Spreading fear and mayhem in the visual arts.

Archive for the Medicine / Anatomy category

James Jean's OVM Strata Animation

by Suzanne on September 23rd, 2011

OVM Strata by James Jean, graphite and digital - click for full version

Because this study for O\\\////M is so very very pretty, because I haven't featured any James Jean art here in a while and because this is my damn blog, let's just pretend this is Tumblr and I can just post ONE image sans much text cause I'm deep like that.

Make sure to check out the much more glorious, original version here since I had to drop a few frames and resize for hosting reasons.

Dr. Paul Koudounaris' "Empire of Death" at La Luz de Jesus, Los Angeles

by Suzanne on September 18th, 2011

St. Pancratius, Wil, Switzerland by Dr. Paul Koudounaris - click to enlarge

Back in June this year, I suggested Paul Koudounaris' ForteanTimes article Bones with Bling - The amazing jewelled skeletons of Europe for reading and those of you who followed my order friendly invitation will be very familiar with the topic discussed here, indeed with most of the image material as well.

If we go even further back, to June 2009, some very eager WurzelForum® members might remember an article entitled Sisterhood of the Skulls about the Neapolitan caves where a cult of old women "adopt" human skulls which was also written by the great Mr Koudounaris.

The remains of St Maximus, Basilica of Waldsassen by Dr. Paul Koudounaris - click to enlarge

For the past few years, Paul Koudounaris has been traveling to churches, crypta and catacombs around the world to compile a comprehensive study of vanitas rites and memento mori decorations of our collective religiously morbid past.

In October, his efforts will be published by Thames & Hudson in a beautiful tome containing 250 full-color and 50 black-and-white photographs entitled Emipre of Death - A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses and this coming Saturday, Sep 24, Hollywood's La Luz de Jesus gallery is holding an opening reception and book signing with the artist. A bit far away from the majority of subjects of his studies, but OH WELL, we Europeans can't have everything - after all, we got most of the actual relics, so we still totally win all the way. Details below.

If you're on the East Coast and near New York, you might want to wait until October 13, when Paul will be giving a lecture at The Observatory Room and sign his monograph in an event organised by the great Joanna of Morbid Anatomy.

Holy Martyr Theodosius, Waldsassen by Dr. Paul Koudounaris - click to enlarge

Opening reception: Sep 24, 7 - 10 PM - includes book signing

On show: Sep 24 - Oct 3, 2011

Address: La Luz de Jesus Gallery, 4633 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA, tel: 323-666-7667, email: info@laluzdejesus.com

Opening hours: Mon - Wed: 11 AM - 7 PM, Thu - Sat: 11 AM - 9 PM, Sun: 12 - 6 PM

Preview & press release

Artist's website

WurzelForum discussion

Samuel Higley's "Fit For The Plough" Riddles

by Suzanne on September 12th, 2011

The Collector by Samuel Higley, oil on board, 9 x 16", 2011 - click to enlarge

Samuel Higley calls himself a "commercial artist" but as prosaic and honest that description is, it really is way too humble and limiting as his work is really captivating and he's obviously an extremely skilled craftsman.

Fit For the Plough cover by Samuel Higley - click to enlarge

He first caught my eye (ouch!) with his piece The Collector from this summer (very top).

Pick a Pocket or Three (pickpocket) by Samuel Higley - click to enlarge

For the past few weeks, he's been posting his Fit For The Plough series to his Tumblr by turning each ink drawing into an image riddle:

"The subjects are deformed suiting to their occupation. There’s a quote for each image to help guess what their occupation is. I’ll reveal the occupation the following Monday."

Left on the Shelf (librarian) by Samuel Higley - click to enlarge

Samuel's portfolio is here and if you want to follow his Fit For The Plough riddles, make sure to check his Tumblr every Monday for a new piece and the solution to the previous one.

A Fine Catch (yet to be solved - apparently, it's not a lobster fisher...) by Samuel Higley - click to enlarge

"Valley of the Dolls" Group Show at Strychnin, Berlin

by Suzanne on September 5th, 2011

Princess Owl by Eric van Straaten - click to enlarge

With Valley of the Dolls, Berlin's Strychnin Gallery will once again pay tribute to some of the world's leading young doll artists.

Curating a doll group show is a challenge in many ways but particularly because the genre has a difficult position in the arts and it's often a very tricky navigation between admirable, if not slightly OCD crafts(wo)manship and downright sugar-coated fantasy kitsch.

Strychnin, however, has avoided falling into the marzipan trap by getting 3D-printing "sculptor" Eric van Straaten on board an otherwise female cast of doll artists and therefore giving a very decorative and fashiony Valley of the Dolls a much needed obscure twist.

Virginie Ropars will certainly once again deliver outstandingly detailed symbiotic and allegorical work, twin sisters Elena and Ekaterina Popovy will be presenting their samurai Barbie®... err... beauties while Marmite Sue has been taking self-harming one step further for this group show and will be showing porcelain lolitas with limbs carved down to translucent filigree.

Basically, there's something for every doll lover in this show. Opens this Friday, September 9. Details below.

Model No. 3 by Ekaterina and Elena Popovy - click to enlarge

Opening reception: Sep 9, 2011, 7 PM onwards

On show: Sep 9 - Oct 2, 2011

Address: Strychnin Gallery, Boxhagenerstr. 36, 10245 Berlin, Germany, tel: +49 30 9700 2035

Opening hours: Thu - Sun: 12 - 6 PM

WurzelForum discussion

Richard Stipl's "Remembering Disasters" at Galerie Dukan Hourdequin, Paris

by Suzanne on September 5th, 2011

Heretic II by Richard Stipl, clay, hair, 66 x 19 x 14 cm, 2011 - click to enlarge

Dukan Hourdequin Gallery in Paris - check out their fantastic roster of artists - presents the first French solo exhibition of Czech artist Richard Stipl's works.

Remembering Disasters opens this coming Thursday and will be showing sculptures from the past decade of Richard's grotesquely physiognomic creative output.

For some reason, I keep reading the show title as "Dismembering Disasters" but I guess that just goes to show that I have a one-track mind.

Curator of the exhibition is Otto M. Urban who brought us the fantastic Decadence Now - Visions of Excess at Prague's Rudolfinum Gallery last year.

You know that Franz Xaver Messerschmidt would have loved to attend this show so please do him a favour and don't miss it if you're in Paris. Details below.

Heretic I by Richard Stipl, clay, found objects, 25 x 17 x 12 cm, 2011 - click to enlarge

Opening reception: Sep 8, 2011, 6 - 9 PM

On show: Sep 9 - Oct 15, 2011

Address: Galerie Dukan Hourdequin, 24, rue Pastourelle, 75003, Paris, France, email: info@dukanhourdequin.com | Map

Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 11 AM - 7 PM

Press release

WurzelForum discussion

The Symbiotic and Alienated Works of Rachel Goodyear

by Suzanne on August 1st, 2011

Walking on Tiptoes (detail) by Rachel Goodyear, pencil and watercolour on paper, 30cm x 42cm, private collection, 2009 - click to enlarge

While researching image material for a blog post about one of the most spectacularly curated group shows in aeons - I will post about it later today - I re-discovered Rachel Goodyear's website and decided that she's really deserved her own post here because her images have been floating around on both the blog and forum for a while now.

Imaginary Friend (detail) by Rachel Goodyear, pencil and watercolour on paper, 30cm x 42cm, private collection, 2008 - click to enlarge

Born in 1978 in Oldham, Lancashire, Rachel studied fine arts in Leeds and now lives and works in Manchester. Although deliberately limiting herself to work in small scale with a strong focus on watercolour and pencil, she's an extremely accomplished artist who really can't seem to stop herself, judging by all the found material she draws on - from paper bags to envelopes.

Fawn with Hand by Rachel Goodyear, pencil, watercolour and gouache on paper, 22cm x 22cm, collection of Bury Art Gallery and Museum, 2008 - click to enlarge

Strong recurring themes in Rachel's work are symbiosis, entomology, mycology, decomposition, masking & obscuring, injury & trauma (in a Pascal Bernier sense), alienation & hermeticism, attachment & conjoinedness... so basically, the sheer existence.

The Man in the Suit Is Unwell by Rachel Goodyear, pencil on paper, private collection, 2007 - click to enlarge

Dave Beech once said about her oeuvre:

"Nothing is at home in these works, as if the world had been tapped lightly and everything had stumbled into unfamiliar positions.”

Chin Strap from the Nature Notes series by Rachel Goodyear, pencil and watercolour on paper, 14cm x 21cm, Olbricht Collection, 2009 - click to enlarge

And 'tis very true indeed and I couldn't have found better words - particularly not in this ungodly heat.

So please have a look at her website and discover her vast portfolio with your own eyes.

From the Nature Notes series by Rachel Goodyear, pencil and watercolour on paper, 14cm x 21cm, Olbricht Collection, 2009 - click to enlarge

The Work of Santiago Caruso

by Suzanne on July 28th, 2011

La Condesa Sangrienta, book illustration, by Santiago Caruso, 2009 - click to enlarge

Focussing mainly on exhibiting artists, I tend to not really profile as many young artists as I'd like to and it's often illustrators that don't get nearly as much exposure here as they do over on the WurzelForum.

Anyway, whenever someone whose oeuvre I've been admiring for a good while takes the time to write a lovely little email, I will obviously make an exception to the normal posting schedule and devote a little feature to said individual.

So yesterday, the great Buenos Aires born and based Santiago Caruso invited me to check out his work and even though I was very familiar with it already - thanks to the fabulous Jon Beinart - he inspired me to explore his website further and dive into his incredibly vast archive of works.

For someone who's still in his 20s, the technical versatility, the effortless switching between genres, the treatment of historical and fictional subjects alike is deeply impressive and awe-inspiring.

Invocation by Santiago Caruso - click to enlarge

You could commission Santiago to create you anything between a black metal album cover and the design for a trashy romance novel. He's done it all.

Browsing through his galleries, you'll find yourself reminded of artists as diverse as Joel-Peter Witkin, Giorgio de Chirico, Odd Nerdrum, Jan Saudek, Francisco Goya, H R Giger and Hieronymus Bosch, to mention only a few.

In a dizzying whirlwind of surrealist theatrical compositions, you'll stumble over visual themes such as Lustmord, danses macabres, anatomical écorchés, eldritch abominations and witches' sabbaths.

Personally, I always find myself immediately drawn to his trichromatic works in black/white/red; I think that's where his genius and the way his mind and hand have absorbed history and art history come through the strongest.

You can find Santiago's website here, his blog here and he's selling original works online here.

Yira, Yira by Santiago Caruso - click to enlarge

In other news, thank fuck for poeTV and Shelley Duvall:

Gabriel von Max at Frye Art Museum, Seattle

by Suzanne on July 25th, 2011

By Gabriel von Max - click to enlarge

Reader and fantastic artist Benjamin A. Vierling (I recently posted about his current exhibition at Roq la Rue) informed me the other day that one of my favourite evolutionary theorists, monkey painters and homines universales, the emotive Gabriel Cornelius Ritter von Max, currently has a retrospective - the first von Max solo show in the US of A ever - entitled Be-tailed Cousins and Phantasms of the Soul devoted to his work at Seattle's Frye Museum.

The exhibition has been organised in collaboration with the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus - whose own von Max retrospective I blogged about here - but the Frye show seems to be focussing more on the religious and ecstatic works.

Being learned in parapsychological subjects such as somnambulism, hypnotism and spiritism, von Max's work always had a dual focus on both the (eroticised) spiritual mysticism and the (satirised) natural sciences.

I was also delighted to see that there seems to be a few of his lesser known graphic works for Goethe's Faust on display.

From the Frye's press release:

"The artist’s first solo exhibition in America includes more than 120 works, including 36 paintings from public and private collections in Europe and America as well as original drawings, woodcuts on the theme of Faust, illustrated letters, rare photographs, and antiquarian publications illustrated by Max."

The show runs until the end of October. Details below.

The Seeress of Prevorst (Frederica Hauffe) by Gabriel von Max, oil on canvas, 1892, courtesy National Gallery in Prague - click to enlarge

On show: Jul 9 - Oct 30, 2011

Address: Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Avenue, Seattle, Washington 98104, USA, tel: (206) 622-9250, email: info@fryemuseum.org | Map

Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 11 AM - 5 PM

Admission: FREE

Press release

Catalogue: A 100-page, fully illustrated exhibition catalogue published by the Frye Art Museum and distributed by the University of Washington Press will be available in the Frye Store for $30.

WurzelForum discussion

Jake or Dinos Chapman at both White Cube galleries, London

by Suzanne on July 20th, 2011

© Jake & Dinos Chapman, photograph by Tony Kyriacou/Rex Features, courtesy of The Guardian, 2011

[I guess readers have been wondering why I haven't expressed my take on the Chapman Bros' new show yet. Thing is, I haven't even SEEN it yet and the White Cube - having imposed super strict image rules for the double feature - has completely failed to supply me with the login to the press section, so I finally decided to just lift the images off the Guardian.]

One of the few genuinely pleasant things about living in the stink patch that is London is that - although the average annual exhibition schedule is often horrendously boring - there is always bliss in knowing that sooner or later another big Chapman Bros show will hit the White Cube.

And thank fuck, it happened again last Friday. For Jake Or Dinos Chapman, the brothers have been working on their own with their entourages of assistants to form two individual exhibitions - one held at White Cube Mason's Yard and the other one at the Cube's Hoxton Square premises.

The reviews are pretty much unisono good, strangely enough, far from raving though, but interesting to see that no-one really gives a shit about swastikas, iron crosses and Totenköpfe in art when it's the Chapmans. Neither do I. It's difficult to dislike the brothers and as YBA as they are at times, they have an uncanny sense for devilish detailing and comic timing - something that never comes out in press photographs. So if you've never been to a Chapman Bros show, don't even begin to argue with me.

© Jake & Dinos Chapman, photograph by Tony Kyriacou/Rex Features, courtesy of The Guardian, 2011

If I disagree with the arts press on one thing, it's the often raised issue of how oh-so politically clever their installations are. They really aren't. If the pair does get politically active, it's very honest, very down-to-earth, positivistic educational Realpolitik as their almost heart-warming recent Can't Pay Your Fees? We Pay Your Bills! initiative illustrated.

So let's be honest, their installations are actually rather repetitive and banal or maybe people don't really know all that much about politics and their minds are easily flattered by an allusion to something seemingly profound. But does that even matter? No, absolutely not. Their work is exhilarating in its repetitiveness, there is lots of anal in their banal, it's so totally wrong it's way past right and just really wrong again, it is indeed Insult to Injury, to quote one of their earlier shows. Their oeuvre is, simply put, way too metal for one hand. \mm/

When I visited Fucking Hell three years ago (in a time when photographing their work was still okay with White Cube Mason's Yard), I took pictures of the buildings with my zoom and only later discovered some of the intricate details INSIDE the miniature churches, factories, torture chambers, prisons of Fucking Hell. And that's PRECISELY why I love Jake & Dinos. The Chapmans don't just allude to and play with gore, sadism, facism, no, they really actually deliver these things in a grotesquely giddy folly - they put the sun in Endlösung. (Okay, okay, enough with the excruciating wordplays already.)

And that's all before even beginning to analyse the eloquent depths of their humour as Fucking Hell was produced after Hell melted in the Big Saatchi Warehouse Fire (one of my earliest blog posts after moving the domain). It's easy to imagine them shouting "FUCKING HELL!" when they got a phone call about it. The decision to rebuild the thing - better, stronger, more apocalyptic, more offensive than ever - didn't take them long. In a NYT feature from July 2004, Jake declared:

''We'll make it again. It's only art.''

On show: Jul 15 - Sep 17, 2011

Address: White Cube, Hoxton Square and Mason's Yard, London, UK, tel: +44 (0)20 7930 5373, email: enquiries@whitecube.com

Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10 AM - 6 PM

Dinos not Jake interview | Jake not Dinos interview | Guardian preview

Publications: Jake will publish his third novel titled INTROSPASTIC: From the Blackened Beyond. Dinos will produce a publication of 22 drawings titled They Teach Us Nothing¹.

Artists' website

WurzelForum discussion

¹ ... and here's what they look like:

Also, a great interview with the brothers conducted by CraneTV:

6 Things To Keep You Company In Desperate Times

by Suzanne on July 13th, 2011

As I'm trying my best to deal with an ever mounting misanthropy and overall sickness provoked by an insane amount of existential bullshit thrown at me while being repeatedly kicked in the guts and brains by this thing called "life", I decided to distract myself for a while and check out what some of my favourite artists have been up to. Here are a few random recent works by people I admire highly... and who help me keep going:

- I -

Laurie Lipton: Lace & cobwebs

Lachrymose Lace by Laurie Lipton, charcoal and pencil on paper, 57 x 40.2 cm, 2011 - click to enlarge

Laurie's most recent piece, Lachrymose Lace, has been opening a portal in my head. The gap in the row of pearls, the little threads sticking out of the lace, the irregularity at the bottom of the veil echoing the cobwebs, the waxy tear are all obvious signs of her artistic genius bordering on visionary madness.

- II -

Joao Ruas: Metal & alchemy

Etching Progress by Joao Ruas, 2011 - click to enlarge

Joao recently shared this progress picture of an etching he's working on with his readers and it perfectly illustrates his love affair with the meandering line, his sincere craftsmanship and his uncanny range of talents.

- III -

Xhxix: Casts & buttons

By Xhxix, 2011 - click to enlarge

Xhxix/非/hi likes to create a bit of mystery around himself and seems to really only have a Tumblr - which I almost certainly discovered via Nana.

Above is his newest digital piece and I think he is one of the very few artists who - with his dark yet playful eroticism - has actually turned me slightly more mellow towards the hipster male.

- IV -

Richard Stipl: Thorns & daggers

By Richard Stipl, 2011 - click to enlarge

Via Fuzzy Ladies (and therefore quintessentially via DR Tenge) come these new works by the glorious Richard Stipl.

... and finally, two disturbing visual feasts via Substrom and Sang Bleu

- V -

"Ehm... I guess it's some kind of graphic."

- VI -

Yes, I know Possession is overused and tumblrified to the extreme, but there's something hypnotic about this piece here: