LA-born and bred, Anja Salonen studied fine art at California Institute of the Arts. Salonen’s paintings have a splash of technicolor plasticine world about them. While her oddly-colored figures have often human bodies, more surreal elements can be found in their faces in the form of poster-paint toned noses, eyes and lips. While aware of their historical context, Salonen’s paintings are heavily reliant on a post-analogue visual language, and explore the interaction between body and virtual.
Luboš Plný is the only child of a possessive mother. Already as a child he was drawn to two phenomena : graphic art and anatomy. He used to dissect dead animals and in adulthood attended a number of autopsies on human corpses and passed a course in gravedigging.
After leaving elementary school he went into apprenticeship to learn electro-mechanics. There, as a boarder, he was subjected to a semi-military regime. He also had problems maintaining discipline during his military service, which resulted in his transfer to a psychiatric clinic. Consequently he began an intensive study of psychiatric and medical literature. After 1989 he became a model at the Academy of Fine Arts. Luboš Plný signs all his works with a special stamp “Luboš Plný – academic model“.
His works in ink, reworked with acrylic, often contain organic materials : blood, hair, pieces of skin and even teeth. Its main theme is the body, that he explores in anatomical sections with multiple points of view. Despite a realistic precision, he sometimes decides to exclude certain parties, but always pays great attention to the head and genitals. The absence of thyroid on some drawings – a surgery he underwent recently – indicates that we might be in the presence of self-portraits.
Chicago based artist Nick Cave is widely acclaimed for his exuberant “Soundsuits”—wearable sculptural forms based on the human body, intricately composed out of a vibrant assortment of second-hand materials.
Simultaneously sculptures, costumes, and musical instruments, the Soundsuits are meant for motion. Cave and other dancers wear them, transforming them into transfixing blurs of color and sound for performances and video works. Contemplated on mannequins, the Soundsuits seem to embody the full range of human emotions. Some, covered with a pelt of dyed twigs with baskets for heads, resonate sadness; others, composed of a crazy array of colorful blankets or thrift-store tchotchkes, burst with joy and humor.
Vesna Jovanovic is a Chicago-based visual artist who specializes in conceptualizations of the human body. Using spilled ink as groundwork, she creates drawings that often formally resemble medical illustration while concentrating on what is usually left out: how it feels and what it means to have a body.
With drawing as a bodily act and medical illustration as a visual trope, Jovanovic brings embodiment, biopolitics, phenomenology, and various other ideas and theories of the human body into her work.
American artist Jason Briggs creates bizarre ceramic sculptures. The pieces are white skin toned and covered in hair; part of his works appear to be human skin while other portions are distinctly man-made forms like upholstery. Made of porcelain, hair and steel, his handbuilt sculptures seem to resemble the human body in an abstract way with strong sexual references. Despite their grotesque forms, each piece has an endearing name such as ‘Angel’ and ‘Baby’.
“It’s up to you to label them: sculpture, fine art, fine craft, ceramic sculpture, figurative, abstract, surrealism, eroticism, non-traditional, biological, fucked-up, pornographic or, worst of all, decorative.” Jason Briggs
Though his objects contain strong visual references, he is more interested in the implied tactile ones; the things that stir in him a compulsion to touch. Beyond other external inspiration lies this basic, primal impulse. He recognizes – and acst upon – a profound desire to push, poke, squeeze, stroke, caress, and pinch. Briggs intends for his pieces to invoke a similar sort of temptation.
Alina Szapocznikow was born in 1926 in Kalisz, Poland. After surviving three concentration camps during WWII, she trained at studios in Prague and the École des Beaux-arts in Paris. She first began showing her work in 1950 and held her first two-person show at the Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, in 1957. Szapocznikow, along with two other artists, was selected to represent Poland at the Venice Biennale in 1962. A year later, she moved to Paris, where she continued to live until her untimely death in 1973 at the age of 47.
Szapocznikow radically reconceptualized sculpture as an imprint not only of memory but also of her own body. Though her career effectively spanned less than two decades, Alina left behind a legacy of provocative objects that evoke Surrealism, Nouveau Réalisme, and Pop art. Her tinted polyester casts of body parts, often transformed into everyday objects like lamps or ashtrays; her poured polyurethane forms; and her elaborately constructed sculptures, which at times incorporated photographs, clothing, or car parts, all remain as wonderfully idiosyncratic and culturally resonant today as when they were first made.
John Isaacs’ work encompasses many different media, though much of it has origins in sculpture. The artist continually redefines his style, moving seamlessly through installation, sculpture, photography, film, painting and drawing.
His work is a personal meditation on the physical memory of the body as its own landscape, as a place of inner emotional conflict, and not merely a depiction of obesity. The heroic, somewhat classical, pose is absurdly contrasted against its physical form. This fictional and anonymous figure is a monument, a mirror to our current historical moment in which we confront everyday the side effects of our over consumption, waste and pollution, but are virtually powerless to change our course.
Friend and artist Jason Jagel, who lives and works in San Francisco, just opened the Basement section of his website to sell a few smaller pieces from his body of work. We like these 3. We want them. Go here and buy a few.
An interest project by Katie Lewis. From the creator: “The work is often organized into grid-like charts and diagrams mimicking science and medicine’s representations of the body as a specimen, visualy displayed for the purpose of gaining knowledge. In this way I create distance from the information and objectify the experience, giving a false sense that the body is accessible and easily understood.”
A flint of metal is easing its way into my flesh. I wake up- spinning around completely, my hand in my pocket and that hand gripping the grip of a blade I was holding while staring at a man who was staring at me while I attempted to stay awake but was unable to. I wake up and search my surroundings for any attempts or attacks on my person. I lift and pull out the inch of metal that has entered my thigh in the form of a knife. A pool of platelets and oxygenated blood linger in a spectrum of red around my body. It is the only color which stands out in this room, the majority of the furnishings surrounding me in dull and washed out browns and blues; hues of an indifferent yellow clinging to the molding along the top portions of wall above me.
From the window it looks as though the moon is moving. I retract the blade and place it in my other pocket after making a small incision in the bed-sheet around me and tying a portion of fabric around my wound, the blood starting to stop its exit from my person.
Once I realize that I am alone, I sit down and do everything that I can to recall every moment previous to my passing out.
* * *
The rain has stopped; the flame from a candle coughs out a coruscate chatter with the shadows around me. His gaze is still tied to me. A coagulate sequin of wax dots the floor in an unknown pattern which I attempt to decipher in order to stay awake- each fragment of wax a small planet whose inhabitants I imagine microbial / microbic.
We are now staring at each other, the light coming in in small slits and slivers: yellow ribbons of refraction dancing on the floor.
I see him in the doorway, watch him still. He has begun to take off his jacket. He throws it on the floor with the same nonchalance he had previously exhibited with his speech. I think of the rain that brought me here. I think of every instance and every moment previous to this and how, they too, prepared for my person to be here.
He is still smiling. Still staring.
I stare at him, closing my eyes as much as I can while still being able to see, still gripping the handle to the blade in my pocket with one arm, the other dug into the axilla of my right arm and shoulder. Every instance when I’m drifting off to sleep I pull a hair out from my body in order to keep myself awake. My eyes feeling the entirety of the room around me weighing in on top of them before shutting- the left one first, my mind telling me to open it, that I’ll open it in a moment, then the right eyelid- every blink moving from being a blip to an extended second, minute and then- shut and closed.
* * *
I wake up dully, a flint of metal easing its way into my flesh. I clench my mouth in inhalation and exhale, mimicking, though not attempting to, the sounds of a snake hissing while extracting the blade. I turn around- there is no one in the doorway.
I get up and feel my way around the room. My eyes catch the frame of a window to my left- dew drops pearling to fall along the glass and its surface. I fell asleep. I fell asleep and came to with a wave of terror more tangible than anything around me. I feel around my body and through an improvised inspection of my entire person make sure that there are no other wounds on my body other than that from the blade.
Limping, I waddle through the corridors of hallway as quietly as I can and come back to the kitchen. No one is here. I look around the room, dig through all the cabinets of the kitchen and take what I can – a few bills and bread – before leaving.
From there, I step out of the house and start running as fast as I can with a wounded leg, the path before me a trail of dirt eventually bleeding into the street and the street bleeding out into different phrases of dawn- the sun and sky talking back and forth with their spittle of light like liquid rippling in puddles along the freeway, that great eye in the sky panning and pulling out its separate lenses from a camera to reveal an aerial view unseen by me of all the coming encounters and conundrums that will eventually befall me on my continual journey on foot from Frankfurt to Paris.
* * *
A car passes slowly. A child a few feet tall staring through the glass directly at me with palms on the pane of a window and fingers drawing shapes through the perspiration of collected heat and odor. Every instinct that can speak to me is telling me that this is a dream but it is not. I look closer and see the child stare at me further- no longer drawing the shapes of sky on the windows around him, his face remaining as still and expressionless as Infanta Margarita’s figure in Velasquez’ Las Meninas.
We share the spaces of a lifetime in our stare before the car accelerates completely, its body rounding the corner and his figure disappearing completely from my view.
“I am now alone on earth, no longer having any brother, neighbor, friend, or society other than myself.” – Jean Jacques-Rousseau