Shaolin Kung Fu, developed in China beginning in 495AD, has infiltrated popular culture in the West. Depending on your age, you might be familiar with the 70s TV show “Kung Fu” or Mortal Kombat : Shaolin Monks. Neither captures the essence of Shaolin Kung Fu. Based on Buddhism, its major forms of expression are martial arts and techniques. Shaolin emphasizes meditation, development of the body through rigorous training, and pain endurance.
Training in Kung Fu is mostly done without an opponent, as it was never meant to kill, and the poetic names of the moves imply that it is more of a meditation than a fight. However, the only difference between breaking a clay jug and smashing a human skull with one’s bare hands is consciousness of will. Despite the commercialization, Kung Fu retains a mystical character closer to a monastic discipline than to the performances of modern gladiators.
Tomasz Gudzowaty captures the monks in artistic black and white. The classical composition of these photographs only serves to enhance the amazing strength, endurance, and concentration of the monks as they train. Gudzowaty doesn’t use effects or manipulation to increase the impact of the images—he doesn’t have to. The monks provide all of the interest themselves: walking up walls, standing on their heads, balanced on a foot and an elbow. They seem fully immersed in their training—oblivious to the camera, wholly in the moment.
“Sports fascinates me as a spiritual practice, which is not readily visible today in mainstream events. I made it my long-standing quest to photograph peripheral, exotic sports.”
This series is a masterful match of content and form, skilled subjects and talented artist.
Jamie Campbell works with the themes of insecurity, burden, vulnerability and desperation, but does it with self-deprecation and humor and profound honesty, leaving you unsure of whether you want to hit him or hug him. Our favorite images by Jamie are of the ghosts wandering around and the living who are stopped in their tracks and drawn into the light.
Rob Jamieson’s portfolio is full of great work in every material imaginable from painting to video. There isn’t a lot of text on his work about his intentions so you’ll have to do the mental heavy lifting of connecting the dots between various projects but two of my favorites are his loose drawings and his goth suicide note video titled I Like You Now. Get Out of Here. Go Home. Watch the full video in all it’s gothic jock hating glory after the jump.
The project I’m Google from artist Dina Kelberman is strangely and hypnotically familiar. You’ve likely searched one topic on Wikipedia or Google that set off a long chain of searches each slightly related to the one preceding it. Hours later you’re nowhere near you began. In a way I’m Google is a visual representation of this in the form of a tumblog. Countless seemingly mundane photographs slowly transform in color, composition, content. However, slight changes over time build large ones; balloons slowly become crater lakes. It’s a familiar journey, and I’m Google is a fascinating visualization of it. [via]
Berlin based artist Mariana Vassileva creates a really wide variety of sculpture. Some of the artist’s work references various forms of human anatomy while others are broad, dubious abstractions. The common denominator here is Vassileva’s meditative influence. Each work is quietly meaningful. Not many of the artist’s works hit you over the head with huge scale or overtly shocking subject matter. But that’s not to say that the sculptures are watered down in any way. Each piece hits it’s mark through subtle repetition and minimalism. (via)
We are big fans of artist Jake Fried here at Beautiful/Decay (original post here), and yet he continues to impress us. He is a prolific drawer/painter/animator, creating epically complicated short clips that he calls “hand drawn experimental animations”. Watching these pieces is quite the experience. His style is so complex, and each frame packed with so many textures and details, you must be careful to blink at the right time, so as not to miss anything!
Even more impressively, he creates such hypnotizing animations from the simplest materials – coffee, water, ink, gouache, and white-out. With titles like Brain Lapse, Head Space, Down Into Nothing, The Deep End, Fried is inviting us into his own mind, and we soon see just how dense it is inside there. Layers of mathematical lines build into a background scene and reveal a head peering out from behind them. This then transforms into some other domestic space, or rather a non-space, where objects appear and disappear into the jungle of lines and cross hatching. Eyes, hands, heads, plants, moons, triangles, and landscapes feature heavily in Fried’s work. He says of his own work:
‘Raw Data’ took about four months from the first drawing to the final film. My work is not truly narrative – the medium is the message – but for this piece I knew I wanted to experiment with metallic-gouache, technological imagery and sustained head-on portraiture. I would say it’s generally about man vs. tech and a sense that the animation watches you as you watch it. My work is not really pre-planned; it becomes itself through the process of making. I fundamentally believe that art making should be a “discovery” process; otherwise I’d have no interest. Rather than just executing a plan, I want to learn something new or follow some unknown path. (Source)
Sasha: Gladys Rodriguez won my heart when she gave Mr. Zigglez a knitted sweater, with a hoodie and fur. He really looked like a sensitive little guy in it. In a good way. However, puppy clothes aside, Gladys is also an amazing designer who has contributed above and beyond to B/D in the last 3 months. I remember in her interview I was particularly struck by one of her advertisements for a new phone that basically positioned the phone as a sensual soul-mate. I mean, what woman doesn’t want a sexy man(/phone) presented to you on beds of luscious crimson silk, or eagerly awaiting tucked inside a box of decadent chocolates. Genius! Gladys, we’ll REALLY miss your help. I kind of won’t miss your keyboard with Hello Kitty stickers blocking all the letters and number though. Too hard to use. JK! Thanks again!
Fei: PS, You’re leaving too soon…I just started to master your keypad & the laptop track pad! Gladys, please keep us updated with what you’re doing, come by in a UHAUL art gallery if you do that again!