Henri Darger left 15,000 pages of stories and more than 700 pages of illustrations created in the dark. A fantasy tale blending horrific scenes of war and colorful innocent boys and girls all drawn with penises as the main characters. A world full of meanings and feelings where the silver lining is survival.
In order to understand the illustrations painted by Henry Darger, we need to understand his story. His mother died while giving birth and his father sent him to an asylum where he was allegedly abused at an early age and from where he escaped at age sixteen. He spent the rest of his life working at Catholic institutions by day, secluded in his room by night where he would secretly enter his imaginary make-believe world, a pen in his hand. A self-taught man, he learned how to draw by collecting advertisements, newspaper illustrations. He made collages, layering and tracing the outlines of his precious characters.
The interpretation of the drawings, lets us inside of Henry Darger’s inner turmoil. The heroines are the Vivian girls, blond cute little girls defying furiously and heroically adults, the Glandelinians. They appear dressed up with colorful outfits or naked with a penis. They lead armies, hide, and spy on their opponents; crossing fields of strangled, disemboweled and dismembered children’s corpses. Suffocation and awkwardness emerges from the scenes and let us feel a glimpse of the strong harsh almost cruel and unbearable emotional state the author endured.
Henry Darger says in his autobiography, In the Realms of the Unreal that he hated the perspective to watch himself become an adult. He never wanted to to grow up. The chaos of his narrative, combined with his violent drawings all turned against adults are the terrifying trace of his past. Never able to recover, he chose to shut down this part of his spirit to any kind of other human beings only to let it come to life as pure art. He demonstrates the powerful reason to be of art: to express with any kind of means the distress trapped in a human’s soul into something beautiful.
Welcome to this weeks offering of Click To Collect, Beautiful/Decay’s campaign to help art lovers start their collection of original artists works at affordable prices. Our featured artist this week is the talented Bay Area artist Ryan De La Hoz whose cut paper collages mix razor sharp scissor skills with tightly drawn graphics and patterns. This is our first collaboration with Ryan and with original works (some even framed!) starting at only $100 you can’t go wrong! Find out more about Ryan’s work, his exhibition history, and about Click To Collect after the jump!
Thomas Allen, of Michigan, uses pulp fiction novel covers to his advantage. Instead of staring at the busty women on the covers, Allen creates amazingly simple literary dioramas. Using the characters, he fabricates whole new stories in one frame of film.
Edith Waddell’s vibrant, surreal paintings form beautiful, symmetrical imagery filled with otherworldly flora and fauna. Her work combines feminine motifs, strange creatures, and delicate, pastel colors to create hybrid imagery. Full of symbolism and feminine spirituality, Waddell’s work does not just depict elements of the natural world, but the emotional, inner self. Her choice of colors seem to glow in neon hues, creating intense visuals that almost seem hallucinatory. Each composition blooms in beautiful symmetry, as they resemble inkblots tests one might see at a psychiatric exam. This resemblance reflects upon our inner psyche, as Waddell often pulls inspiration from imagery often found in her dreams. Many of her compositions resemble the female anatomy, with heavy maternal symbolism expressing the womb. Although whimsical and vivacious, there is an element of darkness that can be found in her work, like the reoccurring skull and the all-seeing eyes. There is a conflicting nature present, as there are elements of life in her budding flowers, but also death in the skulls and bones.
Originally hailing from Peru, Edith Waddell is now based out of LA. She is an artist of many talents, as she not just a painter, but an illustrator and printmaker. She often combines collage, digital, and traditional paintings to create her crossbred, botanical imagery.
“My goal is to make visible that which is overlooked, confronting the public with the dark and mysterious aspects of their own psyches, emotional struggles, and their relationship with the natural environment. My work is an invitation to make an introspective examination and reflection into our own existence, both physical and spiritual.”
Nice silkscreen work from California-based illustrator and comics artist Kelsey Short. I dig the muted palette full of green, black, and blue. It perfectly matches her washed out, moody style. A lot of Short’s work is like those rainy days where you’re not bummed that you can’t go outside because the quiet sound of the rain just matches your mood for some reason. Hit the tumblr over here for a little insight into Short’s process (artistic and otherwise), and grab yourself a copy of her zine, “Grid” and some prints at her Etsy shop.
Cynthia Ona Innis‘ paintings are explorations between the relationships of, “the healthy/sick, sublime, wet/dry, sexual, growth/rot, stiff/limp/squishy, thriving and failure that are the fragile properties of the body and nature.” These abstract explorations and relationships are represented in a mixture of blobs of colors, shapes, lines, composition and space. As she herself mentions, she has a great interest in organic forms that can be seen represented through colors chosen and shapes.
Tiffany Trenda is a performance artist on a mission to awaken us from a technological slumber. Wearing a synthetic suit imbedded with forty small 2.6 inch LED cell phone screens, she asks people to interact with her, touching and pressing the monitors all over her body. Citing fellow performance artist Valie ExportTap and Touch Cinema as an inspiration, she examines our ease and familiarity with having devices, gadgets, screens and monitors all around us, in her new work Proximity Cinema.
The word ‘touch’ has a completely different meaning for today. Originally ‘touch’ meant human-to-human contact. Now we think of our smart phone, iPad or tablet. So, today, touch refers to human-to-screen contact. (Source)
Confronting people to enter her personal space, and destroying normal social limits, she highlights the boundaries between man and machine; natural and digital, and how willing humans are to accept the influence technology has over us. Trenda not only looks at how we use technology, but also how we understand our own identities through technology.
In her body of work she becomes the digitized version of the human body and her actions replicate those of a computer. Trenda creates a platform for questioning the boundary of where the digital impression and the physical body begin and end. The viewer is physically and visually immersed in the process of how the psyche evolves to relate to the screen (LCD, television, cinema or a computer). (Source)
Trenda’s installations and performances are a fresh and very real look at how easy it is to be overwhelmed and overpowered by technology. She reminds us to reflect on how integrated technology is becoming – it is not far from becoming part of our very skin. Perhaps her futuristic bondage-looking outfit will soon be a part of our wardrobes?