Jay Briggs is a London-based designer who uses unconventional materials and dark, empowering themes in the creation of alternative women’s fashion. The two lookbooks featured here, entitled Malleus Maleficurum and Melusina, draw on witchcraft and folklore as their inspiring influences, the former referring to the book written by inquisitor Heinrich Kramer in 1486, the latter referencing a European myth about a water nymph, which Briggs has given his own dark twist (you can read more about that here). Among his gothic designs are elaborate headpieces and couture that transform his models into dark specters and serpentine creatures, as beautiful as they are fierce. Incorporated into some of the pieces are taxidermied objects — from feathers, to entire wings, to hundreds of iridescent beetle shells — fused so seamlessly with the looks that we perceive the beauty of the designs before the grimness of their reality.
Briggs’ work is a product of extreme dedication and attention to detail. As he explains in an interview with Portis Wasp, the collection Malleus Maleficurum took 5 months of constant work to create, and all the intricate pieces were painstakingly embellished by hand. Beyond the dark details, what makes these two lookbooks so notable is the origin and depth of their influences — the history and the folklore — and how Briggs has reinterpreted them through contemporary, avant-garde fashion, enmeshing everything into a complete and original narrative. His style is consistently stunning, bringing an expressive and often macabre edge into the world of fashion. Visit Briggs’ website, Facebook page, and Instagram and follow him as he creates his upcoming designs.
Photographer Jean Francois Lepage has been recycling. Lepage is a well known fashion photographer who in recent years has been concentrating on fine art projects. One called “Recycle” uses his fashion photography as background to his painting, drawing and cutting. This presents a kind of superimposed painting onto a photograph which has both modernist and classical references. The works hint at Picasso, Calder and Klee, but also finds new ground in the photo image combined with other mediums. Whereas fashion photography mostly projects a self-absorbed glance, Lepage reinvents these same photographs to look within its subject instead of just on the surface.
In some of the pictures, he draws over the faces to hide the features. This turns the picture into a more abstract form and allows the shapes of his subjects to be seen as free flowing objects instead of just perfect physical specimens selling a product. In others, Lepage renders marks which could be interpreted as word bubbles or strange appendages, sometimes outlining and extending beyond the figure. The colors are bold and primary in some while in others he opts to color over in softer pastel shades. The more intriguing works are those with less coloring and just black outlining which lend a sculptural element.
Lepage finds an agreeable shortcut to the painted image. He finds inspiration in the balance of what is real and imagined.
Artist Ryan Salge’s monochromatic drawings are of surreal scenes that feel like dreamscapes. The tightly-rendered compositions feature expansive outdoor worlds and figures that traverse through them. Often times, the men and women in them are as curious as we are. Their backs are turned towards us, and it’s as if we’re on the journey right along with them.
There’s always something a little strange or alluring in each of Salge’s drawings. A woman looks up to dark, swirling sky as a small patch of light shines through. Another work features bodies rising upwards into the atmosphere. And, in an especially eerie piece, a barefooted man peers down as a spotlight shines onto a desolate field. (Via Lustik)
Erik Jones paints a blend of vibrant, colorful, graphic-orientated paintings with hyper realistic, disconnected parts of women’s bodies. Originally from St Petersburg, Florida he moved to New York with $81 and took different jobs in the comic industry – an influence to which he owes his distinct graphic style. They are a original mix of pop styling with hard lines and distinct patterns, sporadic mark making and illustrative details of the female form. High fashion magazine-style renderings of faces, breasts and limbs are broken up and disjointed by digital-like patterns.
Realizing his passion for illustration and figure rendering, Jones initially was drawn to animation and creating stimulating visuals. Not completely satisfied by just animating, he applied the techniques he learnt to painting. He starts his creative process with a photoshoot, or various inspirational photos, then adds the figure reference and refines it digitally. He explains more:
I build on top of the figure as if they were wearing these shapes. I’ll also create patters with the shapes to move your eye around in a structured way. Despite all the clutter and chaos in these newer works, there is something soothing and comfortable in each piece, at least I feel there is. I believe it’s the patterns that you’re subconsciously finding that keep it from being completely chaotic and overwhelming to look at. (Source)
Jones uses several different types of media to build up a textured, layered, collage look. Even though his work is a blend of so many different elements, he tries to give equal weighting to each of them. He says most importantly for him is to keep a harmonious balance, and not to glorify the figure.
Daniel Barkley is a Canadian artist who explores the physicality of the human figure and its relationship to mythology and the history of art. Recurring among his paintings are nude, predominately male bodies depicted in scenes of both visceral power and stunning vulnerability. Whether drawing in the dirt, lying prone on the ice, or anointing themselves with mud or paint, the characters appear to be engaged in profound rituals of unknown meaning. Barkley’s work captures the emotion of the event, as well as the role of flesh and muscle in the enactment of human spirituality.
By presenting his characters nude, Barkley explores narratives that are powerful and mythological in their appearance, but open to analysis and extrapolation. “Clothes denote social class, profession, period, gender, age, etc.,” Barkley states in his website’s Artist’s Statement. “By eliminating them, paring down the mise-en-scene, the interpretation of the narrative is broadened to hopefully include the viewer’s own speculations.” Caught between states of intimacy and theatricality, Barkley’s nude figures operate as metaphorical expressions of the pain and passion that has shaped Western mythology.