimate photographs features a variety of women living their everyday lives; they fix a bike, eat on the couch, and write in a notebook. Although we’re invited into their homes, we never see their face.
If you love people watching and interiors, then Beaudenon’s photographs probably pique your interest. The compositions are zoomed in enough so we can admire the fine details of their dwellings. Collections of books, sex toys, and shoes are all featured in the wood-floored homes. It doesn’t matter that we can’t fully see what these people look like – we learn enough about them through just the items they own and how they organize where they live. (Via Fast Co. Design)
Collage artist Maksim Hem aptly titled this quiet series of works “Untitled Colours.” The name lends itself to the idea of objects overlooked, because they don’t scream and shout to get your attention. Hem’s restraint does not imply a lack of feeling but rather an attention to detail that is unnecessary to decorate. It’s like watching the Discovery Channel over Bravo–the life and times of baby cheetahs are just such a welcome change of pace.
I’ve always been interested in the creative energy that comes out of Australia and Nick Thompson’s work is just another reason to love the land down under. His work is clean, bold, and full of impact. Watch the video for the image above and see a fantastic selection of his creative output after the jump!
We posted Greg Hopkins work back in 2009 when he was painting heavily detailed floral patterned paintings. Recently I visited Greg’s site and was pleasantly surprised by the new exciting direction for his work. The flowers have been replaced by tightly painted geometric patterns weaving in, out, and into faux paint drips.