Though an artist who truly utilizes a wide-range of materials and media, perhaps Andrea Mastrovito‘s most eye-catching and memorable works are those he creates by collaging thousands of images from books which are installed to create swarming, jungle-like visual configurations. The images are sources from thousands of book, precisely cut-out and arranged, giving the whimsical and unusual feeling that the interior of a house could be covered by swarming bats, or butterflied would cover an entire gallery while sunning themselves.
Inspired partly by H. G. Wells’ famous science fiction novel The Island of Doctor Moreau, Mastrovito’s The Island of Dr. Mastrovito and The Island of Dr. Mastrovito II were installed at Governors Island in New York in 2010. Says the Bergamo, Italy-born artist about his work, “His starting points for this site-specific work are the two most common forms of home recreation—books and television. The title of his installation refers to H. G. Wells’ famous novel The Island of Doctor Moreau, in which the archetypal “mad” scientist experiments upon animals in order to give them human traits. In this “Island,” the artist substitutes himself for the doctor, trying to instill a new life into that which was once alive in a different way (books from paper, paper from wood, and wood from trees). Mastrovito imagines that the outside fauna take control of the abandoned house and become its proper inhabitants. Approximately 700 books were brought under the artist’s knife to cut out real-size images of animals. This trompe-l’oeil, or paper diorama, also suggests the strength of images, the infinite possibilities that knowledge—through books—can give us in order to create and re-create the world that we can only imagine.” (via colossal)
Jeremy Laffon‘s series of installations are entirely constructed from chewing gum. He painstakingly builds each of his installations with this unusual material. The precision and care he gives to his work is contrasted by the material itself. Chewing gum isn’t particularly strong or sturdy – the lattice work structure buckling under its own weight, or tiled gum easily giving way underfoot. Chewing gum is also associated with casualness, rude to chew in formal settings, spit out when finished with: a pleasant surprise in an often stuffy art world.
Mixing an admiration for John Baldessari with her own childhood memories of cutting/altering magazines with her mother, Flore Kunst creates captivating collages from vintage postcards and magazines, while sprinkling a few contemporary clippings throughout. A graduate of Emile Cohl for design, Kunst’s eye for intriguing detail and clean lines is evident; however, it’s her creative visual juxtapositions that truly capture our attention most, allowing us to meditate on the female form and its signifiers from era to era– how it all clashes and confuses even the most contemporary culture and its psyche.
Artist Pawel Bajew is a master of contorting the body and creating an oddly beautiful scene constructed from simple objects. In his series titled Freaks, the photographer creates surreal images of seemingly mutated bodies and disembodied limbs. However, disfigured his figures may appear, this effect is created mainly through simple minimal objects under the clothing or strangely placed props covering identifying parts of the body like the face or limbs. His cleverly placed mannequin parts and wigs form surreal scenes, some filled with isolation, others with humor. Each strange situation is not unlike a film still; holding dramatic poses and staged lighting. His figures seem tormented in some way, with the bodies twisting and bending in abnormal ways. The faces are often hidden in this series, distorting the identity of the person and causing an eerie, psychological effect on the viewer.
This intriguing, Polish-based photographer also captures amazing portraits full of detail and originality. His portraits are filled with self-portraits as well as others, embodying an eclectic group of eccentric individuals. Each subject seems like a fictional character, filled with exaggerated expressions and over the top costumes straight out of a novel. Bajew’s portraits are not without humor, as some figures have funny expressions, but also have a darkness about them, just like his series Freaks. His body of work as a whole personifies a distinct mood and peculiar atmosphere about it that leaves it distinguishable and unique.
Artur Birkle is a German photographer with an eye for the candid and playfully suggestive. He shoots across many fields, including editorials, portraits, and reportage photography. His style is always distinct: high flash, casual poses, and accentuated body parts. Skillfully capturing the energy of his models and their intimate gestures, Birkle’s works allude to eroticism, rather than overtly display it.
Two series from his portfolio are shown here, Fruit Salad and Personal. The former features fruit in erogenous situations: a banana anointed with a thick, creamy liquid; apples strategically placed over breasts; a plum resting on someone’s tailbone. The sexual imagery of fruit has been explored before in art (and our imaginations)—i.e., the phallic resemblance of a banana—but Birkle does an excellent job accentuating the eroticism in a clean and simple manner. The skin texture and individual hairs of his models lend the images an honesty that heightens the viewer’s curiosity.
The Personal series has the same lighthearted tone, but with a softer, more sensual edge. These images are like viewpoints into private moments, buzzing with the after-burn of intimacy. Events such as twilight window-gazing and partially dressed bodies are documented in his fragmentary style, enticing us with a piece of the story and allowing our imaginations to fill in the rest. Birkle captures the nuances of physical expression in clever and unique ways.
Birkle is currently studying photography and media at the University of Applied Sciences in Bielefeld. You can view more of his works on his website, Instagram, and Tumblr. (Via Art Fucks Me)
Jansson Stegner’s work could easily have turned into your typical figurative work but the strange elongation of the figures gives the work a bizarre psychological twist. It’s kind of a mix between Balthus and John Currin.
As part of our ongoing partnership with Feature Shoot, Beautiful/Decay is sharing an article about photographer Deborah Bay.
I began thinking about The Big Bang after seeing a sales display of bullet-proof plexiglas with projectiles embedded in it. The plexiglas captured the fragmentation of the bullets and provided a visual record of the energy released on impact. In deciding to explore this concept further, I also was intrigued by the psychological tension created between the jewel-like beauty and the inherent destructiveness of the fragmented projectiles. Many of the images resemble exploding galaxies, and visions of intergalactic bling sublimate the horror of bullets meeting muscle and bone.—Deborah Bay
Houston-based photographer Deborah Bay gives us that interesting mix of creating a beautiful visual to comment on a darker issue. The Big Bang addresses the steadfast affection America has for its firearms. The topic is especially relevant for the native Texan, who lives in a state that has an estimated 51 million firearms. The images were made in Bay’s studio after law enforcement professionals from the Public Safety Institute of Houston Community College shot at sheets of plexiglass.