Whimsical Animals Sculpted From Dreams By Wang Ruilin Carry The World On Their Back

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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.”

(via This is Colossal)

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Carl Beazley’s Surreal Distorted Portraits

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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.

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Exotic Taxidermied Creatures Land Their Creator in Jail

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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.

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Distorted Ceramic Skateboards Influenced By Skateboarding Fails

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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.

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Erik Johansson’s Photos Appear So Realistic You Might Believe They’re Real

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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.

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Dreamlike Food Photography Creates Alternate Edible Worlds

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Russian self-taught photographer Dina Belenko creates alluring still life images which she calls “photoillustrations”. Combining creative and well arranged compositions with photography and a little bit of photo manipulation skills, Belenko creates beautiful food photography starring various inanimate objects: food products, utensils and other props.

According to the photographer, “every object around us keeps our emotions, expectations, feelings”, thus photographing things and capturing their soul can be equated to making powerful human portraits. To create her daydream-like photographs, Belenko uses simple everyday materials: sugar cubes, coffee, paper cutouts, clay models, etc. To get more exquisite accessories, like dentistry or jewelry tools, she delves into old closets or visits flea markets.

Belenko also feels the need to manifest the possibilities behind still life photography. According to her, it is one of the least popular genres in Russia, mostly pictured as a boring composition of flowers and fruits.

“I prefer still life because the role of chance is incredibly limited here. You may feel as a director <…> Each failure is your own failure, but every victory is also completely yours.”

Belenko is participating in an ongoing project called “An Endless Book”. Each week, participants have to upload an artwork under a self-selected topic. At the end of 2015, a huge panoramic image will be made featuring all of their works. You can read more about it at the official website.

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Wookiees Leave The Screen And Land Next-Door In This Quirky Photo Series

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Chewbacca is a Wookiee. Bipedal and furry, a “big walking carpets,” Star Wars Wookiees run and fight and shoot. In Mako Miyamoto’s photo series, found on his website Neon Werewolf, Wookiees do much more: yoga on the lawn, roller skate in knee socks and satin jacket, swim underwater, water the lawn. In fact, Miyamoto’s Wookiees could be your next-door neighbor…in a furry mask.

“Masks have always intrigued me; being born near Halloween may have had something to do with it. I’ve always been fascinated by how they hide the person behind them while at the same time bring forth pieces of [their selves] that at first glance were shadowed by their expressions.” (Source)

This whimsical series alternates between mash-ups of TV Shows and movies (Star Wars and The Heist; Star Wars and Game of Thrones) and everyday scenes with a twist (salad bar and Wookiee, ping pong and Wookiees, wedding day and Wookiees). Funny and slightly alarming, the masks’ staring eyes, fixed grimaces, and cascades of fur make the scenes bizarre mimicries of life. Each image is individually titled, and they include “Kiss My Ace II”, “Stop Blocking my Fist with your Face”, and “Corndog Airplane.” The series is ongoing—idea after idea, Wookiee after Wookiee. Miyamoto says:

“I get my inspiration from all over; thrift stores, books, movies, open spaces, the coast, clouds, Stanley Kubrick, Portland, John Carpenter, the golden hour, the way that reflections create an unreachable reality, things that are orange, and the ocean. But not necessarily in that order.” (Source) (Via Feature Shoot)

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Laurent Millet’s Collages Evoke Life And Death By Interweaving Man And Nature

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The surreal collages of men and plants that Laurent Millet creates in his series L’Herbier portray a strong connection between nature and the man. But what is that connection? The roots of the plants are always embedded in the body, replacing veins and organs, speaking of an essential. Is the body a receptacle for these plants? Are the plants a kind of succubus, living in and through the human form?

Millet’s work also connotes a strong sense of the fragility of life, echoing Genesis, “For dust you are and to dust you will return.” Plants growing in and through the body are a strong reminder of mortality, but also that there is life in death. Nothing ever really ends.

On his website, Millet’s tags for this work are revealing. “Copertino, homme, machine, vegetal, sciences, naturelles, herbier.” Man and machine, science and vegetation. Stylistically these disparate elements come together in photographs combined with botanical and anatomical illustrations. The men photographed seem preternaturally still. Are they already dead?

The series opens with this quote:

“[…] she with a knife did off the head from the body, as best she could, and wrapping it in a napkin, laid it in her maid’s lap. Then, casting back the earth over the trunk, she departed thence, without being seen of any, and returned home […] Then, taking a great and goodly pot, of those wherein they plant marjoram or sweet basil, she set the head therein, folded in a fair linen cloth, and covered it with earth, in which she planted sundry heads of right fair basil of Salerno; nor did she ever water these with other water than that of her tears or rose or orange-flower water.”
Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron, 1349-1353, translated by John Payne, 2007, Project Gutenberg ebook

Grotesque but beautiful, it is a reminder of how there must be life after death.

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