Jehad Nga’s photographs of Somali and Kenyan café patrons offer a rare and personal look at those ravaged by years of drought and poverty. Using only a single ray of sun beaming through the café doorway, Nga’s photographs highlight the individuals themselves by naturally removing them from their surroundings. The hardened and weathered faces of the old are revealed, in contrast with the fear, but glimmer of hope found in the eyes of the young.
You may be wondering if we here at Beautiful/Decay are mustache friendly. Why yes, yes we are. Super Intern Mike Hahn not only sported an irreverently dashing upper lip duster during his entire stay here at Beautiful/Decay, but graced us with tawdry tales of his mustachioed musings all while helping us at the office here with the..how you say…joie de vivre pictured above! Yes, he really wore button downs, pastel argyle sweater vests, candy striper twill Bermuda summer shorts, Dockers boating shoes and an American flag cape each day to work! Thank you for all your hard work here Mike, we will miss you as clean shaven face misses the warmth of a well manicured ‘stache in the dead of a Minnesota winter! Check out Mike’s artwork after the jump or at his website, whoismoch.com.
I know this video is a tad on the cheesy side of the spectrum but you gotta admit that it’s interesting to see these Van Gogh portraits shapeshifting from one work to the next. The most bizarre part is that the expression never changes once.
The Taiwanese photographer Yung Cheng Lin presents the female body in unusual, erotic and sometimes absurd ways; his surreal, staged images capture a raw sensuality that oscillates between the fantastic and the grotesque. Here, women are seen initially as objects of desire, but they contort their bodies in ways that defy objectification and veer into abstraction.
Lin’s images, wrought with sexual tension, are at times uncomfortable to look at; a girl grips a box of milk, and its liquid ejaculates on and into her ear. Another woman holds a ripened, banana, which we might assume to be symbolic of the phallus, between her thighs; a finger penetrates and abstracted mound of flesh. A replica of the Mona Lisa sits between a woman’s legs, the part of hair mimicking a vulvar shape. The viewer, often seeing these female subjects from above, feel like strange voyeurs, peering into intimate rituals undetected.
Amidst Lin’s exploration of sexuality is a growing sense of anxiety that may be read perhaps a fear of female sexual power. A rose intimately penetrates a woman’s throat, and her head falls back and out of the frame as if in pleasure. But this symbolic intercourse is foreboding, dangerous: the flower is dead, wilted, and blood trickles down the model’s neck. Dead bugs infest the sets, sitting atop bananas and dangling from blood-red threads, signifying impending decay. Like drone bees who flock to mate with their queen only to die after the moment of fertilization, the insects fall at the feet of women. Take a look. (via Lost at E Minor and White Zine)
During his graduate studies in microbiology, artist Zachary Copfer invented a new type of photography, one grown entirely of living bacteria. By exposing sections of microscopic organisms to radiation, he accelerates their growth, allowing them to multiply and compose vivid photographic portraits. Copfer’s subjects include both artists and scientists who inspire him; famous images Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso are replicated in Serratia marcescens, a human pathogen often associated with infections of the urinary tract and respiratory systems. The portrait of Stephen Fry is made of bacteria found in the actor’s own body.
Copfer’s portraits closely resemble the art of Roy Lichtenstein; his faces bear the same comic book-style polka dots made famous by the legendary pop artist. Also like Lichtenstein’s paintings and prints, they are duplicates of mass-produced, iconic public domain images. But quite unlike the work of Lichenstein and his colleagues, Copfer’s images are imbued with an undeniably unique and human tenor. These bacterial cells, some drawn from the bodies of the subjects they portray, are corporeal and therefore inevitably personal. In contrast the ink used by the pop artists, these cells will someday die. Though iconic, these portraits are ultimately of mortal men, and the fact that they are rendered here in disease-causing bacteria only underscores that fact.
In addition to portraiture, Copfer experiments with photographs of celestial bodies. Here, in glowing green E. coli genetically modified with GFP, the vast cosmos are paradoxically formed from the microscopic, reminding us that in the end, all matter great and small is profoundly interconnected. Take a look. (via Jezebel)
For her series Beautiful Bodies, the photographer Agnieszka Rayss shoots off-beat images of bodybuilders; in the process, the artist both defines and challenges the notion of physical attractiveness. Each provocative shot, capturing a builder scantily-clad in a bikini or a speedo, is a powerful testament to the human desire to craft our bodies according to our wills; depending on the viewer, they might read as either a condemnation or an affirmation of extreme fitness practices.
Unlike Brian Moss, whose enchanting portraits of bodybuilders can be found here, Rayss works within a distinctive color palette; rich copper, teal, and white hues dominate her images, granting them a moody and otherworldly quality. Rayss’s subjects all seem to rely heavily on bronzers, defining their muscled figures with deep tans. In this way, they look inhumanly sculptural, like bronze statues of ancient warriors. Their metallic sheen stands in place of clothes; though nearly nude, they look somehow impenetrable, thickly armored.
Beautiful Bodies is set in an undefined location that we might presume to be a gym. Against a muddy-colored wall, the bodybuilders appear rough and powerful; the walls are marked with their chalky handprints, lending the models some inherent and mysterious grit. In relative repose, Rayss’s subjects display their bodies, caught between moments of exertion. As viewers, we are forbidden from seeing the extreme exercises that caused paint to be scratched away from the gym surfaces, but the mere presence of these formidable bodies create an atmosphere of inescapable suspense and anticipation. Take a look. (via Feature Shoot)
The detailed paintings of Shawn Huckins portray common, day-to-day imagery while flawlessly integrating it into what seems to be miniature paint swatches. Although you may think that the artist paints directly on tiny paint cards used as color samples at hardware stores, but they aren’t actually small at all. In fact, these are not real paint cards, they are fairly large paintings that, thanks to Huckins’ finely crafted skill, are made to replicate exactly the different hues and segments of a paint card. If this was not impressive enough, the realistic imagery included in this series titled The Paint Chip Series, seem to fit perfectly into their settings. He creates a breathtaking mountain range on top of ”Cool Jazz” blue, and a “Pacific Sea Teal” has a pool splash erupting from its color patch. However, not all of Huckins’ imagery perfectly matches their chosen color. Many of the swatches have an unexpected twist, as his “Spring Moss” yellow has a car melting and sinking into the rich tone.
Huckins’ work is inspired by the beauty in the everyday, along with influential artists like Ed Ruscha and Andy Warhol. His work explores common imagery, like people sitting in chairs and an employee pushing a shopping cart, and their role in our lives. Even the paint cards are familiar objects that one might find in any home improvement store. Huckins explains these universal commonalities as a way to connect to our everyday surroundings and explore their meanings.
Mimicking the exact proportions, font, layout, and hues of miniature paint cards found at a nation-wide home improvement store, bands of color we may choose for our most intimate spaces—bedrooms, kitchens, family rooms—are an ideal stage to examine the everyday people and objects that occupy our world.