Guido Mocafico’s Mesmerizing Snake Photos Will Get You lost In A Swirl Of Venomous Pattern

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If you’re Ophidiophobic, Guido Mocafico’s photo series “Serpens” (1-4) is not for you. Slithering, scaly, sinuous—snakes are one of the most widely reviled creatures on Earth. And yet Mocafico’s still-life photos of snakes in a box, including vipers and cobras, are absorbingly beautiful, full of color and pattern and twisting, supple shapes. In the collected photos of Serpens, which has also been published as a book by the same name, the snakes are like nature’s art swatches, rectangular and saturated.

“The first time I photographed a snake up close, I nearly fainted. I’d always found them terrifying, but also fascinating—an attraction-repulsion I think most people experience when they encounter beautiful animals that creep or crawl. My goal with this series is to explore that intersection of human emotions.”

“Serpens”, “Aranea” (Spiders), and “Medusa” (Jellyfish) comprise the trilogy “Venenum”, all shot on black backgrounds from above, all terrifyingly exquisite. Mocafico worked on these long-term personal projects, published in books and shown as gallery exhibitions, alongside his commercial and advertising activities.

“Each photography session takes about 45 minutes. The expert corrals the snakes into a cloth-lined, clear plastic-sided box. Then I stand two feet away, pull back the top, point my camera—I still prefer the look of film—and wait for patterns and curves to emerge.

This series has been good therapy and education for me: I can handle snakes now and have learned a lot about different species. But I’ve learned most by watching people react to these images. Their fear and desire reveals something primal about our species.”

Looking at these images, there is nothing inherently scary about these reptiles. On the contrary, they are gorgeous—their hues and markings lush and complex. By elevating snakes into art, Guido Mocafico makes us look, really look, at the mesmerizing source of our fear. (Via Juxtapoz. Artist quotes via National Geographic)

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Whimsical Paintings Reveal How Animals Are Created

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Mexican artist Ricardo Solis has re-imagined both the divine and evolutionary theories on the origin of life. In his whimsical paintings, artist depicts various animals — from a goldfish to an elephant — being colored, carved out of stone or even weaved as the friendly mama bear below. Solis’ works connect the realistic style of painting with his tameless imagination.

The viewer is presented with a variety of animals, painted in an almost anatomically accurate manner. Under closer inspection, the works reveal a Guliver-inspired action: tiny humans crawling up and down the monolithic animals, covering them in paint, sculpting or attaching ribbon stripes from a flying Zeppelin. Although Solis’ creative interpretation is far from reality, his lighthearted version of genesis is relaxing and fun to observe.

Solis was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. Despite being brought up in a large metropolis, he was always attracted to art and nature. After graduating from the School of Visual Arts and becoming a professional painter, Solis has a chance to link these two passions together and channel them through his dreamlike works of art. In his website Ricardo Solis claims to believe in “the undeniable existence of a Creator” which seems like the epitome of his work. (via Lost At E Minor)

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Incredibly Detailed Drawings Merge Wildlife And Human Worlds

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Graphic design and illustration studio Violaine & Jeremy create stunning graphite pencil drawings of animals and people merging with wildlife and nature. Surreal illustrations feature wild and domestic critters propped with various attributes of human world: spectacles, patterned scarves and even Victorian waistcoats.

Another humorous venture by the creative duo, Violaine Orsoni and Jeremy Schneider, is to attach lush flowery beards onto humans and wild animals. The unexpected combination of a fiercely looking gorilla sporting a Garden of Eden-like facial hair is beyond humorous. The idea seems to resonate with the latest trend of men adorning their beards with colorful blossoming flora.

Each piece of the collection demonstrates incredible attention to detail. Perfect technique of pencil hatching and shading brings Orsoni and Schneider’s intricate drawings very close to photorealism. Their studio collaborates on a variety of projects: from visual identity, to album covers, to design of the France’s leading innovation magazine, Influencia. (via KoiKoiKoi)

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

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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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