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!”
When artist Amanda Burnham first moved to Baltimore, Maryland, she didn’t know anyone. So, she spent a lot of time in her 7th floor apartment that had interesting views of the city. The time spent observing and recording her surroundings later informed her temporary, site-specific installations that are a patchwork representation of Baltimore. Burnham draws and paints street signs, fire hydrants, architecture, and store fronts, piecing them together in a manner that’s fractured yet cohesive. Taking elements of a neighborhood (or neighborhoods), she fashions her own view of the city, creating work large enough for a viewer to walk around and between. In an interview with Dwanye Butcher of Visual Baltimore, Burnham explains why she chooses to work this way (and why she reuses paper and boxes):
The idea of things being layered and pieced together is important to me. I see this city, and really all cities, as these giant ad-hoc organisms – collectively authored, chop-a-bloc, joints exposed – an ongoing melange of edits, adjustments, negotiations. I hope to suggest that with the deliberately collage-y, visually dense, maximalist aesthetic of my drawings. I also love paper and what it does when treated as an object – the shadows it casts, the way tears and cuts are line. Most of the paper I use is really cheap stuff – low grade drawing paper that comes in rolls, kraft paper, packing materials. Boxes. That’s important because I’m not rich, but also because I see it as conceptually significant – resourcefulness is an ethic I sometimes see evidenced in the forms of the city, and it’s one I really respond to.
Burnham not only takes the outdoors indoors, but creates a whole new environment in a matter of a few days to a week. Lighting, astro turf, and electrical tape craft an ambience that’s unique to the city.
We are a society mesmerized by extremes. In our fascination with art this generally translates into obsession with magnitude, scale and sheer quantity, while our consumption tendencies of technological objects tends to swing the opposite, manifesting in compact phones-computers-everything else in one hand held device. The works featured here are as mind blowing as the compactness of current computer software programs, packing so much detail into such tiny confines. All of the works here are created on standard matchbooks, with the painted or drawn imagery measuring in at no more than four inches of length on any given piece. Joseph Martinez, Mike Bell, Jason D’Aquino and Krista Charles all demonstrate immense technical skill in their matchbook art.
Australian artist CJ Hendry takes the items consumers long for: fashion accessories, high-end labels, designer purses, shoes and luxuriously-packaged perfumes, and spends days recreating them with absolute precision. Although there is precious little information to be found about the artist online (she maintains an active Instagram account, but does not seem to have a website or bio), it is quite obvious that she has an interest in seduction. By using the items which seduce consumers and inspire fashion choices, Hendry in turn makes them more seductive through her large-scale, pen and ink renderings of them, stating “It is all about the object. I am a product person and that is obvious through my obsession with the particular placement of each piece. It starts with the acquisition of the product I am intrigued by or have been obsessing over.” Hatching, shading and intricate line-work are used to entice the eye, an extension of the principles used by the fashion industry, designers, and advertisers to tempt the desires of consumer culture.
When asked to describe her detailed but simplistic rendering style in an interview with Youthedesigner, Hendry stated “There are so many ways to describe my style and I am sure people will have different things to say. I look at finished pieces and feel a strong feeling of simplicity. That might sound strange because most pieces are so detailed in their own right but the intentional use of negative space encourages an uncomplicated reaction with all focus on the object.” (via booooooom and youthedesigner)
Alex Konahin is a draughtsman who works with an almost Maximalist desire to fill a blank page with intricate detail. Working on A3 paper and using fineliners and india ink, Konahin renders with shading and line-work that simultaneously resemble mechanical, architectural and floral drawing styles.
The Latvian-based artist’s most recent series, Little Wings, uses various insects as the starting point for what turn out to be intensely detailed, baroque-esque drawings. Says the artist and graphic designer, “I’ve been inspired to create this series last summer in the Netherlands. It was a fantastic time living in the countryside away from noisy cities…” Common insects such as flies, bees and dragonflies become the base for the draping hard-edged, and perfectly shaded lines of Konahin’s pen.
To see more of Konahin’s work, also visit his Tumblr. (via from89)
British artist Joseph Loughborough creates dark and grotesque , yet delicate and beautiful charcoal drawings that challenge and trigger existential questions and anxieties.
Loughborough’s trademarks an expressive, impulsive and honest style that strikes as vague at first; however, a closer look reveals deep and thoughtful technical decisions that render his concepts fairly well; his choices are simultaneously charming and intimidating.
Through his eerie,whimsical subjects, whose faces are usually deconstructed, Loughborough renders the grim side of human nature: sin, desire, fear and anxiety over one’s own absurdity.
I can understand why my work is considered dark but I have never really looked at it in this way. I have always intended it to be revealing, honest and expressive. Some of the pieces act like a personal exorcism through which I try to express, rather than deny, the emotions I encounter. Through my drawing, I strive to grasp a comprehension of the human condition and question how we interpret our oft-untold fears and desires.
Alice Aycock is mostly known for her important oeuvre of sculptural and installation works, which have spanned decades and include exhibitions at some of the most important cultural institutions around the world. Aycock, however, is also a master draftswoman, creating works on paper that problem-solve her idea of “nonfunctional architecture,” often taking on forms reminiscent of diagrams and blueprints. As Aycock eloquently explains, the medium and its strengths are vastly different in 2 and 3-Dimensions – “Drawings aren’t bound by the physical—the imagination can run freely.”
These sumptuously drawn pieces offer a new realm of possibilities, not simply tied to her sculptural works, but also a visual representation of how the artist’s mind and complex process unfolds. “Viewers are accustomed to seeing Ms. Aycock’s work in its final form, large-scale installations and outdoor sculptures, but her drawings show a mind at work, solving problems and breaking new ground. They also provide further evidence of her ideas and sources, offering clues to their meaning.”
Vicki Ling is an artist that creates graphite drawings of surreal landscapes. Chock full of symbolism and mystery, Ling’s images are cryptic. Part of their appeal is trying to solve the visual puzzle that she’s constructed.
Ling briefly speaks about her work, writing, “…fictional landscapes and constructions shift between two and three dimensions, creating a sensation of movement and evolving forms.” The places depicted are liminal spaces, meaning they are in transition, somewhere between what they began as and what they will become. This is made inherent in the movement and tension created by the textures and forms in the work. They are reminiscent of the ocean. We can imagine the crashing waves, tides, and the inhabitants of the sea. There is tension in Ling’s work, and it is easy to feel like at any moment waves will rush in and fill the rooms that she’s so carefully rendered. But, considering Ling’s intent, perhaps she wants an environment that could suddenly be swept away. This notion is refreshing, but also sad knowing that this environment is fleeting.
I am personally intrigued by Ling’s drawing that features a sinkhole. In this image, it looks like the top of the landscape has been punctured. The surface is fragile and looks like it is going to cave in on itself. What would it become? I imagine it to be a black hole, drawing everything in until nothing is left. Or, it could be a portal to another world. The places in Ling’s drawings could exist anywhere. They are surreal and conjure the feeling of a dream, so this could all exist in someone’s head. As the artist spoke of moving and evolving forms, these drawings are all metaphors; not only a shifting environment, but personally as we grow, change, and confront obstacles. If we are willing, we evolve just as Ling’s landscapes suggestively do.