Spine-Chilling Paintings Of Suffering by Dr. Kevorkian, Practitioner Of Assisted Suicide

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The late Dr. Jack Kevorkian, known for his life’s work of advocating assisted suicide and for helping to end over 130 lives with his ominous-sounding Thanatron, or “machine of death,” was also an oil painter. The doctor, who spend 8 years in prison, created a little-known body of work tinged with the horror of pain; illustrating his controversial ideas on compassion, the paintings take aim at his religious critics and appeal to a nuanced moral ideal where death is seen simultaneously as a terror and an escape.

Kevorkian’s Thanatron takes its name from the ancient Greek personification of death; in his paintings, he also uses mythological themes. In “Fever,” he illustrates a hell composed of the ill and suffering; like Dante’s Virgil, he leads his painted patient through the depths of agony and fear with wide, sweeping brushstrokes. The Christian Brotherhood is reimagined as a monster characterized by multiple grotesque, sharp-toothed heads vaguely reminiscent of Inferno’s Satan.

Seemingly drawing inspiration from symbolist painters like Paul Gauguin and Edvard Munch, the artist, often referred to as “Dr. Death,” distorts the form of his subjects so that they might express psychological despair and heightened anxiety. In one image, titled “Coma,” a man, draped in a bed sheet, is inhaled by ghostly skull, his body absurdly foreshortened and his lined feet disproportionately swelled to express profound weariness. As the monstrous spirit of “coma” sucks him in, his tiny, darkened eyes beg for release. In “Paralysis,” the body becomes a prison, the brain removed and bound in chains.

When exhibited alongside the doctor’s paintings illustrating his love of music (Johann Sebastian Bach, a treble and bass clef), as they are at Gallerie Sparta, the more frightful images take on a strange operatic quality, evoking eery tonal climaxes with expressionistic bursts of color. 11 of the doctor’s paintings will be on view through April 30. (via Huff Post)

Classic Paintings Reanimated In Deliciously Creepy Gifs

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In master paintings, beauty lies in the romance of an instant, with movement expressed only through form, balance, and color; for the animation artist Rino Stefano Tagliafierro, emotional potency is lost in immobility, their dramatic narratives lost to the stationary canvas. By animating famous Renaissance, Romantic, and Neoclassical paintings using modern technology, he revels in the joy of storytelling through art.

In his video Beauty, Tagliafierro uses mostly Academic paintings, relying on the balance and mythos of Neo-Classicism and the sentimentalist nature of Romanticism to celebrate the female body in motion. Animating mostly paintings by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, he heightens the sensuality of the work by adding slow, gentle movements and soft musical notes. The delicacy of both the young female and the mother figure is exalted to the angelic, her creamy flesh revealed through the coy lifting of her skirt.

Tagliafierro subverts the traditional gentleness of his woman subjects by including Baroque heroines, whose rapid movements only heighten their power. In Caravaggio’s Judith Beheading Holofernes, we are given the just moment of impact, left breathless in the moment before the kill; in his adaptation, the modern artist affords viewers the satisfaction of closure, allowing Judith’s weapon to effortlessly glide through the neck of her enemy.

The gifs of Caravaggio’s Isaac and Luis Ricardo Falero’s witches, played in a loop, relieve viewers of the suspense of the famous biblical and mythological images, allowing us follow a visual story that moves from terror to a sort of redemption. The human body is seen as a creative force, in constant flux between tension and release. (via Design Boom)

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Ryohei Hase’s Hellish Monsters Capture The Beauty And Terror Of Human Experience

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The subjects of the painter Ryohei Hase’s work are, in his view, sadness and gloom; with his mythical paintings, he builds his own bestiary of wolf-man hybrids and skull-faced monsters, weaving tragic narratives in shimmering grays and black-blues. Like religious triptychs, his paneled images seem to narrate a darkly imaginative story of innocence, violence, love, and redemption.

Hase’s use of baby animals is anything but cute; tiny, effeminate rabbit heads are used to convey a sorrowful isolation that centers around the assumed innocence of the young. In contrast to the animal-headed figures who tear at each other’s throats, a young, downy rabbit head sits atop the body of a young woman as she delicately peers at the ground, her breasts barely poking out of a white brassiere; again, we see her as she lays in her lonesomeness, naked on the ground.

As the narrative progresses, these human beasts fall from innocence into experience, now wolf-headed and like hysterical ancient Greek maenads, women lock bodies with one another in battle, breasts jangling and nipples erect. An antlered man claws at the bloodied head of a wolf; a clan of pig-headed humans gaze at a roasted pig, their cannibalism and cruelty seen in their glistening sweaty brows, their gleaming red eyes. As these animalistic men fall into anarchy, they descend into an evermore hellish landscape.

Through the epic series are notes of love and redemption within a fallen world; a gentle wolf head welcomes a collapsed women into his realm, lovingly bracing her fully-human body. Men die, their skulls ripped from the back of their heads, and yet they keep running, peacefully and determinedly looking into the future. In fallenness, there’s color and seduction; a rainbow-encased lioness wears only a pair of barely-there panties, and a dead fish man drifts to the bottom of the ocean, leaving a magnetic fiery glow in his wake. (via Juxtapoz)

Street Artist Curiot Covers Walls Mythical Creatures

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Favio Martinez, better known on the street as Curiot, is a street artist based in Mexico City.  His murals and paintings are especially colorful and complex.  Curiot has a well-known and easily distinguishable style.  Strange creatures populate his compositions.  While each creature is definitely alien, Curiot creates them using familiar animal-like components.  Often, these creatures are seen being worshiped by comparably tiny people giving the murals.  In a way, this pulls Curiot’s work out of science fiction and places it more as a meditation and variations on Mexican Culture.  The gallery statement from a recent solo exhibit at FFDG further explains Curiot’s inspiration:

“Curiot’s colorful paintings, featuring mythical half-animal half-human figures and scenes, which allude to Mexican traditions (geometric designs, Day of the Dead styles, myths and legends, tribal elements), are rendered in precise detail with a mixture of highly vibrant yet complementary colors. “Growing up in the States sort of gave me a diluted Mexican culture, I had no clue what I was missing out on until I moved back 10 years ago”, says Curiot. “The bright colors, folklore, ancient cultures and the beautiful handcrafts are some of the things that I embraced and which influence my work deeply”. The 11 new paintings in “Age of Omuktlans” tell the story of man’s distance from his natural path as he focuses his energy on satisfying his material pleasures and the dystopia this creates.”

Adam Miller’s Contemporary Mythological Paintings

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With his paintings, Adam Miller recontextualizes baroque and Hellenistic style elements by placing them within a modern futuristic landscape. Miller implements mythological, ecological, and humanistic themes in order to address ideas of technology and progress and “the struggle to find meaning in a world poised between expansion and decay.” His dreamy and angelic compositions reflect contemporary concerns with a classic and realist style. Imagery that might at first appear dated and inaccessible becomes relatable and modern upon closer inspection.

Charles Fréger’s Wilder Photographs Explore Folk Traditions On The Edge Of Wilderness

For his series, Wilder Mann, photographer Charles Fréger traveled to 18 different countries to capture the costumes and masks of folk festivals and traditions. Creatures like bears, stags, mysterious hybrids and the occasional Krampus appear otherworldly—fashioned from materials like animal hides, bells, antlers, twigs and leaves. Photographed within their natural settings, the results are more film still than portrait instantly conjuring primitive stories and fairy tales. (via)

Artist Interview: Shaun Berke

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Shaun Berke is one of the most skilled artists I’ve ever met. And when I saw a Rembrandt master-copy he created for a group show, I instinctively knew that he must have had some really insane pieces hiding out in his studio. So, I took the trip out to his place, where he pulled out one amazing print after another. He had woodcuts that were as masterful as anything by Albert Dürer as well as an entire book he made for his thesis project at Art Center that was full of pop culture references you wouldn’t realize he was initially inspired by. The fact that he can execute everything from a classical painting to graphic design work is kind of unheard of. There are those who can do one or the other, but very rarely anyone who can do it all, and do it all remarkably well. In particular though, I really wish Shaun continues to make some more woodcuts, since I haven’t seen an artist do anything close to what he’s doing with the medium due to his level of detail and depth of narrative. I mean, some of his pieces have entire books that go along with them featuring mythologies he’s created based upon heavy research.

Caitlin Hackett’s Darkling Fantasies

Painter and illustrator Caitlin Hackett now works out of Brooklyn, but she spent much of her early life in northern California. It was in her home state that she first developed and nurtured a love of nature, animals, and mythology, all of which inform her art today. Using mostly ballpoint pen and watercolor, she creates wildly imaginative creatures that are somewhere between human, animal, and spirit.

Says the artist: ”My work alludes to the boundaries that separate humans from animals both physically and metaphysically, and how these boundaries are warped by new scientific data, mythology, history and religious beliefs alike, blurring the lines between us as science, religion and culture clash over what it is to be human, and thus, what separates us from the beasts of the wild.”

Take a closer look at Caitlin Hackett’s dark imaginings after the jump.