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‘The Midnight Parasites’: Yōji Kuri’s surreal Hieronymus Bosch inspired animation from 1972
12.15.2017
10:19 am
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Yōji Kuri is the big daddy of Japanese animation. Now in his late eighties—he hits the big nine-“o” next year—Kuri was one of Japan’s key pioneering animators/artists/directors who produced around forty short animated films during the 1960s and early seventies—all of which brought independent Japanese animations to global attention. He was for a time namechecked as “the only Japanese animator whose work is known in the West,” which, although a nice piece of hyperbole, gives some idea of his importance at the expense of ignoring quite a few of his contemporaries.

Anyhow.

Kuri’s animations tend to be strange, surreal, experimental, and darkly compelling, yet often accomplished in what you might call a naive style. Take for example his Hieronymus Bosch-inspired animation The Midnight Parasites from 1972. Here Kuri imagines what would life might be like if we all lived in Bosch’s painting “Garden of Earthly Delights.” It’s a basically shit and death or rather a cycle of life where blue figures live and die; eat shit and shit gold; are skewered, and devoured; are regurgitated and reborn to carry on the cycle once again. It’s dark, dirty, oddly beautiful, with a groovy soundtrack—the kinda short flick that might pop up as a support to the late night psychedelic double-bill at the local fleapit.
 

 
Via Monster Brains.
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
A little ass music: Hieronymus Bosch’s 500-year-old butt song from hell
Collectable Hieronymus Bosch figurines
Incredible photographic recreations of Hieronymus Bosch paintings
Hieronymus Bosch’s ‘Garden Of Earthly Delights’ featured on Dr. Martens bags and shoes
Take this mind-blowing virtual tour of Hieronymus Bosch’s ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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12.15.2017
10:19 am
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The Peopled Wound: The dark dreams, visions, and fantasies of Alessandro Sicioldr
12.05.2017
10:40 am
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The artist draws and paints pictures inspired by “visions.” These are fleeting visions, “images floating in the stream of consciousnesses,” the kind that everybody experiences. The only difference is this artist fixes his visions on paper and canvas. Maybe not the only difference…

We’re not in Kansas, anymore, but somewhere deep in the imagination of Italian artist Alessandro Sicioldr.

Initially they are just quick impressions and I sketch them in one of my sketchbooks. This is the moment where the image has the greatest power in me. The painting or the drawing is a sacralisation of an idea, but the real idea lies in the sketchbook. I am very jealous of them, they are like a diary of inner exploration.

Sicioldr was born in Tarquinia, he now lives and works in Perugia. Art was not his first choice. He graduated in computer science before taking up a paintbrush. He is self-taught, though his father, also a painter, gave him “some basis” in the craft which influenced his liking for Renaissance artists like Piero Della Francesca. But Sicioldr has never been to an art class in his life. Instead, he taught himself by copying paintings. He’s lucky. He lives in a country that filled with great art.

He has a liking for the Baroque, citing painters like Cagnacci, Cavallino, Stanzione, Ribera, as well a taste for Mannerism and for medieval art. Old art is better.

The quality of colours, the beauty of the composition, the technical capabilities, the concepts and the symbology was way greater in the past. I’m not a nostalgist, I just want to study from the best sources, taking inspiration from the entire history.

Once Sicioldr has sketched his visions on paper, he begins the process of “craftsmanship and improvisation.”

I have no rules for references, often I paint from imagination because it is hard to find models like a giant bird chariot with a strange head inside moving on roots with heads inside and pulled by sacerdotes wearing red capes in an icy landscape.

He has claimed he finds it difficult to talk about his pictures, their meaning, and imagery, “since they speak through a visual language which is ambiguous, sibylline.” Coming from a scientific background, Sicioldr is “careful when talking about mind, spirituality, symbolism and topics involving facts that are impossible to prove with rational means.” He just feels some images have an important meaning and so he paints them.

Rules and boundaries are useless when dealing with metaphysics, so I just let my inner world speak without asking questions. These images are important for me and when I think about them I get a particular feeling. They need to be represented and they follow their strange irrational rules. Why do I put an element there, or use that particular color? It is because it should go there, these are the rules of the painting. I don’t think about symbolism because deliberate and intellectual reasoning can spoil the purity of a composition and the result can easily be fake. I recently discovered that a lot, maybe all of my paintings are composed within the rules of the golden section without knowing, I find this incredible but this is how human minds work.

See more of Alessandro Sicioldr’s here.
 
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More strange visions, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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12.05.2017
10:40 am
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Big hair, animal hybrids and fleshy creatures: The surreal world of José Luis López Galván
11.22.2017
09:30 am
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Artist Jose Luis Lopez Galván describes his strange, surreal paintings of human-animal hybrids as taking place within “a different dimension” but “not in a dream.” He blends together every kind of element, whether animal, human, or object, to create “a collage that, in its integration, represents a portrait, not of the aspect of things, but of their essence.” Though their meanings are very personal, Galván’s pictures are intended to bring the viewer into a conversation about what is happening within the frame.

They are paintings to be seen not by the artist, but by the spectator, looking for a communication, so somehow the observer is surprised by the different, but feeling familiarity, feeling that behind it there is something that concerns him.

To encourage this interaction between viewer and painting, Galván has explained some of the symbolic meaning he has assigned to certain figures and objects:

When the rabbit appears I refer to innocence; when the mask of Zorro, hypocrisy; machines are cold and human characters live together without problems in a contradictory world of nightmare, that represents the real world without the wrappings that make it more digestible.

Galván was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. He originally trained as a graphic artist but gave it up to become a painter. He cites his lack of formal training in painting as allowing him develop “a more honest voice”—one that was not conditioned by the strictures of an art school. His main influences come from Rembrandt, Picasso, Goya and the Baroque period.

Galván’s weird and unsettling paintings have garnered considerable interest. He has exhibited his work since 2004. Last year, his work was included in the highly accalimed BeinArt Surreal Art Show, at the CoproGallery. Santa Monica. His paintings have also caused a frenzy of interest on the internet with some commentators describing Galván as “set to become one of the greatest artists of his generation.” Recently, his work featured on the cover of Swedish prog rock band Soen’s album Tellurian. You can see more José Luis López Galván’s work here or buy one of his paintings at the Macabre Gallery.
 
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More from the surreal and eerie world of Jose Luis Lopez Galván, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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11.22.2017
09:30 am
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Flesh events: ‘Human’ furniture makes for a disturbing body of work
11.15.2017
11:04 am
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“The house and the body are palimpsests of life events with their history inscribed into every surface,” writes Fiona Roberts in her artist’s statement describing her sculptural body furniture Intimate Vestiges. “They are repositories of treasured moments, of everyday routines and memories, of growing up or growing old, of accidents, of habits, and of fear and trauma.”

For Intimate Vestiges, Roberts created a room filled with ceramic, mixed media, cloth, and paper artworks featuring body parts (lips, eyes, fingers) artfully crafted into everyday artifacts. A hairbrush with a long mane of hair. A chair studded with glittering glass eyes. A carpet is a wrestle of fingers while pillows prepare to kiss.

Roberts describes her work as focusing on:

...the challenges we face by inhabiting a body that is constantly changing, decaying and regenerating, as well as the fragility and limitations that are intrinsic to all living organisms,” the artist says. “Within this, I explore the dysfunctional relationship between the mind and body, and in particular, the mind’s discordant perception of the body, which includes concepts of dislocation, emotional projection, fluctuating perceptions, fears, phobias and paranoia. Thus, with the body set as a canvas for trauma, my work becomes a series of flesh events that are visceral, tactile and faintly haunting.

Since graduating in visual art at the Adelaide Central School of Art, Australian artist Roberts has been exhibiting her artwork across Australia, Belgium, and England.
In 2004, she won the Peoples Choice Award, Exit Art, at the Northern Territorian Museum and Art Gallery, the firts of a series of awards and grants that she has won over the past decade. The following selection comes from Roberts’ artworks Intimate Vestiges and The Beginning of the End. See more of Roberts work here.
 
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More surreal interior designs, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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11.15.2017
11:04 am
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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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