Tokyo born artistAi Kijima (now residing in Brooklyn, NY) makes elaborate quilted pieces. When I first saw (her or his?) work I thought they were illustrations. I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the process. Check them out, the colors are outrageous.
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In a startling critique of the ways in which images of women’s bodies are consumed, the artist Jessica Ledwich presents “The Fanciful, Monstrous Feminine,” a collection of surreal photographs documenting the psychological consequences of contemporary beauty standards and practices. For Ledwich, female sexuality is viewed as “threatening” and is therefore oppressed; here, she exaggerates the femme fatale image, showing her red-lipped, square-nailed protagonist engaging in violence with her own body.
The female form, shiny and lacquered, appears like a hybrid, part human and part domestic cyborg; her youthful flesh is overtaken by the mechanics of beauty. In one image, severed and still-wriggling fingers are replaced with tweezers, and in another, she uses a vacuum cleaner to suction fat from her thighs, injecting it into her lips.
Improvements to the home and domestic realm take a literal toll on the female body and self; after awkwardly sculpting a just-budding lemon tree, a matriarch forces her own natural body into an hourglass with restrictive garments. The monotony of the daily grooming routine turns brutal and dehumanizing, and with each ritual, our subject sacrifices a bit of her identity until, like slabs of lifeless meat, her limbs, brains, and heart are sold off at a butcher shop cleverly referred to as “Limbsons.”
Tied to this endless pursuit of female perfection is the idea of motherhood, presented without an ounce of warmth or sentimentality. A C-section yields only an endless stream of identical plastic dolls, each removed with the same sterile, unfeeling determination that we see with the surgical implantation of breasts. The mother, robbed of her sexuality, is shown inserting biohazards material into a cooked egg, an uncomfortable action we might presume to represent her own impregnation. This bleak, unromantic portrayal of female beauty and fertility serves to remind us of the physically and psychologically painful demands placed on modern women’s bodies, leaving viewers yearning for a more humane world. (via Lost at E Minor and Design Taxi)
Our planet is a truly magical work of art; complex, multifaceted and textural. Perhaps this is why Andy Warhol, a name that is unlikely to be associated with this topic, once said, “Land really is the best art.” Viewed in this simplistic yet profound light, land, or Earth, serves almost as found object in the implementation of Earthworks. In other instances land becomes the canvas, or the sculptural negative space for installation, or even a foundation and medium to explore sociocultural patterns.
Lita Albuquerque has used the earth and its materials for decades to create ephemeral and spiritually infused work. Her incorporation of performance, photography and installation creates multiple dimensions and lenses to experience our world, our relationship to earth and the stars, as well as their rhythms and cycles. The images featured here of her project Stellar Axis document an artistic expedition into Antarctica, which was the first and largest ephemeral work created on the continent. The installation of ninety-nine spheres across the icy landscape mimics the pattern of the ninety-nine Antarctic stars above- visually linking Earth to the cosmos.
Photographer Christopher Payne captures what goes on at One Steinway Place, the factory where people transform raw, messy materials into Steinway pianos, some of the finest musical instruments in the world. The level of craftsmanship is impressive and Payne’s photographs portray the quality of work while exuding a deep level of respect. As Payne said of the project, “the opportunity to look deep inside it [the factory] revealed to me one of the supreme and most discerning accomplishments of the human hand and imagination.”
Marc Potter creates his “Rainy Day Instruments” by incorporating parts from retired musical instruments with vintage and antique objects. Each piece is an unusual, unique new instrument with a distinct sound.
Jean-Pierre Gauthier considers himself an artist, inventor and musician. Each of these traits goes into his kinetic sculptures and installations. Using a variety of materials, electronics and other repurposed odds and ends, Gauthier transforms everyday objects into sculptures that move, make noise and seem to have a life of their own.
Doug Burton’s 3D digital animation “Celestial Mechanics” was conceptualized as a kind of reality-fabric altering pulsating entity. A kind of self-combusting black holes. I am hoping for the day when I actually see the walls wormhole out to an alternative universe! The artist explains: “Through the transmogrification of the matter of the walls and space within and ouside of the studio I have been exploring he realms that exist beyond in a distant past or parallel present.” Heavy!
Toshio Saeki (b. 1945) is a Japanese erotic illustrator who creates controversial images of violence and morbid sexual acts. Perusing his collection is like stepping through the various moonlit rooms of a grotesque dream; as silent voyeurs, we witness placid-faced men, women, and demons engaging in strange, lust-filled scenarios that often involve necrophilia, murder, cannibalism, and genital mutilation. Images of sex and death uncomfortably collide as a woman kisses a skull and gropes herself with the corpse’s bony hand, while elsewhere poisonous snakes writhe out of a man’s tattoo during sex. Whether it’s aroused bodies swarming with cockroaches, or glaring eyeballs in the place of genitals, Saeki has an uncanny way of exposing the unconscious and disturbing the imagination in new and surprising ways. As he writes in an interview with Dazed:
“Leave other people to draw seemingly beautiful flowers that bloom within a nice, pleasant-looking scenery. I try instead to capture the vivid flowers that sometimes hide and sometimes grow within a shameless, immoral, and horrifying dream.” (Source)
Saeki’s hallucinatory and alarming style draws on a long tradition of Ukiyo-e woodblock prints and paintings from Edo-period Japan. In a variation called Shunga, these pieces depicted erotic scenes; take, for instance, Hokusai’s “The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife,” a 1814 woodcut design showing a woman in the erotic embrace of an octopus. Many of Saeki’s works reference this image, incorporating “tentacle erotica” alongside unsettling situations that arrived from a combination of comic books, childhood nightmares, and lewd pictures he drew in high school. Depicting eroticism, power, and lust in startling and depraved ways, Saeki evokes conflicting, visceral sensations that both fascinate and repulse the viewer, making it hard to look away.
Saeki is now 70 years old and currently lives in rural Japan. Known as the “godfather of Japanese erotica,” his works have gained him fame and notoriety alike at home and abroad (Source). (Via Cvlt Nation)
Chicago-based photographer Carrie Schneider has done some lovely work. She often incorporates sculptural/made pieces into a photograph, creating clearly staged moments that carry a lot of emotional resonance. I’m particularly fond of her use of dazzle camouflage, having experimented with it in my own work as well.