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Strangely beautiful (but oddly disturbing) paintings of Scary Mutants and Super Beasts
09.25.2017
08:46 am
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Meet Dusty Ray. A painting contractor by day, an artist by night.

Ray paints pictures of strangely alluring dreamlike creatures and fantastic animals that sneak into his imagination while his mind’s busy working on other things. Ray describes himself as a “purveyor of surreal illustrations and dark art for the strange but discerning customer who enjoys a touch of weird in their life.”

“The strange mutants I paint come from my perception of the animals around me and the way my mind interprets their sacred, extra-sensory position in the natural world”

His paintings give me the sensation of an artist transcribing some deeply important message from a dream or nightmare, the meaning of which has become opaque on waking and only a sense of fear (threat) remains.

Ray is also a musician and a writer who graduated in English Lit. from Colorado State University. He filters some of his literary ideas into his paintings which he produces with watercolor, gouache, India ink, micron, and acrylic. His work ranges from dissected animal heads to strange unnameable figures lurking, moving, shape-shifting, out of the wooded landscape around his home in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Ray’s work is on sale here or you can follow and see more on Instagram and Facebook.
 
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See more of Dusty Ray’s strange work, after the jump…
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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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09.25.2017
08:46 am
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Boys and girls come out to play: The strange, surreal, and phantasmagorical world of Jaco Putker
09.08.2017
09:08 am
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‘The Boy and The Hat.’
 
For Jaco Putker, the great thing about being an artist is waking up each morning and not knowing what he’s going do that day. It’s this great sense of freedom that really matters rather than being known by the appellation “artist.” Putker has said he doesn’t know what it means to be an artist. Mostly, he feels like “a regular guy who loves to create.”

Jaco Putker is an artist and printmaker from the Hague, Netherlands. He uses digital and traditional methods of printmaking to create his pictures but prefers to work with photopolymer, or solar plate, etching. This allows him to produce highly photo-realistic depictions as can be seen by the selection of etchings shown here. Putker’s artwork is described as strange, surreal, and phantasmagorical, sometimes amusing, often sinister. He offers no interpretation of what his pictures might mean—even the titles offer no clue but are merely simple descriptive statements like The Girl and The Berries or The Boy and The Masks. His intention is for the viewer to bring their own interpretation to each picture—thinking of each image as say, an illustration to a series of imaginary fables which are only given meaning in the viewer’s mind.

Putker has won several awards for his highly distinctive artworks which have been exhibited across the world from Tokyo to Chicago, China to Britain. He claims he has no one influence on his work but cites an abiding interest in “Nature and in how nature works, in its perfection and self-reliance and its power of rejuvenation and destruction. In how it has a profound effect on not just me, but on virtually every human being.”

I’m interested in the Hermetic Principles of Correspondence (formulated in the axiom ‘As Above, So Below’; the correlation between macro and micro cosmos) and of Vibration (which states that all is in constant motion. Both in a visually perceivable manner as on a (sub)atomic level. Every part of nature is connected to any other part of nature. These seem to be the parameters within which my work takes place. But within these parameters,  I try not to think too much about my work. Defining it sort of kills it for me. In hindsight, I see a development and recurring themes and elements. And it strikes me that I seem to be saying the same thing over and over, regardless of style, medium or technique.

A selection of Jaco Putker’s prints are available to buy here and more of his work can be found here.
 
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‘The Girl and The Berries.’
 
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‘Interior No.48 .’
 
More dreamland etchings, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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09.08.2017
09:08 am
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Contemplating death & turning heads: The strange and disturbing sculptures of Yoshitoshi Kanemaki
08.28.2017
09:34 am
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Yoshitoshi Kanemaki sketches out his sculptures on paper before taking a large chunk of tree trunk and carving out his pencil-drawn designs. He uses camphor wood which is an evergreen tree that can grow up to one hundred feet in height. As he carves and chisels, he draws onto the wood to highlight the details he wants to bring out in each sculpture. He then paints the finished work in soft pastel colors.

And what do the resulting works look like?

Well, Kanemaki’s sculptures include large intricate skeletal momento mori which achieve just what their titles describe—figures gripped by the bones beneath the skin. He also carves strange figures with multiple heads which depict human indecision, ambiguity, the swinging change of mood daily wrought by life like a unmoored boat upon torturous seas. And then we have the split personalities or “glitches,” the two-head figures that capture “the hesitations or inconsistencies” that we can never answer.

“I think that such ‘ambivalent’ emotions can be embodied regardless of whether they are ‘surface’ or ‘deep’ layer by giving the effect of an irregular shape deviating from [the] human figure. The sculpture series created with these feelings is the projection of my own emotions — it may be your figure.”

Kanemaki was born in the Chiba Prefecture of Japan in 1972. He graduated from the Department of Sculpture, Tama Art University, Tokyo, in 1999. Since then he has exhibited his work in group and solo shows across the country, won several awards, and has work in various public collection. See more of Kanemaki’s work here or follow him on here.
 
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More of Kanemaki’s scupltures, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.28.2017
09:34 am
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Uncanny worlds and bad dreams: The strange, surreal, and macabre paintings of Jolene Lai
07.19.2017
10:12 am
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Jolene Lai was working as a designer for an advertising company when a conversation with an artist friend made her realize her true vocation:

I had a moment of ‘epiphany’. I realized I missed the feel of a paintbrush, the smell of oils and turps, and the excitement of creating short stories through them. But trying to take a detour at 30 seemed more challenging, even in my own perspective. I had to work on building enough courage and confidence to convince not just myself, but the people around me that a career as an artist is really what I am meant for.

Lots of significant events happened from then that would shape the route to where I am today. But the root of it all was that conversation with my friend that changed my pathway and helped me discover what I really wanted to do in life.

Finding what we really want to do with our lives and then doing it, is one of the great blessings of existence. Most of us never get that far. Jolene Lai has worked damned hard to ensure she makes a success of her chosen career. She keeps to an intensive schedule that sees her clock-on early morning, and clock-off late every night. Jolene’s discipline and hard work have paid off. She has produced a sizeable catalog of quite awesome artworks which have been exhibited in LA and in Singapore to considerable acclaim.

Lai paints beautifully detailed canvases in oil and watercolor of strange, unsettling, and often grotesque scenes culled from childhood memory, Chinese myth, and lots of imagination. Sometimes she ties-in her latest topics of interest—anime, Edward Hopper, interior design, or maybe food. The results are like beautifully composed stills from some strange dream movie from which we can recognize certain details as true but are left unsure as to their meaning. The beauty and intricacy of the paintings often belie their bizarre and disquieting content, which ultimately serves to compel the viewer to look again.

See more work here, or follow Jolene Lai on Instagram and Facebook.
 
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More of Jolene Lai’s strange and beautiful paintings, after the jump….
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.19.2017
10:12 am
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Farting Monkeys, Devilish Imps, Grotesque Beasts and other Bizarre Creatures

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A good imagination beats any psychedelic drug. Take a look at these drawings by 17th century Dutch artist Arent van Bolten featuring weird, grotesque hybrid creatures—part human, part cat, part dragon, part demon, part who the fuck knows….?

The last part is a fair description of what we do know about Arent van Bolten—which is little more than birth, marriage and death:

He was born about 1573 in Zwolle. In 1603 he there married Brigitta Lantinck. They had eight children. Some of them established themselves as solicitors in Leeuwarden where Brigitta Lantinck’s sister had married but remained childless so that the children of van Bolten became her heirs. Arent van Bolten must have died about 1625, for he is still mentioned in 1624, whereas in 1626 we read only of his widow.

Even his death date is uncertain as some put it up as far as 1633—which may have come as a surprise to his wife if she was already a widow in 1626. Apart from this slim entry we know he was a silversmith by profession, was in Italy 1596-1602, and left behind “a great deal of silverware and plaquettes.”

He may well have been one of those craftsmen who themselves made both the model and the finished article and perhaps even the original design which was not the normal practice at this time.

Van Bolten sculpted religious and rustic scenes and knobbly weird bronzes of “squat, ponderous” mythological beasts. It is for the latter that he is now best known—in particular his 400+ drawings of surreal and grotesque creatures compiled by an unknown collector circa 1637 which are currently held by the British Museum. 

It’s unknown what Van Bolten’s intention was in creating these rather fabulous beasts but the drawings do reveal the eye of a man who was a sculptor rather than a painter. His line relishes building up the layers, curves, depths, and organic growths rather than just offering a mere representation. Van Bolten’s grotesques have a solidity that makes it appear we could actually touch them.
 
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More of Arent van Bolten’s beasties and grotesque creatures, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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01.10.2017
08:53 am
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