Often treading between reverence and ridicule, the mystifying allure of art that reiterates sexual transgression remains suspended within a deviating purgatory of the sacred and the obscene. Buoyantly drifting within the underbelly of normative culture, the erotic and transgressive create a synergetic relationship in a strike against societal conventions. Through a crude presentation of social perversions, the atmosphere created through sexually transgressive art permits an insight that challenges not only sexual precepts, but invites a critique of human behavior irrevocably influenced by social structures. In an explosive resurgence of suppressed sexual impulses, the following artists create frantic, tense and exquisitely obscene renderings of deviations and sexualized social distortions.
Playing on the enticement of the black mirror, or, the darker recesses of our own perceived realities, fascinations revolving around the occult has infiltrated and renegotiated the perceivable world as we know it to be. Contemporary examinations of the occult and mysticism has surged in creating a more modern vernacular of symbology rooted in spiritualism, skewing the tangible under the scope of what is sensed and experienced as opposed to what is seen. Confronting the enigma of the unknown, investigations of the preternatural have transformed the material world through its semi-erotic explorations of the unconscious and the supposed spirit world. Evoking a sense of histories long since passed, fascinations with the paranormal are found not only within its connotations with Surrealism and Dada, but has since found itself increasingly commercialized through a dilution into popular culture.
The following artists present an elusive understanding and reflection on mysticism and the occult. Straying from any form of irony, kitsch or inapt nostalgia, their employment of the occult acts instead as a new means of dialogue and spiritual resolve.
There’s a pervasive sense of childlike fantasy that seems to underline many pop surrealist works. Make-believe animals that don checkered coats, tight rope walkers and re-imagined cats all vibrate within and beyond the confines chosen by each artist at hand.
The alluring world of pop surrealism frequently ushers in a sense of mythical innocence and humor, unifying the superficial world of popular culture with the recesses of the unconscious. With underlying themes of fragility and the macabre delicately hidden beneath a veil of cultural kitsch, saccharine sweet dreamscapes transform and redefine a caustically bright world enamored with packaged goods. The fantastical worlds created through the lens of the following artists explores the relationship between the seemingly pristine and the accompanying bittersweet decay that dwells beneath it. Featured artists include: Casey Weldon, Mac Sorro, Rafael Silveira, Leslie Ditto, and Britt Ehringer.
In his soulful, surreal paintings, Eddy Stevens imagines a world dominated by intuition and emotion, abandoning the mundane for an ethereal landscape dominated by female sensual power. In his wondrous vision, the woman, a heroine modeled after his wife Sophie, sheds her clothes, forging a primal connection with the natural world. The horse, in his majestic equine glory, mirrors the innocent nakedness of the woman, his massive muscles rippling parallel to her bosom.
In Stevens’s evocative images, raw, exposed sexuality is a source of spiritual strength rather than shame, fueling miracles like levitation and mysterious candle lights. Here, the domestic space of the house cannot contain the divinity of woman, and its walls crumble at her feet; she, like the horse, is free to roam infinite wildness.
Stevens’s cornerstone motifs, the nude female and the white horse, are reminiscent of the work of surrealist master Salvador Dalí, whose 1946 painting The Temptation of Saint Anthony also imagined the gift of levitation. But Stevens’s impressive body of work differs in its treatment of the nude and the equine creature; where Dalí presents them as perverse and frightful temptations, both symbols of the desires of the flesh, Stevens depicts them tenderly, as embodiments of purity and strength. This vision is perhaps most fully realized in “Birth of a Dream,” a painting depicting a trinity of nudes following a horse as he ascends into the clouds above. In a stunning reversal of Dalí’s imagery, the parade is shown from the back; instead of falling to earth, they climb to the holy heavens. Take a look. (via HiFructose)
The French photographer Marwane Pallas’ painterly photographs contain within their borders an uncomfortable blend of allure and violence. His work centers around the body, honing in on its urges and most private yearnings. At times, the body itself is seen in profound sharpness, crystal clear, while it also sometimes bleeds sensual color, as if painted on a canvas. Pallas’ highly stylized images read more like murals than photographs, deliberately and seductively drawing us into a fictitious and allegorical narrative.
With his series What I Eat, the artist presents human appetite as an visceral marker of identity; a housewife is forced to eat her clothes iron, and a (possibly transgender) woman, having undergone a breast augmentation, munches on a plastic barbie doll, symbolic of the idealized female form. A cancer patient dips his cigarettes in ketchup, and a priest hesitates for just a moment before devouring a wooden crucifix.
In This Is My Body, religious allegorical icons stand in for an overwhelming eroticism. Eve in the Making presents the artist as still and pale as marble, wounded like Jesus Christ, engaging in an act of intimacy with a translucent head, whom we might imagine to stand in for God. In another self-portrait, a nose bleed causes blood, seen as wine like the blood of Christ, to drip over his parted lips into a glass below. A candle drips onto a pair of praying hands; on closer inspection, we see that the waxy light lays in place of a man’s erect phallus. Like Eve, the artist into apple that ultimately brings death, containing within it an ominous skull.
In Sur/Face, this sensualized physical body undergoes a metamorphosis, veering into a metaphysical and spiritual realm. Enchanted forests cover the artist’s head, and mossy roots stand in for veins. The flesh cracks open to reveal a layer of fresh new skin. Take a look.
Legendary Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger, has died this past Monday, May 12th,2014 after sustaining injuries from a fall. He was 74. Born on February 5, 1940 in the rural town of Chur, Switzerland, the artist showed an interest in dark art forms from an early age but trained to be an industrial designer at the School of Applied Arts in Zurich.
Geiger was best known for designing the iconic “xenomorph” creature in the Alien movie franchise, and for his work in Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ambitious film, “Dune”.
Giger’s nightmarish imagery-a blend of mechanical and biological androids-was in fact fueled by his own bad dreams and by an early interest in artists like Salvador Dali and Ernst Fuchs. The artist kept a journal by his bed so he could record the imagery. Wired reported that Giger had “an idyllic childhood in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. But it harbored forbidding structures and estranged elements that left an impression on a child subjected to night terrors and panic attacks.”
An early series of controversial art, most likely influenced by his perturbed childhood nightmares and anxieties, landed Giger a gig to create the album cover of the 1973 Emerson, Lake & Palmer album, “Brain Salad Surgery.” After his success with the English progressive rock trio, Giger became highly solicited in the movie business.
After winning an Academy Award for visual effects on “Alien,” the artist continued to experiment in show business by designing sets for “Poltergeist II” (1986) and “Alien III” (1992).
Giger, however, found himself disliking Hollywood. Later after the last Alien movie, he retreated back to Zurich in hopes that he could get back to being a visual artist for his own sake.
In 1998, the artist founded the H.R. Giger Museum in Gruyeres, Switzerland. Since then, Giger was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame and worked on several other projects- including a guitar line with Ibanez. (via NPR and Daily News)
The Taiwanese photographer Yung Cheng Lin presents the female body in unusual, erotic and sometimes absurd ways; his surreal, staged images capture a raw sensuality that oscillates between the fantastic and the grotesque. Here, women are seen initially as objects of desire, but they contort their bodies in ways that defy objectification and veer into abstraction.
Lin’s images, wrought with sexual tension, are at times uncomfortable to look at; a girl grips a box of milk, and its liquid ejaculates on and into her ear. Another woman holds a ripened, banana, which we might assume to be symbolic of the phallus, between her thighs; a finger penetrates and abstracted mound of flesh. A replica of the Mona Lisa sits between a woman’s legs, the part of hair mimicking a vulvar shape. The viewer, often seeing these female subjects from above, feel like strange voyeurs, peering into intimate rituals undetected.
Amidst Lin’s exploration of sexuality is a growing sense of anxiety that may be read perhaps a fear of female sexual power. A rose intimately penetrates a woman’s throat, and her head falls back and out of the frame as if in pleasure. But this symbolic intercourse is foreboding, dangerous: the flower is dead, wilted, and blood trickles down the model’s neck. Dead bugs infest the sets, sitting atop bananas and dangling from blood-red threads, signifying impending decay. Like drone bees who flock to mate with their queen only to die after the moment of fertilization, the insects fall at the feet of women. Take a look. (via Lost at E Minor and White Zine)
The incredible sand sculptures of Carl Jara more closely resemble ancient carved marble or surrealist daydreams than they do ordinary sand castles. His giant creations can reach an astounding height of fifteen feet, delightfully dwarfing beach goers and casting shadows across the sand. Jara has won several local, national, and international competitions with his powerful work.
Jara’s sculptural content seems to take a cue from his medium; each piece is devastatingly impermanent, fragile and vulnerable in the face of waves and rain. The carefully-constructed form of the sculptures express a similar evanescent quality, appearing as if they might vanish at any moment. The human body is split in two, and the flesh magically loses its materiality, intermingling with draped fabric. Here, bisecting the nude form is as simple unzipping a zipper that lines the torso; in this surreal realm, it appears as though we may shed our physical, mortal bodies like clothing.
And yet, somehow these images suggest a spiritual permanence of the creative self. Though the human figure is shown as transient, and although the artwork will surely vanish with the tides, Jara’s body of work hints at an invisible and unknown infinity. A man opens himself, revealing countless tiny selves arranged like Russian dolls. A piece titled Infinity presents a man, a philosopher maybe, holding unending manifestations of his own thought within a large, curved palm. Like grains of sand, we humans will one day be washed away, but in some surreal universe, our identities will be repeated, remembered time and again. (via Colossal)