Though an artist who truly utilizes a wide-range of materials and media, perhaps Andrea Mastrovito‘s most eye-catching and memorable works are those he creates by collaging thousands of images from books which are installed to create swarming, jungle-like visual configurations. The images are sources from thousands of book, precisely cut-out and arranged, giving the whimsical and unusual feeling that the interior of a house could be covered by swarming bats, or butterflied would cover an entire gallery while sunning themselves.
Inspired partly by H. G. Wells’ famous science fiction novel The Island of Doctor Moreau, Mastrovito’s The Island of Dr. Mastrovito and The Island of Dr. Mastrovito II were installed at Governors Island in New York in 2010. Says the Bergamo, Italy-born artist about his work, “His starting points for this site-specific work are the two most common forms of home recreation—books and television. The title of his installation refers to H. G. Wells’ famous novel The Island of Doctor Moreau, in which the archetypal “mad” scientist experiments upon animals in order to give them human traits. In this “Island,” the artist substitutes himself for the doctor, trying to instill a new life into that which was once alive in a different way (books from paper, paper from wood, and wood from trees). Mastrovito imagines that the outside fauna take control of the abandoned house and become its proper inhabitants. Approximately 700 books were brought under the artist’s knife to cut out real-size images of animals. This trompe-l’oeil, or paper diorama, also suggests the strength of images, the infinite possibilities that knowledge—through books—can give us in order to create and re-create the world that we can only imagine.” (via colossal)
Catherine Nelson’s newest series Expedition is comprised of hundreds of photographs, collaged and digitally “painted” together to make five imaginary landscapes. Using her experiences in the creation of visual effects for feature films like Moulin Rouge and Harry Potter, Nelson assembles the countless photographs into one seamless, vibrant, and surreal image. This style of working isn’t new for the artist, and we’ve previously featured her incredible floating worlds before.
In a short statement, she describes what her motivation was for her style, writing:
When I embraced the medium of photography, I felt that taking a picture that represented only what was within the frame of the lens wasn’t expressing my personal and inner experience of the world around me. With the eye and training of a painter and with years of experience behind me in film visual effects, I began to take my photos to another level.
When you see the images up close, you appreciate at her photo manipulating skills even more. They are flawlessly put together and not to mention rich with great details. She features luscious greens of all kinds, plants, animals, and even humans, making references to mythologies like the story of Narcissus. All elements were inspired by Nelson’s memories of growing up along the east coast of Australia. (Via Colossal)
The work of artist Caroline Attan examines how objects form a part of our memory and personal history and identity. By combining hand-written text with delicately folded, colored paper installations, Attan plays with separate ideas of poetry, text and form, each “that function as loaded repositories of the past.”
Installed with text written directly onto the wall and the origami-like paper notes arranged in circular patterns, the results are visually reminiscent of mandalas (which represent wholeness, inter-connectivity and an organized cosmic diagram) or the sacred geometry found in Islamic art, Attan illustrates poetic language, and at the same time, brings attention back to the beauty of the words.
Says the artist, “Tantalizing snatches of memories and desire revolve endlessly over collaged backgrounds, encouraging the viewer along multiple strands of thought. The technique allows for ingenuity and flexibility. Some compositions disrupt or loudly announce their text or subtexts, while others absorb them into a calm coherent whole.” (via myampgoesto11)
Using toys, computer hardware, beading, and even money, Argentinian-based artist Elisa Insua assembles images of popular culture with the items that make up popular culture. The intricate works take similar textures, colors, and shapes to form iconic portraits of Darth Vader, a Playstation controller, and the lion from the 20th Century Fox logo. Sometimes, Insua also covers three dimensional objects, like Maneki-neko (fortune cat) and toy guns and dinosaurs.
Erika Rae on Core77 described these works as appealing to someone who used to thumb through the I Spy series, a set of books where the reader would find a specific object among many, many others to solve a puzzle or riddle. Looking at Insua’s works, this description feels very appropriate. The mosaic of bright and cheery objects is alluring to our eyes, and focusing on the innocence of all of the toys in every image is almost escapist. For a period of time, we can slowly look over every part of Insua’s and be mesmerized by past popular culture. (via Core77)
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!”
George Chamoun, a Swedish jewelry design student at the Konstfack University of the Arts, creates Iconatomy, a project that critically looks at celebrities, fashion icons, political, religious, and other personalities that influenced the confines of beauty today. The artist perfectly arranges the new and the old fragments of celebrity faces, so that upon a quick glance, viewers might think they are looking at just one subject. Each compilation features two faces representing the past and the present of glamour and fame.
Chamoun’s collection of mash-ups are striking in that we barely find differences between these timeless icons. I think this makes up for a strange, but obvious conclusion: we still look for perfect, youthful faces… standards of beauty have remained the same throughout all of these years. In fact, it has stayed so much the same that celebrities now resemble the ones before their time.
Apart from making this statement, I think we can’t deny that there is also an eagerness to resemble times in which beauty was a bit more natural than what it is today. Celebrities, stylist, hair dresser, etc have the urgency to emulate classic beauty. However, they are trying so hard that they all back on unnatural ways to make that happen.
Similarly, Marc Ghali, Canada-based photographer, also works within this framework.
Japanese artist and illustrator Takahiro Kimura believes that true beauty lies within imperfection. Through his collage work, Kimura tries to expose the vulnerable yet beautiful nature of the human spirit by creating distorted human faces. To achieve a ‘distorted’ aesthetic, the artist cuts and rearranges different images, which he creates, to form one.
Though I am quite interested in various aspects and contradictions which people have inside, I attempt not to think about them in the stage of creation. I’d rather devote my attention to line and exquisite balance of form, mass, composition and color so that[..] the said factors can stand out.
Although his work is lively, there is still a visible hint of darkness that creates an interesting paradox- there is, in fact, a great amount of imperfection within the obvious beauty of these human faces.
Collage artist Ed Spence uses hundreds of hand-cut pixels to interpret photographs. The original works, mundane scenes like floral arrangements and out-of-focus landscapes, are made infinitely more interesting with his additions. Spence abstracts the original image by organizing the tiny squares on top of it. In doing so, he presents his alternative and desired image.
Spence’s works are modern-day pointillism, and the stippling effect made by squares rather than dots. While pointillism has existed since the late 1800’s, the artist puts a modern spin on it by referencing pixels. It looks like this idea was born from our increasingly digital world.
Spence states that he uses a knife and ruler to dissect the information within the photograph. In other words, he chooses what to distort and enhance, which explains the way he pixelates his work. I started to view his collages assuming that he had precisely pixelated the original image. I quickly realized this was not the case. If you squint your eyes, sometimes Spence’s pixels complete the image. Other times, colors and shapes don’t really match up. There’s an obvious disconnect between what I expect the image to be and how Spence wants to depict it. While pixels are often a warped but true representation of an image, the artist plays with this idea. Not only does he craft something analog that should be digital, but he skews what we’d come to expect from it. (Via iGNANT)