When an artist works with patterns- repositioning, repurposing and giving new context to his or her subjects- it is often in the interest of creating more from less, big from small. It’s a way of demonstrating a well-worn flavor of creative vision, one that lets the world know that you not only can see the unseen, but you can create the bridge between that which exists, and that which, as of yet, does not. It’s a way of asserting how smart you are (after all you’re a step ahead of everyone else). This is a good way to be. But it doesn’t take that much effort to be smart, to see the bigger picture. For many of us, it’s really just a matter of opening our eyes. What’s really special -what separates the thinkers from the human computers- is the ability to really understand your subject. And that’s something that takes time and effort, not some abstract, bullshit self-assertion of ‘creative vision’. What’s really special is to use pattern to go inward instead of outward. To demonstrate not how one thing is actually a part of something else, but how certain elements make something not like something else. To highlight how some things are just inherently the way they are.
Take Ron Ulicny’s recent work on view at Spoke Art in San Francisco: clever sculpture and belligerently patterned works that force you to really absorb the materials from which they’re made. Ulicny’s technique finds a way of getting inside the things that we usually use to make other things. A way of finding the small structures within the already small. Forced to confront his subjects in such a direct way, we begin to feel strangely acquainted with the work.
Romanian illustrator Aitch creates colorful images that are ripe with magentas, turquoises, electric yellows, and more. But, don’t let those bright pigments confuse you. While cheerful, there are some macabre moments that add an intriguing element to her detailed paintings.
Aitch is inspired by her travels, naturalistic illustrations, naive art, and folklore from around the world. You definitely get the sense of this through her series like The Garden of Good and Evil and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Both, as you might guess, are the retelling of stories – original sin and the C.S. Lewis tale, respectively – but through her own imagery and voice. Here, full-sized women with an array of unusual tattoos interact with the psychedelic landscape and a cast of fantastical creatures.
The same women appear throughout Aitch’s work in other series like Coffins. Here, it’s much like it sounds – we see decorative coffins, people buried underground, and a meditation on what happens after we’re gone. Her style lends itself to a more lighthearted, beautiful depiction of death and a return to nature where we’re wrapped up in gorgeous vines and flowers.
Sybille Paulsen is a fiber artisan and designer who crafts beautiful and symbolic artifacts from human hair. As she writes on her website, “Hair is a unique and enchanting material that evokes a lot of sentiment” (Source) — as part of our physical identities, it is integral to the way we see and understand ourselves, and as it grows it signifies both personal change and transformation.
The loss of one’s hair as a result of chemotherapy is a devastating change, representative of the emotional and physical trauma of the disease. To try and help people understand this loss, Sybille has embarked on a project to turn the hair of cancer patients into beautiful necklaces. The project is called Tangible Truths, plural because it refers to the diverse experiences of each woman enduring illness and treatment, “tangible” as it transforms abstract pain — the loss of hair — into a touchable, wearable art piece imbued with sentiment and hope. As Sybille writes:
“The loss creates something new and the helplessness is juxtaposed against a tangible artefact. This object can be the introduction to an exchange of difficult feelings that are otherwise hard to communicate.” (Source)
Katie Sims, born in 1988, is an emerging British artist gaining strong momentum in the art world– receiving the Jerwood Drawing Award and Richard Ford Award, Residency at the Museo del Prado, Madrid.
According to Pryle Behrman, Sims paintings “pay homage to masterpieces by Mantegna and Poussin, but deconstruct their studied, graceful air through the organic fluidity of her brushwork and the incongruous addition of geometric shapes that further undermine the compositional structure of her source images.”
Additionally, and on a purely guttural level, each piece is paradoxically busy in a faint and strange minimal manner that is truly difficult to execute with a certain consistent visual ease.
Our upcoming Book 3: The Underdogs is a doozy of an issue- compiling over 100 submissions from B/D readers around the world, including a mix of never-before-seen talents and established artists. It’s dedicated to you, dear readers. As we are an independent, ad-free publication, we depend on your support to keep Beautiful/Decay filled with pages of quality work. So, do yourself and us a favor at the same time and SUBSCRIBE (or resubscribe) today! As always, the pages are chock-full of art you need to see, as well as one of a kind collectables, stickers, rare inserts and original artwork. (You don’t want to get left in the dust- Book 1’s already sold out!)
Since the end of 1989, Michal Macku has used his own creative technique which he has named “Gellage” (the ligature of collage and gelatin). The technique consists of transfer the exposed and fixed photographic emulsion from its original base on paper. This transparent and plastic gelatin substance makes it possible to reshape and reform the original images, changing their relationships and endowing them with new meanings during the transfer.
“I use the nude human body (mostly my own) in my pictures. Through the photographic process [of Gellage], this concrete human body is compelled to meet with abstract surroundings and distortions. This connection is most exciting for me and helps me to find new levels of humanness in the resulting work. I am always seeking new means of expression and, step by step, I am discovering almost unlimited possibilities through my work with loosened gelatin. Photographic pictures mean specific touch with concrete reality for me, one captured level of real time. The technique of Gellage which I am using helps me to take one of these “time sheets” and release a figure, a human body, from it, causing it to depend on time again. Its charm is similar to that of cartoon animation, but it is not a trick. It is very important for me to be aware of the history of a picture and to have a sense of direct contact with its reality. My work places “body pictures” in new situations, new contexts, new realities, causing their “authentic” reality to become relative. I am interested in questions of moral and inner freedom. I do what I feel, and only then do I begin to meditate on what the result is. I am often surprised by the new connections I find in it. Naturally, I start out with a concrete intention, but the result is often very different. And there, I believe, lies a hitch. One creates to communicate what can not be expressed in any other way. Then comes the need to describe, to define.” (via)