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L’Apothicaire Candles

These wonderful candles from the Noir Collection by L’Apothicaire Co. are now available in their online shop or at RitualCravt. I am especially intrigued by such scent profiles as: Forbidden (crisp apple • cassis • lichen • forest greens), Fortune + Fate (black amber • wild elderberry • tea leaves • incense), and Graveyard Roses (freshly turned soil • deep woods • garden roses • damp earth).

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Dehn Sora

Multidisciplinary artist and graphic designer Dehn Sora, also known as Vincent Petitjean, produces the most darkly beautiful and alluringly disturbing work. The exquisite textures are haunting, lyrical, and partake of the ashy fineness of a Shade’s dreams in the Underworld.

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Anatomica – Joanna Ebenstein

Anatomica: The Exquisite and Unsettling Art of Human Anatomy by brilliant Morbid Anatomy founder Joanna Ebenstein is now available for purchase. This is a beautiful 272-page volume exploring anatomical art across seven centuries, for those who are fascinated by bygone artistic conceptions of the human body. Joanna’s other books include Death: A Graveside Companion, The Anatomical Venus: Wax, God, Death & the Ecstatic, and The Morbid Anatomy Anthology, providing some of the most interesting, historically-oriented nonfiction fare that I’ve read. She has also coauthored Cabarets of Death: Death, Dance and Dining in Early Twentieth-Century Paris with Mel Gordon (Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin), which is due to release in December and which I am eagerly awaiting.

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Moonflesh: Embroideries by Lyla Mori

These gorgeous embroidered artworks by Lyla Mori of Moonflesh, “conjurer of thread-veined creatures…creatrix of embroideries with crystals/gemstones,” are intriguing, charming, and eerily creative. I love the rich colors, the antique atmosphere, the three-dimensional element of the beadwork as in the seeds of the pomegranate. While managing to impart a gossamer, lunar, and ethereal quality to the beautiful moths, Lyla also gives a quaint gothic drollness to many of her pieces.

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Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is one of the most enchanting movies I’ve ever seen, and remains a classic favorite many years after I first came across it. Directed by Jaromil Jireš, Valerie is a 1970 cinematic gem, and is considered part of the Czech New Wave. It has been described as a surrealist horror film, which beguiles us as much as the titular character Valerie is beguiled by the many strange beings she encounters throughout her story. Jaroslava Schallerová plays a thirteen-year-old girl, Valerie, who lives in a small bucolic village with her pious grandmother (portrayed by the haunting Helena Anýžová), and after experiencing her first menstruation is launched on a strange stream of events involving magical pearl earrings, flowers, doves, nuns, priests, incestuous lovers, and a vampiric being known as the Polecat. Whimsical, nonlinear, and charmingly illogical, it is impossible to place one’s finger on what it’s about exactly. It merely resembles a fantastical dream, where everything, every object and piece of set design, is filtered through the nostalgic splendid beauty of the era. It is replete with uncanniness and absurdity at once. A fairy tale, a lullaby-like fever dream, a transgressive narrative subverting Christianity…every scene contains a memorable and striking image which is richly symbolic and nearly iconic in itself.

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Grotesque Mysticism: The Art of Zakuro Aoyama

Brazil-based Zakuro Aoyama’s highly detailed, imaginatively macabre drawings and paintings are strongly appealing to me. Reminiscent of Takato Yamamoto’s work (who is my favorite artist along with Vania Zouravliov), they are fascinatingly intricate, luring the eye in with strange phantasmal layers and concentrities of flesh-like threads. Both ethereal and carnal, the images are wickedly beautiful, conveying a sense of playfulness, of invitation, and of corrupted purity. They seem to take inspiration from old Japanese kaidan and from French Symbolism, among other things. Their delicate boldness is refined as well as sensational, permeated with a melancholy eroticism.

The molten, striated textures of the paint are tantalizingly lovely. Aoyama skillfully pairs the spectral with the corporeal. I also love the way in which he combines swirling, hazy, yet full-colored, surreal backgrounds with the precision and meticulous delicateness of his linework. The solid lushness of the color is satisfying and provides body where there is a certain quality of vaporousness and highly-wrought elegance, giving an overall effect that is both elusive and gripping. The encrustations, the enameled and elaborated nature of these visions, are abysmally intriguing.

I had previously posted about Zakuro Aoyama, but he had not yet introduced color into his work – an element which I think has added a sumptuous gorgeousness and a further depth to his art that make it even more richly eerie.

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Garden and Grave: The Tragic Naturalism of Teagan White

Teagan White’s art seems to depict the lost souls of animals. It deals with humankind’s predatory relation to nature, wherein destruction, decay, and ruin reign within us. It also explores the intertwined brutality and tenderness of the natural world and its “subtle, gentle reciprocity and wild, tragic discord through muted colors, ornamental layouts, and meticulous detail.” I find myself drawn to the empty eyes of the eerie small animals who find a resting place within these delicate illustrations – the somehow soulless yet sad, pleading, melancholy look of a mouse or a rabbit… Ever-dying and ever-undead, they seem to me to have a perpetual and voiceless appeal. I also love the ominously poetic titles of some of these works, such as Thy Bleak Moor Shall Be Stained With Blood As She Enters the Dwelling of the Dead. The elegant, naturalist perspective of Teagan’s style is infused with passion/compassion for the stricken creatures. It is a form of visual lament or dirge for the diminishing earth.

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Wrap me in your violent hair: Ruby Throat

Below is the oneiric music video for the song “Hu’u” by surrealist neofolk duo Ruby Throat. I have long admired Ruby Throat’s haunting, slowly sad melodies accompanied by KatieJane Garside’s lullaby-like, dreamy voice, which is filled with so much vulnerability that it is the ideal vehicle for a ghostly ballad or dirge. A voice draped with shimmering, trembling cobwebs… The quietly aching, mournful, both chilling and tender quality of their song speaks of bygone longing and obscure personal tragedy. It is described as “recall[ing] the etherealness and fragility of English folk music and the deepest black heart of Gothic Americana.” This title is off their album Stone Dress & Liar Flower, and also appears on Baby Darling Taporo.