Artist Pawel Bajew is a master of contorting the body and creating an oddly beautiful scene constructed from simple objects. In his series titled Freaks, the photographer creates surreal images of seemingly mutated bodies and disembodied limbs. However, disfigured his figures may appear, this effect is created mainly through simple minimal objects under the clothing or strangely placed props covering identifying parts of the body like the face or limbs. His cleverly placed mannequin parts and wigs form surreal scenes, some filled with isolation, others with humor. Each strange situation is not unlike a film still; holding dramatic poses and staged lighting. His figures seem tormented in some way, with the bodies twisting and bending in abnormal ways. The faces are often hidden in this series, distorting the identity of the person and causing an eerie, psychological effect on the viewer.
This intriguing, Polish-based photographer also captures amazing portraits full of detail and originality. His portraits are filled with self-portraits as well as others, embodying an eclectic group of eccentric individuals. Each subject seems like a fictional character, filled with exaggerated expressions and over the top costumes straight out of a novel. Bajew’s portraits are not without humor, as some figures have funny expressions, but also have a darkness about them, just like his series Freaks. His body of work as a whole personifies a distinct mood and peculiar atmosphere about it that leaves it distinguishable and unique.
Society has long had a fascination with dolls and the creepy connotations that come along with them, with such horror films as Child’s Play confirming our worst nightmares. Photographer Annie Collinge is no exception. Her own uncomfortable feeling associated with dolls has created a bizarre fascination inspiring her series 5 Inches From Limbo, which includes photographs of dolls with their human counterparts. Collinge find vintage, strange looking dolls in thrift shops and flea markets, and finds a person in the flesh that resembles the doll. She even dresses her humans to mirror their doll, creating a surreal vision of a person alongside their miniature, porcelain self. Eerie as it may sound, her photographs are relentlessly intriguing while still holding an odd beauty.
Originally hailing from London, the artist had traveled to Manhattan when she found her first doll for the series. The inspiration came when she spotted a vintage doll that boar a surprising likeness to her Aunt Yolanda, outfit and all. After this encounter, she searched for interesting, antique dolls or people that look somewhat like dolls themselves to start the next pairing. She will then find a doll to match her subject, or dress a person to fit the part. Either way, each chosen person displays a striking resemblance to each unique doll, with cherub faces and big round eyes. You may be wondering where all of the dolls end up after the photograph is taken. Well, although a little disturbed by them, the artist keeps each and every one. Dolls often seem to hold a life of their own, and with the help of Collinge, her dolls have now transformed into real life human beings, however unnerving it may be. (via Featureshoot)
Japanese photographer Osamu Yokonami’s voyeuristic series Assembly features groups of young women who all dress the same. The eerie images are shot from a distance, making the viewer feel as if they’re spying on the troops. And with their backs turned towards the camera, you don’t know exactly what their motivations are. Although they don’t appear to be causing any mischief, we can’t be so sure.
Yokonami writes about Assembly, stating:
Each person has their own personality. I try to keep a bit of distance between us in this work. Then, the existence of each person disappeared and the existence of the group appeared instead. The strength and beauty as a collective entity stood out more by being in nature. I was attracted to the expressiveness of the group. (Via WeTheUrban)
Award winning photographer Blake Little completely transforms the classic nude figure into a sleek, sticky, sculptural entity in his series Preservation. Little, known for his skills as a portrait photographer, captures each of his subjects after he pours gallons of honey onto their nude bodies. With its use of honey, this seductive and sticky-sweet series has a unifying element that breaks down the differences in the subjects. Little’s models are extremely diverse with a wide range of body types. However, the honey breaks down the unique and personal details of the person and allows them to become a more universal, timeless figure. They all adopt an ageless beauty that one might see in classic, Greek sculpture.
It is no coincidence that Little has chosen the title Preservationfor a series that takes contemporary subjects and gives them a more classic and traditional look. By transforming a unique body into an archetypal figure, they can withstand the test of time. They are now one of the unforgettable figures in art history such as Venus of Willendorf. Not only does this amazingly transformative honey preserve the importance of the figure, but also it allows the figures to look as if they have been literally preserved as they are encased in honey, not unlike the citizens of Pompeii preserved in ash.
The dripping, glossy texture is palpable in this incredibly intimate and tangible series. Preservation were on view at the Kopeinkin Gallery in Los Angeles from March 7th to April 18th, where the photographer is represented. Blake Little’s book Preservation, containing sixty-eight photographs of his honey-filled nudes, is also available. Here is an excerpt from the Forward of Little’s book, written by Kenneth Lapatin, Associate Curator of Antiquities at the Getty Museum.
Since its invention in the 1800s, photography has been employed as a key tool of archaelogy, caputuring images of not only finds, but also the very processes of recovery. Its capacity to record the details of perishable objects – to preserve them – is evident in historical photographs of now degraded artifacts and of excavation sties, many substantially transformed by the very act of digging them and scarcely recognizable today. But today we are also well aware that photography can be far from objective; that it can be manipulated; that it can create something entirely new, original, and surprising.
In the series Daimones, photographer Federica Landi adorns pictures in a family album with her saliva. The new works feature bubbly spit obscuring faces, bodies, and create diffused patterns across the compositions.
On her website, Landi uses this quote to describe the importance of the drool:
The saliva replaces the seminal fluid in many cultures, used as magical element that can cure and fecundate through the single contact. Since it comes from the mouth and preserves the vital energy, it is often associated to the essence of the breath and the soul. (Craveri E. Michela,Intrecci di culture, 2008)
Photography is one way that we can keep the past with us, even after it is long gone. From Landi’s statement about Daimones:
The inclusion of saliva (a fluid certifying identity) on the photographic surface, creates a layer of contingent “presence”, intimate re-appropriation of the family archive, attempting to ‘cure’ the fallacious nature of memory and to ‘fecundate’ its connection with our current time.
Saliva is thus the glue that keeps together two dimensions: the motionless time of photography and the contingency of identity. (Via Tu recepcja)
It is always exciting and refreshing to see traditional art methods used in a whole new way. Artist Danielle Lawrence‘s fresh eye on contemporary art takes the conventional framed painting and transforms it into highly textural and sculptural work, taking it to another level. In her work, the frame is often still present, but the art inside it is spilling out, exploding from the frame that confines it. It is almost as if the paint has a life of its own, trying to escape from the cage and constraint we have given it. Lawrence explains that the frame is a symbol of patriarchal structures and restriction.
Lawrence’s non-representational painting method allows the colors to melt and drip, creating incredible movement in each piece. These colors appear bent, folded, and manipulated, creating organic forms. Each bright, glossy color erupting from each canvas and frame turns the typical two-dimensional painting into a more palpable, three-dimensional piece that reaches out at the viewer. Her artistic journey began while experimenting using trash as subject. Still pulling inspiration from found objects, the artist’s work often includes items from her studio, including plastic bags and bubble wrap. Lawrence’s take on form and material is both chaotic and structured, creating order out of an eclectic range of colors and media. She flawlessly creates a beautifully balanced mixture of classic painting methods with a new, contemporary approach.
She’s an avowed formalist with an eye to the street. Her works are lustrous and abject, smooth and sharp, blunt and sophisticated. While painting is clearly her passion, she makes promiscuous use of other media: sculpture, drawing, photography and video.
Photographer Joshua Hoffine is interested in the psychology of fear. His series of horror-centric images called After Dark, My Sweet, focus on what lurks behind us, underneath the bed, and below the stairs. Hoffine’s frightening, realistic-looks photos offer not only a compelling narrative, but are awe-inspiring in their craftsmanship and attention to detail. They look believable, making them even more scary. “I stage my photo shoots like small movies, with sets, costumes, elaborate props, fog machines, and special effects make-up,” Hoffine explains. “Everything is acted out live in front of the camera. I use friends and family members, including my own daughters, as actors and crew.”
The photographer also writes about his fascination with horror:
We are all born with certain inherent and instinctual fears, such as fear of the dark, the fear of lurking danger, and the fear of being eaten. As we grow older these fears lose their intensity and are slowly shuffled away into our Unconscious.
Horror, as an art form, draws its strength from the Unconscious.
I believe that the Horror story is ultimately concerned with the imminence and randomness of death, and the implication that there is no certainty to existence. The experience of Horror resides in this confrontation with uncertainty. Horror tells us that our belief in security is delusional, and that the monsters are all around us.
At first glance, this series by photographer Stacey Tyrell seems to portray nothing out of the ordinary, just portraits of white women living their lives. At closer inspection, however, you realize all of the women look the same; they share uncanny similarities with just a few differences in hair, eye, and skin color. In reality, Stacey Tyrell has staged these scenes representing depictions of Caucasian women using herself as a model. Interestingly enough, the artist herself is black. The title of Tyrell’s deeply memorable series is BackraBluid. Backra, originating from West Africa, means white master or person. Bluid is a Scotch word for the blood of men or kin. These two words combined represent two different points of origin in the artist’s family heritage. Tyrell explores her ancestry in this series, which includes English, Scottish, and Irish.
Most everyone in post-colonial societies, especially in the Western world, is the descendant of a diverse range of ancestry, producing many individuals with what may appear to be ambiguous ethnicities. These individuals may identify with one, multiple, or even none of their racial or cultural identities. However, by nature, humans want to make sense of their surrounding and tend to place others in categories. Stacey Tyrell has experienced this first hand. She explains the significance of this experience in relation to Backra Bluid.
Upon viewing my physical features I am automatically assigned a racial identity by whoever is looking at me. Skin color often obscures and over-rides the features and markers of other races that may be present in my genetic make-up. By simply changing my skin color and making subtle tweaks to my features I wish to show that if someone were to take a closer look at my face they would see that it might not be that much different from their own.