A new film by New York-based director Paul Trillo lingers for just a moment on a serene body of water before plunging into a dizzying series of landscape transformations. “Until There Was Nothing” considers how Earth’s natural landscapes and city life would look just moments before being consumed by a black hole. The surreal work shows massive waves suddenly crawling up the left side of the frame, the tops of taxi cabs shooting into the air, and an entire forest of trees ascending in an amorphous mass.
To add an even more unnerving twist, Trillo overlayed the short film with a recording of British writer Alan Watts, who slowly expounds on the “prospect of vanishing.” Despite his film’s disturbing qualities, the director maintains an optimistic outlook. “Someday this will pass and there will be nothing left… That’s not something to fear ‘because we come from nothing’ as Alan Watts puts it… and from nothing comes something new,” he says.
Watch the full film, which Trillo alternatively titled “How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Black Hole,” below. Find more of the director’s perspective-bending projects on Vimeo.
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Seeing a raccoon washing its paws in the rivers of Saint Petersburg or an octopus tumbling out of a city bus would be a startling sight for most city dwellers. Artist Vadim Solovyov, though, takes those surreal scenes a step farther as he imagines massive rooks, penguins, and chameleons invading the Russian city. While many of the composites feature the animals in nature, some position them in spaces typically occupied by a human, like a sloth behind the candy-covered counter of a convenience store.
Solovyov tells Colossal that he began the uncanny series as a way to explore strange events in his real life. For example, he said the giant raccoon and its presumptive counterparts “quietly make their way through the deserted evening city to the embankments and shyly rinse something in the water there. Thoroughly. Not less than 20 seconds,” which is a reference to current handwashing suggestions to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.
The artist says he values his work’s visual and textual components equally.
Giant animals (are) only one of the features of this world. Their origin, the history of the world itself can be found in fragments from the texts under the posts. Many posts exist in the context of actual events in my city and country. Through my work, I often convey in a veiled (and sometimes weird) way important for me issues or problems of society (attitude to animals, politics, social flaws). But this, of course, does not exclude the fact that some works are an ironic “visual game” without additional deep meanings.
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A Prague-based artist is memorializing some of his favorite cartoons with a series of convincing fossils that provide an unconventional look at the skeletons of animated characters. Filip Hodas’s Cartoon Fossils series features preserved skulls of Spongebob, Tweety Bird, and other familiar characters, accompanied by the years they first were spotted on television and their zoological names like Anas Scroogius, Homo Popoculis, and Mus Minnius.
The artist’s surreal compositions mimic the fossils and assemblages displayed in history museums, although Hodas said in a statement he wanted to add to their playfulness with bright, solid backgrounds. He also embellishes his characters with hats, glasses, and even stacks of coins to amplify their fictional roles.
Initially, I wanted to make them stylized as dinosaur fossils set up in a museum environment, but later decided against it, as the skulls didn’t look very recognizable on their own—especially with parts broken or missing. That’s why I opted for (a) less damaged look and also added some assets to each of the characters.
To create each piece, Hodas used a combination of programs including Cinema 4D, Zbrush, 3D Coat, Substance Painter, and Substance Designer. Find more of the artist’s work that intertwines history, science, and pop culture on Instagram and Behance.
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Combining a dense mix of natural elements, Bologna, Italy-based artist Nunzio Paci (previously) reckons with the fragile line between life and death. Many of his 2019 oil paintings visualize both alert and recumbent animals, often with open eyes, intertwined with each other, leafy vines, and tall flowers. “Let me rest between brome and stones” depicts a dead deer with glazed over eyes lying among tall grasses and prairie flowers. “Blueberry chicken that thinks about tomorrow” has a more literal correlation to its title, featuring a blue- and purple-hued bird with its breast feathers replaced by the similarly colored fruit.
Paci tells Colossal that he hopes this surreal series reflects his “current exploration of the natural world and its connections with the dream sphere, nostalgia, and memory.” He created these pieces during his residency at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.
If you’re in Los Angeles, head downtown to Corey Helford Gallery, where Paci’s work is part of the group exhibition The Influence of Fellini: A Surreal 100th Birthday Celebration until February 29. Otherwise, follow the artist on Instagram.
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Through hazy lines and obscured faces, Joshua Flint (previously) reflects on the blurriness of in-between states in his most recent paintings. “Big Earth” shows a group of kids reaching up toward red- and pink-hued orbs that are set on a shadowy backdrop, while “Memory of Nature I” features a portrait of a man with a nondescript face as an enlarged hummingbird flies so close that it appears to be drinking from the man’s mouth.
The Portland, Oregon-based painter tells Colossal that much of his newer work is influenced by Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost, which inspired him to consider the link between the interiority and exteriority of human movement. “These paintings have a loose narrative of exploring this unknown territory, these liminal spaces, and the people who populate them,” he says. “I continue to explore themes such as memory, ecological issues, pyscho-geography, identity, loss, and transformation.” Flint says that each body of work elicits a new line of thought for the next project.
What I’ve noticed over the last few years is that I’m making a sort of alternate reality, a kind of parallel world or a world that exists under the surface, where the physical and the metaphysical blend in more obvious ways. This world also relates to literature, poetry, philosophy, science and nature writing rather than current events or the historical canon. Although, I think some of those latter themes inevitably find their way in.
Flint’s upcoming plans include creating a companion to “The Exhibit,” in addition to expanding the story around the subject in “The Messenger,” which are included below. From March 6 to 28, he’ll have a solo show at Robert Lange Studios in Charleston, South Carolina. Until then, follow more of his surreal work on Instagram.
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Italian artist Michele Volpi tattoos highly detailed conceptual pieces using black ink and the negative space of his clients’ skin. With a surrealist style and a monochromatic palette, Volpi inks diagrams of insects, plants, and human anatomy that resemble vintage illustrations borrowed from science textbooks. With precise lines and controlled dotwork, each tattoo looks as if it were printed rather than done by hand.
Born in Sant’Elpidio a Mare, Italy in 1991, Volpi tells Colossal that he discovered the art tattooing 5 years ago and fell in love. While attending technical school, he also practiced various art styles to fulfill a desire to have his “fingers in many pies.” A friend recommended buying a tattooing starter kit, and Volpi said that it changed his life. After learning the basics and experimenting with techniques, the young tattoo artist found that line and dot work were among his favorites. “My style was influenced by geometries, nature, surrealism, and the sciences,” Volpi says. “I like to push my self every day finding inspiration from all around me and trying to go beyond the shallow in what I see. The world of art is endless and I can’t wait to discover it with my passion.”
Volpi also translates sketches to paper to create handmade works of art. To see more tattoos and for appointment booking information, follow the artist on Instagram. To browse and buy his watercolor bookmarks, head over to his Etsy store.
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