If you’ve ever visited a thrift store, you’ve no doubt seen the wonderfully-awful paintings that people have given away. Completed paint-by-number sets, idyllic landscapes, and amateurish attempts at impressionism are common sights. Artist David Irvine takes thrift store paintings and enhances them with additions of his own. He brings in characters from popular culture to these compositions, such as Darth Vader, the Marshmallow Man, and Bambi. Irvine maintains the original style of the paintings when creating the mashup, making the figures look as though they’ve been there all along.
Some of the paintings are subversive and a feature villains about to tear through the town or city that they’re in. Other times, the characters are helpful, like the Storm Trooper that’s helping with yardwork. Twisted or not, these works are funny, and the kind of artwork from the thrift store that you’d actually want to display in your home. (Via Demilked)
In Sergei Isupov’s hands figurative ceramics are both instantly recognizable and strangely surreal. Heads are tattooed, the art integrated into the facial features. The backs of the heads often add a separate contrasting element. Lift the head to find a third, hidden design on the base. The images create a narrative, but what does it mean?
“My work portrays characters placed in situations that are drawn from my imagination but based on my life experiences. My art works capture a composite of fleeting moments, hand gestures, eye movements that follow and reveal the sentiments expressed. These details are all derived from actual observations but are gathered or collected over my lifetime. Through the drawn images and sculpted forms, I capture faces, body types and use symbolic elements to compose, in the same way as you might create a collage.” Source
Contrast is inherent to the nature of ceramics. The sculpting that goes into creating the work is meticulous and controlled but once the piece is lowered into the kiln the firing is random and unrestrained. In Isupov’s work the form and content are also contradictory. The figures and heads are realistic, even somewhat minimal, yet the paintings on them are surreal, highly detailed, often adding a skewed dimensionality. There are demons and distortions, surplus limbs and conjoined bodies. Isupov’s works create a world that is visually stunning and conceptually disturbing.
“I am a student of the universe and a participant in the harmonic chaos of contrasts and opposites: dark — light; male — female; good — evil. Working instinctually and using my observations, I create a new, intimate universe that reveals the relationships, connections and contradictions as I perceive them. … When I think of myself and my works, I’m not sure I create them, perhaps they create me.”
American artist Joseph Decamillis breaths second life to old discarded books by inserting miniature illuminated into their covers. Postage stamp-sized artworks are done on copper plates and placed in carved niches. Decamillis’ works turn two-dimensional book covers into exquisite spatial collages.
“As a painter of miniatures on copper, Joe found old books the perfect match to narrate and contain his exquisite illuminated images. <…> Carving niches into old books emphasized the storytelling nature of the work.”
Combining the inscribed meanings of a book with his whimsical paintings, Decamillis constructs new discourses between book cover’s inherent text, oil-painted imagery, carefully selected text additions and the viewer. To create his trademark miniatures, Decamillis uses brushes with no more than three hairs each. After finishing the piece, the book is sealed to never be opened again.
All books featured in the “Miniature Paintings In Altered Books” series are real, mostly found in libraries, bought at thrift store bargains or given by family and friends. In this project, Decamillis was able to unite his passion for books with self-taught skills of oil painting and collage. Artist claims to often research the books before altering to find potential monetary or historical value. (via Messy Nessy Chic)
Often treading between reverence and ridicule, the mystifying allure of art that reiterates sexual transgression remains suspended within a deviating purgatory of the sacred and the obscene. Buoyantly drifting within the underbelly of normative culture, the erotic and transgressive create a synergetic relationship in a strike against societal conventions. Through a crude presentation of social perversions, the atmosphere created through sexually transgressive art permits an insight that challenges not only sexual precepts, but invites a critique of human behavior irrevocably influenced by social structures. In an explosive resurgence of suppressed sexual impulses, the following artists create frantic, tense and exquisitely obscene renderings of deviations and sexualized social distortions.
Playing on the enticement of the black mirror, or, the darker recesses of our own perceived realities, fascinations revolving around the occult has infiltrated and renegotiated the perceivable world as we know it to be. Contemporary examinations of the occult and mysticism has surged in creating a more modern vernacular of symbology rooted in spiritualism, skewing the tangible under the scope of what is sensed and experienced as opposed to what is seen. Confronting the enigma of the unknown, investigations of the preternatural have transformed the material world through its semi-erotic explorations of the unconscious and the supposed spirit world. Evoking a sense of histories long since passed, fascinations with the paranormal are found not only within its connotations with Surrealism and Dada, but has since found itself increasingly commercialized through a dilution into popular culture.
The following artists present an elusive understanding and reflection on mysticism and the occult. Straying from any form of irony, kitsch or inapt nostalgia, their employment of the occult acts instead as a new means of dialogue and spiritual resolve.
American artist Evan Roth is no stranger to subverting digital culture into progressive art. In the past, Roth has developed a wall of gifs for Occupy the Internet and hacked the internet cache to create self-portraits, both of which fit neatly into his artist statement of “visualizing and archiving culture through unintended uses of technologies”. Drawing inspiration from hacker culture and philosophy, Roth helped found the Graffiti Research Lab, which merges graffiti with technology via projectile LEDs, which he used to famously tag the Brooklyn Bridge in 2008. For his Multi-Touch Paintings series, Roth tapped quite literally into a newly universal habit among people fully plugged into the digital era: that of using touchscreen devices. Created by “performing routine tasks on milt-touch hand held computing devices,” Roth used tracing paper and an ink pad to turn impressions of each finger swipe into stark paintings.
Each of Roth’s ink paintings are named after the task they’re depicting, from an entire wall of levels from Angry Birds to Twitter and e-mail check-ins. By turning mundane procedures we make on a day to day basis on our phones and tablets into textural studies, Roth blurs the line between the corporeal and the digital. One can’t help but be reminded of fingerprinting for identification when looking at the paintings, drawing a connection between the all-encompassing nature of technology in modern society and the lasting effects that may hold over our identities in the future. With iPhones that now literally use your fingerprint to access the device, it seems as though Roth’s paintings are even more prescient now than they were when he first premiered them in 2011.
Vietnamese painter Nguyen Xuan Huy introduces us to the disruptive effects and ongoing legacy of the Vietnam War. His works carry a rooted sense of grotesque which makes it impossible to stay intact. Huy outlines Vietnam’s grimreality by confronting pop art aesthetics with hints of Socialist iconography and heartbreaking results of Agent Orange warfare.
Huy, who is currently based in Berlin, aggregates many aspects of art history by mimicking famous painter’s artworks. Motifs from Matisse’s Dance, Bosch’s Garden Of Earthly Delights, and even Michelangelo’s Creation Of Adam are taken and distorted to outline the traumatic consequences country’s post-war experiences. Twisted naked bodies, guns and dead animals join in a feast of spite and sorrow.
Agent Orange, a poisonous defoliant, was used by the US military and its counterparts to spray on the Vietnamese countryside hoping it will destroy the food sources and thus, end resistance. Only later it was titled the Chernobyl of Vietnam because of it’s irreversible effects, specifically the crippling birth defects. Chemicals used in Agent Orange caused genotype mutations which are present even three generations later.
“It’s insensitive to imagine that because I was born healthy that I am untouched by this issue. <…> So many people are potential carriers of the altered genotype, this is a problem which could affect each and every citizen of Vietnam.”
There’s a pervasive sense of childlike fantasy that seems to underline many pop surrealist works. Make-believe animals that don checkered coats, tight rope walkers and re-imagined cats all vibrate within and beyond the confines chosen by each artist at hand.
The alluring world of pop surrealism frequently ushers in a sense of mythical innocence and humor, unifying the superficial world of popular culture with the recesses of the unconscious. With underlying themes of fragility and the macabre delicately hidden beneath a veil of cultural kitsch, saccharine sweet dreamscapes transform and redefine a caustically bright world enamored with packaged goods. The fantastical worlds created through the lens of the following artists explores the relationship between the seemingly pristine and the accompanying bittersweet decay that dwells beneath it. Featured artists include: Casey Weldon, Mac Sorro, Rafael Silveira, Leslie Ditto, and Britt Ehringer.