On October 14th, French artists 100TAUR and Hisham Echafaki will debut new works in their two-person exhibition, “Lusus Naturae” in London. Borrowing their title from a Latin phrase that describes any creature or specimen that defies classification, the exhibit will include a series of paintings, drawings and three-dimensional works that depict “freaks of nature”. Their works feature fantastical hybrid creatures alongside some of the world’s most bizarre members of fauna. Both 100TAUR’s portrayals of mythical monsters in their dark world and Echafaki’s intricate, pattern-filled works explore the human fascination with oddities or monstrosities along with our fragile relation with the nature.
Jakub Rozalski (aka “Mr. Werewolf”) is a Polish concept artist and illustrator who describes the world in his paintings as a futuristic 1920s Eastern Europe, or “1920+”. Previously featured on our blog, Rozalski’s works contrast the soft nostalgia of 19th and 20th century inspired scenery under attack against giant mecha robots. While warring nations combat mechanical beasts in epic battles that feel alien and also vaguely familiar, Polish shepards and farmers in the countryside work their land alongside wild animals. “I like to mix historical facts and situations with my own motives, ideas and visions,” he says, “I attach great importance to the details, the equipment, the costumes, because it allows you to embed painting within a specified period of time.”
Born in Cologne, Germany, former tattoo artist Mike Dargas paints portraits of women dripping in honey. His hyperrealistic oil paintings are painted on a large-scale and appear as impressive photographs. With such provocative titles as “Golden Thoughts,” “The Ecstasy of Gold,” and “Carpe Diem Baby,” the portraits exude a certain opulence, suggesting honey as a metaphor for gold. Using this analogy, his paintings may be interpreted as commentaries on the role of monetary wealth in contemporary society. With closed eyes and probing tongues, Dargas’ women become greedy narcissists caught in moments of private ecstasy.
Monica Rohan paints self-portraits in which she is eternally hiding behind and searching within vibrant, patterned textiles and luscious, green plants. The Australian artist is inspired by her own “rural-idyll” childhood and the “internal longing of the 19th century novel.” Her characters express these investigations through a sentiment of both innocent play and anxious isolation. Forests and flowers, dresses and blankets become extensions of her characters’ physical and psychological beings. By always concealing the women’s faces, Rohan relies on body language to convey the characters’ emotional states. For example, some characters are seen from a birds-eye view, curled with their heads burrowed in patchwork quilts. Others thrash and dance; the movement causing the women’s outer dresses to become indistinguishable from their physical forms.
Born in Bologna, Nunzio Paci developed his artistic finesse viewing the Baroque style of painting promoted in Paci’s home city in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Accademia degli Incamminati (Academy of Progressives) was established in 1582 and elevated the arts to the same level of intellectual rigor as astronomy and medicine, in addition to poetry and music. In the 21st century, Paci continues the tradition of his ancestors, innovating compositions that are a triangulation of anatomical study, lyrical song, and psychological probe.
Israeli artist Nir Hod once told Interview Magazine, his greatest discovery was that “it’s not easy getting older.” In his painting series “Genius,” Hod pulls at the tension between childhood and adulthood and breaks open a space in between innocence and inurement. His images are of young children smoking cigarettes and looking at the viewer with expressions of disdain, arrogance and suspicion. Though there is certainly an element of dark humor in dressing rosy-cheeked toddlers in rich fabrics and endowing them with sweeping hair, the paintings are disquieting for their ability to reflect one’s now-corrupted inner child back unto him.