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‘Fixed It’: Portraits without a face
05.19.2017
10:12 am
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When we look at portrait paintings, we tend to look first at the face to find a connection with the subject and glean some understanding of their life experience. Portraits were once a symbol of status and class. Nowadays, while there is still some status attached to such paintings they are more often portraiture which reflects the vision of the artist rather than just a record of the subject’s importance.

New Zealand artist Henrietta Harris paints portraits that make the viewer question the essence of what they are looking at. Her work ranges from the more traditional portraits to ones where the face is distorted by color and line or obscured by mist. These paintings suggest the world that is usually beyond the artist’s ken—the interior life of the subject, their flickering thoughts, and daydreams. In a way, they remind me of Francis Bacon who distorted his portraits to present “the brutality of fact”—a more authentic representation of the subject.

A graduate of the Auckland University of Technology, Henrietta’s most recent series of paintings Fix It present well-crafted portraits finished with a slather of pink or gold paint sprayed across the subject’s face. This small but telling act of vandalism inspires the questions: Who are we looking at? Is it important that we see their face? What can we understand from their position, their clothes, or even their hair? Why was this painting made? What do we learn from it?

There is also a bit fun going on here. The term “Fixed It” is reminiscent of some words used by Doña Cecilia Giménez, the woman who famously decided to fix Elias Garcia Martinez’s 19th-century fresco of Jesus Christ, Ecce Homo, by painting a new face onto the wall. The resulting portrait looked more like Fozzie Bear or a deranged Bob Ross than the “Son of God.” Henrietta’s splash of vandalism asks what is the value of portraiture?

I’ve been drawn back time and again to Harris’ paintings over the past few days as I try to answer some of these questions.

Henrietta Harris has produced paintings for album covers, poster designs, and a whole catalog of commercial work, all of which you can see here.
 
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More of Henrietta Harris’ portraits, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.19.2017
10:12 am
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Beautiful paintings of witches, myths and devilish temptation
12.22.2016
10:45 am
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‘Witch and Cat’ (1893).
 
Let’s dig the scene.

It’s the late 1800s—the fin de siecle. Art is all Symbolism and Decadence. You’re an artist. You hang with your buddies. They’re artists too. You all think art is something more than just sex and illustration or mere surface and image. You think art is a form of magic. Artists can change reality with colors. You create pictures that express something of your experience—something from your soul.

You and your buddies have your own little club. It’s a secret brotherhood. You call yourselves Les Nabis—a Hebrew word for “prophet” or “seer.” You think of yourselves as magicians. You dabble in magic and theosophy. You talk about ideas and seek a shared philosophy—some common purpose. You create your own Nabi language and practice arcane rituals. You carry a sceptre made from the snake of wisdom and a pentagram for the occult. You kick off your secret get togethers with a neat little mantra:

Sounds, colors, and words have a miraculously expressive power beyond all representation and even beyond the literal meaning of the words.

That’s your scene.

You are Paul Ranson (1864-1909)—a French artist who takes his lead from Paul Gauguin, mysticism, the occult and spirituality. Les Nabis—the artists you hang with include Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard, Maurice Denis and the group’s founder Paul Sérusier. You’re a bunch of hipsters—pretentious hipsters—but you don’t care. You have this shared belief that a picture only has meaning:

...when it possessed style.That is to say when the artist had succeeded in changing the shape of the objects he was looking at and imposing on them contours or a color that expressed his own personality.

This is what you think of as magic—personal magic.

In some respects Les Nabis anticipated the Fauves, a little Art Deco and more directly Abstract Expressionism—with its emphasis on the artist’s experience expressed through the abstract. Ranson held the society’s meetings at his studio—which he called The Temple. All this ritual and faux language and holding to strange occult and mystical beliefs was an attempt to big up the group’s reputation. They really didn’t need to as the art was good enough to stand and fall on its own merits. However, the cross pollination of ideas from the occult and the quasi-mystical did inspire Paul Ranson to create some very beautiful paintings of witches, mythic beasts, fauns, devils, and religious allegory—Eve, the temptation of Saint Anthony—which are still as magical today.
 
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‘Witches in Saturnalia’ (1891).
 
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‘Witch in her Circle’ (1892).
 
More of Ranson’s fabulous beasts to be found, after the jump….

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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12.22.2016
10:45 am
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‘Star Wars’ vs. ‘Aliens’: What’s not to like?
12.22.2016
08:30 am
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Guillem H. Pongiluppi is a thirty-something Spanish artist with a whole bunch of colorful talents to his palette. He’s a painter, illustrator, a matte and concept artist who’s worked on best-selling games, films and TV shows—from David Jones’ Warcraft to international productions for National Geographic and the BBC. He’s a cool guy.

He is also a fan of the movies Star Wars and Aliens. And what better way to share your love of something great than to create a series of fantastic fan art paintings that mash these two movies up into a series called Star Wars vs. Aliens.

Check more of Guillem’s work here.
 
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More Darth Vader vs the Alien Queen, after the jump….

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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12.22.2016
08:30 am
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Artist gives thrift store paintings a pop culture makeover
10.19.2016
11:01 am
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David Irvine’s whimsical pop culture makeovers of old thrift store paintings seem to have been around forever. His instantly recognizable pictures of Star Wars characters fighting on snowy landscapes, or horror movie villains chainsawing the rose garden, or dinosaurs wreaking havoc in beautiful Alpine villages are probably now more famous than the original artwork they’re painted upon.

Irvine’s iconic pictures are part of his ongoing series Re-Directed Art which gives “potential landfill paintings” a new (and hopefully more fully appreciated) lease of life. It’s a worthy and rather profitable cause as prints of Irvine’s work sell for a couple of hundred bucks apiece and are (understandably) eminently collectible.

New pictures appear weekly and can be seen on his website and Facebook.
 
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More made-over thrift store treasures, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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10.19.2016
11:01 am
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AR-15s, raw meat, cupcakes and kittens: The luscious, hyper-realistic paintings of Marc Dennis
08.12.2016
10:52 am
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Marc Dennis, Dragonslayer, 2011
 
Painter Marc Dennis has a cheeky meta-style often incorporating famous works of art into his hyper-realistic paintings. He has one that features a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader viewing a Picasso, and another where a museum-goer’s head blocks the vulva in Gustave Courbet’s The Origin of the World. Dennis also likes iconographic figures like rappers or say, the Incredible Hulk, and his paintings tend to be a blend of modern pop and recognizable art world imagery. It can be a little heavy-handed at times, but the stuff in his Honey Bunny show—which takes its name from a Jeff Koons balloon bunny reproduction trinket featured in some of the paintings—is a bit more subtle and intriguing.

Dennis goes hard for contrast—kittens and guns, a fluffy dog and raw meat—favoring firearms with desserts or cute things to convey strangely masculine still lifes and pet portraiture. Dennis views his work as a sort of statement on paternity, saying in a live gallery interview:

The body of paintings that are represented in this exhibition have to do with one, my being an American male, a husband, a daddy—but most importantly a parent and the whole notion of being the dragon-slayer, the ultimate protector of my family. Hence the guns, the meat, the carcasses, the death, fragility.

The work is pretty macho for sure, but it has a sense of humor about itself, and the paintings themselves have a lushness and mystery that draws the eye.
 

Marc Dennis, Biggy Kitty, 2011
 

Marc Dennis, Divine Love, 2011
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Amber Frost
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08.12.2016
10:52 am
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‘Wunderkammer’: A new exhibition of Clive Barker’s weird and disturbing paintings
08.05.2016
09:55 am
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‘Death’s Womb.’
 
A new exhibition of artwork by writer, artist and filmmaker Clive Barker opens at the Copro Gallery in Santa Monica this month.

Entitled Wunderkammer the show brings together Barker’s more recent oil paintings depicting the “unseen world of fantasy co-existing with our own reality.” Wunderkammer means “a place where a collection of curiosities and rarities is exhibited.”

Barker is of course best known for his superlative work as a writer and producer of fantasy-horror fiction and film. His novels include The Hellbound Heart, Weaveworld, Imajica, Abarat and The Scarlet Gospels.  While as producer or director he has made the movies Hellraiser, Nightbreed, Candyman and Lord of Illusion.

Barker divides his day between writing, filmmaking and painting. The painting he usually does in the evening around seven when he dons his “painting clothes” and goes into his studio. His artwork has been exhibited across the world and included in books and magazines.

Wunderkammer opens at the Copro on August 6th-27th. All of the paintings are for sale—details here.
 
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‘Demons of Night and Day.’
 
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‘3 Beasts Devouring Each Other.’
 
More of Clive Barker’s paintings after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.05.2016
09:55 am
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Hikari Shimoda’s strange and beautiful paintings of children on the edge
06.23.2016
10:51 am
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Kids are cute. Paintings of kids are cute. But Japanese artist Hikari Shimoda’s paintings of kids are cute and kinda scary.

Shimoda paints bright day-glo colored anime-inspired portraits of young children. These are no ordinary portraits. These are no ordinary children. Shimoda has said her paintings are not “human’ children—but are like avatars used to convey the artist’s “emotions and feelings to other people.”

Shimoda describes her paintings:

My motif is children whose ages are around 10 to 15 years old. Their attempt to adjust themselves to the modern environment in our time seems to be a hard battle to me. Also, they are living in an unstable time between being a child and a being an adult.

I pick up their warped attitude or feeling toward the outer world and express it through their unstable presence, I can express deep feelings I have inside, such as grief, alienation, and love.

I believe that adults who were once a child feel compassion with the children I paint.

These children are “magical.” They have no discerning age, gender or identity. They are heroic yet full of human weakness and fragility. Their vulnerability at odds with a dangerous and despairing environment—”a world of isolation and alienation.”

More of Hikari Shimoda’s work can be seen here.
 
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‘Children of this Planet #11’  (2013).
 
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‘Children of this Planet #6’ (2012).
 
More of Hikari Shimoda’s paintings plus video interview with her, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.23.2016
10:51 am
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Dreamcatcher: Self-taught artist paints the Surreal World of the Subconscious
06.13.2016
09:50 am
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‘The Lost Narrative’ (2015).
 
I write down what I remember of my dreams each day—trying to capture them before they disappear like dew on a summer morning. Though it’s a good aide—memoire words don’t always capture the fleeting sensation such visions inspire as perfectly as an artist can with a painting.

Mike Worrall is an almost entirely self-taught artist who has been painting large, beautiful, surreal and mysterious pictures inspired by dreams and the subconscious since the early 1960s. As a child he was greatly intrigued by paintings that contained a dream-like narrative of “some sought of mystery element.” His own work followed in a similar direction where he keeps the viewer “guessing and wondering what it’s about”.

Worrall may sometimes be unsure as to what exactly his paintings are about. He might not quite fully understand them but says he is “a firm believer that I should not have to attempt to explain the enigma to people and that the picture should retain some mystery for a lasting interest.”

I’m interested in Dreams and Subconscious thoughts and the weirdness of how we go from one thought to another in an almost drifting process. Dreams are a great source of material for me. Not that I wake up and paint the dream that I may have had, even if I could remember it, I’d then have to most likely make up the details. My paintings are more deliberate and constructed with the element of change.

Worrall has also worked as an “Ideas Artist” in films. One of his paintings inspired Roman Polanski to make a film of William Shakespeare’s play MacBeth. More recently, he designed concept art for the Xenomorph in Alien3.

Born in Derbyshire, England in 1942, Worrall moved to Australia in 1988, where he currently resides. His paintings have been exhibited across the world. Many of his paintings are in collections owned by Polanski, Nicholas Roeg and musician Alan Price.

A whole gallery of Mike Worrall’s work can be seen here.
 
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‘Escape from the Garden of Different Meanings’ (2015).
 
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‘Disparnumerophobia meaning the fear of odd numbers’ (2015).
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.13.2016
09:50 am
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Derek Jarman: The iconoclast filmmaker as painter
04.13.2016
10:02 am
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Derek Jarman became a filmmaker by accident. He was originally a painter, an artist who started making home movies with friends at his Bankside home in London. These Super-8 films slowly evolved into movies and one of the most exciting, original and provocative filmmakers since Ken Russell arrived. During a seventeen-year career, Jarman made eleven feature films—from the Latin and sand romp Sebastiane through his punk movie Jubilee (1978) to Caravaggio (1986) and the final one color movie Blue. During all of this time, the artist, director, writer, gardener and diarist painted.

Jarman was a student the Slade School of Art in the 1960s where he was taught—like everyone else—to be an “individual.” Jarman felt he was already managing that quite well in that department without being told how. He left art school and worked as a set designer with Ken Russell—most spectacularly on The Devils in 1971 and then Savage Messiah in 1973. His painting career splits into different sections; his early work reflected his interest in landscape, form, and color—something which would recur in his films—his later work reflecting his more personal experience. However, as he began making films Jarman shifted from using paint to creating pictures with celluloid.

His return to painting came after his HIV diagnosis in 1986, when he produced a series of Black Paintings—collages made from objects found on the beach at his cottage in Dungeness. He placed these objects on an oily black background—similar to the contrasting black of the tableaux he used in Caravaggio the same year.

As his condition worsened, Jarman painted larger, more abstract canvases. He was given a large room to paint in where he splashed the canvas with thick bright paints, scrolling words and statements across its surface. His influence came from his life, his own films and the work of Jackson Pollock. The brightness and color of the paintings were a defiance in the face of illness.
 
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‘Landscape with Marble Mountain’ (1967).
 
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‘Landscape with a Blue Pool’ (1967).
 
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‘Avesbury’ III (1973).
 
More of Derek Jarman’s paintings after the jump….

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.13.2016
10:02 am
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50 Shades of Purple: Stunning paintings of roller derby butts and their bruises!
09.29.2015
10:46 am
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“I Got a Really Beautiful Bruise on My Bum, Do You Want To See a Pic? It Has 12 Colours And Is the Size of My Head!,” 2015
 
Despite the kitschy following and the cutesy outfits, roller derby is a pretty violent sport, replete with all kinds of incredibly visible injuries the women can later show off. Massive bruises are so common they’re nicknamed “kisses,” badges of honor that artist Riikka Hyvönen showcases in her painting series of the same name. Hyvönen finds her bruised butts posted online, and titles them with the captions the photographers provide. She sees her work as feminist, but isn’t unaware of the weirdness of a bunch of butt photography.

I believe these images are charged with (mental) strength. They show that the player’s bodies can take the hits yet overcome the pain and still continue to play.

Obviously, I am objectifying these women totally. But I am doing it exactly the way they objectify themselves: their big and strong bums are assets and to be carried with pride

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The mixed media pieces are erotic and striking, but the humor of the subject matter is never lost.
 

“Fresh Meat in Fishnets!,” 2015
 

“Oh Lord. Is That the One That Looks Suspiciously Like My Wheel?! God, I’m Sorry to Have Marked You So :( … Um, Think of It as a Love Bite? xx,” 2015
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Amber Frost
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09.29.2015
10:46 am
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Nakamura Hiroshi’s absolutely brutal protest art against U.S. military in Japan
06.02.2015
03:58 pm
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“Gunned Down,” 1957
 
The paintings of Nakamura Hiroshi follow a tragic narrative.Trained as in political realism to do reportage painting, his work became highly stylized and surreal as he covered Japanese anti-military activism. There was a mass mobilization in the 1950s, particularly among Japanese students and unions, against the expansion of U.S. military presence, including massive bases. The painting you see above depicts the death of a woman who was fatally shot by an American soldier as she collected used bullet casings. The one below shows a protest against the extension of an airstrip over land confiscated from poor farmers. 

Hiroshi covered the protest movement diligently and loyally, even as a commercial failure who couldn’t afford canvases. His painting, “The Base,” now considered a masterpiece, was actually done on cheap wood, the grain of which gives the piece an ominous depth. However, as the conservative government took power and made major concessions to the Americans, Hiroshi began to despair. His paintings took on apocalyptic themes, with explosive imagery and lots of red, a reference to the firebombings that destroyed his hometown when he was twelve. Though the political inspiration for his work never won out, he lived to see it lauded by the critics, and went on to produce surreal work on a developed Japan.
 

“Sunagawa #5,” 1955
 

“Sunagawa #5” (detail)
 

“The Base,” 1957
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Amber Frost
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06.02.2015
03:58 pm
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Beautiful oil paintings of luminous punks and ethereal dirtbags
04.20.2015
09:48 am
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STUDDED JACKET, 2014
 
Brooklyn-based artist Kelsey Henderson paints stunning portraits in oil, recently turning to punks and more explicitly counterculture fashion plates for her subjects. The louche bodies that illuminate her canvases sometimes pose coyly for observers, but some paintings feel more like amateur photography—perhaps impromptu snapshots from a punk show. Henderson sometimes even stages the images on mock-smut magazine covers, adding a cheeky layer of niche consumerism to the viewing. From her artist’s statement:

At first seemingly influenced by fashion photography and photorealism, Kelsey Henderson’s work is a brutally honest study in perception and attraction. Her painting style is comprised of seemingly invisible layers which connect to her subjects like skin. Lying at the heart of her work, the emphasis on the skin enables the artist to continue exploring the idea of the Platonic Crush, an attraction to beauty devoid of sex, ignoring gender and embracing physical and emotional flaws. Using a desaturated palette, these excruciatingly pale portraits become almost translucent; the artist’s perception on and through the subjects’ skin. Bruises, scars, veins and tendons shine through, not as imperfections, but emblems of beauty.

In art of the less “fine” variety, Henderson also designs and sells patches and pins of S and M and fetish imagery.
 

BLOODY NOSE, 2014
 

christian smoke, 2013
 

TEENAGER IN ACTION, 2014
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Amber Frost
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04.20.2015
09:48 am
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Planet of the Apes: Trophies
08.15.2011
02:41 pm
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Limited edition of 100, signed and numbered 13” x 19” print on fine art, acid-free paper
 
Limited editon print by Jason Edmiston.

This painting is inspired by the scene at the beginning of the first Apes movie. Gorilla soldiers are standing posing for a photo after the great human hunt. This is the view from the photographer’s perspective.

(via Laughing Squid)

Posted by Tara McGinley
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08.15.2011
02:41 pm
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Charles Bukowski painted with red wine

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Red wine paintings by artist Marcelo Daldoce.
 
(via Nerdcore)

Posted by Tara McGinley
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08.20.2010
03:07 pm
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