Jessicka Addams’s Disturbing Paintings Capture Lost Innocence

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The indie-feminist rock-artist Jessicka Addams marries the gothic with the whimsical, creating heartbreaking portraits of innocence lost. In her wonderfully sweet yet disturbing paintings and sculptures, the artist builds a candy-coated dreamscape ripe with sexuality, drug use, and metamorphosis. Her pale, virginal subjects look much like babydolls possessed, embodiments of mythical female mischief and corruption. These works, in some ways, serve as testaments to the pains and labors of the biblical Eve, the mythological Medusa.

Addams’s work is elegantly imbued with an uncomfortable anxiety that arises from the tension between icons of innocence and the suggestion of impurity. Rabbits, used in early Christian art, symbolize the coming of spring, the resurrection, and the rebirth of innocence. Here, this iconographical connotation is poignantly subverted; alongside images of bleeding nostrils, suggestive of cocaine use, these white rabbits could easily find themselves in the drug-induced Alice in Wonderland of Jefferson Airplane. Addams’s rabbits cry bloody pink tears and sprout sea witch limbs.

The cat, an animal both adorable and foreboding, also figures prominently in Addams’s pieces, often in the form of hybrid human or ghost. Addams’s aesthetic is distinctly modern, characterized by thick, dripping brushstrokes and somewhat taboo subject matter. Like those of the modernist trailblazer Goya, her cats seem to represent sin as it creeps in upon the untainted child; a burlap sack, with embroidered feline ears, envelops the face of a pale babe, who weeps as if mourning a lost childhood.

Addams’s exquisite works are charming and unsettling in equal measure, inspiring pity and empathy for our own former innocence. Here, human beings—especially women— are neither madonnas nor whores; instead, the human soul is a complexly woven tapestry, colored with surprising and miraculous shades of gray. Addams’s work is currently on view at The Cotton Candy Machine. (via BUST)

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Dead Woman’s Possessions Poignantly Brought Back To Life In 2-Minute Video

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In 2010, Gemma Green-Hope’s grandmother died; scanning a flimsy memorial service program, the illustrator desired a more intimate way to remember her grandmother. After inheriting her beloved relative’s old possessions, she animated them in search of traces of permanence left behind by a mortal soul. In this stop-motion video, titled Gan Gan, viewers see an entire life literally flash before our eyes; both mundane and exquisite objects are transformed into momento mori, as if we ourselves were at the moment of our death.

The whimsical, nostalgic animation elegantly draws upon literary and artistic themes of womanhood, so that in the wake of Gan Gan’s passing, a fertile, creative and distinctly feminine presence remains unharmed. Green-Hope recites the “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” hymn, a poem associated both with funerals and the sea. The sea remains a theme throughout the entire short film, and bodies of water are often seen as female, powerful, penetrable yet containing mysterious depths. The countryside, fairies, and the hearth—all iconographically seen as the woman—skip mirthfully in and out of the video. Left with the shot a books written about the sea, pulsating like waves, viewers are encouraged to see the matrilineal thread as something permanent and endlessly magical.

For Green-Hope, the cosmic and the personal are intertwined; amidst religious and natural icons, we see photographs that are poignantly unique to the deceased. Similarly, we are told in Gree-Hope’s sing-song voice specific things like “she rode a blue bicycle” and “she once shot a spider.” Unlike the mortal life, this video can be played over and over, forever preserving a memory that might otherwise fade away. (via Colossal)

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The Gruesome Artwork Of Sarah Best Will Give You Goosebumps

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The artist Sarah Best creates astounding replicas of the female body, using it as a symbol that tracks the human desire for connection and intimacy; severed from the rest of the body, her sculpted hands and a cut-out collaged breasts take on a life of their own, worming their way up walls and pages and sometimes tracking blood in the process. The work, though sometimes gruesome, maintains a pulsating beauty; as if with clear intentions, her vital sculptures navigate space, dangling from hooks and exploring piles of cloth.

From both a feminist and an aesthetic standpoint, Best’s work operates in a miraculous, subversive manner; the feminist philosopher Susan Bordo, for example, writes that the body, coded female, is often seen as passive and lacking in intellect, explaining that therefore the body alone has the power to challenge those sexist ideas. Positioning parts of the body within cubistic collages and arresting installations, Best allows it to transcend societal definitions. Rather than figuring as part of a whole to be admired and objectified, limbs actively seek out understanding of the outside world, touching and feeling everything in their paths.

Wonderfully vulnerable yet undeniably powerful, female arm bears Christ-like stigmata, and the physical body searches for spiritual meaning. The oppressive boundaries between the corporeal self— too often considered to be unintelligent, immoral, and “feminine—” and the elevated metaphysical self are effectively shattered, and a new kind of humanity begins to emerge, one to which we can all relate, one that is beautifully desirous, yearning, and sometimes lonesome.

I got the amazing chance to speak with Best, and when I asked what advice she’d give to aspiring artists, she simply said, “Keep your integrity. You will only count, for yourself and in your art, to the extend that you keep your integrity.” Take a look.

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Realistic Paintings Of Naked Breasts Make A Powerful Feminist Statement

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For The Breast Portrait Project, the artist Clarity Haynes draws inspiration for the feminist art traditions of the 1970s, from works that spliced and dissected the female body in ways that disrupted and challenged the male gaze. Cataloging the naked breasts and midsections of women who do not conform to traditional ideals of feminine allure—older women, women who have undergone childbirth, transgender women in the process of transitioning—the the painter hopes to assert the validity and beauty of all human bodies, including those that exist outside of narrowly defined physical standards. For Haynes, the act of seeing and of painting the body inherently necessitates that it be viewed with respect.

The theorist John Berger once posited that female subjects in art, imagined mostly by male painters, betray knowledge of the male gaze; staring out and the viewer (presumed to be male) for approval, their identities are split in two parts, namely the true self and the self that is watched and judged by men. In cutting out the female face, eyes, and mouth, Haynes cleverly subverts this tradition, and her women display their bodies matter-of-factly, without a trace of self-consciousness.

These female bodies, removed from a face that might otherwise reveal vulnerabilities and invite scrutiny, disallow the viewer to judge based on physical appearance. In lieu of typical signs of identity like eyes, expressive brows, or seductive lips, these private sections of the body become testaments to the individual self who chooses to stand out from the conformity of conventional female beauty standards; like a text that covers the nude body, stretch marks and scars become signifies of a vast and nuanced female experience. (via iGNANT)

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Jess Riva Cooper’s Screaming Sculptures Overtaken By Insects Reimagine Ghostly Spirits

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The artist Jess Riva Cooper’s Viral Series imagines the human body overtaken by malevolent plant life; like the bodies of the dead, her ceramic women busts are infected with ivy, flowers, and insects. Inspired by the Hebrew figures of the golem and the dybbuk, the viral females occupy a space between life and death; like golem, they are anthropomorphic beings brought to life by human (as opposed to divine) hands, but they are also seemingly suffocated by roots that harken back to the cleavage of the ominous dybbuk, a departed soul that fixes itself to the body of a living person. The word “dybbuk,” in fact, arrises from the Hebrew verb for “sticking from the root.”

Unlike the figures of Yiddish folklore, Cooper’s busts are female, modeled after the seductive sculpted faces of Classical Greece. Closing resembling the great alluring forms like Praxiteles’ Aphrodite of Cnidus, these figures abandon the feminine piety in favor of an ecstatic sexuality; serpentine vines crawl across their tender cheeks, and their mouths open wide to give birth to lush roses or to allow passage to fertile swarms of scarab beetles. Their eyes appear to roll back in sensual pleasure; their teeth gnaw on thick roots.

Cooper’s series seems to draw on ancient and Judeo-Christian mythology to construct a cohesive and elaborate narrative of female creative power; these women represent death and birth in equal measure. As the bodies of the dead are consumed by insects, they ultimately give rise to blossoming flora. This strange and natural cycle of rebirth serves as a metaphor for the artist’s beloved Detroit, where buildings and homes succumb to financial ruin and are eventually overgrown with feral plant life. Take a look. (via Colossal and HiFructose)

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Kara Walker’s Gigantic Sugar-Coated Female Sphinx Makes A Powerful Statement

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Kara Walker’s new sculpture “A Subtlety” is pure white, coated in 160,000 pounds of bleached sugar; with this modern take on the ancient sphinx, the legendary artist crafts a towering black face in honor of the slave laborers who worked in sugar cane fields. The powerful work is meant to address racial and sexual exploitation; like the sugar that coats her polystyrene core, this black female figure has been pressured, against nature, into succumbing to whiteness.

The work is now on display at the old Williamsburg, Brooklyn Domino sugar factory shed, where it reaches to the ceiling and extends for a magnificent 75 feet. The mythical creature is a powerful assertion of the black female self; the face quite resembles the artists’ own, and a carefully wrought bandana subtly references the stereotypical (and often offensive) symbol of the mammy, a slave woman who nurtured and brought up white children. Walker has been the subject of debate in the past for her use of contested imagery, and despite the controversy surrounding the “mammy” figure, she is presented here as powerful and divine.

Like the ancient sphinxes of Egypt and Greece, Walker’s monolithic creation is godly, simultaneously fearsome and comforting. The sphinx, known for protecting the tombs of royalty, becomes the guardian of history, interrupting a white-washed historical narrative to make visible the labor of the men and women who were kept enslaved. Her face is serene, assured, and unyielding. The sphinx character, in addition to being a protector, is also dangerous, renowned for devouring those who cannot answer her riddle; Walker’s sphinx is similarly confrontational in her overwhelming size, forcing viewers to confront the complex and painful history of American industry. (via The New York Times)

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Disturbing and Sweet Paintings Look Like A Dark Alice In Wonderland

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The French digital painter Lostfish creates an uncomfortable yet irresistibly alluring landscape of feminine powers; her bashful, pink-cheeked subjects reign supreme, adorned in precious jewels and sparkling crowns. The artist’s characters are abuzz with their own fertility, as expressed by bouncing nude breasts and lush flowers that seem to spring up from underfoot; also pictured are rabbits and eggs, symbols art historically associated with breeding and copulation.

The artist, influenced in part by 19th century art, works within a Victorian sensibility, reveling in an innocent, doll-like vision of femininity; her subjects, pale skinned and with impossibly delicate figures, become queens, armed with crowns and tridents. Lostfish’s female characters also seem pious, divine even; a few wear dismembered hands as jewelry, reminiscent of religious icons like the hand of God or the hand of Fatima. White flowers with yellow centers, often symbolic of the Virgin Mary in Christian art, stand in the place of youthful, milky nipples.

Yet within Lostfish’s ethereal and seductive images, there seems to linger an ominous supernatural strength within womankind. Where the Victorian woman is domestic and obedient, Lostfish’s heroines roam like wood nymphs, emboldened by their own reproductive powers; in one image depicting a human fetus within a pink oval, a foreboding reptilian creature seems to invade the womb, its grotesque navel in full view. In one painting, doll faces emerge in a group of six from blood red roses, reminiscent of biblical devil. These tempting, enchanting women dress in excess, giving themselves over to material pleasures. In Lostfish’s gorgeous imaginings the female is both delicate and demure, ravenous and dangerous. Take a look. (via HiFructose)

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Milo Moire Drops Eggs From Her Private Parts To Create Abstract Paintings

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The German performance artist Milo Moire gives birth to her paintings… literally; in pushing eggs, filled with ink and acrylic paint, from her vaginal canal, she allows them to break and splatter onto a pristine white canvas. The unusual work, titled “PlopEgg,” necessitates that the artist be nude from head to toe, and it is the first of a series of similar performances at the opening of 2014’s Art Cologne fair.

For Moire, the work embodies the creative and spontaneous powers of femininity; her exposed body and vagina give rise to streaming rivers of earthy colors: rich reds, browns, and grays. The muddied hues recall human birth, from the breaking of the water to the release of blood; her hulking, straining body stands like a statue on high, and the act of labor is elevated, made majestic and potent. The visceral image of her lengthy squat, the cracking noise as egg hits pavement, serves as a testament to the symbolic strength of the vagina, the power of both woman and the creative mind to conceive and reproduce.

Inspired perhaps by Carolee Schneemann’s 1975 Interior Scroll (and even Casey Jenkins‘s recent vaginal knitting project), Moire uses her internal sex organ to birth something external and tangible, but she simplifies the process; where Schneemann removed complex words, Moire births primitive splashes of colors. In doing so, she doubles the sensuality and feminine context of her efforts; where text is often associated with maleness, the chaotic, free-flowing aesthetic of “EggPlop” is normally iconographically linked to womanhood.

At the close of her performance, the artist folds her paper canvas like a bed sheet, sweeping over it so as to transfer the paint from one side the another. In this way, the image is reproduced; like a cell divided, one becomes two. The symmetrical of the resultant image is also evocative of the female reproductive system, vividly mirroring the uterine structure. Take a look. (via Source Fed)

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