Alaina Varrone is a embroidery artist who, according to her, was born to a family of weirdos and storytellers. She uses this natural inclination to tell tales using thread which are often explicit and erotic in nature. We see naked men and women, sexual acts, and general kinkiness stitched into cotton fabric. Sometimes, Varrone will use delicate-looking floral patterns that add to the delightful absurdity of her work.
Typically, embroidery is seen as a craft, and an activity that’s a favorite among grandmothers (although it does have a thriving community of younger folks). It’s content is generally seen as inoffensive and family-friendly. Varrone has turned this convention on its head by sewing scenes that that are anything but. Her characters go after their desires and fantasies, creating an amusing juxtaposition between how we’re used to seeing embroidery versus all of its possibilities. (Via Juxtapoz)
It’s surprising that I’m just discovering this epic 2004 installation by Daniele Buetti. Titled Le Grand Rhume (The Great Cold) this piece features a massive larger than life nose complete with skin blemishes,discoloration, and bad pores crashing through the roof of an old hut and dripping a gooey pile of stalagmites from the nostril. I’m not usually a fan of nasal drips but this just be one of my all time favorite sculptures! More shots of the install after the jump.
The makeup artist, wig maker, and costumer Elvis Schmoulianoff exists in a dreamscape where dress-up and science fiction collide. Her works, including a charming stop-motion animation titled Painted, celebrates the transformative power of disguise; operating as a character within a visual narrative, her body paint takes on a life of its own, overtaking and doing delightful mischief to the human form. Schmoulianoff seemingly draws inspiration from anything but the traditional, her work beautifully echoing that of Surrealists like Joan Miró.
Schmoulianoff’s visual trickery maintains a childlike sense of experimentation; her abstract, brightly colored shapes are seen in tension with the curvatures of the body, blurring the borders between model and medium. In some images, a Cubist-inspired oversized eye is overlaid on a closed eyelid, and the face is split down the middle, morphing in such a way that contains multiple perspectives: the full face, the profile, and even the layer beneath the skin. The artist’s expert shapes often serve to flatten the human subject, who camouflages with painted backgrounds; like a clever game of hide-and-seek, viewers are invited to discover the body within a surreal landscape.
Within Schmoulianoff’s work lies an undeniable sensuality; with glossy eye-catching paint, nipples miraculously become eyeballs, and full lips are seen in lush, starkly contrasted tones. In vibrant color and tonal blacks and whites, the body lies at the precipice of magic and wonder, with skeleton figures dancing to the beats of their red fire-engine red hearts. Schmoulianoff is committed to animal rights, and she only uses cruelty-free products for her art; to learn more, visit her website.
Photographer Jeremy Kohm has travelled & lived around the globe, honing his skills. He began his career as a surf photographer in Japan. Now based in Toronto, Jeremy works primarily as an editorial photographer and as an affiliate photographer for Fever Films. His images are clean, straight-forward and refreshingly minimalistic.
Marc Quinn’s surreal sculpture work is undeniably provocative and captivating. While he uses many different materials for his sculpture and installation work, he always seems to address the idea of bodies and their boundaries, the materiality of the human condition, or the relationship between nature and culture. Quinn’s 2004 exhibition, The Complete Marbles, is a collection of marble sculptures depicting amputees and disabled individuals that alludes to the style of Greco-Roman statues. Quinn recently donated his paradoxical sculpture from 2008, “Planet,” for permanent display at the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. Very large and heavy, this sculpture depicts his son as a sleeping baby and appears weightless, almost floating. His most recent solo exhibition, All the Time in the World, is currently on display at Mary Boone Gallery in New York until June 29th.
Hailing grom London, artist Neil Morley creates his multi-layered works using college techniques. Morley is influenced by artists like Sigmar Polke, and uses reproductions of nineteenth century reportage etchings from the London Illustrated News and satirical magazines such as Punch. His work is a reflection on his research on travel, tourism, colonialism, and post-colonialism. The paintings create parallels between nineteenth century colonialism and twenty-first century tourism: “Tourism is one of the largest industries in the world and has arguably had the most influence on First World perceptions of utopia such as white, sandy beaches, clear blue sea, simplicity and adventure couched in luxury. Tourism has the propensity to mask realities such as poverty, poor infrastructure, and dictatorship. The all–inclusive resort and the heavily structured guided tour itineraries cherry pick and conceal these realities.” Packing a very heavy/important message makes his work that much more interesting.
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Katarzyna Majak‘s “Women of Power” photography series captures the faces and dress of earth-worshipping Polish women who are powerful among their particular spiritual sectors. The vast majority of Poland’s people (90%) are practicing Catholics. When Christianity was introduced to Poland a few centuries ago, it erased most traces of paganism, witchcraft, and shamanic traditions. The women Majak photographs – ranging in age from their 30’s to their 80’s – represent the very small minority of Polish women who practice alternative spirituality. For many of these women, this series depicts their first public display of power. They “practice a wide range of spiritual paths and spiritual systems. A few are traditional healers (so called ‘whisperers’ who mix religion with primeval superstitions to heal and remove spells using prayers) whose traditions survived on the Belarusian border. Some are women who had grandmothers who could ‘see’ or were herbal healers and who are working to revive what would otherwise be dead traditions.”