Mystic Illustrations: Nicomi Nix Turner and Four Other Artists Illustrate The Occult

Nicomi Nix Turner

Daniel Martin Diaz

Amy Earles

William Crisafi

Playing on the enticement of the black mirror, or, the darker recesses of our own perceived realities, fascinations revolving around the occult has infiltrated and renegotiated the perceivable world as we know it to be. Contemporary examinations of the occult and mysticism has surged in creating a more modern vernacular of symbology rooted in spiritualism, skewing the tangible under the scope of what is sensed and experienced as opposed to what is seen. Confronting the enigma of the unknown, investigations of the preternatural have transformed the material world through its semi-erotic explorations of the unconscious and the supposed spirit world. Evoking a sense of histories long since passed, fascinations with the paranormal are found not only within its connotations with Surrealism and Dada, but has since found itself increasingly commercialized through a dilution into popular culture.

The following artists present an elusive understanding and reflection on mysticism and the occult. Straying from any form of irony, kitsch or inapt nostalgia, their employment of the occult acts instead as a new means of dialogue and spiritual resolve.

Featured artists include Nicomi Nix Turner, Daniel Martin Diaz, Jas Helena, Amy Earles, and William Crisafi.

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Heart-wrenching Burial Photos Of Dead Animals Abandoned On The Road

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For her series Natura Morta, the Russian photographer Maria Ionova-Gribina gives burials to dead animals. Much like fellow artist Emma Kiesel, she finds her deceased subjects abandoned on roadsides. Biking to the sea in summer, she was confronted with roadkill and creatures who had died of natural causes.

Where most might avert their eyes, she examined the called bodies, adorning them with fresh blossoms tenderly picked from her own garden or nearby flower beds. Yet she does not remove or bury the remains; instead, she allows the process of photographing them to stand in for funerary rites, poignantly preserving them in her lens instead of in the earth.

After having these powerful post-mortem portraits taken, the animals are once again vulnerable to the decay and ravages of death, but in this single magnificent instant, their humble yet miraculous existences are celebrated and revered. Juxtaposed against bloodied muzzles, open wounds and limbed stiffened by death are ripe, vibrant flowers symbolizing life and rebirth. On these breathtaking beds of pink, blue, and deep red hues, the creatures appear to be simply sleeping.

Over these dead bodies, we are invited to mourn the individual as well as the fact of our own lost innocence. The series itself is inspired by Ionova-Gribina’s childhood, when she and her brother would bury dead animals they discovered in their paths. Where the adult gaze scans over reminders of death, perhaps the child’s engages with them, and grieves the inevitable hold of mortality. Take a look. (via Feature Shoot)
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Haunting Knitted Animal Pelts Draw Attention To the Plight Of Endangered Species

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Stretched and bound over wooden frames, the animal pelts of Australian artist Ruth Marshall are so utterly realistic looking that it is difficult to believe that they are not in fact fur and hide. Constructed out of knitted yarn, they compel us to consider the endangered species killed and skinned by poachers and collectors. Though illegal, the devastating skin trade has taken the lives of thousands of tigers in the past thirteen years, leaving only an estimated 3,200 tigers in the wild. Before poaching practices, deforestation, and other damaging factors contributed by humans, there were approximately 100,000 of this magnificent creatures around the globe.

Marshall learned of the plight of wild cat species while working at the Bronx Zoo and the Wildlife Conservation Society, an experience that moved her deeply. With her Big Cat Series, she hopes to provide a sustainable and humane alternative to tiger, leopard, and jaguar pelts. The nuances of each life-sized work is touchingly based on a real animal, whom the artist became acquainted in captive conditions. A few are modeled after skins owned by collectors. The project effortlessly illustrates the value of artisan work, which ultimately could hold higher commercial value than black market pelts.

Here, Marshall transforms a cruel practice into a labor of love. Where animal pelts have come to represent a cruel and grotesque opulence and greed, she introduces knitting, a craft associated with nurturing and care. As a result, her pieces are both disarming and lovely,a refreshing jolt of sustainability and activism. To learn how you can help save the tigers and other animals, please visit World Wildlife Fund and the Wildlife Conservation Society. (via Dark Silence in Suburbia)
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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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David Mach’s Mind-Blowing Sculptures Made Of Metal Coat Hangers

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Scottist sculptor David Mach has a penchant for unexpected materials: magazines, matchsticks, and scrabble pieces, to name a few. In his series “Coathangers,” the artist constructs lifelike animals from wire hangers, allowing the pointed metal hooks to extend past the boundaries of the figure. To build these strange cacti-like creatures, Mach works from a plastic mold, applies the hangers, and coats the finished product in nickel.

Mach’s wild beasts, depicted with near realism, look magnificently aggressive when protruding hooked metal. Like defensive porcupines, the seem to be coated in a layer of quills, warding off the touch of curious viewers. The tiger, the stag, and the gorilla each occupies a distinct role in the hierarchy of the natural world; their predator limbs frozen outstretched or fearful mouths held open, they cannot help but resemble the taxidermied animals that roam the halls of natural history museums. Unlike those passive creatures, however, Mach’s animal kingdom is electrified with the addition shining, threatening spokes, eliciting trepidation as much as they do curiosity. Similarly, the artist’s crucifixion presents Jesus Christ as an explosive, angry being, emitting in his pain an agonized cry; here, we might imagine the biblical lines, “My God, why hast though forsaken me?”

Mach’s coat hanger method allows for the rules of sculpture to be broken; his figures are defined not by their enclosed form but also by material that emanates from their bodies as we understand them. Like characters on a static-filled television, they appear as illusions or mirages. Their blurry boundaries allow them to exist in a mysterious space beyond the corporeal. Are these creatures inhabiting the space before us, or are they merely projections, subject to vanishing at any moment? (via Visual News)
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Intricate Beasts Painted Onto Wild Turkey Feathers

brenda-lyons-art9106699202710669921371066992046Compelled by her love for birds of prey, the Connecticut-based artist Brenda Lyons paints naturalistic images of animals real and imagined onto delicate feathers shed by wild turkeys. Her painting style is heavily influenced by the work of 19th century ornithologist John James Audubon, the author of the legendary illustrated text The Birds of America. Juxtaposed with the indexical aesthetic of her illustrations is the imaginative and fragile surfaces, which miraculously hold the luminous, soulful animal portraits.

Lyons’s work is a true marriage of science and imagination; alongside the more objective Audubon, she cites influences like Arthur Rackham and Susan Seddon-Boulet, famed for their magical images of faeries and mythological beings. With her brush, pen, and pencil, Lyons depicts the fantastical phoenix with the same realism as she grants the gray-nosed golden retriever. Domestic animals are afforded the same wildness as feral creatures; a cat sits, a mischievous glint in his eye.

The paintings, like living beasts, blend seamlessly into the turkey feathers, as if they grew and sprung forth from the same mother bird. The curves of the lost feathers dictate the movement and form of the animals; an eagle’s wing vanishes into the downey tufts of twin feathers, their shafts seeming to support his body. The phoenix crouches, his talons caught in the ashes that collect at the base of the feather.

For the artist, the painted features are a way of satisfying her wanderlust; like birds of flight, her hands dance, imagining strange and wonderful worlds where animals run wild. Take a look. (via Oddity Central)
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Marvelous Tiny Worlds Made Inside Toilet Paper Rolls

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For her project Rouleaux, the French multimedia artist Annastassia Elias builds tiny world within single toilet paper rolls. Lit from behind, her delightful cardboard scenes appear like stills from a mysterious work of shadow puppetry. Here, the roll, most commonly a piece of trash associated with the mundane rituals of domestic life, becomes elevated to the realm of high art. Elias’s visual narratives span time and space; as surely as summer swings fade to frigid snowmen, we move from an underwater universe to the barber shop around the corner.

Caught between the circular borders of the toilet paper roll, Elias’s characters seem to emerge from the cardboard of their own volition. Each racehorse and dinosaur is constructed from cut pieces of paper that share their color with the naked roll itself. The artist chooses not to paint either the rolls or the scenes that emerge from within them, allowing the textured, sand-hued paper to maintain a uniform circularity; ultimately, each tiny world appears to be eternally collapsing into itself. Horses run in circles, and a weary man and his donkey, who lowers his head in exhaustion, appear to trudge forward down a path that will only lead to the start.

Fitting in the palm of one’s hand, Elias’s delicate pieces remind us of the preciousness of even the most banal moments. Beneath sheets of toilet tissue, we might discover secret universes, available only to those with a childlike imagination and a thirst for adventure. Rouleaux is now available as a book, and the pieces are currently on view at the National Museum of Singapore until August 3, 2014. (via Demilked)
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Astounding Close-Up Photographs Of Animal Eyeballs

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Husky Dog

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Kramer’s Parrott

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Discus Fish

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For his series Animal Eyes, the Armenian photographer Suren Manvelyan captures close-ups of animal eyeballs belonging to diverse creatures, revealing both the complexity and universality of the organ. Beneath his macro lens, these small circular organs appear paradoxically vast; at times, their curved surfaces resemble the entirety of planet Earth as seen from space, cloudy with ribbons of pigmentation. Here, the eyes, considered to be windows to the soul, reflect back a cosmic realm that evokes the metaphysical, but at the same time, they are startlingly material. The pupil, a seeming abyss ascending into the unknown, is cushioned by substantial tissues that ground us firmly within the corporeal world.

Though the species shot here vary immensely, a comforting uniformity emerges from the images; through the changes in iris hue and pupil dilation, there is a shared urgency in each gaze, a sweeping desire simply to see. The horse, his eyes veiled in straw-like lashes, fixes the lens with the same intensity as the hippo, whose wrinkled, fleshy eyelids peel back. Where most photography relies upon the assumption that we may watch without fear of being observed ourselves, Manvelyan’s images inspire within us a sense of being seen; are these opened eyes, these celestial orbs, looking back at us? What do they see? Check out the artist’s photographs of the human eye here. (via Agonistica)
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