Like floating into a dream, Jason Mitchell’s photography takes you into a new place of existence, stuck between worlds. His series Dream Away displays ghostly bodies in a different state of being, exploring a sense of awakening. Inspired by metamorphosis, his figures are placed in a blank space, not knowing exactly where they are except for in a place of uncertainty. Even still, they seem tranquil and ready for whatever is to come next. Each image contains an ethereal quality, as the figures delicately glide through the air. In this series, we cannot tell if Mitchell’s figures are falling or floating, as there is no sense of direction, like they are underwater. With bright whites and light shadows, the absence of almost all harsh shadows creates an angelic atmosphere around these women.
Hinting at themes of afterlife and a higher state of being, Mitchell’s figures almost do not appear to be human. They are transcending their bodies on a journey of oneself.
“I ask my subjects to explore a loss of control, but a sense that they are being guided, pushed and pulled by another sentient being, as they make their way to a new self. They represent the soul of a magical creature on a journey through the limbo that connects their past understandingto this new unknown.”
- Jason Mitchell
Although all of Mitchell’s work holds a striking beauty, his series Dream Away truly exhibits stunning detail and imagery. Photographs from this majestic series will be on view at 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco, CA until May 30th.
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)
Unbelievably, the stunning and incredibly realistic works of artist Robin Eley are not photographs, but meticulously created paintings! The artist uses oil paint to render hyper-real portraits with fragmented hues and picturesque, nude figures. Each figure looks so photorealistic, it is hard to believe that it is a painting. Every last element is executed perfectly, as you can even see every detail in the tattoos on the figures. As if painting realistic nudes with this high level of skill was not impressive enough, Eley displays his figures through fractals of color, as if they are behind stained glass. The geometric shapes cutting through the composition offer us a stark juxtaposition to the organic, soft bodies that are behind them. This sharp pattern dissects the human body into segments so that we may see it in a different light.
Eley not only paints his figures behind brightly colored, intersecting shapes, but also wrapped in materials like plastic. This highly textural element also gives an interesting contrast to the bare skin of the figures. The crinkles and creases in the plastic create a sort of fractured impression, just like Eley’s pieces with the “stained glass.” Originally from Australia, this L.A-based artist has had his work exhibited internationally and also has work in private collections all over the world. If you have the chance to see Eley’s prolific work in person, make sure to take advantage of it and experience every tiny detail of these hyper-real paintings.
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.
Alexandra Levasseur’s complex paintings are filled with emotion and beauty. With heavy brushstrokes dripping with color, she creates scenes of tormented women in a strange world filled with golden halos, burning asteroids, and melting faces. These faces depict a deathly pale beauty that is often transformed and altered by thick globs of color or all encompassing flora. Levasseur explores themes of love and fear, anguish and unsatisfied desire in her body of work.
I am interested in depicting both the solitude and the bipolarity of the existence of the human being, through the representation of memories. I question the relationship between physical comfort and peace of mind, and how the environment around us can affect this state of mind.
Her women are set in scenes of rolling hills of flowers and palpable paint amongst other wilderness. However picturesque the setting may seem, there is a sense of distress and loss. Some of the women lie in a lush, colorful sea of flowers, but still have a look of distress on their face. There is repeatedly a flaming asteroid in the background, implying an impending doom. Levasseur beautifully portrays these women full of emotion, with an inevitable tragedy behind their eyes, if they even have eyes at all. Many of the faces have eyes hiding behind strokes of color, or holes where their eyes used to be. Each woman, beautiful in their own right, is lost and being engulfed in her equally as beautiful surroundings. All of the seeping colors, crushing flora, and heartbreaking women become meshed together in Levaseur’s paintings. She represents this world as a single organism, blending color and form.
Alexandra Levasseur’s solo exhibition Body of Land is on view now at Mirus Gallery in San Francisco.
Berlin based photographer Bagrad Badalian uses the technique of long-exposure photography to bend and manipulate light in his energetic and magnetic photography. The motion in his photography combined with a long exposure elongates his subjects and drags colored lights across the composition. Badalian, mainly focusing on the human form as his subject, allows the figure to be taken over by hypnotic, multicolored light sources that bounce and bend across the figures. This element along with his carefully cropped compositions render many of the subjects unrecognizable, shifting the focus onto the many waves of light. Each color seems to be exploding from the bodies with an energetic force, creating a vibrant pulse felt by the viewer. As you look at each figure in motion, you can feel the pulsating rhythm that encompasses each photograph.
“The photographic technique interests me for the many possibilities it offers not only to scientists but also artists. Long exposure photography is on of those techniques that fascinate me since I have started practicing photography. It allows me to decompose the movement of time and control the aesthetic and imaginative potential of chance.”
Each figure’s identity is skewed as their features are distorted and manipulated by the long exposure. This creates a beautiful, but sometimes nightmarish, effect. The colored lights dance across the figure’s faces due to the movement in the photograph, which also causes the face to shift. It becomes disfigured as the movement t manipulates the face and body like a ball of clay. Although causing a face-altering effect, Badalian’s technique is overall unique, holding a strong and powerful force.
Spanish photographer Eugenio Recuenco has taken the timeless and iconic work of the notorious artist Pablo Picasso and translated it into contemporary photography. He models each photograph in this series after a single Picasso painting, recreating it as a seductive, contemporary photograph. Each painterly photograph is taken in such a way that even these real life women seem to be painted onto a canvas. Having had his hand in commercial and fashion photography, the influence from modern high fashion can be seen. Because Picasso’s work contains such vivid colors and a strongly recognized cubist style, the model’s make-up and clothing are a vital part of what allows the photograph to imitate Picasso’s paintings.
Cubism, the artist’s most famous stylistic period, is achieved by dissecting parts of the subject in the painting, and breaking them down into geometric forms. In this case, the subjects in the photos are women covered in geometric patterns imitating Picasso’s paintings. Recuenco brilliantly achieves this reference to Cubism not only by the women’s clothing, but also by the perfectly placed photo fragments. Several of the photos in this series are altered so that there is an abrupt crop in the image, with extra limbs on the other side. This cleverly recreates Picasso’s ever-popular figures with extra legs, arms, or eyes. Some may say that there are just some things you can do in a painting that you cannot do in a photo. Recuenco proves this wrong with his incredible and imaginative use of make-up to mirror Picasso’s fractured portraits and misplaced facial features. In one photo, an entirely new eye is created, while in another, a sharp, black line dissects a woman’s face. Intelligent and original creativity is of no shortage in this photographer’s unbelievably beautiful series paying homage to a fellow Spanish artist.
Make sure to check out Eugenio Recuenco’s new project, a short film titled “A Second Defeat.”