Fly Art is a Tumblr account created by students and artists Gisella Velasco and Toni Potenciano. Since December 2013, the duo have been collaborating on mashups of hip hop lyrics and classic artworks, blending two seemingly disparate cultural artifacts into a surprising and often humorous cohesion. Velasco and Pontenciano pair Nicki Minaj with Mona Lisa, Rihanna with Whistler’s Mother, and Outkast with Matisse. The large text overlaying the classic art is a bit jarring at first, but creates an interesting effect, recontextualizing both the lyrics and the images, each informing a new reading of the other. The project’s Tumblr states that it is “paying homage to the good things in life: fine art and fresh hip hop.” (via artnet)
Roland Topor (1938–1997) was a French illustrator, painter, writer, filmmaker, actor and whatnot mostly known for his macabre and surreal cartoons. His illustrated book “Les Masochistes” was first published in 1960 and features a number of absurdly humorous masochistic actions that people perform on themselves.
The grotesque situations depicted in “Les Masochistes” perfectly convey Topor’s artistic style and approach towards the world. He infuses the grim reality of Nazi dictatorship (Topor and his family were Polish refugees of Jewish origin) with humor which was probably the best coping mechanism at that time. As described by Bernard Vehmeyer, a quote from Topor’s novel “The Tenant” perfectly sums up his world view:
He was perfectly conscious of the absurdity of his behavior, but he was incapable of changing it. This absurdity was an essential part of him. It was probably the most basic element of his personality.
Most often, Topor’s illustrations were based on surreal scenarios with deeper allusions to sex, erotica, rotting mankind and such. According to closer friends, artist had repetitive periods of extreme depression where he would balance on the verge of death and it reflects in his work.
I first encountered Russian artist Svetlana Petrova’s renderings of classic paintings, modified to include her very large, fat cat, a couple of years ago. I was pleasantly surprised to find the artist is still re-creating paintings, and that her work has recently become a part of a gallery show in Abingdon, England.
Petrova’s mother died in 2008, leaving her cat, Zarathustra, behind. She claims her mother spoiled the cat, contributing to Zarathustra’s large stature. Petrova was very depressed after her mother’s death and wasn’t able to make art until a friend suggested she create an art project using the cat, and thus, Fat Cat Art was born.
Petrova says, “I’m a professional artist, and I was fond of Internet memes, and I thought maybe I can make an Internet meme who would at the same time [be] a work of art. And I did this.” But her confidence in her work was at first met with some hesitation. “I thought that I could hold an exhibition, but gallery owners said: ‘This is not art, this is just cats.’ I asked: ‘Why is a shark in the formaldehyde art, but and a cat in a classic painting is not art?’ Nobody could give me an answer, and these people began to avoid me saying that I am mad.” Eventually, though, her cat art won the hearts of the gallery in the UK.
Petrova has been most recently inserting her cat into movies, and she welcomes suggestions for fat cat placements via her Twitter, or the project’s website, whose disclaimer reads: “We are real. All the artworks at this site are real. Nobody’s opinion about Us, Our art or this site will ever disturb Our suprematism.” (via archie mcphee and huffington post)
Cari Vander Yacht animates old photographs she found in thrift stores located near her hometown in Portland, Oregon. For the Amsterdam-based art director’s side project, TGIMGIF (Thank God It’s Monday Graphic Interchange Format), she breathes humor and new life into photographs that have been abandoned. Vander Yacht says she stares at the photos until she finds herself giggling over her animation ideas; she then scans and digitally manipulates the images until they become the animation she envisions. Her only rule is that she has to use the elements already in the photograph. Of her acquisition of these old photos, Vander Yacht tells Fast Company, “At a certain point, one must justify their creepy acquisition of other people’s pasts. Either you make up stories about how you’re related to the people in the pictures or you animate them.” Vander Yacht’s website is currently down for maintenance, but you can view more of her work on Tumblr. (via fast company)
Alaina Varrone‘s embroidery is bawdy, playful, and especially considering thread is the medium, astonishingly technical. Each piece of Varrone’s tells an absurd, humorous, and/or eroticized story. She draw her inspiration from subcultures such as furries, heavy metal, and BDSM, but she’s also inspired by her own life, sometimes inserting herself directly into her work, producing pieces that are part fantasy, part memory. Though some of her work is deeply personal, Varrone executes it with a sense of humor, transforming the serious into the comic. Of her overtly sexual work, Varrone says,
I’ve been doing this for some years now, and this past year or so I’ve noticed more people doing blatantly sexual work, and I actually roll my eyes! I feel like a jerk for admitting that, but I feel like we’re past doing erotic art for shock value.
I still get stupid comments about my work because I’m a woman who does erotic art, I still get men who assume I’m easy or promiscuous because I’m open about this subject, and it doesn’t help that I’m buxom either, so some more ignorant folks just see a big titted woman stitching coitus and get a jolly from it.
I’m trying to capture moments, I’m not just stitching a vagina to be “edgy”, and I like to think my technical ability and sense of humour help to garner respect. I just keep doing what I want to do, I just trust my instincts, so far it’s worked out pretty well!
French illustrator Marion Fayolle‘s illustrations are light-heartedly simple and provocative. Maria Popova appropriately compares Fayolle’s aesthetic to Codex Seraphinianus, Gregory Blackstock’s illustrated lists, and the vignettes of Blexbolex, but I think there’s also some similar absurdism to be found in Joan Cornellà as well. Fayolle’s illustrations are visually comic poetry, each one representing a surreal and nuanced narrative. Bodies and body parts are often replaced, removed, or erotically recontextualized, something that could be jarring to viewers, but Fayolle’s whimsical aesthetic undermines any potential grotesqueness of this concept. Though her work is playful, the tension between humor, longing, lust, loss, and separation is palpable and creates a space for the viewer to revel in the narrative possibilities in each illustration. It’s the fragmentation of these narratives that connects them, allowing for a cohesion of and engagement with particular themes. Fayolle published a book of her comic illustrations, called “In Pieces,” last September. (via brain pickings)
Pierce Thiot and his wife, photographer Stacy Thiot, have been collaborating on an ongoing project titled “Will It Beard” wherein the couple test the limits of what a beard can hold. Pierce tells BuzzFeed, “Over Christmas break, my mom had her grandkids do a talent show for her (she’s an adorable grandma). I tried to put as many pencils as possible in it for my ‘talent.’ I got over 20. Needless to say, my mother was very proud.”
Since then, the couple has put dried pasta, flowers, chips, matches, balloons, scissors, and even Mr. Potato Head pieces into Pierce’s beard. Through this playful series, the Thiots prove there is more to beards than just looking cool. You can keep up with the project’s progress on Tumblr and Instagram. (via moarrr)
Photographer and grad student Kaija Straumanis has created a playful self-portrait series in which her image is captured right at the moment a random object seems to be thrown at her face. A pumpkin, book, dodgeball, boot, and even a mojito smash into Straumanis’ head, smooshing her face and glasses into an awkward contortion. Despite the impact of the objects, in each photo, Straumanus stares a seemingly unaffected gaze into the camera lens. The collisions are set during everyday tasks and among familiar environments, resulting in a humorous series of striking moments. According to HLN, Straumanis creates the photographs by layering images into a composite and artfully manipulating them until they appear seamless. She practices mashing objects into her face, looking into a mirror to create the perfect pose, then layers images accordingly. “I feel like it’s disappointing that I’m not actually getting beat up,” Straumanis admits. “I’m duping the Internet!” (via bored panda)