Portland painter Alexandra Becker-Black is talented beyond her years. Her paintings, soft-spoken and carrying the nearly absent weight of a shadow, illuminate the body in its pure and natural state. Becker-Black has a sophisticated approach in utilizing negative space to its full potential, creating an atmosphere that the body seems to emerge out of, in an ethereal, ghostly way; as if called forth. Perhaps due to her strong yoga practice, Becker-Black incorporates many yoga poses into her work, featuring women twisting their bodies elegantly in pose. A revolving theme of flight and birds is woven into most of her imagery; birds soaring overhead or perched on top of the figures. An allusion to freedom and flight; or pushing ones self to points of self actualization. Taken from Becker-Black’s website, this analysis by Shu-Ju Wang is an excellent summary of her work:
“Once recorded, she works with the still images but continues to purge from the already naked form, choosing only what she needs and adding only what is absolutely necessary. You see muscles tense and strain against gravity; you see figures in serene repose; you see energy suddenly released when a small flock of birds fly out of a woman’s opened hands. All of this is conjured up in front of your eyes even as a torso fades to gray or a leg disappears, creating work that is ethereal and luminously beautiful, haunting, evocative and complex.”
The way the tones and color melts away brings peace to the otherwise strained poses and moods that the figures themselves are experiencing. The implied motion is a driving force for the notion of change and evolution. Always moving forward, the beauty on the canvas in direct correlation to the act of living, breathing, being.
Swedish artist Leif Holmstrand’s oeuvre is filled with crocheted and knitted sculptures, terrifying performances, washing line installations and dangling babies. He also writes excellent poetry- an artist and writer who puts Malmo on the Sweden Maps and in the very near future on the world map!
South African born Robin Rhodes has a very special talent of bringing 2-dimensional street art drawings to life. Not only does he animate materials like chalk, charcoal and soap, but he inserts a very strong political and economic agenda into his work. He chooses to show his “performative drawings” in rapidly changing environments (Berlin and Johannesburg), commenting on luxury, privilege and gentrification. These two cities in particular are central to these ideas, and he feeds off the energy and grittiness of both places.
His work features imagery of everyday and consumer objects, such as paper clips, light bulbs, and champagne flutes, found in desolate urban settings as a reference to his upbringing, but also to broader universal ideas including desire, luxury, and the influx of consumerism into South African society. (Source)
In his latest show “having been there” (on now at Lehmann Maupin Gallery in Hong Kong), he exhibits photographic documentation of his unique street drawings. Rhodes not only brings to life simple linear sketches, but also includes himself in the process, adding to the whole dreamy feel of the scenarios he animates. His marks and gestures transform into quick, simple ideas surrounding his topics of focus: he pours champagne over a pyramid of glasses, he goes fishing on a blue wall, mounts and attempts to ride a bicycle – all acts linked into ideas of exuberance he could not afford as a child.
Rhode has also created a new animation that examines aspects of established Chinese myths, weaving a tale of struggle, of growth, and ultimately of evolution… highlighting themes frequently referenced in the artists’ work such as reinvention and transformation. (Source)
Rhodes is a quietly out-spoken street artist who stands out from your standard political activists. See more of his effective visual protests here and here.
The intricate work of Nahoko Kojima is created from single painstakingly cut sheets of paper. For example, her newest sculpture, Byaku, is cut from a single giant sheet of Japanese washi paper. Using a simple X-Acto knife like scalpel Kojima tirelessly works to pull the image out of the paper. In order to maintain precision, she is said to change her blades about once every three minutes. Kojima’s multilayered work also inhabitants a playful space between 2D and 3D. At times her work is framed like a painting while other times presented like a sculpture. [via]
Chris Gray is a UK based designer and illustrator currently working in the studio at Love Creative working with clients like BBC, Christian Aid, Playstation, Bollocks to Poverty, Absolut and Dr Martens. His whimsical, iconic aesthetic reduces complex thought systems to catchy graphics that evidence a strong sense of color and play. Chris Gray recently designed Beautiful/Decay’s smash hit “Sex” (pictured above, for purchase here) and “Casual Apple” shirts. Read his full interview after the jump!
“My name is Elle Perez and I’m a photographer from the Bronx, I’ve been working on a documentary for the past like…. four years (consciously anyway, i photographed it before but didn’t know what i was doing) about the afam/latino punk scene in the Bronx that no one really knows exists…I really have a hard time editing this ’cause I’ve been working on it so long. i have like 5,000 images on film and over 30,000 digital files ’cause I’ve been photographing it since I was 12 (I’m 20 now).”
According to Kate MacDowell, her varied travels from Italy to rural India have greatly influenced her unique artistic vocabulary. She began studying ceramics full-time in 2004. Since then, she has created pieces that ascertain their prestige through the perfect juxtaposition of the beautiful and the alarming. MacDowell’s work is so precise that it feels as if it exists more comfortably in reality than in imagination. If you’re in the UK, you can see her work in the upcoming group show, Shadowside, at bo.lee Gallery in Bath.
We just put up 50 copies of Beautiful/Decay Book:1 Supernaturalism on our online shop. We have a limited supply of these available for our shop so if you didn’t subscribe this will be one of the only ways to get the book. Enjoy!