Kostis Fokas is a rare photographer who possesses the innate ability to both create and capture personifications of the provocative in our human form. Challenging and sexually-charged, the work is visually reminiscent of fashion photography, but pulls inspiration equally from painterly compositions by using the body as a metaphor for sexuality, potency, and humanity. In a conversation with Beautiful/Decay, the London-based, Greek photographer explains, “Through my photos I wish to present a new take on the human body and explore its infinite capabilities. The use of quirky, and sometimes hidden faces communicates exactly that. Unlike photography that seeks to reveal the feelings of the objects portrayed through the use of faces and expressions, I shift my focus on the complete freedom pertained to the image of a human body. Stripped from its clothes, I leave it fully exposed and completely surrendered.”
With faces hidden and bodies often stripped bare, the human form becomes a landscape of tension, fully exploring the paradox of submission. A balding man running a brush over his head becomes a metaphor for self-conscious impotence and existential awareness, while a naked woman hovering over a cactus represents a more immediate (and less philosophical) danger. In Fokas’ work we realize that submission is often related to acceptance, mirrored by the artist stating, “Submissiveness often conveys surrender to something greater and more powerful than us.” This duality becomes both a metaphor for the nature of photographic direction, as well as for life, as the human experience is compressed into simultaneously simple and complicated gestures arranged by the photographer with willing participants, and captured on film.
When asked if the work’s sometimes daring exploration of sexual themes and sexuality is ever misinterpreted, or even offensive, Kostas diplomatically responds, “My images aspire to touch on some of these issues, among others, and definitely raise many questions but it is ultimately left up to each individual viewer to decide and reach his own conclusions.”
Londoner Petra Storrs is not just a set, prop, and costume/fashion designer– she’s an artist who collaborates with performers to transcend ideas beyond the ephemeral and into a sturdy cult of fantasy. The “reflective mirror dress” she designed for Paloma Faith, for example, not only sharpens the singer’s playful theatrical identity, but further investigates this concept of “the gaze”. In Dazed and Confused Magazine, Faith elaborates on the intention, “Obviously, as a performer, I am normally the observed, but I wanted to flip that dynamic around and make the audience the focus.” Storrs response, of course, was to whip up a garment that literally does just that.
But it’s not just creative camaraderie that gets Storrs’ juices flowing– she also finds inspiration from everyday objects and history, or everyday objects that hold history such as . . . tea. Camellia & the Rabbit, her latest design endeavor (collected here), involves performance artist Rachel Snider, who uses “tea as a central motif/metaphor” and a narrative “like sea shanties” to interweave “historical facts and stories of tea”– thus, evoking our own personal relationship to this British afternoon tradition.
The Eiffel Tower was built in 1889 and by the very next year it had several admirers in neighbors across the channel. Some saw the potential of a similar tower, a “Great Tower for London”. These illustrations are part of a catalog of competitive designs for the proposed tower released the following year. Some are hilariously derivative of the still brand new tower. Others, on the other hand, seem to belong to some sort of Victorian space-age. Regardless, in a strange way all of the designs seem to point to the importance and uniqueness of the original Eiffel tower, even at this very early age.
This Is It is a London film collective that make the great handmade-style films. Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared is one of their latest, and uses their arts and crafts aesthetic to make a hilarious mock-children’s PSA about creativity. It’s delightfully nihilistic, self-aware, and taps into something all of us have probably felt in any sort of Creative endeavor, namely that “creativity” isn’t just the purely positive act that popular culture makes it out to be. This is one you need to watch to the end, it’s 100% worth three of your minutes. Full video after the jump!
London-based artist Chloe Early works primarily in oil, creating paintings that set themes of “love, beauty, and innocence” against “worldly symbols of agression” -bombs, bullets, urban development, etc. And we’re talking right up against each other. Subjects as disparate as weapons and flowers seamlessly come together as one to create a kind of informal pattern. Missiles, engines, and guns -harsh, metallic things- spiral away from lovers and graceful figures. In creating such a sharp contrast of subject matter, Early captures an elusive, sublime moment. That perfect, last second of beauty before everything falls to shit. That enormous show of strength in the midst of destruction and decay. More paintings after the jump.
London-based illustrator Ricardo Fumanal creates tight graphite drawings that combine many elements to create an almost collage-like effect. The drawings might have come off as cold and without human touch if it hadn’t been for Fumanal’s skill in capturing the expressions of his subects. And then again, if you get so good at rendering in graphite that people find it hard to see a human touch in the first place, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. See more of the artist’s work after the jump.
London designer/artist Arran Gregory recently opened ”Wolf”, a solo exhibition of sculpture and illustration at Print House Gallery in London. The show features these reflective, mirrored wolf and rhinocerous taxidermy heads cut in angular geometry. The mirrors sort of remove the animal from the equation, leaving gallery patron staring back at his or herself, left to ponder our relationship with animals- dead and alive. The end result is kind of jarring, as though accountability for our own actions is a scarier concept then sharp teeth in open jaws. More pics below. (via)
London based artist Emma Mcnally makes abstract graphite drawings that look like city grids and star maps. But this description doesn’t come close to doing them justice. Usually large in scale, the drawings emit a wizened, emotive quality. Somehow, each miniscule mark of graphite takes on endless personality. In the end, the works are just as effective as maps of life’s random chaos as they are as any type of reference to formal cartography. (via)