Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Art of the Peculiar, the Creepy, and the Beautiful


Creepy, beautiful, romantic, grotesque, and sad are just some of the words used to describe the art of Elizabeth McGrath. McGrath is a musician and an artist who creates dioramas and sculpture that fall into those creepy and grotesque categories. Yes she creates creatures with articulated arms and legs, bulging eyes, and pointy teeth. But look again and you may see beauty made with feathers and felt. Sometimes even pretty pink creatures appear, even though they may have two heads. Her world is both disturbing and alluring. McGrath is drawn to Catholic iconography and the carnival life. Take a look at her funhouse world filled with strange beauty and dark specimens. Along with creating sculpture and animation McGrath also fronts the band Miss Derringer.

Mark Ryden

Mark Ryden is an artist who creates his own fantastic worlds inhabited by pretty creatures. but his are on canvas. Surreal pretty worlds are created and finished down to the last intricate detail. Some have compared his works to warped Golden Book world of the 1950s. His colors are bright and cheerful; his children are alien-like yet pretty and his animals cute. For The Tree Show , his strongest influences came from European and American landscape painters of the 19th century such as John Constable, Caspar David Friedrich, Albert Bierstadt, and John James Audubon. His paintings are playful with sweet looking girls in pretty dresses yet disturbing as they have a tea party with fish on their heads with small infants sitting on the table in a birds nest. There is a Botticelli Primavera look to his paintings yet they take on a mysterious Dutch still life quality.

Jessica Joslin


Metalwork Taxidermy, that’s the work that Jessica Joslin creates. She creates strange hybrid creatures modeled after real animal anatomy. These skeletal forms are made animal skulls, satin, velvet, glass, leather, metal and sometimes metal parts from lamps and other objects. Strange Nature is a book of species that are unknown. Don’t call her work Steampunk, as she associates her work more with the worlds dreamt up by authors HG Wells and Jules Verne that are articulated with the extravagant exactitude of the Victorian era. You can read an interview with Joslin here in Hi-Fructose.

Louie Travis



Travis Louie’s world is full of Victorian and Edwardian creepiness. He works meticulously in black and white acrylics and graphite. His paintings are inhabited by human oddities and mythical beings that may have one eye or even three eyes. They dress in elegant suits and ties while others have painted their fang lips and are dressed in high neck black dresses. One of his characters carries a fish where ever she goes and another was found living inside a garden hole. We question how these grotesqueries ended up looking the way they do, what unusual circumstances led them to this look like ghosts in a Civil War tintype?  Painted in ornate frames almost looking like cameos, these creatures look dignified and quite content with their physical peculiarities. Influenced by watching atomic age" sci-fi and horror movies and looking at 1950s memorabilia, Louie creates creatures that are trying to get along in the world despite their unlucky fate of being born without physical “beauty.”

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