The paintings of artist Benjamin Björklund unearth and obscure the emotional states of his subjects. Working from a rustic, nineteenth-century farmhouse in Uppsala, Sweden, his muses are often those around him: family members, Solomon (his Great Dane), his pet rabbits, mice, rats, and guinea pigs, as well as the wild animals outside. Faces are painted in soft colors, seeming to reflect the pale light of the northern sun. However, everything seems a bit out of focus; eyes and hairlines and skin meld together, giving the portraits an impressionistic style. Dual forces are at play as the figures shift imperceptibly between reality and abstraction, presence and distance.
Ben’s project is to interpret and convey the inner worlds of his subjects. This is a compelling concept, given that portraiture is traditionally a desired projection of someone—a veneer of their character. Ben’s work, however, is more honest in that it connects the physical surface to the intangible swirl within. His about page explains his approach further:
“Ben’s figurative and portraiture work can, at times, depict scenes bordering on the surreal with characters influenced by those around him existing in various physical or emotional situations. These are usually emphasized through the use of abstracted light and darts of color. These, Ben refers to as ‘happy mistakes’ being borne from spontaneous actions and serving to focus the viewer’s attention whilst adding to the emotional impact on the viewer.” (Source)
In their abstraction, Ben’s subjects become deeply individualistic, while also exploring the metaphysical depths and complexities of human identity.
Ben’s paintings are held in private collections in many cities around the world, including LA, Melbourne, and throughout Europe. You can explore more of his work on his website and Instagram. (Via Hi-Fructose)
Rivane Neuenschwander is a Brazillian artist who works in film, photography, sculpture, collaboration, participatory events and installation. Her work employs beautiful ideas, unpretentious materials and an inspiring vision. For I Wish Your Wish, an installation at the New Museum, Neuenschwander drew from a tradition at the São Salvador church Nosso Senhor do Bonfirm. She invited visitors to take a ribbon from the installation, tie it around their wrist, and leave it until it falls off. Once that happens their wish will come true. Or First Love, a work where a police sketch artist sits with visitors as they describe their “first loves.” The portraits were then hung in the gallery for the exhibition. Rain Rains, is a collection of leaking buckets controlled from flooding by a Sisyphean recirculation tended to by museum staff. One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of galaxy scenes that depict narrative layers of which the viewer becomes a participant. The hole-punched circles along with the frames, articulate the duration of the exhibition in calendar form. A viewer is encouraged to contemplate the idea of one thousand and one nights.
Allowing the participation of visitors, Neuenschwander blurs the boundaries that traditionally stand between artist and viewer. She instigates an idea, permitting it to discriminate via the public. Her work becomes a living, breathing mass collaboration combining nature, language and the ephemeral.
It pains me to say that an extraordinary intern of ours, Alexis Kaneshiro, will be leaving the Beautiful/Decay offices today! Alexis is a budding creative talent studying Fine Art at USC (not to mention a pleasure to work with) and will be missed here! Anyways, her personal artwork is really lovely- marked by a characteristic sense of fancy, sincerity and whimsical charm (sort of like her!) I love the cake she made, above, that interprets the tactile “softness” and festive nature of a birthday cake through the crafty materials of felt, balloons, googly eyes, pearls and candles. Constructed from these materials, the fleeting nature of the cake is transformed into a permenent and bittersweet effigy to her father. More of her work below!
Photographer Juuke Schoorl‘s collection is called “Rek,” which means “stretch” in Dutch. It’s a fitting name for both the act observed as well as that demanded of viewers as they are asked to consider all manner of textures both natural and unnatural. In her artist’s statement, Schoorl says that she “[explores] aesthetic possibilities of the human skin through a mixture of image capturing techniques.”
Using nylon fishing rope and cello tape, she creates temporary perforations and artificial patterns on what she calls “this curious stretchable material.” Some of her experiments look natural, almost like scarification. Others approach alien, such as one that tugs the side of a woman’s neck into what look similar to gills or another kind of grittier protrusion.
Interestingly, Schoorl’s subjects all look composed, serene even as viewers might flinch back on instinct. Perhaps that is the point; Schoorl invites viewers to be curious, to wonder at these new patterns and human landscapes. She wants us to consider our “biological upholstery that aside from it’s [sic] protective capabilities could also serve as a medium for aesthetic expression.” (via Juxtapoz)
Charlie White’s work has always intrigued me. Since 1999 he has used a variety of methods to create eerie photographs that look like stills taken out of a horror movie.
This new body of work is a surprising departure from the previous work but still has the eerie feel that White’s work is known for. I couldn’t find much online about the series but the titles say a lot. The series is called ” Teen and Transgender Comparative Study.”