In 2001 I was in art school, trying to make sense of how one gets into shows, sells art, and gets press. It was a daunting task for my peers and me–none of us knew where to start. Running into the art world’s countless closed doors, however, became the inspiration behind creating Beautiful/Decay. My dream was to expose and support all the great art that I was finding by unknown, young artists. I wanted to celebrate these “underdogs” and give them the credit that they deserved.
It’s been almost a decade since then and our mission hasn’t changed. We still strive to shed light on work that is underrated and unknown. So in the spirit of Beautiful/Decay’s dedication to emerging art, we present to you our first annual edition of “The Underdogs.” Each year, we will open up the magazine to you, our readers, so that you can have a chance to participate in Beautiful/Decay. For this issue, we asked artists to interpret our theme, “The Underdogs,” as they saw fit. Some literally interpreted the theme, while others imagined the concept abstractly to create their works. With just under 100 slots, and over 500 submissions, figuring out who made the cut was anything but easy.
Some of the artists you may have heard of, and others have never been featured in print before. We selected our cover artist, Allison Schulnik, for her beautiful depictions of anonymous, unsung heroes. For all their tragedy and isolation, Schulnik gives form to the world’s “fools and rejects,” who in turn transcend the page to become icons in and of themselves. This process of transformation and redemption, of attaining the spotlight against all odds seemed the perfect concept in which to encase Book 3.
Get your copy of Book:3, the ultimate inspiration/resource of emerging art at the B/D Shop!
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)
Inspired by traditional paintings from the Baroque and Rococo periods, Joe Becker‘s paintings not only portray a remarkable craftsmanship but provides images full of vivid and colorful nightmares. Charged with juxtapositions of pop culture imagery and chaotic scenarios, his paintings offer more than plenty excitement and tension to the viewer.
If you’ve ever paused a movie when a character is in mid sentence, you’ve probably encountered some unflattering-looking pauses. Photographer Julia Peirone‘s series More Than Violet is comprised of these moments. Young female subjects are caught rolling their eyes, twirling their hair, and playing with their jewelry, all with faces contorted in conversation. The images are simultaneously awkward and amusing as we see teenage girls acting in a stereotypical fashion.
To achieve these small moments, Peirone shot hundreds of frames and selected ones that signify a not-a-child but not-a-woman moment. Their clothing, hairstyles, and colorful choice in makeup show their youth. It’s also their mannerisms that give their age away, where they are trying to act confident but are still in the dreaded teenager phase where you look younger than you mentally feel.
More Than Violet is a revealing series of portraiture that captures the uncertainty and uncomfortableness of being looked at and getting your picture taken. Considering that we are so defined by our peer group, these photos offer a truthful look at how we navigate between trying to find our true selves and the self that is “cool.” (Via Feature Shoot)
Stylistically speaking, Anton’s drawings hark back to Italian Futurism- glorification of youth, violence, and fantasies of what pleasure advances in science could bring to humanity. It would seem though that instead of elevating technology (can’t we invent another word for this already?) he is mocking it by celebrating the very icons it is now embodied by. Or better yet, the empire that now belongs to Steve Jobs.
Flavia Carvalho is a Brazilian tattoo artist who provides voluntary service for women left with scars from domestic violence and mastectomies. The project’s name is A Pele da Flor (The Skin of the Flower), deriving from the Portuguese expression “A flor da pele” (deeper than skin). In support of the healing and empowerment of women, Carvalho’s scar tattoos are entirely free—all the client needs to do is to choose a design. Her goal is to help women feel better about their bodies and selves by reclaiming their scars as marks of transformation and strength.
Everything began two years ago, when Carvalho worked with a client who had been stabbed in a nightclub by a man she turned down. Over her abdominal scars, Carvalho tattooed blooming flowers and a bird—symbols of beauty, sensitivity, and growth. After seeing how deeply touched the client was with her tattoo, Carvalho decided to bring her services to more women. Since then, her project has received deservedly positive reception on social media, raising important issues related to domestic violence, the battle with cancer, and body image.
In an interview with Huffington Post, Carvalho speaks about the emotional impact of her project—turning feelings of shame into self-love—and the deeply rewarding connections she creates with her clients:
“The feedback I have gotten from women who were helped by this project has been extremely surprising. The sense of affection, sisterhood and camaraderie is deeper than I ever imagined. They contact me from all over the country, as well as from abroad. They come to the studio, share their stories of pain and resilience, and they show me their scars. Embarrassed, they cry, and hug me. Then we design the tattoo and we schedule the session. They become excited, optimistic. It is wonderful to see how their relationship with their bodies changes after they get the tattoos.” (Source)
Coke Wisdom O’Neil’s conceptually driven portrait series The Box feels theatrically avant-garde, akin to Sartre’s No Exit, with strong emphasis on “the look”– or, the dilemma of seeing ourselves as objects in other people’s consciousness.
Each photograph was originally shot in a twenty-two foot tall wooden box, constructed by the artist himself and set up in a variety of different public spaces from New York City to Texas. Such an unnaturally large empty platform allowed curious subjects the freedom to perform when shooting; however, ironically, it also has a tendency to trap when printed– evoking a doll-like sense of display, especially when collected back-to-back on a gallery wall, suggesting “the look” is relative to not only our minds, but also most apparent in photography or art itself.
Austrailian Sam Songailo makes crazy technical paintings that have my brain in a serious frenzy. Florescent patterns ooze off the canvas like a Gee’s Bend quilt on mushrooms. Check out Iain Dawson Gallery for more.