In her series, Impressions, Scout Paré-Phillips’ uses flesh as her medium by photographing the imprints left from inviting undergarments. Through an almost monochrome, yet warm and familiar palette, her photographs are simultaneously quiet, yet demanding. At first glance, the images seem to display an act of seduction; they document marks of ghost articles of clothing worn for, most likely, the purpose of creating allure. However, with further reflection, the work runs deeper, having a softer, more reflective meaning. These impressions, are, perhaps, the physical representation of emotional indentations, or the struggle of vulnerability versus dominance during the act of sex. The fragility of one’s skin cannot help but to mimic the fragility of one’s state of being. She displays slight imperfections on otherwise flawless, blank-canvas-reminiscent flesh. Impressions, the marks made on us over time, whether they be permanent or fleeting, are what make us the intricate beings that we are. The artist speaks of the work in terms of the skin of a lover. She states:
“Their skin is sacred; it is the most honest container for these people that we love, sharing with us the timelines of their lives through birthmarks, scars, blemishes, tattoos, wrinkles, bruises, and even the marks left behind daily from their clothing. It is what we covet in our lovers, and what we abuse for our pleasure.”
The photographer, musician and model, Scout Paré-Phillips, is quite prolific in her making. Her multidisciplinary body of work culminates in the foggy, slight margin that exists between innocence and cognizance. She has somehow found a niche outside the realm of binary and has created a theme that functions in paradox. Being quite young herself, the artist’s work can be explored through the lens of coming into an awakened adulthood. The work seems to be bound by the true intricacies of emotional falsities and the strange balance between darkness and light that is the essence of being human.
Thread used as a mean to draw. German artist Annegret Soltau traces her face and body with a linear thread. Joining the eyes, nose and mouth to create a web that’s structured in different shapes. Some of the webs are harmonized with the face, others are claustrophobic. The artist is posing herself, claiming that “I am using myself as a model because I can go the farthest with me.”
The tension of the thread is an analogy to the relationships she encountered with her family members in her childhood. The strenuous connection with her mother and the heavy absenceof her missing father added to a grandmother forcing her to knit instead of doing the things she liked, weighed on her ability to cope with emotional strain. She admits that without her isolated past she couldn’t have followed the path of art.
The result is a series of portraits questioning the meaning of metamorphosis. Annegret Soltau’s method is intriguing and captivating but her focus is on the result. Her art acts as a deliverance. In the video below this article, we witness her expression while the thread is wrapped around her face. We wonder if she is feeling torture or a painful pleasure. It’s a process close to self-mutilation. Releasing energy by pulling the thread on her face marks a renewal, the abandonment of negative emotions. (via INAG).
KwangHo Shin is an artist based in Yeongdeok, South Korea, who paints abstract portraits of human emotion. On massive canvases, Shin outlines the contours of a face before filling them in with thick, messy layers of oil and acrylic. As his process videos on YouTube demonstrate, he works from dark to light, allowing the paint to stream down and across the canvas before blending it out. The result is a series of “faceless” portraits, faces transformed into technicolored and monochromatic landscapes that exude a raw range of seemingly conflicting sensations: rage and sensitivity, fear and confidence, sadness and hope.
Shin’s intuitive, creative process—from blank canvas to storms of emotion—allows him to express the deep nuances of his subjects. As curator Myung-Jin You describes, “[The] complexity of human emotions, which is hard to be defined in one word, is left as momentary traces on the empty space, after the long agony of the artist’s inner side.” Following this, “the fear of blank space is collapsed, and [Shin’s] inner side’s fear and the ecstasy . . . coincide” (Source). The finished piece is a culmination of Shin’s energy that dissolves the facades of muscle and skin to reveal the textures of internal experience.
Burned heads on life-size matches. A representation of human kind living in today’s society by German artist Wolfgang Stiller. The artist works either from an established concept coming from his mind or from random pieces he finds wandering in his studio. The ‘Matchstick Men’ series got created from left over molds he once used while working in Beijing and thick bamboo woods lying in his studio. Wolfgang Stiller started out by playing around with the heads and the sticks until they both merged, the heads on top of the sticks. The artist is interested in in-situ (specific site) installations. Therefore, the need to build matchboxes and different heights of ‘Matchstick Men’ became obvious.
This faces lying on the bottom of a matchbox resemble vulnerable corpses lying in a coffin. Each face, each person has a similarity with its neighbor. They all experienced a tragedy and are now resting in piece. The fact that they seem to always be displayed as a group of more than two matches makes the process easier to contemplate. Because staring at these heads makes us feel compassion and care. Wolfgang Stiller is not looking for a general interpretation of his art. He creates for a reason and has his own intent but he prefers to leave a space for interpretation between the art piece and the viewer. (via Fubiz).
Guillermo Lorca is a Chilean artist who infuses Baroque- and Renaissance-influenced paintings with touches of surrealism, fantasy, and paranoia. In scenes of luxury and violence, bright-haired children wander around in the company of shadowy, mythical beasts. The classical style and carefully planned (and almost theatrical) compositions lend Lorca’s works an air of gravitas and serenity, but among his innocent and otherworldly characters are signs of deep trouble and impending chaos, such as smoke-filled skies, bloodied animal carcasses, and snarling dogs. Similar to the Flemish vanitas, his works are beautiful, symbolic visions that teeter on the verge of becoming nightmares of death and human excess.
The ambiguity that permeates from Lorca’s paintings allows him to tell stories through metaphor, thereby exploring the shape of the human soul. Just as fairy tales transmit their veiled messages across generations, his imagery can be unpacked to uncover layers of meaning. For example, there is savagery and madness in the dogs that demolish a pristine-white table setting into a mountain of blood and gore; there is obscenity and greed in the animal-headed clowns who topple over platters of uneaten meat; and the child sitting courageously in the burning field alludes to a loss of innocence. The beautiful thing about Lorca’s works, however, is that their immense detail and seductive atmosphere allows the viewer to extract his or her own meaning, one that resonates across time to masterfully portray symptoms of the human psyche and experience.
Artist Emma Kohlmann creates ink drawings of amorphous figures performing sexual acts. Her delicately explicit work almost mimics a Rorschach Test. Upon first glance, we are confronted with an abstract, puddle-like treatment of ink. As we enter the work further, we find ourselves in an intimate realm of masturbation, cunnilingus, voyeurism and fluid erotica.
Kohlmann uses source material such as vintage porn and Japanese erotica. Her large collection of content allows her to generate a prolific body of work. A major aspect of her process is simply the act of her constant making. She states:
“Most of this work is an exploration of repetition. I like having a accumulation of images and working in multiples because I can never create the same image twice. Every time I create the details I focus on change. I like focusing on androgyny or addressing sex as multiplicity in finite or non binary.”
Kohlmann’s distorted figures are simultaneously omniscient and innocent, similar to the portraits of Marlene Dumas. Each drawing is both commanding, yet self conscious, a dichotomy that exposes the true complexity of the sexual being. Her work has a natural rawness that is almost brutally honest and inherently feminist, as sex can be both an act of power and shame. There is an innate sense of relatable vulnerability. Her nameless, faceless, genderless, figures are somehow no one and everyone, allowing them to provide an of existential sense of isolation. Her work has a softness, sincerity, and intricacy that echoes the true confusion of beingness.
For more of Emma Kohlmann’s work, check out her blog or follow her on Instagram
In her latest series of ceramic and underglaze sculptures entitled Habitats Collide, artist Crystal Morey underlines the role and impact of human beings on nature in the most melancholic sense. Her work represents human beings with stern looks on their faces “encased” in the bodies of animals. Morey states that the animals she has chosen for this series are either endangered or extinct, which adds to the thoughtful aspect of her project.
She states that her work is inspired by the Byzantine, Renaissance and Ancient Egyptian eras. It also bears a strong resemblance to Native American totem art, due to the visible ridges in the pieces which are designed to look like fur as well as the merging of human and animal forms. Her work, being inherently totem like is thought provoking on many levels beyond its aesthetic composition.
Her representation of human beings as both a part of nature and a problem for nature is in line with many current debates concerning the role of humans as linked to the impact we have had and continue to have on our environmental surroundings. She states that her work seeks to address “current psychological, environmental, and cultural feelings”, which she does perfectly through the facial expressions of the human components in her work. She hopes to create a dialogue centered on technology, progress, and, on a greater scale our relationship with nature.
In her series, Real American Beauty, photographer and filmmaker Liza Mandelup invites us to follow her on a challenge to define the word Beauty. Throughout the series, we travel with Mandelup to different regions of the country where she exposes each place for its own unique glamor.
The first episode takes us to Mr @ Ms Hair Studio in South Central, LA. Here we meet a group of women who speak about their time spent getting dolled up as therapeutic revival. The second episode brings us to a prom focused suburb in Long Island, New York. There we meet a town of mothers obsessed with their daughters’ ability to fit in. In the third, most recent episode, we are introduced to a boxing community of young Cuban men in Miami, FL. The members yearn to look tough and to stand out (and believe they can do so with the perfect hair cut).
Through her short documentary series, Mandelup stimulates us to question if there is such thing as a singular beauty. Her work hints that the notion of beauty is in no way universal. Her series conveys to us that, possibly, our perceptions of beauty are ingrained in us no differently than our senses of right and wrong. Maybe our aesthetic prerogatives are just as complicated as any other set of ideologies. Here we see that the concept of style is just as vastly extensive as identity itself. Perhaps Liza Mandelup is showing us that the word “beauty” has itself become obsolete.