Looking at these paintings out of context, you might not know that they are very small. In fact, sometimes these works are no larger than a coin or someone’s fingernail. Artist Lorraine Loots says that she creates “paintings for ants,” but you wouldn’t necessarily know it at first because of their intricate details. They have as much visual information as paintings 10 times their size.
Every day, Loots posts a new small picture to her Instagram, @lorranieloots. It’s always of an impossibly tiny subject and the caption features information about what they are and what we’re looking at. Loots realistically-rendered cars, landscapes, boots, birds, statues, and much more. The small scale is a nice twist on what we’ve seen before, and here the short explanation helps, too. “Paintings for ants” is an amusing thought, and one that’s entirely possible given the size.
Using a custom light table, photographer Aaron Ansarov has captured the ethereal and frightening beauty of Portuguese Man o’ Wars in his series “Zooids.” Each one of these floating, compound marine animals are actually a colony of four different kinds of organism, each adapted to perform a specific function for the benefit of the whole, unable to survive on their own.
“As if looking through a special lens into a different dimension, Aaron has given them personalities that seems to shift with every viewer. Through Aaron’s masterful use of light, technique, and ability to go beyond the obvious, we are able to see patterns come together to create a fine-art collection of images entitled, Zooids: Faces of Tiny Warriors-beautiful creatures seeking their place in the world.”
Like gorgeous Rorschach tests, the images are symmetrical and abstract, familiar and indecipherable. The photographs are fine art, ready for display, yet scientists use them for research as well, since the creatures can only be kept alive in a lab for a limited time.
Why are these creatures so beautiful? From an ecological perspective, they don’t need to lure their prey with their multi-colored translucent displays. They look like blown glass, colorful and tactile, yet touching one would result in painful stings and welts from its long, stringy tentacles. It’s certainly a metaphor, that something so lovely can cause so much pain.
Ansarov finds the Portuguese Man o’ Wars on the beaches in Florida, having been blown ashore by the wind. He takes them to his studio, shoots them, and then returns them to the place on the beach where he found them, allowing nature to decide their fate.
“I have two rules with this project. The first is that captured creatures must be released unharmed. The second rule is that I keep shoots to 15 minutes or less, even if I don’t get the picture I hoped for. I don’t want to frighten my subjects. Besides, there’s always another time-they live right here.” (Source)
Akira Nagaya is a Japanese artist whose intricate cut-paper creations largely depict the beauty of nature. They are so skillfully done that you might be surprised to learn that Nagaya is self taught in paper-cutting, also known as kirie in Japan. He first discovered this type of art about 30 years while working at a sushi shop. There, he had to learn sasabaran, which is a technique used to create decorations by cutting slices into bamboo leaves. Nagaya found that he was naturally talented and enjoyed the process, too.
These small cut paper pieces fool the eye into thinking that they’re something like energetic pen sketches or decomposing leaves. The precise craft makes them appear as though they’ve been cut by machine, not by hand, because of the incredible, minuscule details.
Although the artist had been creating these pieces for years, it wasn’t until much later that his work was discovered. Eventually, he opened his own restaurant and displayed his kirie on the walls. A local newspaper came to write about the establishment, and while there remarked on his artwork. They encouraged him to show it in galleries, and you can follow Nagaya on Facebook to see his new cutouts. (Via Spoon and Tamago)
New York-based artist Brian Dettmer’s sculptural, multi-layered books are so intricate that they require him to use surgeon tools in his process. He carefully carves illustrations and text out of old medical journals, dictionaries, maps books, encyclopedias, and more. Nothing inside of the books is implanted – pieces are only removed. The idea is that these subtractions will reveal new histories and memories now that the story and context has changed. Dettmer sees his work as a collaboration with the existing work’s past creators.
He writes about his creations, which are a comment on the changing landscape of technology. From Dettmer’s artist statement:
The age of information in physical form is waning. As intangible routes thrive with quicker fluidity, material and history are being lost, slipping and eroding into the ether. Newer media swiftly flips forms, unrestricted by the weight of material and the responsibility of history. In the tangible world we are left with a frozen material but in the intangible world we may be left with nothing. History is lost as formats change from physical stability to digital distress.
The richness and depth of the book is universally respected yet often undiscovered as the monopoly of the form and relevance of the information fades over time. The book’s intended function has decreased and the form remains linear in a non-linear world. By altering physical forms of information and shifting preconceived functions, new and unexpected roles emerge. (Via Demilked)
At the Joseph Gross Gallery on September 11, 2014, Brooklyn-based artist Ted Lawson will debut his solo show entitled The Map Is Not The Territory. The new series of work will consist of three dimensional wall-mounted pieces and free-standing sculptures made from MDF wood, brass plate etchings, and large-scale drawings rendered in the artist’s own blood. Yes, blood. The bodily fluid will be fed intravenously to a computer numerical control (CNC) machine using a technology similar to a 3D printer.
The idea behind using blood in conjunction with the computer is to challenge the notion that an artist whose practice utilizes technology is somehow disconnected from their work. Afterall, they aren’t crafting it with their hands; a machine is doing it for them in the form of coding, etc. Here, Lawson will give up part of himself for his work, intimately tying the worlds together and making it hard to argue otherwise. (Via Lost At E Minor)
Beauty is a treasured thing in our culture, and Turkish artist Merve Morkoç, aka Lakor mis, turns this ideal on its head. At first glance their paintings are of seemingly young, glowing-skinned models, but a longer gaze reveals that these subjects all have something seriously wrong with them. Coupled with their well-coiffed hair are fantastical disfigurations that you’d see in a horror film. Warped eyelids, caved in faces, and rashes exist on these young women.
Any sort of pleasant response you initially had is probably gone, and the works are like a train wreck that you can’t look away from. The strange details are intriguing, and it speaks to Morkoç’s expert handling of the medium that they are easily able to fool us into thinking something that’s repulsive is actually beautiful. (Via Hi Fructose)
If you’ve ever visited a thrift store, you’ve no doubt seen the wonderfully-awful paintings that people have given away. Completed paint-by-number sets, idyllic landscapes, and amateurish attempts at impressionism are common sights. Artist David Irvine takes thrift store paintings and enhances them with additions of his own. He brings in characters from popular culture to these compositions, such as Darth Vader, the Marshmallow Man, and Bambi. Irvine maintains the original style of the paintings when creating the mashup, making the figures look as though they’ve been there all along.
Some of the paintings are subversive and a feature villains about to tear through the town or city that they’re in. Other times, the characters are helpful, like the Storm Trooper that’s helping with yardwork. Twisted or not, these works are funny, and the kind of artwork from the thrift store that you’d actually want to display in your home. (Via Demilked)
German photographer Loretta Lux captures surreal portraits of children, portraying them in a way that makes them appear as if they’re porcelain dolls. Young boys and girls stare towards the camera and with expressions that you can’t get out of your head. As they look beyond or at you, their large eyes look as if they know deep, dark secrets. Pastel and faded colors contrast with the mysterious feel that these works evoke.
Lux studied painting at Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich and uses this influence in her images. Some pieces take up to a year to complete, and her process involves a combination of photography and digital manipulation. She’ll strip the background and then place her subjects into muted, minimal environments. The flatted backdrop and realistic foreground confuse your eye and help craft these strange images.