The works of artist Marco Grassi are so realistic, they appear to be photographs of women. However, his work is not your traditional portraits. If you look again, these portraits have an offbeat element, creating surreal characteristics that cannot possibly exist in real life. Because Grassi’s incredible skill in painting allows him to create such hyper-real images, the out of place component in each painting is our only clue to these being oil paintings and not photography. The artist impeccably renders such a variety of texture; until we believe we can feel the glossy, sleek glass and the soft fabric the women are wearing in Grassi’s work. Even close up, you can see the details of each wrinkle, pore and eyelash of every woman he paints, intensifying the illusion of reality.
The twist is, the women in Grassi’s paintings are not normal, they have a hand covered in intricate patterns or a blue tree stretching across their upper torso, both like glowing tattoos on their bodies. One woman even has a design carved into the skin on her back, revealing not blood and bones, but hollow darkness. However strange these unexpected details may be, the women in these portraits remain just as beautiful and realistic as ever. Despite the unusual, serial quality Grassi’s paintings have, they still appear believable. We are left in awe believing in these striking, mysterious women, not knowing why they look as they do. (via Hi-Fructose)
Artist, illustrator, and muralist Saddo creates paintings that are a fusion of birds, humans, armor, and more. In stately-looking portraits, these hybrid creatures look as though they’re ready to enter battle or to try and cheat death. Sometimes, act as the grim reaper themselves. The dark-colored images match the somber subject matter, and many of Saddo’s surreal works are meant to echo that sentiment.
The catalyst for Saddo’s subject mater comes from a move to Lisbon with the artist Aitch. Some imagery is influenced by Spanish and Portuguese explorers and conquistadors from the 15th to 18th century, as well as illustrations of birds, Islamic miniatures depicting battle scenes, and science fiction movies. Other paintings are inspired by the cold. “…the winter caught us by surprise, we didn’t expect it to be so rainy, gloomy, and depressing.” Saddo explains.“It deeply affected our mood and even our physical state, we often felt trapped inside our dark, moist house, inside slow moving, joint aching bodies.” Every once and a while, a coffin would appear in their illustrations and paintings.
The culmination of these disparate influences facilitate morbid, strange, and fascinating works that have intriguing small details hidden within each composition.
Spain based artist Paco Pomet paints colorful clouds of pink and blue that consume and take over vintage scenes of landscapes. A skilled painter, Pomet uses oil paints to create surreal landscapes where his vibrant colors transform each image into something out of the ordinary. He paints his transformative palette like a wave that will eventually consume everything in its path. Pomet’s work starts out looking like vintage photos of tranquil wilderness in black and white or sepia tones, but then a burst of colored slime oozes and covers the scene. His fluffy pinks and fiery reds cut through the composition to reveal new elements, changing the situation and meaning of each image. Not only does this now distort the circumstance of the painting, but also the setting has become a whole different world where anything is possible. This is a place where tree trunks can glow, the sky can drip, and mountains can break in half. Each color is placed cleverly and adds a bit of humor and curiosity to his work.
Pomet’s paintings show influence of traditional western paintings and landscapes, with their inclusion of desert scenes, covered wagons, and cowboys. His choices of misfit colors do not only break up this traditional imagery, but ads a contemporary, dream-like quality not unlike that of contemporary pop-surrealism. His paintings hint at analogue photography, but with elements of modern design.
Paco Pomet is represented by Richard Heller Gallery in Santa Monica, CA and currently has a solo exhibition on view until February 15th. Make sure to see the artist’s incredible work in person while you have the chance!
Beijing artist Wang Ruilin dreams of animal/nature hybrids, surreal and beautiful, influenced by fine art techniques and aesthetics. In his ongoing series, “Pursuit of Dreams,” these unreal images come to life as large copper sculptures.
Some of the animals carry landscapes: cloud lined mountains rest on deer-like antlers; a relief map spreads across the back of a yak; the backs of a crocodile and a whale hold mountain ranges. In Ark, another whale serves as vessel, holding an ocean and icebergs on its back. The play of scale in familiar forms makes these sculptures somewhat whimsical, despite their literal interpretation. The integration of living creature with land mass and body of water lends an added dimension to the idea of “nature.”
“The Ark series is the result of my most recent efforts. Infused with my true feelings and emotions, they send the message that life sustains nature. As I grew older with more life experience, I started to doubt what I used to learn. These works are the denial of our current world and a depiction of an ideal one. I oppose the self-centeredness of human beings and the ruthless exploitation of other species and natural resources. I seek harmony with the nature. Nature’s greatness lies in her inclusion of everything on earth, while man’s greatness lies in his perception of his own smallness.”
Some of the “Pursuit of Dreams” sculptures are more streamlined versions of actual animals. With their smooth surfaces and self-contained air, the Horse, Rhino and Bird sculptures reveal Ruilin’s life-long interest in animals. His art influences are also long-standing:
“Eastern classical art also gives me inspiration. I like deep and pure Chinese flowers and bright and cool verdigris with rich colors and full of profoundness and uniqueness.”
The faces in UK artist Carl Beazley’s portraits are twisted and multiplied, clearly surreal, yet based on real faces with their pores and blemishes. Completely self-taught, the 26-year old artist credits his unique point of view to being able to find his own voice absent the outside influence of teachers or mentors.
“….by not going to University and not studying the all different painting techniques from history, I feel it has given me the freedom of learning from trial and error. I am always trying to look for something new and original that’s never been done before, and although I love the paintings of the old masters, it is important to me to look to the future so that in a hundred years from now we have our own history, not just a regurgitated version of the generation that came before us ……if we don’t try to take art to the next level by looking forward, we will just end up going in circles.”
It’s an interesting view of an art education, especially in light of the fact that of the artists whose works are influential to him, Picasso attended several art schools and Francis Bacon was an art school tutor. For all of the interesting ideas and successful execution of his work, it’s clear that Carl Beazley is just starting out in art, and in life.
“I’m fully aware that I’m only at the very early stages of this artistic journey and I have a hell of a lot of experimenting and searching to do before I’ll be totally happy. In fact I don’t think I’ll ever be content with my work, which is a good thing because it keeps you going! In a weird way, I’m content in not being content. (Source)”
It will be interesting to see how Beazley’s art progresses, and to follow his career to find out if he ever finds any value in learning from the past to change his view of the future. Perhaps he’d find that an excellent art education is more than landscapes and art history and color theory. His work is very good—maybe allowing outer voices in could help make it great.
In Enrique Gomez De Molina’s hands, animals become chimeras—multiple animals blended into one fantasy, nightmare creature. His taxidermied beasts are at once weird and wonderful, absorbing and off-putting. “I guess I like to play God, “ he laughs in a Thrillist interview. Two swan heads share a goat’s body. A nasty little crab/rodent sneers at the camera. Bird’s bills and fur, antlers and insects join seamlessly to make creatures that defy nature. Gomez De Molina says of his strange menagerie:
“The impossibility of my sculpture brings me both joy and sadness at the same time. The joy comes from seeing and experiencing the Fantasy of the work but that is coupled with the sadness of the fact that we are destroying all of these beautiful things.”
Ironically, Gomez De Molina may be indirectly contributing to that destruction himself. Arrested for illegally importing animal parts, he pled guilty in 2012 and received 20 months in federal prison for trafficking in endangered and protected wildlife. Though he declares the best of intentions for his actions—bringing attention to the plight of endangered animals—his purchases certainly created a deathly supply for his demand. Why take such a risk? His taxidermied chimeras sold for up to $80,000 before his arrest.
Gomez De Molina’s side is that he wants “to bring awareness to the danger faced by a multitude of species: nuclear and chemical waste, overdevelopment, and destruction of rainforests.” U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer doesn’t see it that way.
“For years, DeMolina illegally imported parts and remains of endangered and threatened species, including a cobra, a pangolin, hornbills, and the skulls of babirusa and orangutans, and used them to create taxidermy pieces. … Trafficking in endangered and threatened species, whether for personal profit or under the guise of art, is illegal.”
It remains to be seen whether Gomez De Molina will return to art now that his exotic art supplies have been confiscated.
The title “Skate Fails” evokes a series of aborted tricks and falls, but in the hands of ceramist Xavier Mañosa and Alex Trochut for Mañosa’s brand Appartau, it’s the skateboard itself that fails. Made for the San Francisco based company FTC, these ceramic pieces are ingenious riffs on skateboarding’s perils, from the accordion of an abrupt stop to the shattered pieces of a too rough ride. Even in this deconstructed form, the boards are recognizable thanks in part to the inclusion of skate trucks. Mañosa said:
“The idea comes from the attempt to translate the skateboard to Dali’s liquid clocks. Alex and I started experimenting with different kinds of liquids, like honey or acrylic paint, observing how it dripped and flowed. We applied these exercises to the ceramic skateboard, melting it and seeing how it burned and wrinkled. The outcome was the collection of melted boards.” (Source)
It’s a clever idea executed beautifully, in clear, bright colors, glossy metallics, and nebulous form. The curiously lovely distorted and broken forms serve also as grim reminder of the skateboard riders’ reality, where a stray rock or crack can mean a hospitalization or worse.
“Ceramics are fragile and if they fall they break; something very important in my work,” Mañosa said. “I don’t create indestructible things.” (Source)
Not indestructible, but bright, interesting, and utterly cool.
Swedish photographer Erik Johansson creates surreal photographs that capture the supernatural in the everyday. Although they’re obviously doctored, his skills make the compositions look as though they’ve really happened. We see a lot of things that take place in open spaces and nature, and Johansson’s subjects are shown literally sewing up a landscape, effortlessly rowing through a green field, and setting the ships in a painting free into the ocean.
Johansson looks at photography as a way to collect material and to realize the ideas in his mind. He looks at every new project as a challenge to make it as realistic as possible, and he often succeeds. It’s part of the fun that goes along with Johansson’s work, because we generally think of photography as a documentation of something that actually happened; seeing wintered ushered in via someone’s bed sheets, for instance, creates a delightful confusion. We know that there’s no way that this picture is possible, but Johansson has crafted it so realistically that for a second we might believe it.