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“I roamed this earth like life had also left me”: Masks by Candice Angelini

Candice Angelini is the creator of unique, disturbing, and startlingly beautiful masks. Exploring the idea of memorialization, her unsettling and magnificent sculptures, reminiscent of death-masks or mummified remains, are made with paper, wax, ink, beads, antique materials, and often real human hair and teeth.

Three of her masks are currently available in the Morbid Anatomy shop, The Witch of the Mountain, and collaborative gift sets Half of Heaven and The Silence, which include a hand-written card by Angelini and a photo print by the incredible Mothmeister.

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A Paean to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

{But you mustn’t look away from the horror it does offer,
because you cannot overcome suffering if you refuse to look at it.}

I’ve long hesitated to write anything about Hellblade because I love it dearly. We superstitiously seek to avoid tarnishing the things we cherish with words unworthy of them. However, I may as well try to articulate a little bit what makes this such a special game for me. I shall not attempt to evaluate it from the viewpoint of gameplay or mechanics, nor did I go into the experience wishing to be entertained by something not created lightly. I simply observe it as a work of art, in terms of aesthetic, emotional, and narrative efficacy.

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The Human Mystery: Art by Miles Johnston

The romantic, extremely detailed, luminous drawings of Miles Johnston remind me of classic Surrealism combined with a delicately beautiful modern aesthetic. Dealing with themes of doubling, recurrence, division, and distortion, the wavering, haunting, gentle gorgeousness of these graphite and paper works depicts inner states of being: crisis, sublimeness, desolation. What I particularly love about his drawings is the tenderness of the light, which is so palpable, yet so dreamy. Johnston manifests a wistful and almost idyllic feeling towards the subjects as in their melancholy radiance they undergo surreal transformations and expressions of interiority. The lyricism and tremendous realism of Johnston’s art resonate deeply with the viewer, invoking nostalgia as well as strangeness.

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Masks and Phantasms by Damselfrau

Damselfrau’s enchanting masks, bizarre, gorgeous, totemic, resplendent and larger than life, are reminiscent of some imagined and heretofore-unknown folk culture. These portraits of a fantastical people are often featured with an arrangement of flowers, which also lend their explosive vividness to the ultra-saturated and violently jubilant palette. Damselfrau says, “I have used fine lace, carried by the nineteenth-century Norwegian author Camilla Collett, hair from two-hundred-year-old Japanese geisha hair pieces, as well as everyday stuff, found in the street….I am led by the phantasms appearing in the process of the making and the materials themselves.” I am quite a monochromatic creature personally, so I appreciate the incredible vibrancy and wild color of Damselfrau’s outré creations.

Artist Magnhild Kennedy interprets the moniker Damselfrau (frau referring to married women and “damsel” being an unmarried young lady) as “married to oneself.”

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Ethereal Corruption: The Profane Transmutations of Fecal Matter

Fecal Matter (Hannah Rose Dalton + Steven Raj Bhaskaran) are an Instagram duo who use extreme, transformative makeup and prosthetics to create preciously bizarre, outré, and alien looks, mutating ethereal beauty into something transgressive and disturbing. Their aim seems to be to disgust and enrapture in equal measures, to simultaneously fascinate and repulse. They reside permanently beyond the pale, with a sly sense of humor which seems to parody high fashion. Dalton’s medical-themed image of a white-and-pink, pastel, veiny, flower-adorned, bile-eyed, wounded, sickly, modelesque semi-human being or anthropoid alien is unnervingly brilliant.

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“The murder was sleep. And death was not what we thought.”

…it was a world to sink one’s teeth into, a world of voluminous dahlias and tulips….The trees were laden, the world was so rich it was rotting….she trembled upon the first steps of a sparkling, shadowy world, where giant water lilies floated monstrous. The little flowers scattered through the grass didn’t look yellow or rosy to her, but the color of bad gold and scarlet. The decomposition was deep, perfumed… But all the heavy things, she saw with her head encircled by a swarm of insects, sent by the most exquisite life in the world….The Garden was so pretty that she was afraid of Hell.

{Clarice Lispector}

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Nuit Atelier

I’ve admired Nuit Atelier since its inception in 2012 by designer Anastasia Ikonnikova. Modern romantic clothing which harkens to historical fashion, “each garment is designed to shroud and strengthen the body, ennobling and mystifying the human form.” Characterized by beautiful draping, luxurious yet hardy materials, satin, linen and gauze textures, it achieves timeless classicism combined with raw, modern edginess. Frothy, frilled white blouses, voluminous bishop sleeves, blood-red velvet gowns, and dramatic black coats and cloaks with mysterious, enveloping oversized hoods. There are also more minimalist basics that are perfect for everyday wear. I could happily construct my entire wardrobe from Nuit’s offerings.

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Throwing the Stones: Jewelry by Chase + Scout

Informed by the natural world, hidden microcosms, and the talismanic properties of primitive rites and objects, Austin-based Chase and Scout creates unique, beautiful, and unsettling jewelry pieces such as the datura seed pod necklace below. The natural and the supernatural combine in their art self-described thus: “It is a shared secret between cohorts of common causes, or an answer to an unasked question. It is the sound of moonlight swimming through a dark night, or a deep howl…” Wolf’s-teeth earrings, rings inspired by the texture of the lunar landscape, honeycomb pieces, bracelets with the skulls of Odin’s two ravens, and moth orchid necklaces are others among their varied offerings. From cicada wings to dowsing rods and the Orphic Egg, the concepts for Chase and Scout’s wearable art are endlessly creative.

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Ozabu

Ozabu’s elegant, hyper-realistic pencil and graphite drawings fuse women with birds, mantises, and other fauna and flora. Inspired by Japanese mythology, this delicate linework illustrates a hybrid symbolic imagery with utter precision and ethereal melancholy. Thinkspace describes the figures depicted in her works, which exude a soft radiance, as “woeful apparitions or powerful augurs. Ozabu’s world is a mysteriously beautiful shadow land.” Her solo show Meguru is currently exhibiting at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco through November 23rd.

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