The best art strives to make visible the invisible, and the body painter Johannes Stoetter takes his work literally, seemingly turning his subjects inside out to reveal internal anatomy; with his vivid colors, he traces anatomical parts that linger below the surface of the skin, visually peeling away layers of his models’ body.
With each work, he digs deeper below the surface, moving from sinewy muscles to organs, and ultimately into the psyche of his subjects. He begins by staying relatively true to human anatomy, depicting detailed tendons and muscles in eye-popping red, yet throughout the series, the artist’s allegiance to science softens, allowing him to paint with more unrealistic, emotionally evocative hues.
Without discernible facial features, his models rely solely upon the apparent tensions of the biceps or the illusion of blood flow to express their identities, opening the door for Stoetter to experiment with non-literal anatomies. The placid woman is painted with the natural world associated iconographically and art historically with her sex, while a male model is shown as having a geometrical machine beneath his flesh.
Each landscape nurtures the perception of the body and heightens its beauty, and the painted bodies cease to be individual and come to represent the coherent, unchanging nature of humankind; in each of us, there ticks the same robot heart, flows the same river of blood. Though nude, the models are desexualized by the obscuring of their flesh, and we are invited to marvel at the organic majesty of anatomy, both physical and emotional. Take a look at Anatomy and more of Stoetter’s astounding work below. (via Lost at E Minor)
In an unusual attempt to explore their own digestive tracts, student artists Luke Evans and Joshua Lake swallowed single frames of 35mm film, folding each piece in a brightly colored capsule that allowed for the acids and bodily fluids to process the film with minimal risk of colon damage. Once excreted, the negatives were recovered, cleaned, and studied in detail by an electron microscope; ultimately, they were printed into giant black and white works.
The project, titled “I turn myself inside out” is an almost uncomfortably intimate and human exploration of the photographic medium. Normally, images are produced and processed by machinery, light, and chemicals, but this provocative series substitutes the artists’ own bodies and their fluids for the impersonal metal gears and glass lens of a camera.
The images themselves are so strong because of their unexpected three-dimensionality; while most film photographs flatten space, condensing foregrounds and background to create a compelling work of art, Evans and Lake’s work does the opposite. Each frame looks like a scientific image taken from a microscope. The digestive process and the resultant breakdown of the film’s emulsion afford each image its dimensionality, transcending the medium’s traditional reliance on light and shadow to convey space.
The most miraculous aspect of the work lies perhaps in the tension that arises between the intimate and vulnerable bodily process and the somewhat impersonal aesthetic of the resultant images. Once printed, the images become abstract explorations of tone and space, their apparently inhuman, unemotional form subverted only by the knowledge of their painfully visceral creation. What do you think: gross or cool? (via Wired and Oddity Central)
Danny Quirk creates elaborate and accurate anatomical paintings using the human body as a canvas or the subject of canvas paintings. After the frustration of facing rejections from multiple medical schools, Quirk decided to combine three things he loves – anatomy, art, and education – using this very direct approach. He seeks to change the creepy or morbid perception of the body’s anatomy by revealing its delicate beauty. ”Having spent time working with cadavers and creating illustrations for medical publications, I got to experience first hand just how complex yet delicate the body is, wonderfully illustrating beauty is more than skin deep.”
Rosa Verloop creates sculptures out of nylons. Eerie and captivating these malleable forms capture the density and lumpiness of a fleshy existence. They’re soft and cuddly and evoke a tangibility. These malformed sculptures speak to bodily fear and vulnerability and what we perceive as normal and abnormal. Nylons are supposed to cover skin, creating a smoothness that Verloop undermines by twisting and stuffing these nylons into bulky lumps.
Ashkan Honarvar’s work is definitely not for the squeamish. There is macabre beauty in his work that compels you to keep looking at it. Honarvar’s work reveals the the darker side of the human body and mind… something most of us would rather look away from. The human body, whether torn by war, exploited by the sex industry, or as a tool for discovering identity, is the focus of his work. Ashkan Honarvar is now part of the La Petite Mort Gallery in Ottawa, Canada.