Masao Kinoshita’s Powerful Sculptures Are Skinned To Reveal Hulking Muscles

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With rippling, coiled muscles, the sculptures of Masao Kinoshita stand skinned and erect. Working with materials ranging from wood to resin to bronze, the Japanese sculptor uses an aesthetic we normally associate with natural history museums to render athletic, flexing creatures of the sea and land. Save for their multiple heads and engorged limbs, these beasts could easily be ancestors of man.

Kinoshita draws much of his inspiration from diverse mythologies, religions and folklores from around the globe. Fusing narratives across space and time, the horned maenads of ancient Greece live alongside the Yoga Asura deities of Buddhism in a visceral, animalistic universe where fitness reigns supreme. The Hindu god Ganesh poses confidently while a human baby and a small teddy bear develop muscles of similar size and strength.

Given the artist’s knowledge of folklore and spiritual histories, we might interpret his massive, hulking walrus as a nod to the beast mentioned in Alice in Wonderland, who is widely assumed to represent the Buddha. Built from wood, he would certainly seem at home in the story of “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” but his soulful eyes maintain a divine dignity that eluded Lewis Carroll’s infamous character.

Throughout Kinoshita’s impressive body of work, the physical and the metaphysical are allowed to coexist. Where modern religions condemn the pleasures of the body and exalt in those of the spirit, these sculptures present a world wherein the gods themselves are proud—even arrogant, as the case may be with those thong-wearing bodybuilders—to live within mortal anatomies. Take a look. (via HiFructose)
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Fairytale Princess Mugshots Are Both Alarming And Totally Awesome

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Normally, fairytale princess characters are the epitome of chastity and innocence. With her series on folk stories, the Spain-based illustrator Marilen Adrover turns the concept of feminine modesty and purity on its head, presenting the gruesome mugshots of legendary heroines. Far from her days of resting piteously in a glass coffin, Snow White, an icon of the selfless domesticity of any ideal wife or helpmate, is arrested for sexual misconduct. Little Red Riding Hood, blood smeared across her once naive rosy cheeks, is taken in on murder charges. Poor, young Goldilocks, no longer a helpless child in search of shelter, has lived a life of crime, and she is reprimanded for breaking and entering. Lewis Carroll’s sweet Alice has grown disillusioned with the real world, turning to her own dangerous wonderland of psychotropic drugs.

By placing these icons of feminine docility and martyrdom in the context of contemporary crime, Adrover cleverly subverts the traditional madonna-whore dichotomy that persists narratives about young women. Like an angst-ridden teen, each vixen stares at her captives teasingly, hoping to challenge their authority. They are no longer defined by their histories of idyllic pastoral innocence, but they certainly cannot be pegged solely as unruly miscreants. Both beloved and dangerous, they refuse to conform to a single fantasy, playing with our culture’s deeply ingrained prejudices and assumptions.

In another ambitious series, Adrover explores the painful pressures facing the bodies of women, presenting evocative portraits of eating disorders and plastic surgery. Her imagined manifestation of anorexia is a bloody red orb, shining outwards from the belly of a woman. In her vision of orthorexia, the orb is blue. Each image, evocative of watercolor painting, subtly explores the persistent emotional traumas and obsessions that burden the human spirit. Take a look. (via Lost at E Minor)
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Disturbing Portraits Of Disney Characters Living “Unhappily Ever After”

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As children, Disney movies provide us with an idealized portrait of adulthood, full of adventure and happy endings. The artist Jeff Hong provides an alternate narrative in “Unhappily Ever After;” here, our beloved Disney princesses and animals are subjected to the realities of a cruel, dark world. Set against moody, disturbing backdrops, the animated characters appear entirely out of place, stunned by the state of the human condition.

Unlike the work of Dina Goldstein, a photographer who imagined the heartbreaking fates of Disney princesses, Hong’s images preserve the two-dimensional form of the famed Disney characters, a choice which heightens the drama of each piece. As if hurled from an easily understood storybook fairytale, the princesses suffer within a more realistic (and three-dimensional) photographic space.

Throughout “Unhappily Ever After,” the artist pointedly draws attention to current social injustices. These characters, with whom we associate our own wide-eyed innocence, are placed within a a racially-segregated America (Tiana) or a casino that now occupies a Native American reservation (Pocahontas). Animal cruelty and environmental negligence are laid bare as Dumbo suffers the life of a circus animal, Bambi is hunted and stuffed, and Ariel’s lungs fill with polluted water. Simbo is held captive in a zoo. Alice forsakes Wonderland to maintain her drug habit in the streets, and Cinderella is left in a dark alleyway, her clothes ripped from her body. It is profoundly unsettling to witness these childhood symbols in such a difficult world; more distressing still is the fact these injustices and hardships happen every day. Take a look. (via Design Boom)
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Jessicka Addams’s Disturbing Paintings Capture Lost Innocence

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The indie-feminist rock-artist Jessicka Addams marries the gothic with the whimsical, creating heartbreaking portraits of innocence lost. In her wonderfully sweet yet disturbing paintings and sculptures, the artist builds a candy-coated dreamscape ripe with sexuality, drug use, and metamorphosis. Her pale, virginal subjects look much like babydolls possessed, embodiments of mythical female mischief and corruption. These works, in some ways, serve as testaments to the pains and labors of the biblical Eve, the mythological Medusa.

Addams’s work is elegantly imbued with an uncomfortable anxiety that arises from the tension between icons of innocence and the suggestion of impurity. Rabbits, used in early Christian art, symbolize the coming of spring, the resurrection, and the rebirth of innocence. Here, this iconographical connotation is poignantly subverted; alongside images of bleeding nostrils, suggestive of cocaine use, these white rabbits could easily find themselves in the drug-induced Alice in Wonderland of Jefferson Airplane. Addams’s rabbits cry bloody pink tears and sprout sea witch limbs.

The cat, an animal both adorable and foreboding, also figures prominently in Addams’s pieces, often in the form of hybrid human or ghost. Addams’s aesthetic is distinctly modern, characterized by thick, dripping brushstrokes and somewhat taboo subject matter. Like those of the modernist trailblazer Goya, her cats seem to represent sin as it creeps in upon the untainted child; a burlap sack, with embroidered feline ears, envelops the face of a pale babe, who weeps as if mourning a lost childhood.

Addams’s exquisite works are charming and unsettling in equal measure, inspiring pity and empathy for our own former innocence. Here, human beings—especially women— are neither madonnas nor whores; instead, the human soul is a complexly woven tapestry, colored with surprising and miraculous shades of gray. Addams’s work is currently on view at The Cotton Candy Machine. (via BUST)
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The Secret Garden Of Snails Is Filled With Slimey Wonder

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The photographer Vyacheslav Mishchenko spent much of his childhood in nature; following his father on mushroom hunting expeditions, he often crouched to the ground in rapt fascination with the tiny, slimy, and colorful wonderland of bugs. As an adult, he returns to this kingdom of imagination, cataloguing the daily lives of snails.

Breaking from the objectivity of traditional nature photography, Mishchenko’s soulful images read like a children’s storybook, filled with unexpected emotionality and suspense. The expertly-shot macro images frame the miniature snail landscapes in miraculous detail, seducing viewers into a world of Alice In Wonderland mushrooms and plump fruits. Shot from the vantage-point of teensy, unsuspecting creatures, the world seems vast and dazzlingly fertile.

The delicate creatures, seen so vividly, become startlingly powerful, their muscular bodies twisting and writhing around newly-budding stems. In this strange and enchanting visual narrative, snails become lovers who gently kiss, seemingly forming one long, sticky body in their embrace. They curiously extend towards succulent forbidden fruits that drip with raindrops; as if in some natural Eden, they hide their bodies in fantastic shells.

Reflected many times over in perfectly rounded dewdrops and in the artist’s own lens, the snails seem to verge on the point of self-awareneness. As if to evoke the metaphor applied to Helena and Hermia, the young heroines of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, two snails arch their bodies over twin cherries, ripe and red. It’s miraculous what goes on beneath our feet, and I cannot think of  better set of images to get us in the mood for spring. (via BUST)
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Michael Caine’s Political Fairytales

Michael Caine’s current work situates American political figures, both past and present, in altered 18th century paintings and Christian religious kitsch, referencing scenes from Alice in Wonderland, Bambi, and the Wizard of Oz. Drawing on the lineage of political cartooning in these pictures, Caines treats Richard Nixon, JFK, and Carl Rove, among others, with surprising tenderness and humor.

 

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B/D In Wonderland

 

What the inside of my brain looks like after a long day of art making about Beautiful/Decay working!

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Chris Appelhans

Character Design for Monster House: Jenny, DJ, and Chowder

Character Design for Monster House: Jenny, DJ, and Chowder

 

Chris Appelhans has done some awesome production and character design for films like Monster House, City of Ember, and Coraline. He exhibits a fabulous range, from the ultra-dark and disgustingly well-rendered to the innocent and simple–and oftentimes the two realms overlap. How his work always seems to retain a sense of hope is beyond me! 

 

Check out his Frank and Frank cartoons as well as his modern-day adaptation of Alice in Wonderland (pictures after the jump, of course!). 

 

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