Stripping is pretty cool, but stripping to songs takes it that much further. Imagine, if you will, the H.M.S. Pinafore with g-strings. Or just imagine burlesque, which combines showmanship, rump shaking, and a generous pinch of snark to create one saucy form of theater. But performers are more than the sum of their tassels, and photographer Nicky Devine has been smart enough to document the burlesque community from behind the scenes, giving us a candid look at those who spend their lives in service of this bawdy entertainment.
Melanie Bonajo’s work is stunning. Her work are like bizarre living effigies to household self-bondage via the bric-a-brac of every day life that so literally and metaphorically “tie us down.” On the one hand hilarious in their absurdity, and on the other depressing in their attempt to lay bare self, domesticity and the modern world, Bonajo’s works are impossible, sexual, beautiful and seductive. Her show opens this May 14th, at PPOW gallery.
Erik Jones paints a blend of vibrant, colorful, graphic-orientated paintings with hyper realistic, disconnected parts of women’s bodies. Originally from St Petersburg, Florida he moved to New York with $81 and took different jobs in the comic industry – an influence to which he owes his distinct graphic style. They are a original mix of pop styling with hard lines and distinct patterns, sporadic mark making and illustrative details of the female form. High fashion magazine-style renderings of faces, breasts and limbs are broken up and disjointed by digital-like patterns.
Realizing his passion for illustration and figure rendering, Jones initially was drawn to animation and creating stimulating visuals. Not completely satisfied by just animating, he applied the techniques he learnt to painting. He starts his creative process with a photoshoot, or various inspirational photos, then adds the figure reference and refines it digitally. He explains more:
I build on top of the figure as if they were wearing these shapes. I’ll also create patters with the shapes to move your eye around in a structured way. Despite all the clutter and chaos in these newer works, there is something soothing and comfortable in each piece, at least I feel there is. I believe it’s the patterns that you’re subconsciously finding that keep it from being completely chaotic and overwhelming to look at. (Source)
Jones uses several different types of media to build up a textured, layered, collage look. Even though his work is a blend of so many different elements, he tries to give equal weighting to each of them. He says most importantly for him is to keep a harmonious balance, and not to glorify the figure.
Women at different stages of their lives posing in seductive, awkward and humorous poses. Chanel Von Habsburg-Lothringen, in her series ‘Seduced and Abandoned’, creates photo collages with singular elements and wide close ups of skin and hair. Using her own method, she depicts the theme of abandonment. A testimonial of events from her past and feelings left from a traumatic up-bringing.
Chanel Von Habsburg-Lothringen collects 1970’s National Geographics. She is influenced by the unusual lay out of the ads. She also uses poses from 1980’s magazines archives as inspiration for her shootings. The exaggerated close ups and the appearance of elements such as medical supplies, a doll and a set of false teeth attract the viewer despite the oddity of the pictures. Most of the props were used by the artist’s grandmother and evoke fragility and mortality. One of the major component of the work is the use of a plastic mask and a wig. Generating an unsettling feeling, it increases the viewer’s curiosity of knowing more about the person hiding behind the mask. The grouped images, piled up in one area of the frame creates a claustrophobic feeling.
It is of course all orchestrated by the artist. Her purpose is to trigger an introspection. By displaying domestic activities in her work blended with flesh and enticing poses, Chanel Von Habsburg-Lothringen narrates her story as an abandoned child and her reality at home at that time. Wanting to say it all through the collages, the artist seems to install a distance between herself and the viewer. The mask and the wig are a way to progress incognito while she is telling her story. The grandmother, used a symbol of death and mortality combined to a bright contrasted background blurs the lines of the artist’s intentions to reveal it all through her art. “creating photographs where it is unclear if the subject is reflecting on her own past, looking forward to the future, or trapped somewhere in between.”
Bill Dunlap‘s portfolio is a wealth of revulsion. These images, from Dunlap’s “Black” series, look like viscera made of paint and bad moods. Woe betide the five-year-old who finds one of these faces lurking under their bed at night.
Allan Ludwig’s simple paintings are curious. The majority of his work online is painted primarily in only three colors – black, blue, and white. His variety in brush strokes and weight of the ink color change his minimal compositions, which often include references to eyes, basic representations of landscape, and barriers or obstructions. More after the jump!