French artist Fabian Mérelle creates surreal illustrations that are as nightmarish as they are beautiful. Rendering incredibly detailed scenes with a dark side, his depictions of monsters and strange creatures are reminiscent of Goya’s more sinister illustrations. Fabian Mérelle constructs fantastic and elaborate scenes of dreamlike proportion, stretching the imagination and filling our minds with mystery. Each scene is like a fairytale or fable that may not have a happy ending. The foul creatures that invade Mérelle’s intriguing work seem to have come from mythology or legend.
The drawings are showing an obsession for detail veering on mania and pointing out the precision of a line layed minutely with China ink. If he pays homage to the Little Nemo comics, he projects the spectator in a universe much more complex, mixing evil spirits, watches and childhood fears. -Fabian Mérelle
Many of Fabian Mérelle’s drawings are somewhat simple in nature, but speak volumes to the artist’s skill once we examine the attention to detail made with ink. His muted palette is balanced with a shadowy atmosphere and a hazy mood. What is so amazing about the artist’s work is that even the most bizarre subject is anatomically correct, even with gargoyles picking at the figure’s body, an elephant standing on its back, or when the figures is halfway turning into a fallen tree. Although holding an ominous tone, Mérelle’s illustrations captivate us and throw us head first into childlike imagination.
Published in 1973, Arthur Tress‘ photo book, The Dream Collector, features visions of childhood dreams and nightmares. Tress began shooting these dream scenarios in the 1960s, first speaking with children about their dreams and nightmares, then staging an interpretation of the children’s visions via photography. During the 60s, staged photography was a rather new development within the photography medium; most photographers were taking shots on the streets. Over the next 20 years, Tress developed his trademark black and white, mythological, surreal photography. The Dream Collector collection represents Tress’ particular style while expressing “how the child’s creative imagination is constantly transforming his existence into magical symbols for unexpressed states of feeling or being.”
“The children would be asked means of acting out their visions or to suggest ways of making them into visual actualities,” Tress explains. “Often the location itself, such as an automobile graveyard or abandoned merry-go-round, would provide the possibility of dreamlike themes and spontaneous improvisation to the photographer and his subjects. In recreating these fantasies there is often a combination of actual dream, mythical archetypes, fairytale, horror movie, comic hook, and imaginative play. These inventions often reflect the child’s inner life, his hopes and fears…”
The artist Alicia Martin Lopez gives form to her emotional demons through her darkly seen paintings; imagining the shapes and tones of oft-repressed memories and desires, her work dares to plunge into the depths of human fear. With their infinitely cavernous black eyes, Lopez’s disquietingly amorphous characters invite viewers into the nightmarish dreamscape of our own psychological narratives.
Lopez’s frightful beings inhabit a space outside the confines of time; day and night blur together as light pours in and leaks out of the scene without cause. The monsters are wildly unbound, floating in midair, drifting on water, or holding desperately to rock formations, toes clinched with uncertainty. Like thoughts that flood the darkest corners of the human psyche, the beasts may appear at any time in any place, haunting the mind’s eye without warning.
As soon as they rear their heads, however, the creatures are woefully repressed; one octopus-like animal sits confined in a cell, his crooked neck craning to accommodate a sickly grey face. Like our own private demons, Lopez’s creatures are starved of attention and psychic nourishment, kept bottled in the murky depths of subconscious memory. They each stare downward as if collapsed by the space above them, their bodies bracing against the weight of repression. A flying squid’s wings appear as if crushed by exhaustion; sea creatures’ bearded faces droop into impossibly still water, their sorrowful expressions reflected back at them.
These animals are a tangible reminder of memories and sufferings that refuse to stay buried; collapsing in upon themselves, they beg for our recognition. In granting form to formless worries, the artist suggests that our psychological demons are perhaps less fearful than they are beautifully, mournfully sympathetic. Take a look. (via Hi Fructose and Juxtapoz)
Inspired by a nightmare, “Analysis Creature” is Wonman Kim (Animabase)’s series full of weird and strange skeletal and mechanic creatures. Each piece is like an x-ray of a unique creature from her brain. He is currently working as a graphic designer, illustrator, and conceptual artist in Seoul, South Korea.