To some, the purpose of hyperrealistic art may seem uncertain; why reproduce reality in such painstaking detail, when we are confronted by each other’s flesh every day? Of course, some of the sculptures have disturbing and surreal aspects, which makes their illusory qualities more clear. Like rats’ tails and hairless cats, these sculptures may make many of us strangely uncomfortable, for they unconsciously remind us of our own mortal fleshiness. Beyond this initial repulsion, however, they also mimic and accentuate reality to confront the viewer with meanings they may never see otherwise: human vulnerability, and the skin as a shallow edifice that distracts us from another’s internal experience. In each of these “simulations” of real life, an intuitive (and often unsettling) truth is revealed.
When I first looked at Yossi Loloi’s “Full Beauty” project, I felt conflicted, and, admittedly, a little irritated. Loloi’s whole mission statement is something we, as women, are constantly being reminded of– how the media is a horrible liar, how all women’s bodies are beautiful, how the art world is sexist too, and how we need to subvert to change and love our bodies, love ourselves. Right? Right! So, how might we do this? According to Loloi, one way, is to examine unconventional imagery such as his own collection of beautiful obese women, commercially lit in relaxed settings.
Of his intention, Loloi’s website states, “I focus on their fullness and femininity, as a form of protest against discrimination set by media and by today’s society. What larger women embody to me is simply a different form of beauty. I believe we own ‘freedom of taste’ and one shouldn’t be reluctant of expressing his inclination towards it. Limiting this freedom is living in a dictatorship of esthetics.”
What Loloi says is not horrible, not terrible. It’s quick, easy, and makes perfect sense. Scroll through the photos and you will see that these women certainly are strong and brave to share bodies that, on the surface, are not generally appreciated. I love the female subjects for embracing this. In fact, the women’s bravery is the most redeeming aspect of this project.
In the surreal photographic worlds of father of three John Wilhelm, the imaginative play of childhood is a force to be reckoned with; motivated by childhood memories of video games and television, the university IT director spends his free time dreaming up fantasies for his three daughters, 6-month-old Yuna, 2-year-old Mila, and 5-year-old Lou.
Wilhelm’s impressive body of work, composed of images heavily-manipulated in Adobe Photoshop, is simultaneously touching, thrilling, and humorous. Most children have fantasized about the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, seduced by the adventure of it all and by the terror of the Big Bad Wolf, but this father’s retelling of the classic fairy story is a little bit different; here, the girl is just as wild and free as the wolf, for instead of being fooled into believing that the beast is a peaceable gentleman, she howls with him, tossing her head ecstatically.
The bravery of the small children is highlighted again in a poignant image in which Mila offers a tiny bunch of yellow flowers to a wizened, toweringly large buffalo, whose magnificent, uncouth hair stands in stark contrast with the girl’s miniature peacoat and knitted pom-pom hat. In these fantastical images, the smallest of humans can be the most powerful; the littlest of all, Yuna, is often shown as wreaking havoc on her befuddled parents, who wear space masks to feed her or change her diapers. Indeed, this mischievous bunch is subject to no one’s will but their own, and in this visual play land, they are granted everything they could ever wish for. (via Demilked and Bored Panda)
A self-taught painter, Fatima Ronquillo layers her portraits with the traditional symbols and charms of classic-style portraiture — objects that meant different things in different times and have to be studied to be completely understood. Ronquillo’s subjects similarly face the viewer decorated with blindfolds, eye patches, fauns, flowers — and by pulling them into the contemporary, we are reminded us of the aesthetic value of these objects that we are free to attach our own significance to.
Working with only “earth, fire and emotions,” Kathy Ruttenberg’s fairytale-like ceramic sculptures create a world that is immediately captivating, but the viewer might be surprised by what’s down the rabbit hole. Her violent and devastating visions are disturbingly peaceful, idyllic and sustainable. Erasing the boundary of the metaphorical and the literal, Ruttenberg’s world is filled with lush foliage, woodland creatures and puzzling, slightly grim yet open-ended reveries of gender relations. Men are always portrayed as animals in gentlemen’s clothing, and women are always well-groomed and dressed in rounded skirts. On one hand, men are literally animal-like savages, but at the same time they are native creatures of the woodlands and the earth itself, whereas the female figures are the outsiders, if not intruders. It is hard to tell if they are men masquerading as animals, or vice versa. Death, in works such as “The Moment After”, is the stark aftermath of failed love, but also an opportunity to blossom imaginatively and become one with earth.
See Kathy’s work in person in NYC at STUX gallery on view now until May 5th.
Artist Peter Madden splices tiny elements to create large collages that are a dizzying combination of imagery. Using pictures extracted from encyclopedias, National Geographic magazines, and found photographs, he arranges all of the disparate pieces to form detailed compositions. The large groups are suspended on a transparent background, as if they are capture a moment in time before everything falls apart.
Madden’s collections create different narrative by virtue of the individual elements’ pairings. Some of the things included in his collages include: exotic birds, monkeys, the letter “m,” fishes, and clocks. They are often formed into some sort of larger shape, such as the outskirts of a giant hole, as if it’s surrounding the eye of a tornado.
The use of so many different pieces and the meticulously-constructed explosion-looking compositions feel as though we’re looking at windy, inclement weather that’s strong enough to make these pieces whip through the air. (via Inkult)