surreal

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Illustration Science

Precise Lines and Stipples Detail Tattoos of Exquisite Scientific Studies by Michele Volpi

March 8, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Michele Volpi, shared with permission

Bologna-based artist Michele Volpi (previously) inoculates his monochromatic tattoos of anatomical figures and biological diagrams with a dose of the surreal. Working in black ink, Volpi renders exquisite scientific illustrations across botany, astronomy, physiology, and chemistry with precise detail. He uses intricate linework and stippled shading to create realistic renderings of human skeletal systems and weather cycles, while skewing the scale or pairing seemingly disparate subject matters to achieve the more unusual qualities.

Although Volpi’s books are closed at the moment, he plans to announce new slots this spring—keep an eye on his Instagram for specifics—and he also has prints and shirts available in his shop.

 

 

 



Art

Floral Arrangements Instigate Trivial Actions in Ethan Murrow's Meticulous Graphite Drawings

March 7, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Retreat” (2022), graphite on paper, 36 x 36 inches. All images © Ethan Murrow and courtesy of Winston Wächter Fine Art New York, shared with permission

In his solo exhibition Magic Bridge, Vermont-born artist Ethan Murrow (previously) overwhelms his subjects with sprawling floral assemblages that cloud their senses and judgment. The graphite drawings center largely on figures undertaking precarious and trivial activities to exert some form of control, often through futile underwater adventures and inexplicable actions atop wooden platforms.

On view at Winston Wächter through April 30, the meticulous renderings are tinged with parody and embrace the bizarre and indeterminate. In addition to the smaller works on paper, Murrow is also creating a large-scale mural in his signature imaginative style at the New York gallery—see the work-in-progress on Instagram. Each of the pieces “mull(s) the lines between logic and belief,” he writes.

A limited-edition lithograph of Murrow’s “Planting Time” is currently available from Deb Chaney Editions, and the artist also has works on view at Winston Wächter’s Seattle space through March 19.

 

“Garnering” (2021), graphite on paper, 48 x 48 inches

“Drumbeat” (2022), graphite on paper, 48 x 36 inches

“Harmony” (2021), graphite on paper, 80 x 46 inches

“Conviction” (2022), graphite on paper, 36 x 48 inches

“Glow” (2022), graphite on paper, 36 x 36 inches

“The Vaudeville Admiral” (2021), high flow acrylic on panel, 48 x 60 inches

 

 



Art

Oil Paintings by Paco Pomet Brighten Vintage Scenes with Satirical Elements in Color

February 10, 2022

Grace Ebert

“A Prequel” (2021), oil on canvas, 100 x 150 centimeters. All images © Paco Pomet

Succeeding his series of paintings titled Beginnings, Paco Pomet’s Endings applies a similarly satirical veil to his provocative and outlandish scenarios: a cleaved camper reveals red steak marbled with fat, businessmen shake hands through an elongated finger trap, and a woman walks a hand-standing friend on a leash. The Spanish artist (previously) is known for his keen sense of wit and humor and distinct visual commentary on contemporary issues like capitalism, the degradation of the environment, and moments in American history that have global impacts. He shares in an interview:

I am very interested in current affairs, but in order to fully understand today’s world, it is necessary to look back and examine historical events. The past is full of hints that can unveil the present, so in some ways, we could paraphrase that statement which says that there’s nothing new under the sun. I have always thought that subjects and themes remain the same over centuries, and that human pursuits, aspirations, and chimeras are cyclical. Nowadays, we might have different tools and ways of approaching those issues, but the important questions remain the same, even though the way they show up changes throughout the years.

Often working with anachronistic scenes and symbols, Pomet depicts children of a past era sparring with glowing lightsabers in “A Prequel” and a vintage car blurring into a trail of greens and yellows in “Trip.” Each oil painting is rendered largely in neutral tones with bright, colorful elements supplying the artist’s signature dose of irony.

You can explore an archive of Pomet’s surreal works and follow his latest compositions on Instagram.

 

“Prime” (2021), oil on canvas, 38 x 46 centimeters

“Rearguard” (2021), oil on canvas, 38 x 46 centimeters

“The Restrainers” (2021), oil on canvas, 60 x 73 centimeters

“The Last Executive Committee Meeting” (2021), oil on canvas, 130 x 150 centimeters

“Amblers” (2021), oil on canvas, 73 x 60 centimeters

“Apart” (2021), oil on canvas, 130 x 170 centimeters

“Trip” (2021), oil on canvas, 100 x 150 centimeters

“Dissident” (2021), oil on canvas, 130 x 170 centimeters

 

 



Art

Dreamlike Sculptures by Christina Bothwell Meld Ceramic, Glass, and Oil Paint into Otherworldly Figures

January 24, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Two Violets.” All images © Christina Bothwell, shared with permission

From her Pennsylvania studio, Christina Bothwell (previously) sculpts surreal hybrid creatures and figures that occupy the unearthly space between dreams and wakefulness. She works with a combination of annealed glass, pit-fired ceramics, oil paint, and small mosaic tiles, which each correspond to a conceptual element. “I always come back to the idea that the physical part of us is just a small part of who we are in our entirety,” the artist tells Colossal. “The translucent parts of my pieces are meant to suggest the soul or that part of us that is more than just our bodies.  The ceramic portions of my pieces represent our grounded, tangible parts.”

In her most recent body of work, Bothwell continues her explorations into the liminal and states of flux: a slumbering child appears to float from its sleeping counterpart in “Lucid Dream,” while another lies upside down in “Mood Swing.” Many of the sculptures are tinged with themes of magic, imagination, and escapism, which are reflected in the ways that human bodies meld with birds, monkeys, octopuses, and deer. She explains:

I was a sensitive child with eccentric parents who didn’t fit in. I didn’t even fit in with my family a lot of the time. It was like I was a changeling or an alien they were forced to live with. I felt like an outsider for most of my life, and it always felt precarious, unsafe, being who I was. For this reason, I think I identify with deer… despite their beauty and grace, they are not protected or valued (at least not where I live), and their vulnerability and innocence resonates with something deep within me.

Bothwell’s fantastical works will be on view at Habatat Gallery and Muskegon Museum of Art as part of the upcoming Beyond the Glass Ceiling, Influential Women in Glass exhibition and again this summer at Tory Folliard Gallery in Milwaukee. Until then, explore more of her sculptures on Instagram.

 

“Simian Dream”

“Lucid Dream”

“Snail”

“Little Deer”

“Mood Swing”

“Speak No Evil See No Evil Hear No Evil”

Left: “Here and Now.” Right: “Safe Haven”

“Dream State”

Top: “New Sunday.” Bottom left: “Tea with Cows.” Bottom right: “Tea Party”

 

 



Art

Human Anatomy and Decomposing Flora Unveil a Surreal Mix of Dreams and Feelings in Rafael Silveira's Portraits

December 29, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Rafael Silveira, shared with permission

In Rafael Silveira’s Unportraits, magenta curls and slick, turquoise coifs frame the bizarre scenarios unfolding in a subject’s mind. The Brazilian artist, who gravitates towards oil paints in shades of pink and blue, translates a character’s psyche through wilting flowers, gashes in the earth’s surface, and parrots with feathers that drip like wet paint. Anatomical elements like singular eyes, hearts sprouting veins, and twisting brain matter bolster the unearthly qualities of each work, which meld flora and fauna into a surreal mishmash. “From inside, we are a strange mix of dreams, thoughts, feelings, and human meat,” Silveira tells Colossal. “I think these portraits are not persons but moods.”

Peculiar situations surround the subjects as their sweaters melt like ice cream and spiders spin webs from the parched ground supplanting their necks, a visual that evokes thick wrinkles associated with aging. These fleeting actions are part of the artist’s reference to paper ephemera and the ways thoughts and feelings decompose over time. “This rich mental energy is like an invisible raw element, part of the immaterial alchemy of my works,” he says. “We can’t control what life brings us, but we can decide how to react. We make these small decisions all the time. These characters evoke the power of reaction.”

Silveira is based in Curitiba, Brazil, and has his work slated for a January group exhibition at London’s Dorothy Circus Gallery and in March in an immersive solo show at Farol Santander in São Paulo. Until then, pick up a print and keep an eye on his Instagram for new additions to his portrait series, which will be on view in July at Choque Cultural Gallery.

 

 

 



Animation Craft

Winter In The Rainforest: Porcelain Characters Navigate the Amazon in a Surreal Stop-Motion Short

November 30, 2021

Grace Ebert

In Anu-Laura Tuttelberg’s stop-motion short “Winter In The Rainforest,” time passes at an unusual pace. The Estonian writer, director, and animator (previously) sets a cast of fragile, porcelain puppets within the lush rainforests of Chiapas, Mexico, and the Peruvian Amazon, a contrast of real and manufactured that grounds the surreal story. Throughout the film, carnivorous flowers trap their prey, an articulate grasshopper climbs a tree, and a miniature girl wakes from a stupor at a clip that’s wildly different from their timelapsed surroundings, which are evident through leaves shaking in the wind and shadows rolling across the landscape at a quickened tempo.

Shot with 16-millimeter film, the grainy short is years in the making—Tuttelberg details the process on her site—and blurs the boundaries between the imagined and real in both material and narrative. Rather than create an illusion of the characters occupying the tropical ecosystem in a lifelike manner, each element progresses at its own speed. She explains:

While moving the puppets frame by frame, I let the light and the nature in the background move naturally. In this way, the puppets are moving smoothly in their own pace and the nature around them is changing rapidly. This creates a new obscure reality of time and space in the film. It keeps the viewer aware of the stop motion technique in the film. I don’t want to hide the animation technique behind the scene but rather to bring it out and observe the new strange reality it creates.

“Winter In The Rainforest” has already won numerous festival awards, and Tuttelberg tells Colossal she’s working on a sequel titled “On Weary Wings Go By,” which brings the same cast to the frigid beaches of Estonia and Norway. You can keep an eye out for that project, and watch the animator’s previous works, on Vimeo.