Sublimated Sexuality in Modern Surrealist Girl Art, Part 5

Now we are in the home stretch of the Sublimated Sexuality series (only one more post and it will be completed). If you haven’t already perused them, or you wish to review the series, you can find the other parts here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

15) Anthropomorphism of animals and objects – With respect to anthropomorphic animals, much of what was said in the animals, masks and monsters categories applies here as well, but I think this separate category is warranted, especially as it includes non-living objects. Anthropomorphism is a common characteristic of children’s media, so it’s natural that it would also occur in pop surrealist art in which children are subjects, particularly in a darkly satirical context.

There’s something a bit leering and creepy about that moon, no?

Ana Bagayan – Moon Babies

Ana Bagayan (official site)

James Jean can always by counted on to produce excellent dreamlike imagery. Anthropomorphic flowers? Where have we seen those before? Ah, yes: Alice in Wonderland. I suspect it’s no accident that that particular story is frequently referenced,  overtly or otherwise, in this work!

James Jean – Aurelians (2016)

James Jean (official site)

Food is another thing which is often anthropomorphized in this type of art, usually with some rather morbid implications. The title in this next piece is a disturbing pun. The adorable little girl might be regarded as “eye candy” in the symbolic sense, but the cupcake’s eyes are literal eye candy, and one of them is about to be eaten!

Nicoletta Ceccoli – Eye Candy

Nicoletta Ceccoli (official site)

Kokomoo – (Title Unknown)

Deidre L. Morton (Peemonster) – Eden Dream

Rabbits are a commonly anthropomorphized animal in this art. Again, could this be an allusion to Alice? This first image certainly feels quite reminiscent of Carroll’s creation. Note too the resemblance of the rabbit’s pair of pendulums to dangling cherries.

Masaru Shichinohe – (Title Unknown)

Artnet: Masaru Shichinohe

Stephen Mackey – Magic Uncle

Stephen Mackey (official site)

16) The presence of death and decay – It makes perfect sense that references to death would also appear in this work, serving as a memento mori to remind viewers that life is short and fleeting, and that there may be an eternal afterlife in which we are judged and dealt with according to how we lived our lives, so we had better not harm anyone, especially the vulnerable . . . such as children. Furthermore, death is disgusting and frightening, so its juxtaposition with children works as another example of dissuasion by association.

Hiroyuki Mano – Stone Mirror

DeviantArt: DensenManiya

Nils Karsten – Heaven in Orange

Nils Karsten (official site)

Ana Bagayan – Heaven

Timothy Cummings – Sudden Scenario

Timothy Cummings (official site)

Audrey Kawasaki – Isabelle (2006)

Audrey Kawasaki (official site)

Jackie Skrzynski – Cold Comfort (2007)

Jackie Skrzynski (official site)

Juniper trees have a fascinating association with death and misfortune. Some may recall the Brothers Grimm fairy tale The Juniper Tree, which involves the murder of a mother and her young son. In Welsh legend cutting down a juniper tree meant the feller was bound to die, and many dream interpreters believe that dreaming of juniper trees is extremely unlucky, especially for those who are ill. Modern horror author Peter Straub also penned a story called The Juniper Tree, about a young boy who is sexually abused by a stranger at a movie theater.

Cornelia Renz – The Juniper Tree (2006)

Cornelia Renz (official site)

17) Subversion of religion and the sacred – Complimenting themes of death in this work (or in some cases contrasting against or satirizing them) is the subverting of religious themes, particularly Christianity.

Generally I try to feature only one work per artist in each category, since there are so many worthy artists, but these two paintings by Amy Crehore absolutely have to be featured together as they tell an amusing/disturbing little story. While you’d think it’s the demon who is the true threat here, the second piece in the series reveals who really wields the power!

Amy Crehore – Story of Lolita, Part 1

Amy Crehore – Story of Lolita, Part 2

The Art of Amy Crehore (official site)

Scott G. Brooks – The Heavenly Virtues: Bravery (Girl with Pet Goat) (2004)

Scott G Brooks Studios (official site)

Teiji Hayama – Ekho

Asia Contemporary Art: Teiji Hayama

Stu Mead – First Communion (2004)

Stu Mead (official site)

Heidi Taillefer – Sovereign Side (2008)

Heidi Taillefer (official site)

Mike Cockrill – Nativity (2004)

Mike Cockrill (official site)

Mark Ryden does religious satire so frequently that I had a tough time narrowing it down to just one piece. Nevertheless . . .

Mark Ryden – The Angel of Meat

Mark Ryden (official site)

This next piece is both a subversion of a well-known biblical event (Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of his son Isaac) and a commentary by the artist on the nature of his own work, since dolls feature prominently in his paintings and sculptures. We will definitely see him again in the final installment of this series.

Mikel Glass – Sacrifice of Subject Matter

Mikel Glass (official site)

Jana Brike – Two Wounded Angels on the Beach

Squarespace: Jana Brike

Sublimated Sexuality in Modern Surrealist Girl Art, Part 4

This is the fourth post in the Sublimated Sexuality series. You can view the first three posts in this series here, here and here. Let’s get started.

12) Body horror – This is another fairly broad category that covers a lot of these images, and as with several of the categories, there is a good deal of overlap with some of the other categories (for example, the monstrosity, violence and general weirdness categories). At any rate, this category covers physical deformities and mutations, sickness and disease, bruises and wounds, and what I would deem “frankensteined” people and animals—that is, beings who are something other than a full human or a full animal. Sometimes they are animal-human hybrids; other times they are biomechanical monstrosities.

Ana Bagayan – The Experiment

Ana Bagayan (Official Site)

Jackie Skrzynski – Scratch (2003)

Jackie Skrzynski (Official Site)

Jana Brike – Self Portrait with Erected Tail

Squarespace: Jana Brike

Kokomoo – (Title Unknown) (1)

Cornelia Renz – A Girl Without Hands (2008)

Cornelia Renz (Official Site)

Here there is some overlap with the twins category. Yang Jing’s work often incorporates dolls, which we’ll get to in yet another category.

Yang Jing – We Did Nothing

Ravenel International Art Group: Yang Jing

The following image is perhaps the quintessential example of the thesis of this blog series. The implication in Nicoletta Ceccoli’s Dulcis Agata (Latin for Sweet Agatha) depends partly on how you read this sort of art overall. It also references the next category to be addressed in this post, the presence of food, particularly sweet treats, in these images. Ceccoli often uses cakes and candies in her images to symbolizes childhood, especially girlhood, but there is frequently a sinister undertone to these images, and that is the case here. The title references St. Agatha of Sicily, a girl from a wealthy family who, at age fifteen, refused the sexual advances of a lowborn Roman prefect and was subsequently arrested, tortured and eventually murdered. Among the punishments she supposedly enduring was the cutting off of her breasts.

Here Agatha is presented as a young girl who offers either some sort of dessert drenched in strawberry or cherry sauce, or her own severed breasts. If it is the latter, one can read it in at least two ways. The first is as a feminist allegory in which women are expected to look ever younger for men, and thus a young girl might sever her own breasts to remain child-like in presentation. The second reading is actually not far from the first, and it is that culture desexualizes young girls to keep them pure and holy, by violence if necessary.

Nicoletta Ceccoli – Dulcis Agata

Nicoletta Ceccoli (Official Site)

Cristina Vergano – Escorial, Madrid, September 1705

Cristina Vergano (Official Site)

13) The presence of food, especially sweets – Food is sometimes associated with sex, and no food more so than fruit and candy, both of which are sweet. (Refer to my Cherry Ripe! post for some insight into at least one fruit that commonly symbolizes sex or sexual development.) Sweets are also associated with children, which makes the symbolism in these images especially potent. Add in a healthy dose of satire and you have the makings of a clever commentary on the conflicted view of the young girl in modern society.

Hiroyuki Mano – The cake is a lie

DeviantArt: DensenManiya

Ceccoli’s girls generally exist in some sort of dark Candyland.

Nicoletta Ceccoli – Barbara

Nicoletta Ceccoli – Consumed by You

Scott G. Brooks – Food Chain (2009)

Scott G Brooks Studios (Official Site)

Rene Lynch – Icons – Honey Dipper (Bee Queen) (2006)

Rene Lynch (Official Site)

Mmm, tasty black soup.

Rieko Sakurai – (Title Unknown)

Artnet: Rieko Sakurai

james-jean-recess_-horse

James Jean – Recess – Horse

James Jean (Official Site)

Kokomoo – (Title Unknown) (2)

Kokomoo – (Title Unknown) (3)

14) Masks, especially animal masks – Masks are another recurring emblem in this sort of art. Much can be said about masks in art just in general, but with respect to kids, one immediately thinks of Halloween, which is associated with devils and darkness too, and that of course intersects with one of the persistent themes in these images: horror of one sort or another. If we think in terms of sublimating childhood sexuality, these images are not too dissimilar from the human-animal hybrid pieces, only the artists are perhaps more aware of the sublimation and are acknowledging it. Thus, the masks are in essence a reflection of both the artist’s neuroses with regard to children and a sly acknowledgment that there really are human children behind the false faces being offered to the viewer.

Caleb Weintraub – Ashes Ashes Splashes Splashes

Caleb Weintraub (Official Site)

Jana Brike – The Last Dancer in the World

Here Red Riding Hood becomes the wolf. Yet another clever commentary on the nature of girlhood and how it is perceived.

Nicoletta Ceccoli – My Favorite Costume

Nicoletta Ceccoli – A Girl Hides Secrets

The Winds of Change

I know I must have said this ad nauseum, but one of the most compelling images that moves many of us emotionally is that of the little girl. This fact has been used cynically many times by powerful institutions and it behooves us to remain conscious of its power. A contest was conducted to create a design to promote the People’s Climate March to take place in New York City this September 21st. There were two winners: one with a rather dismal vision of the future, but also a more hopeful one by James Jean entitled Winds of Change.

James Jean - Winds of Change (2014)

James Jean – Winds of Change (2014)

Celebrity judges chose the winners (although there was also an online vote for the finalists) and the Grand Prize winner was to receive an award of $10,000 and a flight to New York to participate in the march. According to the Huffington Post, over 400,000 people turned out. The march took place just a few days before about 120 world leaders were to debate environmental action at a United Nations climate summit.  More than 1,500 groups filled Central Park West before the march representing a variety of interests, including the scientific community, religious organizations, students and grandparents all expressing concern for their legacy and that of their descendants.

James Jean was featured before on Pigtails in Paint (here and here) and it is good to see that his work continues to be noticed.

Recess with James Jean, Pt. 2

More graphics from the astoundingly and preternaturally talented James Jean:

james-jean-catchbatter

James Jean – Catch/Batter

james-jean-maze

James Jean – Maze

Note the background here, a reference to the work of Piet Mondrian:

james-jean-teen-employment

James Jean – Teen Employment

James Jean - Excavation (2009)

James Jean – Excavation (2009)

James Jean - Treat

James Jean – Treat

James Jean - Pestilence (2010)

James Jean – Pestilence (2010)

James Jean - HAAZ

James Jean – HAAZ

James Jean - HAAZ (detail)

James Jean – HAAZ (detail)

James Jean - Shattered

James Jean – Shattered

James Jean - Bows (2011)

James Jean – Bows (2011)

James Jean - Braid (2011)

James Jean – Braid (2011)

James Jean - Braid (detail) (2011)

James Jean – Braid (detail) (2011)

James Jean

Wikipedia: James Jean

Recess with James Jean, Pt. 1

James Jean, an artist of Taiwanese heritage, is one of my favorite artists working today.  His skills with brush, pen and pencil are unequaled, as is his fantastic and energetic imagination.  He’s done everything from album art to advertisements for chain stores to numerous comic book covers, on top of the work he does for himself.  One of Jean’s most compelling projects is his ‘Recess’ series, some of which I’ll be featuring in this installment, although I’m not limiting myself to that series because there are simply too many great pieces that fit the theme of this blog and which need to be seen.  But if you like Jean’s dazzling layouts and surrealistic style don’t limit your exposure to him to what I show here; go to his website and look at everything.  It will be well worth your time, I assure you.

james-jean-recess_-flip

James Jean – Recess: Flip

james-jean-recess_-horse

James Jean – Recess: Horse

james-jean-recess_-jump

James Jean – Recess: Jump

james-jean-recess_-supertron

James Jean – Recess: Supertron

The above image was also used as the cover for an album by The Fading Collection, also called ‘Supertron’:

james-jean-the-fading-collection_-supertron

James Jean – The Fading Collection – Supertron

james-jean-recess_-wave

James Jean – Recess: Wave

james-jean-recess_-weep

James Jean – Recess: Weep

james-jean-among-the-dolls

James Jean – Among the Dolls

james-jean-fountain-1

James Jean – Fountain 1

james-jean-giro-youth

James Jean – Giro (Youth)

james-jean-sink

James Jean – Sink

james-jean-target

James Jean – Target

Wikipedia: James Jean

And once again, here is his website: James Jean Official Site

Comments:

From X on April 16, 2011
This is awesome. Everything looks almost like a comic book, but the more you look at it the more it seems to get weirder and weirder. The girl beating the skeleton is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.  -X

From pipstarr72 on April 16, 2011
In fact, James Jean has worked on comics, most notably designing covers for the series Fables. He’s all over the place—I think a lot of people have seen his work but wouldn’t recognize the artist. He is truly an amazing illustrator. I first learned about him from the magazine Juxtapoz, which has provided me with pointers to several artists that will eventually show up on this blog.