This week we’re bringing you another talented artist as part of our partnership with premiere website builder Made With Color. Each Tuesday we bring you some of the most exciting artists and designers working today who are using Made With Color to create clean and sleek web sites. Made With Color makes it easy to make a website; MWC websites aren’t just easy on the eyes but feature powerful yet simple backend which allows anyone to take web design into their own hands with just a few clicks. We’re excited to share with you the dense and detailed paintings of Los Angeles artist Michael Alvarez.
At first glance the art of Michael Alvarez may not appear to be specifically about Los Angeles but upon further inspection of each painting you’ll discover hints of the mixed and vibrant subcultures that can be found in the city of angeles. Images of festive parties in parks, graffiti writers wearing Dodger inspired t-shirts, Venice beach muscle heads, skid row heshers and hand painted signs that can be found in small mom and pop shops throughout Los Angeles are sprinkled throughout these narrative paintings. Mixing the everyday, the unusual, and the downright bizarre Alvarez’s paintings create an intoxicating mixture of shaky yet precise paint handling, personal memory, and street corner observation to create work that is simultaneously dysfunctional and celebratory.
Lunakhods is an art collective comprising two Toronto-based photographers. Drenched in color and filled with a luminescent haze, their images resemble daydreams experienced beneath the heat of a midday sun. With a touch of surrealism, otherwise familiar landscapes are made unearthly: glowing wells appear in deserts at twilight, and eerie fogs cloud out distant views of mountains and trees. There is a competing sense drowsiness and vitality, transcending consciousness and materializing an alternative reality.
Lunakhod’s photography conveys an emotional and almost cinematic experience of the world. Human behavior is turned into a bizarre and deeply metaphorical reflection of itself; like muses of our solitary, dream-wandering selves, masked figures haunt dark roadsides and rooftops. Elsewhere, someone holds aloft a garden flamingo in an act of both absurdity and reverie. Time is suspended; past and present collide in images aged with dust. In the world of dreams that Lunakhods creates, temporality and concrete meaning become irrelevant — instead, their images explore the spirit, eternity, and subjectivity of a semi-lucid moment.
French artist Didier Massard’s photography had me perplexed until I looked more deeply into his process. Massard creates these amazing images by constructing a small detailed set design or dioramas and thoughtfully integrating lighting techniques. What strikes me most about these images is that they at first appear to be paintings or digitally rendered, but closer examination reveals layering and depth that is not possible to create digitally. I read how Massard uses manual techniques to create fabricated sets, but honestly could not believe the entirety of his process until viewing this short video, where he explains his work from his studio. In the video, he also explains how his work is inspired from real and imagined places, places he’d like to visit but realizes the limitations involved in this desire.The subjects of his work vary from nature to mythology to architecture, but all of them evoke a cinematic and magical realist quality.
Massard began working as a commercial photographer for fashion and cosmetic companies, but once he began this meticulously fabricated photography work, he decided to stay focused on this personal project. All of his work is drawn from his own imagination, and he calls each image “the completion of an inner imaginary journey.” Because of the highly skilled and detailed work that goes into each set design and diorama, Massard produces only a few images per year, spending months considering the manipulations for each image. For Massard, his work succeeds when it breaches a border of truth and lies, dream and reality. His work is currently on display at Julie Saul Gallery in New York City until October 19.
Society has long had a fascination with dolls and the creepy connotations that come along with them, with such horror films as Child’s Play confirming our worst nightmares. Photographer Annie Collinge is no exception. Her own uncomfortable feeling associated with dolls has created a bizarre fascination inspiring her series 5 Inches From Limbo, which includes photographs of dolls with their human counterparts. Collinge find vintage, strange looking dolls in thrift shops and flea markets, and finds a person in the flesh that resembles the doll. She even dresses her humans to mirror their doll, creating a surreal vision of a person alongside their miniature, porcelain self. Eerie as it may sound, her photographs are relentlessly intriguing while still holding an odd beauty.
Originally hailing from London, the artist had traveled to Manhattan when she found her first doll for the series. The inspiration came when she spotted a vintage doll that boar a surprising likeness to her Aunt Yolanda, outfit and all. After this encounter, she searched for interesting, antique dolls or people that look somewhat like dolls themselves to start the next pairing. She will then find a doll to match her subject, or dress a person to fit the part. Either way, each chosen person displays a striking resemblance to each unique doll, with cherub faces and big round eyes. You may be wondering where all of the dolls end up after the photograph is taken. Well, although a little disturbed by them, the artist keeps each and every one. Dolls often seem to hold a life of their own, and with the help of Collinge, her dolls have now transformed into real life human beings, however unnerving it may be. (via Featureshoot)
Michael Ward’s hyperrealistic paintings remind me of the type of photographs I take when I travel to new cities. I am always drawn to graphic elements and the juxtapositions of buildings, signs, and their locations. And, indeed, most of Ward’s paintings are based off of photographs he’s taken over the years, primarily of Southern California. Though his work was not intended to address the nostalgia of these places, most of the images’ places he’s recreated have been altered or have entirely disappeared, his work becoming an archive of transitional places. Ward’s influences include Edward Hopper, Charles Scheeler, RIchard Estes, and Vermeer. A self-taught painter, Ward began his artistic career drawing pen and ink renditions of historical architecture, before experimenting first in gouache, then in acrylics. Of his work, Ward says,”I am most interested in depicting what Alan Watts called the mystery of the ordinary; the workaday world we live in without seeing until we are forced to focus upon it, as in a painting.”
Phyliss Lutjeans, a museum educator and curator observes,“Although Michael Ward may be called a neo-realist painter his work can ultimately be described as abstract realism. The picture image is photographically realistic, but within the context of the painting his compositions are complex and almost abstract. Deciphering the work section by section one sees how a multitiude of individual complete compositions are put together to form the entire work. For me the viewer is confronted by a realistic image that puzzles us and clearly tells the story simultaneously.” (via the paris review)
Using a Cabinet of Curiosity aesthetic, Femke Hiemstra creates a carnivalistic fantasy world. In her oeuvre the roles of humans and animals are blurred placed in odd scenarios which offer humorous and dark tales of sacrifice, war and performance. Taking references from classic novels such as Gulliver’s Travels and ancient folk tales, it’s obvious that these should be made into cinema because the images are so fully animated. However, their 2D nature turns them into fine art illustration and allows the viewer to look further and take a lasting moment to linger in their imagination.
Hiemstra’s play on words further enhance the narrative in her paintings. One called “groupies” is especially humorous showing a female singing apple watched in awe by her grouper audience. It’s a classic example of the type of work Hiemstra makes which combines the bizarre with popular culture to tell stories which recall nursery rhymes and absurdist commentary. Her style brings to mind an artist I was very fond of years ago called Elizabeth Albert. She also used animals in odd narratives to tell stories about human behavior and circumstance.
Hiemstra’s illustrations are created using a light acrylic paint and water. She often tops her work with colored pencils which give it that extra definition. She mostly uses paper or panel but occasionally will paint on old books and wooden antiques like clocks or religious objects. She sells prints of her original artwork at a very reasonable price of 100 euros on average. (via hifructose)
Lindsay Bottos, a student at the Maryland Institute College of Art, has created “Anonymous,” a series of webcam selfies overlain with anonymous messages she’s received via her Tumblr page. The messages Bottos uses criticize her appearance, body-shaming and slut-shaming the selfies she’s posted to her Tumblr page. “I get tons of anonymous messages like this every day and while this isn’t unique to women, the content of the messages and the frequency in which I get them are definitely related to my gender. I almost exclusively get them after I post selfies. The authority people feel they have to share their opinion on my appearance is something myself and many other girls online deal with daily.”
The timing of Bottos’ project coincides with a recent article published by Pacific Standard that makes the case for online harassment, especially of women, as the next issue facing women’s civil rights. Even through a medium like the internet, a platform perceived as a level playing field of expression, women receive a disproportionate amount of threats and abuse related to their gender and appearance. Bottos asserts, “The act of women taking selfies is inherently feminist, especially in a society that tries so hard to tell women that our bodies are projects to be worked on and a society that profits off of the insecurities that it perpetuates. Selfies are like a ‘fuck you’ to all of that, they declare that ‘hey I look awesome today and I want to share that with everyone’ and that’s pretty revolutionary.”
Bottos’ other projects also heavily feature text, written or embroidered, onto various surfaces. For “Get Over It,” Bottos embroidered thoughts about her sexual assault onto a tear- and mascara-stained pillowcase; for “The Morning After,” she wrote thoughts in permanent marker in places touched by a hook-up; and for “I Don’t Really Miss You,” Bottos embroidered thoughts about a relationship onto images, clothing, and mementos. Whichever medium she uses, Bottos conveys her vulnerability though language and form, rendering an honest and engaging perspective. (via buzzfeed)