Three Totally out of the Box Artists

While art has always been a delicate topic since it combines elements from the experience of the artist with his or her own view of the world, as if looking through the world through your very own, ever changing kaleidoscope, it has never ceased to bring people of all convictions, races, skin colors, nationalities and religions together. In marveling at the beauty that man can create we revel in our own endless potential, and as Einstein said it, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

If there is someone that bathes in imagination, it’s artists, and we’ve selected three out of the box artists who not only see our world different than we do, but also do so in such an original manner that it may even come as a shock.

1. Raphael Auvray

This French artist, currently working for Kerozen, a French design studio, has always distinguished himself through out-of-the box artists works, but it seems he has outdone himself with a recent collection of images based on typography, but with a twist. This collection features images of letters comprised of skin, hair, eyes and other body components that together create an interestingly grotesque and disturbing feeling that makes his work well noticeable. What is more interesting is that the hair featured on his letters belongs to designers. Here are a few of the pictures he has created:

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2. Rodolfo Loaiza Ontiveros

Have you ever wondered how Disney movies would have been received if the happily ever afters wouldn’t have been so happily ever after? Rodolfo Loaiza Ontiveros did and in doing so, he came up with DisHollywood, a project meant to measure acceptance and tolerance levels when the happy endings are no longer in tone with the phantasy-like outcome of the original versions. As a result, he did not only recreate the endings but also the idealized aspect of characters in many beloved Disney masterpieces, so as to point out a somewhat darker side of today’s society. The real question is whether or not his view on today’s society is as far from the truth as you may think (since his intention was also to incorporate those aspects of our lives in his work so that it may become clear to us how fr from our true paths we are). Here are some of the images in his DisHollywood project:

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3. David Olenick

This artist wanted a down-to-earth portrayal of human nature and chose to be inspired by the many judgment errors, embarrassing moments and character defects of human beings. He has therefore created hilarious (yet truthful) works portraying extremely bad judgment calls such as imbecile behavior when out drinking, emotional eating due to having gained too much weight, the effects of too much alcohol and many other situations you yourself have certainly found yourself in. Ask yourself when viewing his work if you haven’t experienced more such situations than you would like to admit to.

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We hoped you liked our Top Three Out of the Box artists! Stay tuned for more.

Beautiful Classic Nudes (Paintings and Sculptures)

The artistic depiction of nude people is a popular form of art now, but it has been a favorite theme for thousands of years. It could arguably be the one topic of artistic efforts that hasn’t faded since, well, the very beginning of art. Sure, it changed over time, but only in form and not in the intensity of the interest for the topic itself. The human body is a fascinating subject, and we don’t get to see it in its naked version as often as not. Therefore, its specific beauty is not only perceived as mysterious and fantasized about, but it is also the inspiration and main focus of many classical art pieces. Today we will be presenting you our favorite classic nudes of a timeless elegance and beauty.

Messalina, sculpture by Eugene Cyrille Brunet (1884)

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This beautiful piece depicts the rumored-to-be ruthless seductress in a love bed, seemingly in rapture or attempting to entice someone into joining her. The majestic beauty of that pure white body arched in erotic tension is disarmingly captivating. Most classic nudes aren’t by far as sexually charged as this one; the vast majority just depict naked people or naked beautiful people but without this show of emotion. Messalina manages to send off a really moving vibe of eroticism, and while her skin seems so perfectly white and smooth, the overall look of her body doesn’t look artificial at all. Kudos to the artist for a really wonderful and mesmerizing piece.

Venus of Milo

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Another sculpture is the famous Venus of Milo, found in Melos in 1820, but created around 130-100 BC. That means the beauty of this woman managed to somehow survive for over two thousand years and make it to this day to continue stirring the hearts of people who look upon it. All this admiration, furthermore, comes in spite of its regrettable but unavoidable damage. It’s particularly interesting (and a bit moving, also) to notice how little the beauty ideals and standards have changed. Seeing what ancient Greeks considered breath-taking somehow just closes the gap between “us” and “them”.

Maja Desnuda, painting by Goya (1795-1800)

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The famous Spanish painter usually was drawn to ugliness and the grotesque (at least as much as the times and the current trends allowed him), but it surely wasn’t the case here. A collection of classic nudes wouldn’t be complete without the beautiful Maja Desnuda (Naked Maja). The painting has a counterpart usually hung next to it in whatever museum they’re taken to, called Maja Vestida (Clothed Maya), for which Goya painted a portrait of the same model, but with clothes on. Her body seems to display perfect proportions, while her face is refreshingly lively and a bit cheeky, just the right amount.

The Kiss, sculpture by Auguste Rodin (1889)

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A wonderfully natural and also nicely intimate pose of a couple kissing. The faces of the people portrayed don’t even matter in this setting, precisely because the sculpture in trying to convey some sort of anonymity and greater intimacy of the depicted couple. The idea the viewer gets after admiring this is, furthermore, that in the face of love, we become closer to archetypes perhaps, as in the idea of a man and the idea of a woman, but not in a creepy and de-personalizing way. This is one of the most beautiful sculpted classic nudes ever made, probably because it’s not a single nude meaning to entice, but a double nude that only expresses tenderness and intimacy.

The Birth of Venus, painting by Sandro Botticelli (1486)

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This is just as well-known in the mainstream media as the other Venus depiction presented above, but it was worth mentioning nonetheless for more than one reason. First of all, the painting’s quality is really impressive considering that it’s about 300 years older than most of the other pieces of art featured here. Second of all, that all-encompassing tender and contemplative gaze of the main character, while her beautiful fiery hair gently floats around here in a truly miraculous grace, well, that kind of self-abandon is simply contagious. No list of the world’s most moving classic nudes should close without her.

Oleg Oprisco: the Brilliant Photographer with an Old $50 Film Camera

Finally, Ukraine has just made the news for something other than its turbulent political situation. Thanks to its brilliant Lviv-based photographer Oleg Oprisco, Ukraine is now mentioned in relation to stunning surreal art. We wholeheartedly welcome the change, as maybe, just maybe, more beauty will somehow make the world a better and more peaceful place. (Don’t we all cling to similar hopes, deep down, as corny as it may sound?)  Besides the welcome change in how Ukraine is introduced in the day’s headlines, it’s also nice that Oleg adds to the still small number of Eastern European artists known abroad.

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But what sets this artist apart from all others lies in the strange equipment he uses (strange for these days, at least): an old $50 worth film camera, the Kiev 6C model (and sometimes also a Kiev 88). Oleg Oprisco even mentioned that he sometimes holds photography workshops. He finds it very funny to stand there in front of his students, who are all holding $2000-$3000 cameras on their desks, while he sits there with his old fashioned thing. And yet, just look at how breathtaking and surreal his photos look with his older equipment! A first look would make us all think that the images are not only highly processed, but also initially shot with a fancy expensive camera. I guess there was really some truth after all in that old saying that a true artist is not defined by his instruments, just like Oleg Oprisco proved.

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Incredibly, there’s not a great amount of processing happening. The authors says that while post-production may take several hours, he firmly believes that no amount of photoshop can turn a bad picture into a good one. All he does is re-touch the color a bit where needed and remove any dust effects. That’s it. Looking at how stunningly beautiful his images are, it’s pretty unbelievable, right?

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Though the camera models used by Oleg Oprisco are pretty ancient for the tastes of most contemporary photographers, that doesn’t mean he’s against technology and knowing your machine the best you can. He uses a medium-format film for his two cameras, but a variety of lenses according to the picture he plans to take. Speaking of planning, he’s definitely not a spontaneous shooter.  Every photo he takes is carefully planned to the utmost detail. Before even dreaming of preparing the required props, he first envisions the concept, and imagines it all in a single main color palette. Then, when proceeding to prepare the clothes, props, location and so on, he makes sure that everything plays within a single color range. If you look carefully at his photos presented here you’ll probably catch a whiff of his favorite color themes (and a hint that he likes the way redheads look).

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As to the subject of each photo, Oleg Oprisco says they are all inspired from his life or at least from real life in general. Even though his final images could be best described as surreal, he’s not much into abstract art as well. He likes to keep things grounded, which is precisely why he uses little post-photo manipulation and takes his inspiration directly from what he claims to be his life and his feelings. I’d say that’s a pretty interesting life and some beautiful feelings, right there! (I hope everyone can detect the envy here.)

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As for advice to aspiring photographers, Oleg only has one thing to say.  “If you really feel this is your calling, go for it to the extreme. Drop your job and everything and just shoot; the rest will follow.”

Mighty bold words, but somehow, when you look at his photos, you can’t help but sense the truth in them.

Source of the photos and information: here.

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Farewell, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The much-loved writer and journalist Gabriel Garcia Marquez passed away a bit over a week ago, on the 17th of April, after struggling for a long time with the ravages of a degenerative disease. I must confess that I was rather disappointed with the media coverage of this story: a few minutes after his passing, and major news hubs such as Times and BBC were already publishing very lengthy articles about his life and activity. That can only mean one thing: they had the story already prepared and waiting for a go, since they knew he was in the hospital battling his illness. I have nothing against the immediate release of news such as this, but I would expect them to come in the form of a headline or just a few sentences announcing his passing. Therefore, I was a bit conflicted at first about publishing this piece, since I really didn’t want to add up to the long trail of people somehow profiting from his death or finding a good story in it. But since 10 days have passed from his departure, and since I genuinely was – and am – a huge admirer of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s works, I decided to proceed with this tribute piece. Hat’s off to you, father of magic realism.

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This photograph of Gabriel Garcia Marquez was taken by Richard Avedon. He already had a chance to take a portrait of the writer in 1976, on a rainy day, but he was dissatisfied with the result. He waited for another opportunity and in 2004 it was presented to him again. This is the second photograph he took of Marquez, in Mexico City, the early spring of 2004. This one was deemed good enough by its author, and while I couldn’t find the one resulting from the first try, I think we can all agree that it’s indeed a fine portrait.

I won’t waste space with brief introductions of who Gabriel Garcia Marquez was or what he is most known for; if you’re here reading this article you probably know already. I will merely name a few of the reasons I enjoyed his works or point out a few less known-facts about him. For example, I always found it heart-warmingly nice of him to be a Shakira fan. I hate the often large gap between high culture and the so-called “low culture” (which is basically low culture) that comes along with elitist tendencies. Therefore, I loved how a Nobel prize-awarded writer advocates as a sincere fan of a commercially successful pop music star. It’s refreshing and puts a new light on Shakira’s music as well. Since it has come up, did you notice how delicate and airy her voice was on the soundtrack of Love in the Time of the Cholera movie adaptation? Perhaps their friendship and mutual respect played a part in how well Shakira sang for that movie.

Another lovely fact about Gabriel Garcia Marquez is that he said all inspiration for his literature’s stories came from real life and cases, and that if he hadn’t been a journalist first and foremost, he wouldn’t have been able to find the right stories to write about. In this respect, he reminds me of Dostoyevsky, who also took the inspiration for his novels from the papers and the news of the day – he studied the obituaries, the scandals, the trials, and made beautiful things out of that which others saw only as plain dirt.

And last, but not least, what really stuck with me permanently after reading Marquez was a sense of tender nostalgia for all things passed, even before they pass, as if you can see it in places you love even before they disappear. Some critics claimed the main theme of his writings was solitude, I’d say that Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote first and foremost about nostalgia. He lived a relatively long life, but I refuse to believe that he was ever old. “It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams” (Gabriel Garcia Marquez).

Incredible Prison Art: What a Confined Artist Created with Only Prison Materials

Jesse Krimes, a 31-year old artist who had to serve a 70-month jail sentence for the possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, found the time in jail particularly hard as he had no one to talk to or no means to express himself artistically as he was once able to. The only way to alleviate the solitude and fight off the pangs of depression was by working at a massive work of art finding whatever was on hand: sheets, hair gel, plastic spoons, toilet paper, but especially magazines from which he would clip a few images making a bit of collage art as he went. The result was a breath-taking massive mural masterpiece that Krimes created somewhat incognito, as he hid the materials used from the guards who would have otherwise confiscated them.

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Anyway, his relation to the guards and the other inmates was actually improved by the assertion of his artist identity. In a phone interview given to Slate, Krimes said that his art allowed him to attract sympathizers on both sides of rival gangs, thus avoiding violence himself. “They called me the independent”, he said. “Artwork facilitated conversation. And it humanized me to some of the guards. They saw me not as an inmate but as a person”. The fellow inmates, most of whom were dangerous criminals, started to commission portraits and to pay him in jailhouse currency. Still, caution was needed when procuring the required materials for the art that provided him with the much-needed escape from his confinement. If Krimes somehow managed to get all the raw things he needed inside to complete his piece of incredible prison art, a bigger problem was how to get the work out, once the day of his release was approaching. In order to achieve this, he mailed pieces of the mural to his girlfriend outside, package after package. Of course, having gained the guard’s trust surely helped him get away with it.

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Once he got home himself, Krimes already had scored a job that was waiting for him at the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, where his boss already reserved a large office space for him to work on his mural and eventually display it. The work’s name is derived from the Greek word for apocalypse and the author says that the profoundly dehumanizing prison experience is the main inspiration behind it. It’s easy to believe that prison can demoralize and dehumanize anyone, but somehow, seeing this piece of incredible prison art and knowing where it originated just makes it all more touching.

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To create it, Krimes juxtaposed images of travel images in the New York times with images of man-made disasters occurring in the same areas advertised as the ideal get-away. The superimposition is meant to accentuate the feeling of desertedness and danger and fragility: nothing beautiful is able to last under the threat of man-made violence.

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The artist described his works from the pre-prison period as being sculptural, three-dimensional and highly expressive, while his incredible prison art featured here gradually became clustered and closed, two-dimensional, obsessive, compulsive and darker. Working in that environment and feeling isolated and hopeless for 5 years also produced a revelation of sorts in the artist: he intends to work not only for further developing the style he found for himself while in prison, but also to help other convicted criminals practice art and maintain a connection to the outside world. He has a project in mind that would “give a face to the faceless” and help tell the stories of inmates in creative ways. If the project would be done, the resulting images would be projected onto a museum just outside the prison, so the inmates could actually glimpse images of themselves on the opposing building. And if we allow ourselves to feel the feeling of the mural pictured here, we can maybe understand how that would be like.

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Source of images and quotes: Slate.com