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Studio Visit: Serena Cole’s Glittery Paintings Tap into our Dark Desires

As part of our ongoing partnership with In The Make, Beautiful/Decay is sharing a studio visit with artist Serena Cole. See the full studio visit and interview with Serena and other West Coast artists at www.inthemake.com.

Serena’s studio is in her Oakland apartment, a modest space that she has efficiently rigged to accommodate her needs. She’s set it up so that her studio takes up most of the apartment’s square footage, but she keeps things flexible with furnishings that are easily moved and rearranged. I’m always impressed with resourcefulness and am appreciative of the kind of ingenuity that comes out of necessity and that manages to circumvent a set of limitations. In fact, the idea of limitations kept coming up for me in thinking about Serena’s artwork because her pieces are very much visually dictated and confined by her reference material. Her work directly appropriates the fashion imagery of advertising campaigns and editorial spreads, highlighting the patterns and tropes used to elicit desire and encourage consumerism. In taking on this imagery, her work attempts to examine what is revealed about our collective psychology, the culture of consumption and escapism, and the complexity of fantasy. In our conversations, she acknowledged that she isn’t so much trying to create something new, but instead aims to deconstruct already existent imagery in the appropriation of it. But this is a slippery slope— in being so tightly tethered to the aesthetics of the fashion world, Serena’s work runs the risk of coming off as analogous instead of questioning. Serena is aware of this risk— in creating art within a framework already heavily loaded with well-established associations, value, and perimeters, she knows the trick is to get the viewer to recognize that there is actually a lot at stake amidst the glitz and glamour.

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Documentary Watch: Ross Capicchioni Makes Your Problems Look Petty

 

This is the unbelievable survival story of a young skateboarder named Ross Capicchioni from Detroit. I don’t want to ruin the story but if you only do one thing today watch this video. I promise that you’ll forever be changed. Watch the 2 part video after the jump.

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PAUL BUCKLEY

Paul Buckley, the VP Executive Creative Director for Penguin USA, has continued to art director and design some of the most eye-catching book covers I’ve ever seen. Instead of relying on a simplified photograph with super-clean typography, or reaching back for a retro look, Buckley hires the best-of-the-best in illustration and independent comics (Burns, Hanuka, Millionaire, to name a few) to create wonderfully fresh graphic images that leave little to be desired. And since these books are all classics, you don’t have to worry about being deceived by these alluring covers, because the interiors are guaranteed to be just as perfect as the exteriors. It is encouraging that the daunting sterility of the Kindle and Nook are being combated by men like Buckley, Kidd, Gall, and so many more, and if such devotion remains to be ceaselessly put into future book production, there should be little fear of physical books disappearing anytime soon. For a complete look at all of the book layouts (fronts, backs, interiors) see Sir Buckley’s Flickr.

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Josh Spear Likes Our New Site!

Our friends over at Josh Spear have just written up a sweet review of our new site! Click the image above for real, (virtual) proof & to see it in all its cyber glory. Thanks Josh Spear & co!

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Interview: Nick Cave

 

Mixed Media

Mixed Media

 

 

Nick Cave combines free-spirited motion exploratory modern dance with ostentatious sculptural detail to breath new life into contemporary art. In many ways, Nick’s work function within the vein of African art/costuming in the sense that they are intended to be “danced,” and enlivened within the context of performance and dance to illustrate and reflect upon societal mores and the cultural landscape. With references to haute couture, sculpture, performance, African American culture, costume, masquerade and beyond, Nick’s “Sound Suits” defy categorization. Beautiful/Decay recently had the opportunity to interview Nick Cave to discuss his background, inspiration and ideology behind the suits. Nick Cave is currently showing his latest works at Jack Shainman Gallery, until Feb 7, 2009. 

 

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Haunting Photographs Of Places Marked By Tragic Suicides

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This series from the landscape photographer Donna J. Wan might at first seem exhilarating, with its sweeping views of turquoise blue, frothy water; however, overlaid each magnificent seascape is the knowledge that tragic suicides have occurred in these exact spots. The artist, inspired by her own postpartum depression, names her body of work Death Wooed Us after a line from the poet Louise Gluck: “Death wooed us, by water, wooed us.”

Wan’s stunning images look startlingly like the work of of Caspar Davd Friedrich, whose dark romantic landscape paintings capture the spiritual bonds between human and nature. Friedrich, who is widely assumed to have suffered from depression, also used the shifting tides, colored with mist and fog, to express the lonesomeness of the human condition. Where the 19th century painter employed a human figure, his back facing the viewer, Wan leaves her bridges and overlooks painfully empty; any (wo)man who has sat and contemplated his (or her) life and death here has since departed.

Wan’s tragic photographs stretch endlessly to the edges of the frame, as if her somber landscapes could barely fit within a single shot. They alternate between vitality and utter silence; where some capture the bubbling surf and faraway beach-goers, others present the water fixed and frozen, still as a glass mirror. The materiality of the bodies of water is powerful; we can imagine their impact, cold and wet. Standing at the precipice, viewers feel the danger of the majestic waters; ultimately, we are compelled to turn away, the unforgettable image pressed into our mind’s eye. (via Feature Shoot)

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Creepy Photographs Of Infamous Dictators And World Leaders Snuggling Stuffed Animals

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Displayed ominously on the covers of TIME and Newsweek, these faces elicit fear: Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Hugo Chávez, Fidel Castro, and Mobutu Sesé Seko. But in his new series “Celebrity,” the Chinese retoucher and artist Chunlong Sun explores the more tender side of these infamous men, presenting them cradling plushy stuffed animals. Sun achieved the desired effect by shooting Chinese look-alike models styled and costumed in attire similar to that worn by the world leaders in famous images; later, he went back and retouched the photographs to resemble the now-dreaded faces.

The photographs are profoundly evocative of the work of Platon, The New Yorker staff photographer whose shots of Gaddafi littered news stands in anticipation of his overthrowing and ultimate death. In this way, Sun’s subjects remain a truly frightful vision, despite their furry friends; instead of revealing the humanity behind the historical figures, the tenderly worn stuffed toys often appear like hostages, held tightly and uncomfortably in the arms of those men known for their long, oppressive regimes. Chávez’s hands and fingers curl unsettlingly about the face and torso of a beloved teddy bear; Gaddafi grips a pale pink, oinking pig.

Perhaps also the soft toys are to be read as symbolic clues into the nature of the infamous world leaders. Each man was seductive and charismatic, at one time thought to be righteous and good; here, holding this cute animals, they might be mistaken for saviors once again, and yet danger lurks behind their wrinkled eyes. Take a look. (via Demilked)

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The Wonder Of War: Richard Mosse’s Infrared Footage Of Life In The Congo

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Photographer Richard Mosse has been capturing life in Eastern Congo for over 3 years. His work is a surreal representation of the beauty and tragedy in war and destruction. Using Kodak Aerochrome, a 16mm infrared film, originally designed for military reconnaissance, he depicts soldiers and landscapes in a sickly, hyper-real candyfloss pink.

The film registers chlorophyll in live vegetation and depicts the lush Congolese landscape in vibrant hues invisible to the human eye. His photographs are bizarre images of soldiers wearing camouflage uniforms in different shades of magenta, holding babies or guns.

His latest film project “The Enclave” is an attempt to make visible the invisible. Since 1998, over 5 million people have been killed from war-related causes in The Democratic Republic of Congo. Tackling an issue that is relatively unheard of, Mosse says in a recent interview with the British Journal of Photography:

“I wanted to export this technology to a harder situation, to up-end the generic conventions of calcified mass-media narratives and challenge the way we’re allowed to represent this forgotten conflict… I wanted to confront this military reconnaissance technology, to use it reflexively in order to question the ways in which war photography is constructed.”

The idea of The Impossible Image is central to his work. Both relating to capturing something usually unseen, and also working in an area of the world usually inaccessible to, and not documented by artists – that of war journalism.

By using this rare filming technique, Mosse challenges our very perception of war and violence. He is able to pick out a whole different side of military life, encouraging curiosity, and definitely empathy.

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