At first glance, these twisted, manipulated, and camouflaged bodies appear to be the work of a photographer who is very skilled in Photoshop. However, the subjects in these photographs are not the product of digital alteration, but were transformed at the hand of a simple paintbrush. Artist Natalie Fletcher uses the body as a canvas, applying her paint and imagination directly upon the skin of her subjects. Formally trained at art school, she broke away from the traditional method of painting after graduation and began her pursuit as a master of body art. The artist uses the lines and color applied by paint as a means to create a variety of different captivating and puzzling optical illusions.
In her series titled Just An Illusion, op art breathes new life on the skin of her subjects, as she covers the bodies in spiraling lines. The bends formed in the patterns seem to warp the bodies so to us they appear twisted, sunk in, and even cut open. In another series of Natalie Fletcher’s, titled Against the Wall, an illusion is still apparent, as each body has been blended into the background thanks to her painterly magic. In some cases, it is difficult for you to decipher where the wall stops and where the paint begins. Fletcher’s talents in body painting has not gone unseen, as she has won GSN’s “Skin Wars” and is in the process of traveling across the country, painting two bodies in each state.
Fueled by his reverence for the natural world, the Northern Utah-based artist and photographer John Poppleton paints fluorescent landscapes onto the backs of nude bodies with temporary pigments. Photographing his models under backlight, he constructs starry nighttime constellations that conform to the curves of the female silhouette. As a commercial photographer with a passion for fantasy, Poppleton incorporates his masterful painting in this “Black Light Bodyscapes” series. Each piece takes a few hours to complete, and many of them are personalized or custom-made for his subject; one painting includes a teepee to honor its model’s Native American heritage, and the mountainscapes that are visible from Poppleton’s own window make numerous appearances.
Poppleton’s mesmerizing work is both current and timeless. While echoing the electrifying aesthetic of techno raves and the like, it also maintains ancient themes. Like mythologies surrounding the figure of the Mother Earth, the “Black Light Bodyscapes” tie the female to the natural world. In a manner reminiscent of the story of the ancient Greek goddess Gaia, the planet seems to spring forth from a fertile well of female power. Here, as with folklore surrounding the deities of Greece, Europe, Asia, and Africa, the silhouetted woman becomes equated with the moon and the lunar calendar; in darkness, she lights the way, delighting the eye with an irresistible shine. Dotted with radiant celestial bodies, backlight painting may be seen as a sort of divination, reminding us of the splendor of nature that we too often forget in this modern age. Take a look. (via My Modern Met)
The makeup artist, wig maker, and costumer Elvis Schmoulianoff exists in a dreamscape where dress-up and science fiction collide. Her works, including a charming stop-motion animation titled Painted, celebrates the transformative power of disguise; operating as a character within a visual narrative, her body paint takes on a life of its own, overtaking and doing delightful mischief to the human form. Schmoulianoff seemingly draws inspiration from anything but the traditional, her work beautifully echoing that of Surrealists like Joan Miró.
Schmoulianoff’s visual trickery maintains a childlike sense of experimentation; her abstract, brightly colored shapes are seen in tension with the curvatures of the body, blurring the borders between model and medium. In some images, a Cubist-inspired oversized eye is overlaid on a closed eyelid, and the face is split down the middle, morphing in such a way that contains multiple perspectives: the full face, the profile, and even the layer beneath the skin. The artist’s expert shapes often serve to flatten the human subject, who camouflages with painted backgrounds; like a clever game of hide-and-seek, viewers are invited to discover the body within a surreal landscape.
Within Schmoulianoff’s work lies an undeniable sensuality; with glossy eye-catching paint, nipples miraculously become eyeballs, and full lips are seen in lush, starkly contrasted tones. In vibrant color and tonal blacks and whites, the body lies at the precipice of magic and wonder, with skeleton figures dancing to the beats of their red fire-engine red hearts. Schmoulianoff is committed to animal rights, and she only uses cruelty-free products for her art; to learn more, visit her website.
The best art strives to make visible the invisible, and the body painter Johannes Stoetter takes his work literally, seemingly turning his subjects inside out to reveal internal anatomy; with his vivid colors, he traces anatomical parts that linger below the surface of the skin, visually peeling away layers of his models’ body.
With each work, he digs deeper below the surface, moving from sinewy muscles to organs, and ultimately into the psyche of his subjects. He begins by staying relatively true to human anatomy, depicting detailed tendons and muscles in eye-popping red, yet throughout the series, the artist’s allegiance to science softens, allowing him to paint with more unrealistic, emotionally evocative hues.
Without discernible facial features, his models rely solely upon the apparent tensions of the biceps or the illusion of blood flow to express their identities, opening the door for Stoetter to experiment with non-literal anatomies. The placid woman is painted with the natural world associated iconographically and art historically with her sex, while a male model is shown as having a geometrical machine beneath his flesh.
Each landscape nurtures the perception of the body and heightens its beauty, and the painted bodies cease to be individual and come to represent the coherent, unchanging nature of humankind; in each of us, there ticks the same robot heart, flows the same river of blood. Though nude, the models are desexualized by the obscuring of their flesh, and we are invited to marvel at the organic majesty of anatomy, both physical and emotional. Take a look at Anatomy and more of Stoetter’s astounding work below. (via Lost at E Minor)
Lynn Palewicz has taken doodling on her hands to a whole new level. Her drawings, that fuse black pen body drawings with up-close photography, teeter on the edge between illusion and reality, abstraction and figuration. These dizzying images will definitely make you do a double-take.
Kim Joon utilizes the human body in ways you never thought possible. Marvel at the wonders he creates through body art! After the jump, check out some work from his latest show, “Tatoo & Taboo” at Sundaram Tagore gallery in Hong Kong.