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Martine Johanna’s Surrealist, Color-Drenched Paintings Unveil Inner Emotional Worlds

Martine Johanna - Painting

“Nightmusic” (2014). Acrylics on linen, 140 x 180cm.

Martine Johanna - Painting

“Dear Darkness” (2014). Acrylics and graphite on linen, 60 x 70 cm.

Martine Johanna - Painting

“Anticipation” (2014). Acrylics on linen, 70 x 100 cm.

Martine Johanna - Painting

“Cosmic Tides” (2014). Acrylics on linen, 120 x 170 cm.

Martine Johanna is a Netherlands-based artist whose beautiful, color-drenched works transfigure female figures into surrealist expressions of layered emotions and inner thoughts. In 2012, we featured her illustration portfolio, a body of work which depicts her distinctive, artistic tradition of blending abstract elements with whimsical sensuality. Also included in her oeuvre are a number of stunning acrylic paintings — many of them produced more recently — that delve into the worlds of the conscious and unconscious minds with stunning depth and sensitivity.

Characterizing Johanna’s paintings are women — often nude or nearly-nude — posed in contemplation, their eyes deep and shimmering, faces soft and shaded with storms of inner emotion. When I enquired about the use of nudity in her works, Johanna emphasized that while sex and sexuality are parts of our identities that can be used in artistic, representational ways that hold a lot of subversive power, her work is more concerned with an exploration of the mind and the body’s relationship to it. As she explained in a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay:

“There is more layering when it comes to forming the concepts of how [my] works come into existence, [just as] there is so much more going on in a person’s mind, conscious and subconscious; it is a web of complex emotions that contradict each other endlessly. For example: we want to be loved, but being overly loved corrupts, and love in itself is complex because the motivations behind wanting to be loved are already so many, from purity to manipulation to adornment to obsession, etc. In my process I deal with parts of these contradictions, [and] these thought patterns and emotions are endlessly fascinating to me.

However, I do not plan to make a work solely based on a combination of emotions; when I make what I make, I set up the compositions and figures that I feel, at that moment, is the right visual outcome to what my frame of reference and mind is. […] A couple of years back, I had my own sort of sexual revolution and a whole range of personal emotions connected to it. This is apparent in my work, [and] also visible is that I didn’t have my material or ways of expressing under control yet, which I’m now starting to get more of a grip on.”

The products of Johanna’s artistic explorations are paintings depicting layers of both materiality and essence. We see two worlds superimposed over each other: the corporeal, sensual, and sensate body, and the abyssal ocean of unpredictable emotion which surges within each one of us.

The surrealist elements of Johanna’s works likewise express the emotional contradictions mentioned in the above quote. Recurring motifs in her paintings are dualisms, shadowy “others” who embrace and accompany the female figures (see “Cosmic Tides” and “Dear Darkness,” for example). When I asked Johanna what this signified, she insightfully replied:

“[T]here is a balance of contradictions within us. You need dark to see the light; it’s nothing new, it’s yin and yang, it’s life. Denying darkness and not dealing with it doesn’t make life better — it makes it superficial.”

Hence why, in many of Johanna’s pieces, we often see layers of seemingly “contradictory” experiences, such as beauty alongside death (“The Hunted”), and hope alongside grief (“Opaline Blue”).

Visit Johanna’s website, Facebook, and Instagram to see more stunning examples of her work.

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David Sauceda’s Highly Detailed Portraits

Mexican artist David Sauceda creates highly detailed illustrations.  Primarily using ink and paper, he constructs his compositions from innumerable finely controlled lines.  His portraits pictured here, literally depict the inside and outside of a person.  The series is titled Membrane, referring to the outer body as opposed to an inner psychology.  On this idea of a membrane Sauceda states:

“This project explores the concept of identity as a membrane, intangible and invisible, outside the physical body, being the filter of information between the environment and the individual’s psychological self. The membrane is in a constant state of change and adaptability, leading to the development of an identity.” [via]

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Book Review: Creative Space & Keegan McHargue


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B/D was lucky enough to receive two new books in the mail today. Here’s me and Fei in the office with completely anonymous bookfaces hanging out with our boss, who happens to be a wizard and was so excited by them he conjured an ephemeral ball of light for the occasion. Anyways, the first is Keegan McHargue’s “Foibles,” from Seems Books, and the second is “Creative Space” by Francesca Gavin from Laurence King Publishing.

 

More descriptions and images after the jump!

 

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Anna Skladmann’s Little Adults

Anna Sladmann’s Little Adults series explores what it feels like to grow up as a privileged child in Russia, a country where its radical history still rules the daily life. It is the exploration of the recently growing society of the “Noveau-Riche” in which children have been raised to become the “Elite” and behave like little adults. Photographing Russia’s new generation of children reflects the extreme contrast between social hierarchies, touches on the control of family aspirations, ideas of normality, the loss of childhood and the constant desire for fame.

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The Bad Ass Illustrations of Mark Todd

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Mark Todd is an illustrator based out of Los Angeles who’s revered as a mystical figure in the world of zines. His booths are always the most presentable and his work has this well-balanced dichotomy of childlike proportions and lucid clarity, which makes for a fun finished product. When he draws people, like he did in his book BAD ASSES, they not only look like perfect personifications of their originals, but also give off this nostalgic vibe as well. It’s like he’s able to channel the innocent energy of the kid in grade school who was the best artist in the class, while also being able to back it up with a vicious stealth attack. I mean, you try drawing someone random like Geraldo Rivera, getting a stranger to recognize it without giving them any hints, and then repeating it with others — so now the strangers not only recognize your subjects, but also your own style as an artist as well. Mark is a busy guy and when he isn’t influencing the crap out of young minds at Art Center or working on a commercial project, he and his wife, Esther Pearl Watson, run the publishing company Fun Chicken.

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B/D LA Movietime This Wednesday!

Make sure to come early to grab a seat as this event will fill up!

 

The Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton documentary kicks off a month long series of free outdoor screenings at Space 15 Twenty, hosted by Beautiful/Decay Magazine.

 

The screenings are projected on the large outdoor screen located next to the Snack Bar. Seating is limited so arrive early to secure a chair, but if you get there late, no worries you can always sit on the floor or bring your own chair!

 

We kick off with Loic Prigent’s behind-the-scenes documentary, “Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton” (2007) delving into Marc Jacobs’ busy creative life, and featuring appearances by Victoria Beckham, Uma Thurman, Demi Moore and Sofia Coppola and other fashion-forward Hollywood starlets. This documentary is not to be missed if you are a fan of fashion.

 

Drinks, Snacks and Popcorn are available at SnackBar.

 

 

Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton – Wednesday May 6th
8:00pm
Space 15twenty
1520 N. Cahuenga Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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Pawel Fabjanski’s Mysterious Postmodern Photography

Polish photographer Pawel Fabjanski serves up a nice blend of commercial/fashion aesthetics and personal input within his work. He brings a mysterious, postmodern edge to everything he does, whether it be a portrait of a girl with red pyramids attached to her face, or a troop of nondescript people in weird, pink lab attire (above). Touching on themes of alienation and “man’s response to the environment”, each photo gives you just the right amount of chills. Fabjanski also spends time teaching at the National Film School in Lodz.

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Smuttgrinder – NSFW

At first glance I was like “wow these are nice little collages.” Then I realized why this artist calls himself Smuttgrinder.

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