Perhaps the digital artwork of Antonio Strafella isn’t so profane as it may at first seem. His series Spiritual Hero at once compares and juxtaposes saints and superheroes, the holy and the vulgar. Comic books are often thought of as the exclusive domain of young people, rarely taken serious. However, in a strange way the superheroes don’t seem exceptionally out of place in Strafella’s work. Indeed, many of the grand story lines of the characters featured by Strafella have clear Biblical references. He goes on to say:
“These icons have various aspects in common: saints do miracles and superheroes have superpowers, both are venerated, opening the conflict between faith and zealotry.”
Suellen Parker builds each character from unforgettable moments of strangers or friends. First, she starts with sculpting the shape from plastiline clay before photographing it with a blank backdrop. Then, simultaneously, she scavengers for props, walls, or environments that might suit a certain character well and shoots those too. All of these images are finally loaded into a computer, where the art of merging and manipulation occurs. Skin tones are “digitally painted” and human faces technologically blend with clay while backgrounds stitch together to create a new imaginative world.
Of Letting Go, her most recent series collected here, Parker strives to twist not only mediums, but also gender roles. She suggests her characters concretely and conceptually have a fine blend of both, and states, they “are attempting to find a sacred space, a place of vulnerability, a place where they allow themselves to be really seen. By quieting one’s life, even momentarily, an opportunity is presented to learn truths about oneself. By engaging in private play, one is able to let go of expectations and rules. The result is a private and truthful moment that may be enjoyed without fear of judgment or consequence.”
Hungarian artist Bence Hajdu digitally edited out all the characters from old master paintings for his aptly titled series Abandoned Paintings. What started as a simple study of perspectival drawing turned into a series about the environments of renaissance painting which, outside the world of art historians, is largely ignored. Previously encouraged by the painters to focus on the Virgin Mary, Jesus and his disciples, Horatii warriors, and baby angels, we now shift our attention to tiled floors, towns outside the window, empty dinner tables, arches, boats, and gardens. Work this flawless is always stunning to stare at, and will hopefully inspire lots of photoshop-savvy art history enthusiasts to do this with all their favorite paintings. Bence’s statement:
“I am a student at the university of fine arts, hungary. At one of the descriptive geometry classes we had a task to find and draw the perspective and horizon lines of renaissance and other pictures with significant perspective space. I thought it is not that interesting to just draw lines, so I decided to erase all the characters from them and examine how the painter really created the perspective space and how it actually looks. I saw this could be something exciting and continued thinking and working on it. After a while I found myself interested in the new atmosphere and the new thoughts the retouched pieces generated without their main subjects.”
Flemish artist Filip Dujardin often uses digital manipulation to create not-so-unbelievable architectural fictions. Juxtaposing his Orwell-ian structures of corrugated metal against antiquated fireplaces he shines a rather dismal light on our architectural future. But, if there’s one thing HGTV has taught me it’s that with some new drapes and a fresh coat of paint nothing is impossible!
I’m not exactly sure of how I feel about these digital expulsions by the Poster Company. I think my reaction came in 3 stages: first oscillating between questioning the validity of their artfulness, then awe at the convoluted jungle of pixels, then back to confusion again.
Robert Gligorov’s work attempts to shock the viewer. Each piece tantalizes the imagination, awakening it from a state of lethargy. Confronting a society accustomed to sophisticated and extreme forms of visual communication, Gligorov amplifies the shock value of his work in order to compete with the deluge of images that cloud our visual field. Gligrov lives and works in Milan, Italy and is represented by Aeroplastics Contemporary in Belgium, and Galerie Pascal Vanhoecke in Paris. More images of his work after the jump.