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.
Michael Cina has created a world-renowned career by fusing elements of both design and art into a signature style of technically-sound, visually striking, and uniquely glossy works. This approach has brought massive clients ranging from Facebook to Coca-Cola to MTV, as well as fine-art success. His latest efforts involved opening up control of his personal practice, however, as Cina worked side-by-side, though miles away, with a collaborator. For over a year, Cina and New York-based photographer John Klukas worked together to create a new body of work, which they began to call “digitally handmade” – a true synthesis of each creator’s respective styles. This collaboration yielded some twenty works, which are collected in the exhibition, She Who Saw Deep, at Minneapolis’ Public Functionary.
Beginning their complicated collaborative process with photos of the exhibition’s singular muse in Klukas’ New York studio, Cina then took the images and digitally overlaid his handmade paintings in his Minneapolis studio. Working the files back and forth between the two several times, the finished files were often so large and dense that they were as large as 16GB. These pieces were then printed and mounted, where Cina made final edits by hand – embellishing, spraying, drawing, and painting each piece to give them their own unique finish.
The digitally handcrafted images in She Who Saw Deep are then titled around the loose parallel of the Epic of Gilgamesh, “where the hero passes through the absolute darkness of grief, fear and death to be reborn into the light…the resulting works in this exhibit are both a visual and conceptual interpretation of this classic and universal human story.” Public Functionary, which offered support for the printing and creation of the works, is offering unique, limited-edition prints of these collaborative works, which can be purchased here.
Baltimore-based artist Jordan Kasey creates large-scale oil paintings of surreal scenes that include monumental figures and objects. In these strange worlds, her subjects occupy entire compositions and are often distorted by a canvas’ constraints. Although they could seemingly exist anywhere, we see them fused with both the aquatic and natural landscape.
There’s an emphasis on hands and fingers in Kasey’s paintings. We’ll often see pair of hands hugging or carefully cradling colorful, rock-like objects. Fingers on opposing hands match up to form tiny arches that make her faceless subjects look as though they’re plotting something. It doesn’t feel sinister, though, but almost absent of any emotion whatsoever.
While some of Kasey’s works are devoid of identifying details, others replace the expected with the unexpected. Facial features are altered with aquatic rocks, coral, and sea plants. It creates an odd-yet-familiar place whose tightly-rendered subjects begin to approach a level of uncanniness. While we know Kasey’s work is fantastical, it looks realistic enough that we might try and apply logic to it.
Combining photography and painting, Polish-based artist Michał Mozolewski creates intriguing portraits of mysterious-looking subjects. Pictures of pictures of people are scanned into the computer and later remixed and using a variety of methods. They are set against dark backgrounds and the black and white base images have gestural strokes painted over top of them. The hues of white, cyan, and red don’t evenly cover the photographs and Mozolewski uses varying pressure that adds a sculptural element to the work by emphasizing certain features of the face or body.
The effect that the artist’s technique has on the mood of the work is dramatic. Diffused and distorted photographs combined with Mozolewski’s erratic marks make for a haunting and grotesque portraits that are dreamlike at the same time. There’s a lot left to the imagination with these works, and they communicate sadness but at the same time are provocative and overall very visceral.
Daan Botlek‘s trademark figural painted works always evoke a certain one-off kind of narrative, but his latest series, Escape From Wuhlheide, carries this idea even further. Based in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, Botlek (previously here) was exploring an abandoned and graffiti-filled building in Berlin, when the idea of painting an escape came to mind.
“While wandering through Wuhlheide looking for some spots to paint the idea arose…to make some sort of storyline of an escape.”
The story in Escape From Wuhlheidereads like a cartoon rendered in real life, blending street art, animation, illustration and painting. Each ‘cell’ of the escape is painted individually, depicting two blanked-outline characters making their way through the dilapidated space, peeking around corners, crawling up walls and climbing ladders. Each ‘cell’ is then photographed, documenting their run away. (via colossal)
Australian artist Ben Frost creates image mashups that combine fast food, pills, and iconic figures of popular culture. He paints these celebrities on things like McDonald’s french fry sleeves and boxes for prescription drugs. We see Superman, Popeye, Mr. T, and even Snoopy the Dog all painted on objects that symbolize excess and gluttony.
Frost finds inspiration for his work from graffiti, collage, photo-realism, and sign writing. It’s not a surprise, as he tags things much like a graffiti artist would. His work is subversive and doesn’t hold back any punches. I’ve included stuff here that’s generally safe for work, but if you check out his website, you’ll see a lot of hyper-sexualized manga-inspired characters. But even with these relatively tame images, you can still sense the scathing critique of the mainstream. Greasy meals, too many pills, and processed foods are rotting our health in a similar fashion that television, media, and politics are rotting our brain.
Bradley Hart has a unique way in which he crafts reinterpretations of classic paintings. Instead of the conventional canvas, the artist uses syringes to individually inject each bubble in a bubble wrap sheet with acrylic paint. This tedious technique requires that he pay close attention to the amount of paint and air that’s within each bubble, because one element can easily disturb the equilibrium of the two.
Hart’s paintings use the principle of pointillism. Every bubble has a slightly different color in it, and by placing the separately-colored dots next to one another, an overall images is realized when it’s viewed from a distance.
But, that’s is just one aspect of the artist’s work. The other part is an experimental process where excess paint from the injections drips down the back of the piece; it’s later removed to reveal an imprint of the painting and composes an impression of what was left behind. The separate processes are meant to be seen together. Hart explains, “Viewed together, the pieces each seem to engage the other and the viewer becomes an observer of a relationship created between the two.”
These paintings are included in Hart’s solo exhibition entitled, The Masters Reinterpreted: Injections and Impressions. It’s available to view at Cavalier Galleries Inc. in New York City from May 6th through May 31st of this year. (Via designboom)
The world of fan art knows no bounds. Television shows like Game of Thrones and Sherlock have countless drawings and paintings dedicated to them (and the celebrities that star in them), but what about world dictators? We’re talking Putin, Gaddafi, Kim Jong-un, and more all with colorful drawings, paintings, and even homages made from donuts.
Some of these images are just ridiculous, like Kim Jong-un riding a dolphin over the beach (in a background that looks as colorful as a Lisa Frank illustration). Others are more serious attempts at portraiture, like the work of Amsterdam-based artist Michele Boccamazzo. He mixes pen, ink, and watercolor in realistic renderings like Bashar al-Assad. “Some of them are just born with a silver spoon in their mouth, some believe in their vision of a better world and some are just status seeker (or social climber) with a smart politic career.” He writes.
With the atrocities suffered at the hands of these men, they hardly seem like candidates for fan art, so perhaps its best to peg some of these images as satire. It makes looking at these works even more bizarre than what’s already pictured. (via Lost At E Minor and Vocativ)