Holly Coulis’s still lives and portraits all share an idiosyncratic relationship between background and subject; with their hodgepodge of complex patterns and vibrant color, her paintings combine a witty sense of humor with a deep regard for craft. On top of bright layers of complimentary orange, she arranges people from old photographs, animals, and plants in a flat style reminiscent of Alex Katz. Coulis brings a modern sensibility to traditional modes of representational painting.
Forgotten Boneyard is the 100% real animal bone work of artist Tim Prince. In addition to the one-of-a-kind handcrafted creatures in bone, Prince offers a growing selection of wet specimens through Etsy. To me the real standout of the entire collection is Audrii muscipula (pictured above), an homage to Audrey II, the carnivorous plant from 1986’s Little Shop of Horrors made of mink vertebrae/scapula, box turtle shells, a skunk skull, coyote teeth, and raccoon mandibles. A mouse skull and other bones decorate the soil.
Artist Valerie Blass reimagines an age-old subject in art, the figure, and uses her distinctive artistic vision to create her intriguing sculptures. She manipulates and abstracts the human form until some of her subjects look like entirely different beings. By constructing her artwork from an eclectic variety of different materials, each figure becomes highly stylized and unique. Ceramic, Styrofoam, paint, plaster, and even artificial hair are just some of the materials that can be found making up Blass’s artwork. Referencing material culture, one can see the many textures and elements transforming each figure.
Valerie Blass’s figures hold in intense, psychological quality due to their lack of identities. Although there are many fine details in her work, Blass often leaves out the figures’ face. Sometimes, even part of the body is gone. These aspects are replaced by surreal characteristics such as a heap of black hair or a colorful, organic mass. Each piece of Valerie Blass’s takes on a life of their own, with their own, unique textures and colors forming a new kind of creature. Her work is both bizarre and beautiful all at the same time, leaving you puzzled about what exactly it was that you saw. This Canadian artist has an impressive body of work, with her art being owned in both public and private collections around the world.
Jeannie Phan’s illustrations of figures tied up, tangled, and wrapped in endless hair is a visual delight full of rich detail and hilarious nostril mullets.
Design duo Ben Tegel and Brian Romero combine their mighty illustrative skills to form the collective 21st Century Filth. Their pop punch vulgar street grit sensibility calls to mind the cantankerous and misogynistic godfather of underground comix, R. Crumb. Check out more of their stuff at their website; linked above.
At the intersection of fashion, photography, film, stagecraft, and design, artist Marina Fini creates hallucinatory, alternative worlds. Based in California, she collaborates with friends and artists alike in the staging of these otherworldly scenes, using colorful costumes and her own handmade, plexiglass jewelry to turn her photographic subjects into ethereal cyber goddesses. When asked how she builds these characters, Fini remarked, “there’s something about transforming someone into someone they wouldn’t normally be … that is, creating an extension of themselves that I see in them.” All of her characters exude a captivating power, like the whimsical and intangible figures seen through a psychedelic dream. By exploring alternative selves in familiar contexts – a convenience store, or the Californian seaside, for example – Fini explores how subjecthood is fluid, and how such creative “shape-shifting” can alter they way we perceive our immediate reality.
While beautiful, there are also darker and more satirical elements in Fini’s work; in her own words, there’s something compelling about “juxtaposing what we associate as innocent with something horrific or insane.” In her short film Tree Temple, for example, a group of forest sprites — their faces eerily obscured by their colorful hair — dance feverishly around an altar made of Apple computers. Shortly after destroying the altar in their frenzy, they fade into mourning and death. As this film exemplifies, integrated throughout Fini’s scenes are emblems of our contemporary cyber culture — the Apple logo, wifi symbol, hand cursor, and so on. Speaking to this, Fini says that the use of such icons “specifically pokes fun at our internet-obsessed culture,” thereby producing a playful — and sometimes dark — cultural critique of our digitized existences.
In addition to her photographs and videos, Fini is well-known for her aforementioned jewelry, as seen on many of the models in these photos. In pursuit of new projects, she has recently announced that she will be phasing out her jewelry, but her Etsy shop will remain open until mid-January 2015. If you enjoy immersive art and playful reconfigurations of reality, check out the surreal worlds she has created on her website and Tumblr pages.