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)
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.”