Artist Saint Hoax’s series War Drags You Out imagines prominent world leaders dressed as drag queens. The digital illustrations depict the likes of Obama, George W. Bush, Vladamir Putin, and even Osama Bin Laden getting dolled up. Animated GIFs show the primping process, which includes drawing on eyebrows, contouring the face, and adding fabulous accessories. And of course, like any good drag queen, they have stage names, too, like Putin’s “Vladdy Pushin,” and Bin Laden’s sassy moniker, “Ossie B.” The idea for this work came from Saint Hoax’s first visit to a drag show. They explain:
…I was struck by the richness of this glamour oriented culture.
I took a minute to actually look at the faux queens and deconstruct their main components.
The recipe for an iconic queen:
1- Flamboyant name
2- Fierce persona
3- Defining outfits
4- Personalized hairdo
5- A trademark feature
6- One hell of a PR team
I then realized that it takes that same exact effort to make a leader.
A rush of images containing Hitler’s mustache, Bin laden’s headgear, Obama’s campaigns, Saddam’s narcism crossed through my mind. It got me thinking that behind every “great” man, there’s a queen.
While Saint Hoax’s unique project is over the top, it’s had some serious consequences for the anonymous artist. Before the Osama Bin Laden painting (first in the series), was to be shown, they released a Youtube video announcing where the work would be displayed. Because of the video, Saint Hoax received over 70 death threats, and the painting was destroyed at the airport while in transit to its location. (Via Huffington Post)
Georgia Theologou (or Georgia Th as she is also known) is a self-taught Greek artist who paints hauntingly beautiful portraiture. Created by combining traditional and digital media, Theologou’s intentionally limited palate and trademark visual rendering gives both a soft lushness and a harsh reality to her subjects, like mascara tear trails being transformed into softly dabbed paint glitter. In a conversation with Beautiful/Decay (and with the help of Google Translate), Theologou explains what inspires her symbolic subjects,
“Creating something is a way to express the feelings that are inside me that I maybe didn’t even know about before. It’s a way to explore myself and what I have on my mind, so when I am making my work I feel like I find something new about me and about how I see things that I did not even realize was present.”
Theologou’s internalized subjects are taken from many sources of art research and random bits of internet ephemera, and blended with other imagery that gives each portrait an allegorical depth and visual tension. Noting themes of nature ranging from human and animal, the stars and the cosmos in many of her colorful works, Georgia explains these combinations, saying
“I don’t paint people but the existence of a person. The subject of my paintings is the feelings of this existence or the situation they experience that moment. All of the objects I use in my paintings are random, but this helps me to create the right place and mood, so I choose objects that are common on fairy-tales and dreams. Nature and space are also places with the same strong sense of vitality, so the person can feel closer to his/her inner world. My paintings are not about a story or a specific idea or symbol, I think about painting “that” moment.”
Move Mountain is the latest stop-motion animation by Kirsten Lepore, a Los Angeles based director and animator. We’ve featured films by her before, and Lepore’s newest work does not disappoint. She describes the short film as “A girl journeys through a vibrant, pulsing, macrocosmic landscape, but a precipitous incident compels her to venture up a mountain in an attempt to save herself.” The story itself is a surreal tale, and at one point oscillates between dreams and reality. It also shows us that at any given time, we are at the mercy of our environment.
The film is Lepore’s Master’s thesis from California Institute of the Arts and took her two and half years to produce. The use of handcrafted characters and fully modeled sets is really impressive. With the current trend being slick-looking techniques, it’s nice to see evidence of the hand in this film. (Watch the behind the scenes video after the jump.)
In addition to Lepore’s own character designs, she’s enlisted the help of animator friends, including the likes of Julia Pott, Lizzy Klein, Ethan Clarke, and more. They make one of my favorite scenes in the film, which is an unexpected but welcome surprise.
The work of Dillon Boy (né James Dillon Wright) emerged from a street art and graffiti background, combining pop culture, branding, advertising, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to take these sources further than they were intended. This evolution (or devolution) is evident in his series DIRTYLAND, where the artist takes the ever-popular childhood icons of Disney’s princesses and removes their context, and clothes.
In works which collage smut magazine backgrounds with spraypaint stencils, drips and graffiti scrawls, these princesses become transformed representations of our combined high and lowbrow society, and take aim at the falsely marketed ideas of perfection and innocence. In an exclusive talk with Beautiful/Decay, Dillon talks about the series. “Most of my audience were kids when these princesses ruled their world, so now that they are all adults (and sexually active) they are all ready to hang paintings of naked Disney chicks all over the house. [laughs]. No for real though, I believe it’s my job as an artist to question the very things around me and to continuously break down the traditional and more conventional ways of making art. It is my intention to raise or lower your eyebrows in one way or another.”
This reappropriation of pop culture icons is nothing new, but seems to be happening at a rapidly increasing pace (Beautiful/Decay has recently featured several such reimaginings of pop culture symbols), indicating that artists are remaining relevant to many audiences by constantly questioning what we collectively see daily. Dillon Boy (surprisingly?) notes that he has not seen much in the way of criticism of his DIRTYLAND series, and that is his job as an artist to take things one step further. “Well, one thing is for sure, we live in a sexually charged culture. Walk outside and you will quickly find a billboard or an ad in a publication showcasing a woman as a sex object. Sex sells remember. I simply used the pure, untainted characters of Walt Disney to convey that message. But that’s obvious, I’m not doing anything that hasn’t been done before… but I’m ready to do it again!”
Yule Log 2.0 is a series of short films by illustrators, animators, directors, and creative coders, all revolving around the holiday Yule Log. Traditionally, the Yule Log is a hard, giant log that burns in a fireplace of traditional Christmas celebrations. In 1966, video of a burning log was televised by WPIX-TV as a gift to viewers, starting a phenomena that has yet to die. Urban Outfitters has even packaged and sold it at the appropriate time of the year, and you can view it on Netflix. Yule Log 2.0 takes on the log in a number of ways. Some are abstract representations, some are stories, and others rethink the log using different materials (including painted hands). Vignettes last from 10 seconds to a minute and half.
Yule Log 2.0 is a project curated by animator and illustrator Daniel Savage. He told Cool Hunting that he had the idea when looking for the original on Youtube, but was dismayed by all of the low quality videos. He explains, “So I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome to get a bunch of people to redo this?” Savage enlisted the help of 65 creatives and created 53 films, which all employ the quintessential wood burning noise. He was delighted by the quality of films, stating, “I didn’t really know what to expect from everyone; I know it’s a busy time of the year so I assumed they would be simple, but then some people blew my mind—like the marshmallow one [created by Michael Fuchs, Daniel Leyva, Bianca Meier]. Getting three people to work on one was amazing.”
Oscillate is the MFA thesis project of digital artist Daniel Sierra. The animation begins with a simple rolling sine wave. However, things quickly get complex. The waves fling dust, begin to smoke, and seem to catch fire. The waves multiply and mutate. Oscillate is an impressive animation by any standard, especially considering it is a school project (albeit an MFA thesis project). Also, you’ll notice the credits are especially short. While such animations typically have a staff of several, Sierra animated and composed the music entirely on his own. [via]
It’s problematic calling the work of Jake Fried either animation or painting – it is a bit more than both. Fried uses exceptionally simple materials: White-Out, coffee, ink, gouche, and paper. He creates and image, and adds countless layers. The result is an evolving and unfolding psychedelic image. Fried appropriately calls this type of experimental animation “moving paintings”. Using the image of a face as its foundation, Fried quickly elaborates on the painting barely allowing the viewer’s brain to keep pace. You can see more of Fried’s work previously featured here. [via]
Jason Mitcham paints scenes from everyday America, and for The Avett Brothers’ new music video, he was commissioned to use his paintings to tell the story of an American city. For the video, Jason made an animation by painting each “frame” over one another on the same canvas thousands of times over. I love it because you get to see the painting process in a really unique way–normally we only get a finished product, but in the video we get to see strokes that make something and are then covered, erased, and made into another image ad infinitum. Half of the pleasure of this video is watching the ghosted images from previous frames. It works in a more figurative way too, in that the trace images represent the lingering of history in the present. Check out the video after the jump!