New York City based artist Klaus Enrique constructs portraits based on painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s 400 year old work that features human figures with features represented by images of plant, fruit, or other organic elements. Enrique was inspired to create these portraits while photographing a human eye peeking out of leaves. He thought he could use leaves to construct facial features or masks. After some research, Enrique discovered Arcimboldo’s paintings and decided to recreate the images. This project has also inspired him to recreate other portraits, like those of Darth Vader, Gandhi, and The Terminator.
Enrique says, “Although most recognize the images immediately as portraits, there are many people who do not. At first they only see the individual parts of the image: the fruits, flowers, and vegetables. But after looking at it for a while, they realize that it’s a portrait of a person. To see that thought process being played out in real time is very satisfying to me because it mimics the thinking behind the art: that simple organic objects come together to create something more meaningful than the sum of its parts.” (via lens scratch)
Sometimes the lines between work and play blur at Beautiful/Decay. Such was the case last week when I joined premiere art supply manufacturers Royal Talens and Canson for a ten day excursion through Paris and Amsterdam to explore the sites, see the museums, and get a vip tour of the various factories that make the paints, pastels, and watercolors that the Royal Talens brand is known for. If you were keeping tabs of our Instagram (beautifuldecayofficial) and Facebook page last week you may have seen a picture or two from our trip but we thought it would be nice to give you an expanded glimpse into our travels through a three part blog post. Follow us as we start in Paris and make our way over to Amsterdam through out this week!
Constance Mallinson‘s large-scale paintings merge the man-made world and nature literally by constructing figures from images of leaves, twigs, and decaying organic material. They are grotesque meditations on both the mortality of humans and the world in which they live. Her full-figured “nature people” reference both the works of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, the 16th-century Italian known for paintings in which still life objects are used to form surreal portraits, and famous paintings, such as Edouard Manet’s 1863 seminal painting “Olympia.”
In examining her recent paintings created from decaying matter, L.A. Times critic Christopher Knight wrote that “after painting savvy landscapes for more than twenty five years”… the current “imagery suggests the way in which we project ourselves on conceptions of nature, creating the natural world even as we go about assuring its destruction.”
Usually I try to not post things that are um, over 400 years old considering we are a contemporary art publication. However, I was looking at Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s works this morning and was marveling at how fresh they seem, even today. It’s like that childhood tendency to make vegetable heads taken to a bizarre and grotesque extreme. Be sure to check out “The Admiral” portrait after the jump- made entirely of unknowing fish! In fact I think this kind of playful/derangement continues to be a source of inspiration and lines of exploration for artists even today. What do you guys think?