Artist Paule Gu gives us a kaleidoscope of dark and hypnotic visions in his intense series of remarkably detailed drawings. Although they may look like monochromatic collages at first glance, this skillful artist has rendered these illustrations by hand. Each piece contains a plethora of eclectic images ranging from seductive nudes to deathly skulls, which are a repeating motif in his work. Small details can be discovered when examining the intricate lines and forms rendered by Gu in his work. A mysterious beauty lures you in closer, as symbols of death and the occult can also be found.
Gu’s work is an interesting mix of objects that are all connected in a balanced composition, perfectly mirrored. He often brings shapes like triangles and circles into the background, creating harmony to the piece and unifying its diverse imagery. The seamlessly symmetrical compositions transfix us, pulling us into a trance. Although Gu’s work consists of many different objects, they are all part of one single piece, morphing and fitting into one another. Various textures, themes, and worlds collide as sea horses live side-by-side three-eyed bats, and nude women dance around tigers and bones. Gu’s work will completely mesmerize you, as you will find another unexpected, bizarre detail every time you see his work. (via Supersonic)
Do you ever wonder what will happen to your body after you die? Thanks to Jae Rhim Lee, our bodies could go out of this world in a way that helps the environment. This ingenious artist has breeched the lines of art, design, science, and death to create something that could change the way we think about burials. Concerned with the alarming amount of harmful toxins and artificial chemicals that human bodies hold even after the point of living, Lee was determined to invent a sustainable way for our bodies to be disposed of during our burials. This led her to start the Infinity Burial Project, where she worked to create, through selective breeding, an infinity mushroom that decomposes bodies and clean toxins while still delivering nutrients to plants.
Through hard work, Jae Rhim Lee’s goals were realized with her creation of the Mushroom Death Suit. This suit, which she so confidently wears while giving her TED talk on the subject, offers an alternative burial method. If wearing the suit while buried, the mushrooms spores that are infused in the lines on the suit decompose and clean your body, forming a whole new green way of death. Lee hopes that this will be a symbol of a new way of thinking about death. She explains that this project is
“A step towards accepting the fact that someday I will die and decay.”
This unique and strange invention may not be appealing to everyone, but shines light on a subject that many may not want to confront. An important lesson about the realities of our bodies decomposing underground can be learned by watching her captivating TED talk.
Culinary artist Annabel de Vetten creates, bakes, and sculpts incredible, artistic edibles that tend to be on the dark side. She makes sinister sweets that look exactly like bird skulls, animal insides, and the exposed organs of a cadaver. All of her detailed work would be impressive as a sculpture, but to make it with chocolate, cake, and icing takes a very unique set of skills. Her morbid, graphic style of cake making grew from a background of fine art and, not surprisingly, taxidermy. During this practice, Vetten became very familiar with the site of guts and bones, which is why the inside of her human and animal corpses appear so real, even though they are actually desserts.
You may wonder who would want to eat something that looks so horrifying, but Vetten’s business is booming! Her business, clever named Conjurer’s Kitchen, is wildly successful and only continues to grow. This means that her cooking not only looks amazing, but it must taste great as well. In order to accurately construct each bone and blood vessel, Vetten must only use the finest ingredients. For her chocolate sculptures, she must use high quality Belgian chocolate, so that the features won’t melt away. For the coloring, she invents deliciously creative ways to integrate food that naturally has the hue she desires, making both her technique and her subject matter equally innovative and unique. Vetten’s sickening sweets may display a deathly subject matter, but more importantly display unbelievable artistic skill. (via Munchies.Vice.com)
Muscular stiffening begins between four and twelve hours after death. It starts in the neck and makes movement of the limbs impossible. When it reaches the scalp, it can make the dead body’s hair rise. Like goose bumps on the living.
His breast isn’t moving. The cells in his body have carried out the last of their work, the mechanisms have come to a halt and he is now not going to get any older.
In the chapel of the Pathological Institute of Aarhus University Hospital, the dead are received. Here they are dressed in clothes, their hair is combed and they are laid in the coffin, before we can say our last goodbye to those we have lost.
Here are lying women and men, girls and boys on ice, because they were careless, because they were unlucky, or because their time was come. This woman was found dead in her home. She has just been through an autopsy, which confirmed that she didn’t die the victim of a crime. Soon her body will be dressed and laid in the coffin.
These photos of the dead are purposefully anonymous. In “About Dying” Danish photographer Catherine Ertmann was aiming for the universality of death rather than the stories of these particular dead. And that’s what makes this series so moving. In photographing the dead so intimately, bare of everything, including their life stories, she has made room for the viewer in the morgue—as observer and as deceased. Who doesn’t project themselves into the sewn torso, the half-clenched hand, the freckled cheek? Will it be the zipped bag or the fiery crematorium in the end? How can we live fully if we can’t look at death?
“This project tries to break down the taboo by showing something we rarely have access to, and that death can be both hard to look an but also beautiful. Just like when a new life comes into the world when a woman is giving birth. It deals with the incomprehensible fact that life ends and hopefully remind the audience that our time here is precious and what things really matter while we are here.”
This project was approved by Aarhus Universitets Hospital (University Hospital of Aarhus, Denmark), where she and journalist Lise Hornung worked.
The only complete certainty in life is that one day we will die. It is the most certain thing in the world, and the biggest uncertainty we experience of the world, because nobody can say what will happen afterwards. Maybe that is why we find it so difficult to speak about death.
When photographer Jennifer Loeber’s mother died, Loeber began to photograph her belongs as a way of coping with her grief. She matched her photos with vintage pictures that her father had taken of her mother and posted the pairs on Instagram. The resulting series, “Left Behind,” is a poignant memorial, both deeply personal and universal.
The everyday objects that remain when loved one dies become an instant museum of sorts, freezing that person in time. A favorite pearl ring will never be replaced by a diamond; an unmatched glove will never be matched to its mate. A used lipstick, valueless in itself, becomes a cherished object, chosen and applied by the person so missed. Many times these everyday objects are the most touching and the most difficult to dispose of.
“I found myself deeply overwhelmed by the need to keep even the most mundane of my Mom’s belongings when she died suddenly this past February. Instead of providing comfort and good memories they became a source of deep sadness and anxiety and I knew the only way I would be able to move past that was to focus on a way to interact with them cathartically. I had recently become active on Instagram and realized that utilizing the casual aspects of sharing on the app was a way to diminish my own sentimentality towards the objects my Mom left behind.”
Reframing the objects allowed Loeber to experience them without searing grief. Instead of the items feeling haunted, they became imbued by fond memories of her mother’s life. By matching them with her father’s photos she was able to make a fitting memorial to her mother, one that was less about personal pain than about remembrance.
“My dad refused to hold a traditional funeral service because he and I believe you should celebrate a life, not mourn it. I’m sure this body of work falls in line with that concept.” (Source)
A beautiful car crash. A lovely death. Chilean artist Fernando Gomez Balbontin paints haunted and haunting scenes in his series “Thoughts About Life and Death.” The subject matter is difficult, though not gory. Crumpled cars rest on roadsides, smashed and crushed beyond repair—these can’t be anything but fatal crashes. The figures next to the devastated vehicles are often otherworldly. A seeming specter of death wears a dark hood. Girls’ faces are obscured with blobs and blotches of color. Is it blood? It’s impossible to be sure. A priest stands next to one ruined car, the pope another. A man flees the scene.
Yet there’s beauty among the wreckage. The colors are often candy bright. A geometric structure floats, untethered, dripping in a way that’s reminiscent of tears, or blood. There are lots of these drippings in the works, adding an organic element to the mechanized disasters.
Balbontin paints the loveliest skies—peach and purple, cyan and gold. Nothing should go wrong underneath those skies, and yet…
“Denying death is denying life. So perhaps it is necessary to understand that tragedy is not the supposedly reality of death. Tragedy is about not accepting this possibility and consequently, not having enough time to live.”
Often treading between reverence and ridicule, the mystifying allure of art that reiterates sexual transgression remains suspended within a deviating purgatory of the sacred and the obscene. Buoyantly drifting within the underbelly of normative culture, the erotic and transgressive create a synergetic relationship in a strike against societal conventions. Through a crude presentation of social perversions, the atmosphere created through sexually transgressive art permits an insight that challenges not only sexual precepts, but invites a critique of human behavior irrevocably influenced by social structures. In an explosive resurgence of suppressed sexual impulses, the following artists create frantic, tense and exquisitely obscene renderings of deviations and sexualized social distortions.
There is an undeniable sense of morbidity that pervades Czech artist Monika Horčicová’s meticulous replicas of skeletal parts, but to call them simply morbid is to take away from their staggering beauty. Fused together and crafted through cutting edge 3D-printing technology and polyester resin casts, Horčicová merges bones into everything from running wheel-like statues to kaleidoscopic patchworks, each piece rooted in a mesmerizingly acute understanding of our complex skeletal system. Originally from Prague, Horčicová now lives in Brno where she attends the Faculty of Fine Arts at Brno University of Technology. The mathematical arrangements in Horčicová’s pieces, where hip bones can merge perfectly into an open fan of legs and ribcages fit snugly within one another, serve as surreal reminders of the deeply complicated framework that makes up each of our bodies.
Some of Horčicová’s pieces also stand as signifiers of mortality, such as Relikviář, in which 3D-printed pelvises, skulls and more are packed into neat boxes within a black metal display case. Here, they assume a more medical, typified presence, as most bones do when under examination and study, as Horčicová makes clear in her exquisite reproduction. The mutated forms Horčicová’s skeletal constructions take on are mesmerizing and vivid reminders of our own mortality, presented brilliantly within a cycle of infinite possibility.