Jose Romussi’s latest series #Anti-Serie is a visual depiction of beauty being in the eye of the beholder. The series is made up of a collection of fashion photographs which he has modified through the application of colorful embroidery. The colors in the photographs are clustered and tightly knit in order to create a textured layer which adds an aesthetically intriguing aspect to the primarily black and white photographs. The embroidery in this series is made up of abstract blocks of color and zig zags which give the series a more tribal touch.
The colors of the threads clash perfectly with the black and whites present in the photographs and give them a different meaning and even a sort of second life. His use of lines and geometrical shapes is somewhat reminiscent of the naïve art movement. Romussi aims to “give the image a new emotion, a new life, a new interpretation through embroidering”, and he does just that. He has taken a series of beautiful photographs and given them a new sort of meaning through embroidery. The original faces of the subjects in the photographs are entirely covered, which gives the thread a sort of mask-like property.
Romussi’s project is not only interesting from the visual perspective but also on a conceptual level in the sense that the ideas at the root of the project are connected to deeper debates about beauty and the personal aspects of defining such a concept. The idea that applying another layer to an otherwise finished product is interesting to examine from the perspectives of multimedia art and making meaning on a more personal level.
American artist and architect Paul Laffoley’s work is usually classified as visionary art or outsider art: most of his pieces are painted on large canvases and combine words and imagery to depict a spiritual architecture of explanation, tackling concepts like dimensionality, time travel through hacking relativity, connecting conceptual threads shared by philosophers through the millennia, and theories about the cosmic origins of mankind.
If you aren’t careful, the video Milkyeyes by Donato Sansone might give you nightmares. The piece describes itself as “A slow and surreal video slideshow of nightmarish, grotesque and apparently static characters.” The video clocks in at just over 2 minutes and features 26 different characters, and is accompanied by music you’d hear in an old, abandoned warehouse or horror film. Some characters have faces that have been mutilated and warped to the point where they are nearly unrecognizable. Milkeyes is a name that conjures an unpleasant visual. So, it’s not surprising that this video is a visceral journey into a world of unfortunate humans. We see steam coming from their heads, stuff bubbling from their lips, and eyes floating of their head. While they are affected, the environment behind them remains static and untouched. The juxtaposition between calm and a surreal chaos makes this video both puzzling and trippy. (Via Artnau)
Elizabeth McGrath is a Los Angeles-born artist known for her sculptural explorations of beauty and the grotesque. Her animal figures are both endearing and frightening; with jagged teeth and oozing, bloodshot eyes, they resemble possessed dolls, manifesting horror and fragility all at once. Many of them have been anthropomorphized with human clothing and objects, lending them distinct characters. By distorting beauty into twisted, monstrous reflections of itself, McGrath playfully comments on vanity and materiality and the forces of death and decay that fester right beneath. Her Artist’s Bio elaborates further:
“Inspired by the relationship between the natural world and the detritus of consumer culture, [McGrath] brings forth a new cavalcade of creatures from the darker corners of the streets, the city, the imagination. It is this melancholy interaction between man-made status symbols and suffering specimens of nature that make up her intricate body of work.” (Source)
In addition to her morbid menagerie, McGrath also makes similarly-themed dioramas. Channeling the aesthetics of Tim Burton, tattoo artistry, and the carnivalesque, each creation is a dark miscellany, coupling death with innocence. Visit McGrath’s website and Facebook page to learn more about her work.
When I met Jonny Negron at the Small Press Expo two years ago, I had him sign a copy of his book, Negron, for me. Rather than just signing his name, he drew on the back cover, which coincidentally is a large picture of his face. Negron completed his doodle with a lizard tongue, drawn with a gold paint pen. This act of an excessive signature is a metaphor for the type of work that he creates. It’s in your face and unapologetic, as well as being stylish, humorous and at times, scary.
Negron is best known for his comics and propensity for drawing large women. They are extremely curvy and wear crop tops, bikinis, and leggings, or nothing at all. Couples engage in sexual acts, and while often NSFW, the drawings don’t have the same vulgarity of something like an ad for a porn site. In an interview with The Comics Journal, Negron says that he doesn’t fetishize these women, and that he’s gotten a very positive response from women regarding his drawings. He goes on to say, “You go to a magazine stand and half the magazines are the same very thin woman. Beauty is not limited to that kind of person. Anyone can be beautiful. That’s part of the statement I’m trying to make with those drawings.”
Oftentimes, Negron’s work is without context. His characters exist in blank space, and his comics focus on a moment rather than a long passage of time. Negron cites films as an inspiration to his work, using their sense of lighting and stasis as a way to pace his sequential art. Looking at his style of drawing, it’s evident that he enjoys manga and video games, but it is more well rounded than that.
Negron is really active on Tumblr and is constantly listing his work for sale in his online shop. He is also an artist with PictureBox, a small press publisher.
Hula balances his paddle board on the water the same way he balances the hyper-realistic paintings of women he depicts above the surface of that same water. The artist chooses abandoned sites and approaches the walls of his future murals by paddling on his surf board and carefully bringing his paint and brushes along with him.
Sean Yoro, a.k.a. Hula, represents women gracefully enjoying the contact of the water. The colors used are natural, dissolving with the stone color tones of the murals and the grey/green tones of the water. Geometric pastel signs are drawn onto the naked parts of their bodies such as the neck, shoulders and arms. The rest of their bodies is covered with water as Hula depicts only the top parts of the women’s bodies. The reflection of the pictures onto the surface of the water creates a double image, accentuating the peaceful and intimate moments caught by the artist.
Hula captures the smiles of pleasure and well being the women are experiencing in hidden places. Leaving the viewer wondering who these women are and if they even exist. Away from the city of New York, with nothing but his paint and his women, the moments spent scouting locations and painting in solitude in the middle of nowhere confers a meditative break to the artist.