Justin Bartlett is self proclaimed black ink warlock from the grim and frostbitten ravenrealm of Southern California who enjoys thee grimm riffs, vberkvlt metals, and other dark musick, times of solitude, skulls, and scotch. He’s done work for indie (and I mean indie) bands and record labels. Pretty awesome. Here’s a quote he leaves you with: “EMBRACE VISUAL HELL!!!”
As part of our ongoing partnership with Feature Shoot, Beautiful/Decay is sharing Jennifer Kaye’s article on John Mdgley.
Cosmetic giant MAC put their in-store makeup artists to the test this Halloween to create the most compelling looks. Artists from stores in Miami, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York will be judged by MAC’s facebook followers for their annual “Halloween Face-Off.” The portraits, which range from glamorous to macabre, were shot by photographer John Midgley. “The passion of each of the artists was a lot of fun, and it was infectious,” says John. They lived for it—they lived for the look. They lived to have their picture taken. It took it back to the simplest form of photography, which is flattery and escapism.”
In the dark corners of the Internet lie Signe Pierce’s neon creations, full of nocturnal urban decors, poolside decorations and a message. Although her work has a strong aesthetic presence, it is the atmosphere that surrounds it and the energy that runs through it that are truly powerful.
A few years ago, her self-described “social experiment” video entitled American Reflexxx shot by fellow artist Alli Coates provided a visceral look into human prejudice, violence and, amongst other things, the male gaze. The 14 minute film depicts Pierce silently walking down a boulevard in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina dressed like a stripper sporting a reflective mask. Over the span of 14 minutes Pierce is catcalled, insulted, and shoved. Her project unintentionally created a portrait of the darker sides of human beings, and the anger and fear that result from a lack of understanding.
However Pierce’s work goes further than this, she also works a lot with photography and her girl power energy shines through her various projects which could described as a blend of feminism and humor dominated by the lurking feeling that something is not right. The settings of her photographs are a dominantly pink atmosphere, which gives off a strong 1980s Southern California/Miami vibe, providing the perfect backdrop for a vaporwave soundtrack. Through her body of work, Pierce manages to raise questions about gender, identity, sexuality and, on a greater scale, the reality we believe in.
Cathy Opie has created a stunning new selection of portraits exploring lesbian identity in her latest body of work, “Girlfriends.” The women in her portraits range from Madonna and Angelina Jolie’s ex-girlfriend Jenny Shimizu, to Le Tigre’s JD Samson. Both honest and alluring, her photography recontextualizes the paradigm of femininity. Currently on view at New York’s Barbara Gladstone Gallery through April 24.
Nedda Afsari (aka, Muted Fawn) is a LA-based photographer who infuses fashion photography and portraiture with elements of the eerie, erotic, and strange. Influenced by a combination of music, art horror films, the supernatural, and her own lucid dreams, her images stir the imagination as powerful, semi-surreal visions. Women in strappy, edgy lingerie pose sedately with their faces hidden in washing machines and behind walls; a masked matron symbolically opens an empty birdcage; another sits up on a desert road, her body swathed in plastic wrap. In every image, her figures exude a stunning sense of otherworldly calm, beauty, and confidence.
When I asked Afsari what impressions and feelings she hopes her viewers will take from her images, she expressed the desire to connect and empower:
“[M]y main hope is that the viewer is able to feel an emotion from my photographs and formulate their own meaning. I enjoy photographing women that have a strong feminine presence and love to capture that seductive power and alluring mystique. I tend to be pretty shy, so in a sense I feel like I’m sometimes vicariously living through some of these ladies I photograph and it’s helped me open up a little more personally.”
Afsari explores femininity in a way that crosses the decades of fashion photography, seamlessly blending vintage pin-up-style portraiture with a more contemporary latex-occult fetishism. Feminine power is not rooted in conventional notions of sexuality, exploring women as ethereal and dominant presences. She regularly collaborates with artists who share a similar aestheticism, such as the alternative designers Hopeless Lingerie and Creepyyeha.
As for upcoming projects, Afsari is currently working on collaborations with photographer Kristin Cofer. She is also putting together a gallery show in LA and Miami and aims to create more video projects in the near future. Check out her website, Facebook, and Instagram to follow her inspiring work.
Seattle based artist Vincent Pacheco also known as “Mudchicken” creates beautiful mixed media collages and paintings. These cigarette paintings are hilarious. I feel the cancer coming on just by looking at them.
French designer Maud Vantours creates astoundingly detailed works of art from finely cut paper; carving out perfect geometric and organic shapes, she layers page upon page to create deep cavernous holes and intricate surfaces. With paper patterns of midnight blue and desert yellow, she constructs mesmerizing spaces, strange and wondrous terra incognitae, or lands unknown. Flowers sink like caves below the topmost surfaces; gray parallelograms, like mounds of be achy sand, are emerge from the page.
Vantours’s transfixing images catch and trick the eye, which is accustomed to viewing artwork on a single plane; her works exists in a space all its own, caught between sculpture and line. The work is made both from peeling away and adding layers, and we view it like a vibrant onion, unsure of where it begins or where it might end. Colorful, ever-brightening concentric circles seem infinite, and repeated, detailed surface patterns resemble complex cathedral windows. Blue and orange or green and pink, being opposite colors, visual pull apart from one another, creating an illusion of even greater depth within the thin pages.
From a medium as simple as paper, Vantours renders a dreamy world where organic and mathematically precise shapes are celebrated and fully explored. These deceptively effortless collages are a testament to the order of the natural world; neatly aligned, bright and neutral colors emerge from the shadows. Single and double-layered cut-outs occlude one another, forming complex visual structures that necessitate our attention and captivate our imaginations. Take a look. (via Demilked)
These ink drawings, saturated with detail, are the masterwork of Seattle artist Olivia Knapp. Knapp utilizes classic shading techniques from the Baroque period, putting a real spin on the classic still life. At first glance, her work appears to be a mishmash of objects borrowed from an antiquated medical book. Knapp orchestrates a hyper-stylized version of everyday elements within American culture: a Fruit Loops box, some headphones, items rigidly anchored to the 21st century American lexicon. In these drawings, they appear in a different light, making the items far more mysterious and surreal than we know them to be. The black crosshatching weaves in an inexplicable amount of detail, with forms that are tight from a distance and dissolve into their own internal network of lines when viewed in detail.
Her work stretches leisurely throughout the frame, exhibiting a sort of spaciousness that is vastly composed of the winding structures of arteries stemming from the heart, or twisted plants and snakes. The arteries of a heart grip a spoon to eat a bowl of cereal, the brain hovers, listening to music; often what could have been a normal picture reduced to its mere elements, the heart the symbolic structure indicating man, or human, yet everything contorts into everything else like Salvador Dali’s melting clocks. The marriage of a new symbol presented with an old technique is nothing new, but Knapp has found a way to express it that is entirely bizarre, interesting, and unique.