surreal

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with surreal



Photography

Bewildering Inconveniences Trap Subjects in Uncomfortable Scenarios in Ben Zank’s Surreal Photography

August 4, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Some people live on the block, I just live under it.” All images © Ben Zank, shared with permission

The ordinary collides with the bizarre in Ben Zank’s photography. Set on the street, on construction sites, or in grassy fields, his surreal images capture subjects in unequivocally inconvenient positions: A businessman finds himself trapped under a concrete block, a wood pile stacks atop one figure, and another precariously grasps the edge of a sinkhole. Often hiding their faces behind barriers or through a distinctly avoidant turn of the head, Zank anonymizes his subjects, making their awkward predicaments appear all the more inevitable and bound to happen to unassuming passersby.

Find an archive of the New York City-based photographer’s strange situations on Instagram and Twitter.

 

“Blocked”

“Stay alert”

“Logical thinking”

“The Last Grasstronaut”

“I think I’m falling for you”

Left: “Caught on tape.” Right: “Mixed signals”

“Moonwalker”

 

 



Illustration

Digital Collages by Beto Val Splice Vintage Illustrations into Surreal Hybrid Creatures

July 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Beto Val, shared with permission

Ecuadorian artist Beto Val alchemizes vintage illustrations into bizarre compositions that blend fruits with fowl and aquatic life with land animals. Using imagery available through the public domain, Val cuts and repositions fins, wings, and scaly talons into surreal creatures: round owl faces peer out from pineapples, autumn leaves sprout from tropical birds, and a rendering evocative of a biological chart displays fish with bodies made of strawberries, brains, and an early, industrial locomotive. Blending the analog illustrations with the artist’s digital manipulations, the collages encompass a range of characters from the whimsical to the absurd.

Val offers prints and other goods in his shop, and his book, The Great Book of the Imaginary Animal Kingdom, is available from Bookshop. You can follow the strange hybrids he dreams up next on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Photography

Mystery and Disquieting Stillness Pervade the Surreal, Conceptual Photos by Oleg Oprisco

July 15, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Oleg Oprisco, shared with permission

Throughout Russia’s war, photographer Oleg Oprisco (previously) has remained in his native Ukraine creating works that reflect the unjust aggression and its devastating effects. Oprisco is known for his conceptual shots that involve elaborately constructed props and scenes that capture his distinct sense of surreality. Relying on neutrals and subdued tones rather than a bold color palette, the mysterious, dreamlike images tend to center on a single figure within a quiet and unoccupied landscape.

In one recent photo directly addressing the war, a woman stands in the center of a deserted cobblestone street, her architectural backpack glowing with light. The poignant shot references the millions of people who have been forced to flee their homes in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, and a similar image of a figure sheltering a dog from the rain speaks to the countless animals now struggling to survive without their human companions.

All of Oprisco’s works are available as prints. For a behind-the-scenes glimpse of his process and sets, check out his Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Deceptive Stone Sculptures by Hirotoshi Ito Unzip to Reveal Surreal Scenes in Miniature

June 15, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Hirotoshi Ito, shared with permission

Stone isn’t naturally malleable, and yet, Japanese artist Hirotoshi Ito (previously) carves his sculptures to make the material appear as if it can be unzipped or sliced with a butter knife. Using rocks he finds near his home in Matsumoto City, Ito chisels tiny caverns that he lines with clasps or simple fasteners. He then tucks miniature objects like teeth, a collection of seashells, and futuristic scenes into those pockets, creating surreal and intriguingly deceptive scenarios in the span of a few inches.

Ito’s family has worked in stone sculpting since 1879, and although he planned to take over the business, his experience studying metalsmithing in college prompted him to begin an art practice instead. Some of his sculptures are on view through the end of the month at Tokyo’s Gallery Little High, and keep an eye on his Instagram for news about upcoming shows.

 

 

 



Illustration

Elaborate Narratives Emerge From the Surreal, Mysterious Worlds of Victo Ngai’s Illustrations

May 10, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Hummingbird” (2019). All images © Victo Ngai, shared with permission

Starting with a single word or short prompt from an editor or brand, Victo Ngai (previously) imagines fantastical dreamscapes brimming with surreal details. The Los Angeles-based, Hong Kong-born illustrator collaborates on commissioned projects that, although intended to be paired with an article or advertisement, become visual narratives in their own right. She shapes a tiger from coiled red ribbons, places an enormous hound among a nighttime cityscape veiled in shades of blue, and reinterprets the sun and its rays as a colorful, segmented circle hovering above the horizon. Each piece envisions an elaborately constructed world laced with metaphor and mystery.

Utilizing both analog and digital techniques, Ngai begins with an initial stylized composition. “Sometimes a bright spark can lead to nothing, and sometimes a great idea is not translatable visually. A concept can die anywhere through this ideation process, and I can only breathe easy once a solid preliminary sketch arrives,” she tells Colossal. After drawing a black-and-white outline, she combines various mediums and scanned textures into her final, layered works.

At the moment, Ngai is working on a few illustrated children’s books, which you can follow on Behance and Instagram. She also sells prints and other goods in her shop.

 

“Leap” (2013)

“Tiger” (2022)

“Late Night Dining” (2012)

“The Day” (2012)

“Breast Labyrinth” (2012)

“Empress” (2020)

 

 



Art Photography

Composed Photographic Works by Kylli Sparre Consider Restriction and Movement

May 2, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Sound of Deniance.” All images © Kylli Sparre, shared with permission

A sense of confinement pervades Kylli Sparre’s most recent photographic works, which center on figures trapped in clear vessels, encircled by narrow pools, or enclosed in empty concrete rooms. These surreal, claustrophobic images depart from Sparre’s otherwise energetic shots that tend to position women and young girls in motion, whether leaping in the air or sprinting through a house trailed by a swath of white fabric. The Tallinn, Estonia-based fine art photographer (previously) tells Colossal that the recurring theme of physically constraining her subjects was unintentional and likely informed by the limitations of the last few years.

In her practice, Sparre continues to explore the possibilities of the medium through digital manipulation, collage, exposure time, and movements that reflect her background in ballet. You can find more of her conceptual photos on her site and Instagram.

 

“Family Portrait”

“Advantages”

“Approach”

“Inhale”

“Moment of Soothe”

“Moving Forward”

“Revival”

“The Calling”