João Ruas is a Brazilian visual artist who paints esoteric scenes of ghostly bodies and mysterious symbols. Each image appears to be filled with a chiaroscuro-like fog that dissolves form into shadow. Recurring motifs include animal skulls, red tattoos, and medieval weapons that drift amongst hooded figures and undead dogs. There is a sense of arcane mythology mixed with everyday banality, for intermingling with strange and ancient-looking objects are scissors, helmets, and electrical cords.
By unfolding layers of time and myth, Ruas’ paintings emit a deep emotional timbre, unsettling the soul with their dark scenes. A boy with what appears to be animal ears growing down his face evokes something akin to despair and alienation, while a blindfolded woman on the back of a red horse (a reference to Lady Godiva) emanates with vulnerability, fear, and strength. With mystifying combinations of symbols, Ruas’ paintings function like open tomes that can be inscribed with the viewer’s own imagination and spiritual significance.
Australian sculptor Anna-Wili Highfield’s paper animal sculptures are absolutely astonishing! Each animal is assembled by gluing dozens of torn pieces of paper that captures the animals essence without feeling labored or heavy handed.
South Korean artist Jihyun Park creates incredibly complex images by burning minute holes in rice paper with incense sticks. He then mounts the finished ‘drawings’ onto varnished canvases. The final results are beautifully serene images of trees, mountains, clouds, forests and branches. As a kind of reverse pointillism, Park is interested in the contrasts between empty space and positive space, or by taking something away (parts of the paper, and the incense stick) to create something new (the image).
Inspired by the books Gulliver’s Travels, Utopia, and Erewhon and after seeing the Japanese animated movie Castle in the Sky, Park became interested in the ideas of utopia and harmony. He expands these connections in his work further:
My recent work, Incense Series, focuses on this relationship while searching for the promised harmonic balance that utopia brings. Ironically, the word “utopia” in Korean is “Yi Sang Hwang” and “Hwang” means “incense”. (Source)
Park also talks about the ideas of positive and negative further. He says the shadows created by the holes in the paper are playing off of the light reflected from behind them. To him this is a fine example of Yin and Yang and two opposites who complicate and strengthen each other. He also chooses to outline his subjects or to fill them in – working with reverses in an aesthetic sense as well.
The subjects addressed in my work range from the natural world to memories of the past, reflecting the constant physical and emotional changes in our environment. It is my hope that the “moments” I captures of my subjects are ones when they are at their most ideal– true utopias. While drawing them with the incense, I am “holding” a split moment of harmony in my hands. (Source)
The artwork of Jillian Salik offers up understated surprises. Her new exhibit DUEL TINT features frames, window dressing, and other wall fixtures adorned with baroque ornamentation. However, the typically gilded and gaudy colors that typically accompany such adornments, the reflections and windows that should fit in such frames were no where to be seen. Salik only offers the bare structure of the frames and ornamentation. Also, Salik makes an interesting choice of material: cardboard. She contrasts high-society trimmings and embellishments with a decidedly “low” material and digital production processes.
These sculptures are made from the bones of dead people. The photographic portraits of these sculptures are made by Arne Svenson. What results is Unspeaking Likeness, a strangely captivating series of death portraits, collected here.
For four years, Svenson sojourned from coroner’s offices to law enforcement agencies allover the country, snapping photographs of facial reconstruction sculptures which were built by forensic artists and molded from unidentifiable victims’ skeletal remains, with the intention of resolving crimes.
The narrative hidden behind each “face” is a mystery, and, as viewers, our own hearts tense with sadness when considering each subject’s lurid last moments of life. It’s almost too much; so, we reject the idea of reconstruction in relation to rejuvenation. It feels psychological, how we need to detach. The “face” in the context of Svenson’s portraits are not representative of an emotional life nor physical body; instead, it’s a mask or doll with a troubling echo, seemingly touched by the hands of Frankenstein.
Before he was the Prince of Pop Art and arguably the biggest art star on the planet, Andy Warhol was one of the most sought-after graphic illustrators in Manhattan. Years before he designed two of Rock and Roll’s most iconic album covers, Warhol was responsible for a series of recently recovered Jazz record covers for Count Bassie, Thelonious Monk and Moondog.
Rendered in his then-trademark ‘blotted line’ style (a technique Warhol mastered before screenprinting, where a single line of heavy, beaded ink was drawn on one sheet of paper, and then pressed against another which created a blotted monoprint), these whimsical and funky covers graced some of the best jazz albums of the 1950’s. The quality of Warhol’s highly trained freehand drawings separated him from other commercial illustrators of the day, but one of his many secret weapons was his mother’s gorgeous script writing, seen heavily in the looping, colorful script featured on The Story of Moon Dog (above). Warhol employed his mother’s lovely writing to essentially double his work-load, a precursor to his loose-authorship creative policy that would become commonplace later in his Factory days. (via dangerous minds)
With television game shows like Wipeout and American Ninja Warrior (and every slapstick movie, too), it’s no surprise that some of us derive pleasure from seeing people get hit. Photographer Sandro Giordoano’s twisted (both literally and figuratively) series In Extremis (bodies with no regret) capitalizes on the fall of others The staged images feature people comically posed in awkward and unflattering positions.
Always face down, the poor subjects are often garishly dressed and surrounded by their belongings. This is Giordano’s commentary on our attachments to our possessions; in every photograph, you’ll see the person clutching something like a watering can, oversized tennis ball, and even a power tool. To him, the characters in his compositions are oppressed by their appearance and the need to have things – and save them, even at their own expense. Their fall signifies that they hit rock bottom, and that they need to reexamine their life. (Via Laughing Squid)
Illustrator Jed Henry is pretty deep into this series. Using characters from Nintendo video games, Henry creates digital works in the style of Japanese woodblock prints. The pairing makes sense. Nintendo is, after all, a Japanese company. These lend a certain gravity to the characters, which were originally designed to be animated and simple. They establish the narratives behind the games as some sort of Aesopian fable. Donkey Kong is ten times more badass in this version than the actual games. (via)