Selasa, 29 Oktober 2013

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

Five morbid art to check out


Halloween art? Humbug! Let's just make you queasy on the inside.

It's not all about the spooky thrills during Halloween. In the art scene, there's the obvious blood and gore to keep horror fans coming back for more. 

But let's leave the ketchup-splattered Dracula fangs and plastic axes for the school Halloween party night. Our Halloween art list – brief as it may be – is all about unsettling you from the inside. 

We've decided to stretch the "disturbing" part in art – complete with all the psychotic brushwork, pyschological drama and quietly violent edges.

Francisco Goya

Spanish romantic painter Francisco Goya is quite to the go-to person for drip-drop bloody art. His piece Saturn Devouring His Son is some tasty chewy work to ... err, bite into. 

As the story goes in Greek mythology, the titan Cronus (Saturn in Roman texts), fearing that he would be overthrown by his children (as he had usurped his own father), began devouring each of them whole. 

(Spoiler: the good news is they are later purged, still alive, by Zeus.) However, in Goya's take on the tale, a deranged-looking Cronus violently consumes them piece by piece instead.

Spanish romantic painter and printmaker Francisco Goya's tasty piece of cold blood 'Saturn Devouring His Son'.

Edouard Manet

French painter Edouard Manet isn't your usual suspect in the traditional Halloween type sweepstakes? But his work Le Suicide – from the 1870s – is as grim as it gets. 

The realism of Le Suicide has sparked rumours that it depicts an actual suicide, but the subject, if any, is not known. Some say it was inspired by an assistant of Manet who committed suicide in Manet's studio more than a decade earlier. 

With this morbid piece on your wall, you're bound to have those pesky trick or treat kids running for their lives.

Rai Escale

Spanish artist Rai Escale isnâ¿¿t someone for happy endings as witnessed by the dead brides in his 'Mirror Noir' series.

Spanish artist Rai Escale isn't someone for happy endings. His bridal portraits explore the tension of people during what they call "the most beautiful day of my life" – their weddings. 

In Escale's hands, these old black and white portraits, depicting a cold Catholic iconography, turn out with very different results and interpretations. 

They shift between contemplative saints and martyrs, prostitutes and dead brides right to white ladies (those spectral beings of Central European mythology which were supposed to be female spirits wandering the lakes and mountains after untimely death before a wedding, suicide after rape, or some other prenuptial tragedy). 

The game is really over when you say "I do" in Escale's world.

Vinicius Quesada

Brazilian artist Vinicius Quesada has definitely left his mark in his work by using real blood in his paintings.

It's not all about monsters, ghouls and things that go bump in the night. Take for instance Brazilian street artist Vinicius Quesada who takes his art further with a blood bag or two. 

His series entitled, Blood Piss Blues, definitely matched its description – with the use of blood and urine. With his incredibly detailed psychedelic art of violent geishas, smoking monkeys, and other apocalyptic images, Quesada's blood-laced masterpieces are definitely worth the shock value.

Junji Ito

Japanese horror manga artist Junji Ito will make you sweat with his pyschological drama.

There is no shortage of horror comic book artists. But if we had to pick one for the lonely coffin, then something from Japanese horror manga artist Junji Ito will do very nicely. 

He is the mastermind behind classics like Gyo, Tomie and Uzumaki. Human teenagers turn into snails in Uzumaki. A caterpillar grows from an old man's hair. The rest of Ito's manga, whether complete volumes or one-shots, are a menagerie of beautifully sullen, dazzlingly psychotic artwork with chilling writing. 

But it's his pyschological drama that really hits home – without the need for blood and gore.

Related stories: 

5 horror comics that need their own movie now

5 food-related items for Halloween

Silent lucidity


Inanimate objects are given life in The Print Room's exhibition, It's Still Life.

IF there is one thing that still life photography tells us, it's that simple, everyday objects can be far more extraordinary that we can possibly imagine.

For its eighth exhibition, The Print Room moves move away from the documentary-style photography of its past few shows to focus on still life photography.

It's Still Life showcases the work of seven photographers who each share their personal stories through individual collections. The show features the work of London-born and trained photographer Paul Gadd and six of his students – Alex Chan, Razlan Yusof, Weng Wah, Thomas Seiffert, Linda Chin, Farah Azizan and Shareem Amry.

"It was about change. The students were getting used to going out and doing documentary (photography) and I wanted to rattle the cage a bit. I introduced still life to them … where they had to make something from nothing, really. It was initially very hard for them because they'd never done it … to actually sit in the studio and create a body of work from nothing and create the lighting and everything ... it was a challenge," says Gadd, who is the director of The Print Room.

It's Still Life, he shares, is the result of several month's of hard work.

Regardless of whether we believe in reincarnation, paradise or some kind of transformation on a molecular level, our fears and nightmares exist in the present. Thomas Sieffert's tries to present this is his work for It's Still Life, showing at The Print Room

Thomas Sieffert's Bouquet Of Fish #1 reminds us that our fears and nightmares exist in the present ... regardless of whether we believe in reincarnation, paradise or some kind of transformation on a molecular level.

"There is some good stuff in here. I'm really happy with the work but it took months of hard work. Many of these photos had to be shot over and over again," he says, explaining that the students had to "revamp their visual instincts" and move away from the street-photography mode which they'd honed their skills on.

"It was all new to them. Alex, for example, started out photographing fruit bowls and flowers, which is what people generally associate with still life. But it wasn't working ... because, well, it wasn't him. So I suggested he use his dolls as subjects – he collects these Manga dolls which he gets from Japan – because these told his stories," shares Gadd.

Paul Gadd's series of photos for It's Still Life are personal, representing his childhood, family and issues.

Paul Gadd's series of photos for It's Still Life are personal, representing his childhood, family and issues.

In his series of photos, Chan used the dolls to hint at topics which not spoken off openly in socket, such as drug abuse, homosexuality and paedophilia.

"The work is very personal, naturally. It tells their stories," Gadd explains.

The work displayed in the show is varied - from deeply personal issues to existential concerns and social issues, It's Still Life showcases the uniquely individual visions of contemporary life.

All the photographs were shot on film, which Gadd feels is essential in the process of learning photography.

"We don't do anything digital. I think to learn about photography as a process, it is important to shoot on film. You really learn to appreciate and respect the art which is very important," he says.

>> It's Still Life is on till Dec 31 at The Print Room (49, Lorong 16/9E, Section 16, Petaling Jaya, Selangor) on weekends from 2pm to 7pm. On weekdays, the show is open for viewing by appointment. Call 012 337 2903, log on to or email


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