French artist Fabian Mérelle creates surreal illustrations that are as nightmarish as they are beautiful. Rendering incredibly detailed scenes with a dark side, his depictions of monsters and strange creatures are reminiscent of Goya’s more sinister illustrations. Fabian Mérelle constructs fantastic and elaborate scenes of dreamlike proportion, stretching the imagination and filling our minds with mystery. Each scene is like a fairytale or fable that may not have a happy ending. The foul creatures that invade Mérelle’s intriguing work seem to have come from mythology or legend.
The drawings are showing an obsession for detail veering on mania and pointing out the precision of a line layed minutely with China ink. If he pays homage to the Little Nemo comics, he projects the spectator in a universe much more complex, mixing evil spirits, watches and childhood fears. -Fabian Mérelle
Many of Fabian Mérelle’s drawings are somewhat simple in nature, but speak volumes to the artist’s skill once we examine the attention to detail made with ink. His muted palette is balanced with a shadowy atmosphere and a hazy mood. What is so amazing about the artist’s work is that even the most bizarre subject is anatomically correct, even with gargoyles picking at the figure’s body, an elephant standing on its back, or when the figures is halfway turning into a fallen tree. Although holding an ominous tone, Mérelle’s illustrations captivate us and throw us head first into childlike imagination.
Michelle Kingdom uses thread like paint in her highly expressive embroidery of peculiar situations. Her dense embroidery builds up layers of colors and textures, using each stitch to create intricate compositions. Although small in scale, each composition seems to hold endless mystery as it illustrates captivating narratives that are somewhat dreamlike in nature. The artist embraces the use of the thread as a line, as she often connecting the figures included her in work. It is amazing how Michelle Kingdom uses a simple thread to create shadow and depth in her incredibly detailed artwork.
Michelle Kingdom’s surreal work expresses truth and illusion, feelings of expectation and loss. They are small in scale but contain a large amount of emotion and depth. Each of her pieces depicts quirky, ominous scenes full of fun and color. However, we can feel a palpable sense of uncertainty as we are left questioning what exactly happening to the subjects. Her work portrays both beauty and Michelle Kingdom explains further her impressive body of work.
“My work explores psychological landscapes, illuminating thoughts left unspoken. I create tiny worlds in thread to capture elusive yet persistent inner voices. Literary snippets, memories, personal mythologies, and art historical references inform the imagery; fused together, these influences explore relationships, domesticity and self-perception.”
Something strange is happening in the food chain in Josh Keyes’ new paintings. He renders powerful animals dominating the land; living among other species that they would otherwise never see in current times. A polar bear and a deer swim with the sharks in this artist’s surreal world where creatures run wild. His previous body of work featured the same majestic beasts, but in a sort of diorama display that has you feeling like you are a bystander looking in. Keyes’ new paintings immerse you right into the scene, creating a whole new atmosphere. The environments created are surreal, yet they seem familiar due to the common iconography included in the compositions. Although there are no humans present in any of Keyes’ paintings, we do see remnants of human life. Abandoned traces of civilization remain in the artist’s dystopian world. Street signs exist, but the roads are no longer there, now covered in plant life. Broken down, rusty cars are now trampled by wild fauna and vacant building’s are now part of their playground.
Josh Keyes’ work leaves us asking, what has happened to this world? More importantly, it asks, is this world better or worse than our own? There is a strong sense of environmental politics in the paintings, as the images could possibly be a warning sign for our not so distant future. The natural environment has been changing for some time at the hand of humans. Could this bizarre world be where this path is leading us? Living in Portland, Oregon, Josh Keyes feels a strong affinity with nature and the beautiful, natural environment around him. His incredibly realistic paintings are intriguing as they pull you into both their surreal beauty and their environmental urgency.
Artist Patricia Piccinini has a very impressive and eclectic range of artistic talents. Her body of work includes drawings, installations, and even a giant hot-air balloon that has floated across Australia. Her astonishingly hyper-real sculptures, however, truly give you an image that you will not soon forget. Made from silicone, acrylic, and fiberglass, Patricia Piccinini forms creatures that appear to be somewhat human, but altogether alien. They seem to be alive, as they stare back at you with emotion-filled eyes. They exhibit traits of humans, like lifelike hair and fleshy skin, but are unmistakably not. It is as if they are hybrid animals living amongst us. Many of her sculptures include one of her hairless, mutated creatures alongside of what appears to be a real human. The dichotomy between this possible mutated creatures and a “human” is interesting, because neither one is actually real.
Patricia Piccinini’s work explores ethical issues surrounding cloning, DNA, and genetic mutation. Her shocking sculptures point a firm finger at human kind’s manipulation of nature and the possible consequences. The effect science has on the natural world and the creatures inhabiting it are a reoccurring theme in Piccinini’s work. We see her sculptures that look so realistic; it is as if these grotesque creatures really do exist. Portraying them with human-like features gives way to pity and empathy for the creatures. The artist’s incredibly intriguing work is one of unbelievable skill that holds a strong, often controversial, message on genetic alteration and mankind’s hand in nature.
The multitalented, Berlin-based artist James Reka uses striking colors and organic shapes to create his unique style of painting. Known as “REKA” as a street artist, his large-scale murals steal the spotlight in any setting, whether it be the railway lines of Melbourne, where he is originally, from, or the alleyways of Berlin. Heavily influenced by pop-culture, cartoons, and illustration, his work possesses a pulsating rhythm that brings the streets alive. His abstracted figures take on new shape and form in psychedelic waves that weave back and forth. With a palette reminiscent of the 70’s, Reka’s curved lines swirl around his compositions, creating a sense of depth that is both flattened and rounded, forming incredibly unique aesthetics.
Reka uses influence from his logo design background, integrating a pop-surrealist style into his murals and paintings. The sharp style of shapes and design used in his work creates a harsh contrast to the gritty walls and abandon buildings where his artwork often lives. His smaller paintings can be found in a more traditional environment, like on gallery walls, or in an even more unconventional place, on discarded, found objects. Reka’s newest body of work can be found at Avant Garden Gallery, located in Milan, Italy. The solo exhibition of the artist’s work, titled Olympus, exhibits paintings of Reka’s that pulls inspiration from ancient Greece. While still using his signature style, Reka renders scenes of bathhouses and Greek columns. This exhibition is on view now until July 10th.
Adam Friedman celebrates the unchanging mystery of nature in his surreal, hybrid paintings that dissect landscapes from the real world. His newest body of work is bold in color and line, as he portrays scenes of glorious mountains and unwavering glaciers. His unique style depicts scenes of tremendous natural beauty, transformed them into something even more stunning. Plates of the earth seem to shift and glaciers are mirrored in a reversed world that Friedman so skillfully creates. The artist experiments and warps perspective in his paintings, like an M.C. Escher drawing toying with our mind. Sections of mountains are divided and manipulated into geometric patterns and shape that make you question exactly what it is you are looking at. Friedman describes his artwork’s intent.
“Millions of years are compacted into a single instant and rocks become fluid. I strive to present a moment that defies human intervention in the landscape, and pays homage to the potential in the inexplicable.”
Friedman explains that his work celebrates the unknown that the natural world possesses. Society attempts to explain, examine, and make sense of our environment, but there are some things we cannot understand. The beauty in the unknown can be felt in Friedman’s powerful series that radiates with intensity. Mirus Gallery in San Francisco, California currently has a solo exhibition of Friedman’s work on view until July 11th. If you have the chance to see this exhibition, titled Into the Aether, make sure to check out his compelling paintings in person.
Romanian artist Bogdan Rata’s highly psychological sculptures contort and mold the human body. Using polyester, synthetic resin, paint, and metal, he forms hybrid realism in his mutated versions of our anatomy. Where skin usually holds a warm glow, his work exhibits a pale, lifeless aura. Limbs sit detached from the body, or even more disturbing, emerge from an unnatural place, like the face. Both unsettling and intriguing, Rata’s sculptures twist and contort, making us feel uncomfortable and suddenly very aware of our own bodies.
The sculptor’s deformed misfits reflect on the imperfection felt about our own bodies and appearances. Our own insecurities are met and reflected in Rata’s psychologically surreal artwork. His work is not only hard to look at due to their grotesque qualities, but the positions many of the sculptures are in appear painful and awkward. Each piece seems to be uncomfortable in its own skin, uncertain of its own body and what to do with it. This is a feeling we can often relate to, as becoming confident in our bodies is often a difficult part of life. Rata hints at the confusion and difficulties brought on by self-identity issues in such works as his bust of a man with no face. His distorted figures are lost, looking for acceptance. Although they at first seem misshapen and horrifying, a strange beauty and compassion can be found in Rata’s fascinating work.
Using themes of life and growth in nature, artist Myeongbeom Kim constructs stunning installations of surreal situations. His work often conveys a state of transition between two strange pairs, like he has stumbled upon bizarre metamorphoses frozen in time. Certain imagery is often repeated in Kim’s work, like deer, antlers, trees, and balloons. In one installation, a beautiful, still deer is acting as a trunk of a tree, with its antlers turning into tree branches. In another installation, it is an inanimate object like rope or a bed that is transforming into a plant. Kim’s use of balloons is rather different than his typical nature infused environment that he creates. Balloons act in fantastical, irrational ways in the artist’s work. They hold up a three-legged chair, a noose, and even a woman’s hair. Kim’s work revolving around themes of life and nature, organic elements can also be found included with his shiny, latex objects. In an incredible piece of Kim’s, a cloud of bright, red balloons float while a tree trunk and roots miraculously come forth from its cluster. This displacement of nature found in his work creates a dialogue with the viewer, evoking questions of life, death, and nature’s place in our lives.
Originally hailing from South Korea, the currently works between Seoul, South Korea and Chicago. He has exhibited all over the world and has installed his pieces in a variety of innovative spaces.