This weekend on Beautiful Decay we want to welcome you over to the dark side, where a vast amount of artists are churning out contemporary art fueled by the fire of Metal. A multitude of artists these days are making art inspired by the crushing sounds and dark spirit of Heavy Metal, Death Metal and Doom music, all of which weave in and out of several other genres.
I’ve been a huge fan for a while now of the work made by artists Skinner, Ben Venom and Martin Durazo, which are strongly informed by Heavy Metal. This past week after chatting with artist and Beautiful Decay owner, Amir H. Fallah and artist Skinner and reaching out on Facebook to learn more about artists tied into this music scene, I was turned onto a breadth of incredible artists. A lot of artists working with metal as inspiration have strong crossover into design and illustration, album art, posters (especially for the band Mastadon), band merch and murals. There’s also a strong genre of work that explores dark spiritual matter, mythology and death that is absolutely captivating. You can expect upcoming coverage of these sub-genres in coming weeks.
Visual artist Jennifer Davis is well-known on the internet for her whimsical and imaginative drawings and paintings (previously here). But in one of her latest series, Davis takes her trademark renderings and has paired them with an unlikely match, paper shooting targets.
In a conversation with Beautiful/Decay, the Minneapolis-based artist explains the history of the series, starting with inspiration for a printed target seen in an architecture/lifestyle magazine. “…I learned that I could get enormous packs of different colored targets from a gun shop for under $20. I started off thinking more about the symbolism of guns/violence/innocent victims/”badguys”/etc. (one of the first targets I made was called “Riddled”- I cut an intricate pattern of tiny holes all over the target.)” Davis then began using the colored paper targets as a base, decorating them with hand-drawn and painted intricately unique characters.The series evolved as Davis began taking commissions and painting other people’s ideas and applying them to the targets. “I started doing a lot of commissions, which morphed the way I was thinking about them. It is a fun exercise for me to paint someone else’s vision- it has stretched the way I think about the targets. I no longer relate them only to violence. I think about each one differently and it is interesting for me to play with adding whimsy or beauty to such a symbol. I am transforming them into something new.”
The lush, vibrant colored pencil drawings of Joe Sinness portray screen and stage stars, queer icons, and online erotica submitters, combining them with antique or thrift store items, flowers and jewels to create carefully constructed tableaus. The technical ability of the Minneapolis-based artist is what one immediately notices, and it is only after that the viewer must attempt to make sense of the laboriously drawn scene before them.
Sinness creates each still-life by hand before photographing and then meticulously executing them with Prismacolor pencils. “I want each still life to have a visual richness or lushness to highlight and celebrate the figures or kitsch objects presented (and I use the term ‘kitsch’ with the utmost seriousness)”.In works like the Shining Indiscretions triptych (seen above), Sinness created a loose mythology which the work is based on, but does not depend upon. Titled from a Tennesse Williams quote (“All good art is an indiscretion.”), Sinness built hundreds of scenes imagining what a queer,flamboyant spirit such as Williams might physically look like, eventually settling on a triptych of shapes formed from gold lamé. The triumph of this triptych is that the viewer most certainly does not need to know this backstory to enjoy the work, because the images are so visually striking and meditative that they speak for themselves. However, they also have a strong conceptual intention and purpose which informs the work for those who wish to dig deeper.
Sinness continues, “I am interested in how objects and people seeking fame become consumable products, a paradox that sees their artistic endeavors pursuing immortality become disposable and commodified. My imagery and subjects are first looted and then loved… In mining these subjects and devotedly recasting them together in shrine-like still lifes, they are given new life in narratives which mirror their subject’s original aspiration and desire for fame and immortality.”
Boris Pelcer is an artist concerned with representing two of the great unknowns – space, and the space inside the human mind. Currently based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Bosnian-born artist and designer draws incredibly intricate portraits, swathing his subjects in cloaks of stars, smoke, hair and other natural elements. His subjects remain visibly human and relatable, but are given an otherworldly or mysterious quality. Using painstakingly detailed mechanical pencil work (aided occasionally with acrylic paints) on paper, Pelcer achieves a dense psychic mood with his incredible drawings.
Some of his more gripping works seem to semi-autobiographical, dealing with the sense of self, works which become an artistic investigation of the psyche. Questioning the nature of the conscious and the unconscious minds in his Supreme Consciousness series, Pelcer’s statement questions what would happen to his mind if given total access to the unconscious, while his work portrays a limitless melding of human and cosmos,
Of his Something Somewhere series, Pelcer says, “I can sense the presence of enclosed spaces within my psyche. A hidden collection of obscure moods & thoughts that I can’t quite comprehend. In attempt to better comprehend some of it, I’ve developed this series. It is a stroll of curiosity in search of something insightful, somewhere within the hidden valleys of my psyche.” (via boooooom)
“Paper Tears,” an exhibition of all new works by artist Jaybo Monk opened recently at Soze Gallery in LA. I connected with him to discuss his new body of work, and how it relates to poetry, travel, what came before and what comes next.
K: Congratulations on a beautiful show and a really solid opening! How have you felt about the exhibit?
J: Thank you, to be honest I forget my work soon as it has been done. I consider every show like pages from a book that continuously get closer to its end , therefore I am more interested in the next page as the one I just have read.
K: This new work of yours in “Paper Tears” is quite an evolution from past works in a way I love. They are much smaller and feel more personal. Can you tell us a little about how you may have approached this series differently than works in the past?
J: Since I remember I always have drawn my ideas on paper before I even put them in words. Each morning I wake up out of a dream, I try to remember it in a visual form. What I normally do on a bigger scale is the result of more than one dream. In “Paper Tears” I show one dream at once. The medium I used is also more personal: pocket aquarelles, pencils, ink… they also have a kind of diary aspect in them, involving time between each piece.
Artist Steve Kim‘s series Perfect (2) draws from an unexpected inspiration. These elegant portraits are based on the avatars of Tumblr users. Kim sourced material from the blogging platform that attracts so many creatives. Avatars are often quickly executed and little thought over photographic portraits. Kim rededicates time to each photo in order to render each as a proper piece of art. Interestingly, each portrait’s title is also the repective blogger’s username.
Typically, the art of drawing focuses on the finished product – the marks left on the paper that form an image. Heather Hansen‘s Emptied Gestures is as much a performance piece as it is a drawing. Appearing to use charcoal or pastel, Hansen literally steps on to the paper and begins to draw. She allows the natural movements of her body – the movements of joints, the extension of her back, stretching and contracting – to define her lines. The large-scale drawing becomes a kind of record of her moving body. Interestingly she says:
“Emptying Gestures is an experiment in kinetic drawing. In this series, I am searching for ways to download my movement directly onto paper, emptying gestures from one form to another and creating something new in the process.”
It may be an understatement to say that the artist that simply goes by the name of Mossi is interested in lines and line-making. His drawings are incredibly intricate, containing innumerable lines. Mossi uses typical color pens to create his a typical work. Each piece is a sort of portrait. However, more than faces, the drawings are just as much investigations of lines, pattern, and facial composition. The portraits are meditative, perhaps as much for the viewer as they were in creating for the artist. The bright colors, and extremely detailed pattern make for psychedelic-like work that’s easy to get lost in.