NYC-based artist Jon Widman really pays attention to surface quality in his seemingly mundane, photo-realistic paintings of papery things. Record sleeves, paperback novels and cardboard boxes are rendered in careful detail, but with the faintest trace of the painter’s hand in the tiny, graphic details. In some pieces, small, industrious rodents make an appearance, hinting at Widman’s sense of humor as they climb and hide among stacks of antiquated media. The subject matter would usually leave the viewer with a trace of nostalgia, but his color palettes and intriguing compilations keep the work feeling fresh and vibrant.
Lea Anderson is an American artist who creates beautiful and “propagating” wall-mounted installations. Exploding and evolving like particles, individually crafted parts (or “pods”) made of soldered tin cans, socks, wire, and flowery digital prints merge into beautifully flowing units, enveloping walls with an ecstatic, quasi-infectious fervor. Inspired by the unstructured nature of memory, thought, and hope, Anderson’s works represent the free-flowing multiplicities that compose our emotional lives. In a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay, she explained her process:
My work is fertilized by personal fascinations with the parallels found between the tangible, biological world, and the world of ideas, thoughts, and emotions. My work begins with a question about how a particular unseen reality might present itself if it were actually re-produced in physical form: What surprising form would the energy of ‘creative intention’ take on if it were visible? How might your memories flex and intermix with one another if we could see them all at once? What does the cumulative energy of one’s entire life look like when, through the grief of loss, it is transformed into love?
Many of Anderson’s works emerge from pain as projects of healing. “Matters,” for example, is a tribute to the enduring memories and influences of her late mother and father; “Rebirth of a Life” grew as an artistic response to the possibility of never having another child. In each case, Anderson dismantles mazes of pain by “sprouting” matter in infinite directions; as in the natural world, there is always a way to initiate healing and renewal by embracing the ebbs and flows of uninhibited thoughts and ideas. Without a predictable structure, Anderson’s works provide visual environments for highly subjective interpretations:
I hope the works stimulate curiosity and resonate on both the most fundamental and highest levels. The meaning I personally infuse in the work isn’t required for a link to be established. The language of color, shape, and form are powerfully unifying and universal ways of communicating. Responses reflect who each individual is in that moment. In that way the ideas are germinated within the mind of another, and the evolution continues.
Gino Rubert’s studio practice focuses on the representation, animation, and reinforcement of the experiences and emotions that exist within the framework of contemporary romantic relationships. His narratives revolve around “the new man and woman, the contemporary couple in a time after the pill, after the strikes in May 1968, after the rise of Feminism, after all the politics and laws were developed to equalize men and women’s rights and opportunities,” says Rubert. “My characters are set in some kind of utopia. They are individuals who express their gender and nature without arrogance, complexity, or fear.” The new woman, new man, their functions (or dysfunctions), conflicts, and rhetoric are all key themes explored with a generous slice of self-deprecating humor by this Barcelona-based artist. To realize these investigations, the Artist employs painting, photography, and video – often within the same composition to achieve his singular style. “If I had to define a main thread that goes through my work,” says Rubert, “it would definitely be the need to look at the sentimental world from an ironic and critical perspective”
David Welch’s photographs document sculptural assemblages that form pseudo monuments, or totems of consumer goods and debris. The totems speak of accumulation and materiality and encourage debate about consumption, media, class, gender and the ways in which we feel compelled to consume.
Mickey Artworld is a self-taught French artist who works in SFX makeup, prop design, paint, and sculpture to create highly imaginative characters in the styles of steampunk, science fiction, fantasy, and horror. His project Fragile, featured here, hails from this latter category; emerging out of a twisted mass of what appears to be rock or clay is a hideous creature, what Mickey identifies as a “tortured soul.” Featureless except for a raw, lipless mouth and snarling teeth, the alien-being writhes blindly about, howling in pain (or in some other indescribable, unidentifiable emotion). As it crawls and twists over the rocky mound, its skin appears to crack and crumble off like sand, giving it a corpselike appearance and adding to its expression of living hell. To create this frighteningly realistic piece, Mickey made the mask out of latex and the body a combination of water-based clay and makeup.
Mickey explains that the source of inspiration for Fragile was Silent Hill, the Japanese survival horror video game series known for its creepy, slow-burning aesthetics that disturb the psyche; instead of gore for shock value, imagine eerie, unfamiliar sounds in a dark room and grotesque monsters with strange, mutilated bodies — the types of illogical and horrifying things you would see in a nightmare. Fragile has the same emotional and psychological effects, producing fear through confusion and doubt. In confronting spectators with Fragile‘s macabre scene, Mickey hopes to transport them into “another world, a world of beauty and darkness,” where monsters like this one access the deepest recesses of our subconscious, eliciting complex feelings of both fascination and fear.
Check out Mickey’s website and Facebook page for a stunning collection of his beautiful and stylistically varied work. The photography for Fragile was done by the talented Warped Galerie, whose work will appeal strongly to anyone interested in horror, fantasy, and dark beauty. The model is San Keaton.
Lauren Pelc McArthur is a multi-disiplinary artist from Toronto,Ontario currently attending the Ontario College of Art and Design. Through a back and forth process of collage, painting and digital art she explores the inter-connectivity of modern media and technology along with science fiction influenced concepts of the assimilation of technology, pop culture and the human form.
Thomas Pedersen Elkjaer works out of Copenhagen.