Jessica Stoller uses clay and the grotesque as a vehicle to explore the constructed world of idealized femininity, gathering imagery across cultural lines and histories. The clay is sculpted, draped, carved, woven, and piped to create a wide range of bewildering effects. Porcelain is her primary medium, a historically weighted material that is intrinsically linked to notions of desire, mystery, and consumption.
Karel Havlíček was a Czech painter who began drawing at the age of 38 years. Working only at night, he followed a ritual reminiscent of the conditioning of the automatic practices. His drawings without premeditation recall, by their spontaneity, spiritualist production. He felt drawn to the monstrous, grotesque or the pathological.
He found fulfillment in visiting natural museums, reading his favorite Kant and Schopenhauer and especially in drawing. He drew a picture every day for tens of years. The communist regime did not allow to display his work and so he was recognized only by a few artists and writers.
Aida Makoto was born in 1965 and gained a Masters in Fine Art from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts in 1991. From the outset of his career, Aida began to paint in the style of ‘strangeness’ that identifies him today and which saw him regularly exhibiting across Japan from 1992, and from 2001 internationally in Germany, London and the USA.
It is perhaps easy to write off Makoto as a pop artist out to shock with images of grotesque sexuality, young girls and violence. However, a deeper look into his philosophy as an artist shows he is using traditional themes to comment on contemporary Japanese society.
Chicago artist and musician Gregory Jacobsen chooses to render in his awkward acrylic, confidently sensual world flags in butts, shit beaks, and fleshy chunks of meat caught in seemingly intimate moments.
The candy-coated colors draw the viewer in, only to confront them with a heap of labia coupled with mangy flesh slabs in a chunky meat heap, or a cheery young girl toppled over with a flag stuck in her vagina, a voyeuristic pig smirking behind her. The viewer doesn’t exactly know how to feel, confronted with these awkward, intimate affairs rendered in unsuspecting hues, an effect Jacobsen is after.
Much like the piles of fleshy, gloopy shapes that walk a fine line between vagina and open wound, the exact purpose of his work is difficult to pin down. Obsessed with failure, ambiguity, and comedic tragedy, Jacobsen appears to care for the characters he creates without fetishizing them.
Mattis Dovier has a talent for creating GIFs that are pleasing to the eye but have a habit of turning your stomach ever so slightly. His eye-popping GIFs are on another level.
Dovier works in an unmistakable style, one he described as “stripped of unnecessary details.” First Dovier draws each frame by hand in low resolution. Then he fills in shadows with pixel grids converted in Photoshop’s bitmap mode. The end result is somewhere between numeric and classic aesthetics like engravings, as well as the screentone process characteristic of manga.
Mason Lindroth’s work exists somewhere between the realm of a hellish nightmare, surreal art, and collages. It’s all those things, and also none of them. Lindroth’s repeated animated aesthetic is wholly unique. The objects themselves are grotesque, ranging from eerie blank-staring faces to vintage stock-like footage of families. Nothing blends together, it becomes a distorted conglomerate of gif-able lo-fi clipart.
You can recognize Lindroth work due to the sparing, dotty Apple II-like visuals and use of claymation. The aesthetic compliments Mason’s interest in warping the ordinary: black-and-white is the status quo, whereas color can punctuate a peculiar presence with immediacy.
New York-based Ian Bertram is an artist interested in uncovering the hedonistic and fatalistic nature of man vs. self. A graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York, Bertram was chosen as the Best New Talent of 2011 by Comicbookjesus.com, and selected to the Society of Illustrators 2012 Student Scholarship Competition.
By combining precise, meditative mark making, with visceral and sudden actions, he creates mystical, grotesque, and primal portraits of ennui and the strange by way of drawing and painterly techniques.
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.
Rachel Harrison’s work draws from a wide range of influence, wittily combining art historical and pop cultural references through a diverse play of materials. Grotesque and funny, Harrison’s humour derives from its carefully structured, yet open-ended suggestion, each element building up to a plausible punch line. Using visual language as a subversive tool, Harrison parodies appropriating styles and motifs with subtle knowingness, wielding artistic process as a mode of investigation.