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.
Artist Pierre Schmidt constructs surreal worlds filled with the inner horrors of the subconscious, both terrifying and beautiful. Using photo-manipulation, illustration, and collage, he combines both traditional and digital methods to create scenes of people with faces dripping right off their skulls. Many of his disturbing, melting face runs down the composition, only to reveal sudden bouquets of flowers. Using vintage photographs, he collages imagery of 1950’s housewife types lounging about, only to be caught up in a peculiar and fantastic scene. Schmidt’s work is highly psychological, as many of his pieces have titles based on the theories and writings of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. His flowing faces crack open the hidden psyche, pouring out its contents for us to examine. The face being a vessel of identity, Schmidt strips his characters of this so that we may look inwards into our own mind.
The Berlin based artist offers us a glimpse into a strange world of bizarre happenings, filled with faceless ladies, lush flora, and silhouettes that contain galaxies. Schmidt’s work is full of emotion and internal awareness, leaving us to sort out his stunning and complicated mash of imagery. We are left to decipher his sliced open heads, melting eyes, and rainbows oozing from faces. Like stream of consciousness, Schmidt melds together his illustrations with a unifying flow, effortlessly forming captivating and magnetic work. (via Hi-Fructose)
The dark, mysterious painting and drawings of artist Constantine Lianos are full of psychological paradoxes and allegories. This Greece-based artist creates windows into a strange world where troubled beings and mythological creatures exist. Devoid of color, Lianos sets an unnerving mood appropriately complimenting his equally disturbing individuals that appear to be in a never-ending struggle. Each figurative narrative he illustrates portrays fable-like characters that are in a personal crossroad or inner struggle, contemplating their own fate. The artist himself draws inspiration from his own personal reflections. The internal struggle that is represented in Lianos’s work is something relatable to everyone. What makes this so captivating is the bizarre and surreal situations that we find depicting this turmoil. You can see conflicting emotions in the faces of each character. Doubt, fear, indecision, and even anger can be found in his peculiar circumstances.
A talented figure painter, Lianos is not interested in rendering reality, but instead a more abstract idea with less restraints. The artist’s work pulls influence from a large range of sources such as street art, comics, and imagery from classic art movements. Interested in paradoxes, he believes art is a place where illusion and reality meet, where a new construction of the world can begin to form. The artist explains this in relations to his process. (via Hi-Fructose)
“The painting process is for me the ultimate introspection process, where the rational and the emotional are inseparable, where the method meets the random.”
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)