Adorning the cover of Sóley's new record, Ask The Deep, is a portrait painted by Ingibjörg Birgisdóttir, with Sóley's face smeared about like the things of nightmares, like a horror film incarnate. Upon first glance, this visual seems inconsistent with one's first impressions of Icelandic musician Sóley Stefánsdóttir -- but...

All too often, apocalyptic films foretell the coming of the end in the form of big blowouts rather than a slow dismantling. In the overly-Hollywood 2012, buildings collapse and helicopters fall from the sky for no seemingly reason whatsoever. In War Of The Worlds and Independence Day, intergalactic monsters take...

To express questions of context, displacement and fragmented identity, what better medium could there be than the nature of assemblage in collage? Image artifacts are laid bare while hypothetical situations construct parallel universes. The familiar falls in rhythm with the bizarre. Framed in conscious composition, such vivid and dreamlike landscapes are manipulated at the hands of North Carolina-based collage artist Bryan Olson. Bryan Olson Collage Artist InterviewBryan Olson Collage Artist Interview Olson interprets the remains of vintage magazines and other paper paraphernalia to illustrate a recreated mythology. Exaggerated idols can be found in the most unassuming of inanimate objects, as in the towering pink liquids of Delicious Land; humans are translated into curious anomalies within environments never to be encountered. Even the simplest geometric shapes are given new context. The glory that saturates symbolism in his ordered universe recalls, with little effort, the naivety of space exploration and human pursuit of knowledge. Every image by Olson is characterized by the familiar presence of the Earth or objects of earthly origin, yet deliberate fragmentation makes them feel extraterrestrial. In further emphasis to this refrain, overt images of astronomy intensify Olson's dialogues with people, places and structures. Yet, by maintaining a rooted sense of natural flow within his collage, Bryan Olson engages with the absurdity of human behavior and the scope of the massive cosmic entities without, on the most part, seeming psychedelic.
In the music video for "Je Suis la Montagne", psychedelic art rockers Moodoïd have collaborated with director Jérôme Walter Gueguen a true work of surrealist-inspired art. With a relatively minimal budget and ample film school training, they've turned childhood recollections of mountains into a Magritte-coloured world of soil-covered faces and tasteful (as well as tasty) object manipulation. In this two-sided, bilingual Q&A interview, we speak with fast friends Jérôme Walter Gueguen and Moodoïd's frontman Pablo Padovani on their friendship, collaboration, and shared inspirations. Moodoïd's self-titled EP is now out on Entreprise, a division of Third Side Records.
According to modern day magickians like Alan Moore, "Art is magick, because art transforms consciousness". By that definition, some of the world's greatest mystics don't ever actually identify themselves as such. In my world, Robert Pollard is probably the most potent of these closet sorcerers, unassumingly churning out tune after tune ad infinitum from his hometown of Dayton, Ohio. It's an unending supernova. No single rock musician has pushed the boundaries of the human imagination in quite the same way as the guy, who will most likely go down as the single greatest songwriter in human history (or by definition of taste, the most prolific at the very least; he's already kind of got that cornered).
The story of how I got into Pollard's (now reunited) Guided By Voices is a strange one, and as with everything regarding my youth, drenched in debauched sonic witchery. When GBV's absolute classic Bee Thousand finally brought national attention to the then almost entirely unknown band in the mid '90s (mainly due to the efforts of Matador Records), I bought a copy. Truthfully, I didn't like it that much after a few listens. I even most bizarrely remember driving around with my dad at one point and him mentioning that he heard a segment about them and their supposed "indie rock" on NPR and was curious. I put it on. Neither one of us got it. And that's sort of the thing you have to point out to GBV detractors. Even though I have nearly 40 Pollard-related releases at this point, I still don't like any of them until run through number four at least. None of it makes sense at all when it first hits me. I have absolutely no idea how he does this, but it's the sort of thing that's going to confuse the shit out of critics, myself included, especially in the information age.
 
Los Angeles-based artist Rob Sato is more than a painter of fantastical watercolor dreamscapes. Challenging his own magnificent talent as a masterful visual creator, Sato is also a prolific consumer of culture. Profoundly influenced by historical events, dynamic music, and piles of life-changing books, he is able to channel many diverse creative explorations into colorfully horrific and disarmingly beautiful works of art; his work is an intriguing amalgam of childhood fantasies and literary consequence, adeptly bridging the gap between fantasy and reality.
"Writing feels like it comes from a separate part of the brain than where imagery generates from, so when I'm having trouble on a painting, I can turn to the writing to think about things from a different angle." -- Rob Sato

 

Scottish illustrators Kyle Noble and Jamie Irvine travel the world individually but remain tethered together through the constant exchange of twisted, fantastical comics. Emerging from their psychedelic landscapes -- some of which hardly resemble landscapes at all -- come floating heads with third eyes, praying mantises with Madonna streaming out of the top of their heads, fungal universes, and possible tractor beams. Noble and Irvine's collaborations are inspired by Exquisite Corpse, a Surrealist invention that serves as a mode of artistic interplay between individuals. Drawings are exchanged back and forth to evolve an image spontaneously and to create an organic, ever-unstable narrative. In the case of Noble and Irvine, this results in works that they describe as "unutterably absurd, sexually graphic and loaded with scientific as well as 'new age' theories" -- a natural output considering their respective influences. Noble cites interest in themes such as "the origins of man, Megalithic monuments, ancient civilizations, shamanism, psychedelia, cultural truth, skepticism, and spiritualism", and Irvine finds equal interest in "the exploration of the subconscious and the relationship with mind, sold, and body." Madness unfolds from there, to be seen in the batch images below. Some of Noble and Irvine's solo works to follow. (9 IMAGES TOTAL)

 

World-renowned photographers Claudia Rogge and Spencer Tunick possess artistic visions large enough to fill city blocks. By orchestrating large-scale installations, they create visual interpretations of order and chaos, comprised not of inanimate objects, but of human beings obediently adhering to another's direction and vision. Rogge and Tunick's props at times engage actively like sentient beings and at others detach like stones. And despite the fact that they are frequently unclothed, the sheer number of individuals involved and the overarching aesthetic quality of each photograph makes every human component important only inasmuch as it forms a significant piece of the whole.
(12 IMAGES TOTAL)

 

Claudia Rogge

These images below are primarily from Rogge's 2007 - 2008 series, Dividuum.

Spencer Tunick

A smattering of images from Tunick's Wilderness, Adornment, and Large-Scale installation series.

 

The dream-like figure paintings of Norwegian artist Henrik Aarrestad Uldalen have been so striking to me that the above image has been my Facebook profile picture for the past half year, at least. Uldalen's blue-tinged characters may be shaded like ghostly apparitions or bloodlet cadavers, but the weightlessness and lightness of spirit they possess seem to define serenity, even as they are being whisked off of buildings and freefalling in impossible positions. As Uldalen was born only in 1986, it seems fair to say that these oil paintings are only the beginnings of a whimsical artistic career.

 

Portland artist Ian Michael Anderson's latest collection of gouache paintings contrast earth tones and light pink hues with symbolic imagery, to powerful and striking visual effect. In Anderson's own words, his paintings aim to address chaos and conflicts in life as well as order, to help him gain insight into their distinct natures. He explains by saying, "... Dualistic narratives take shape [and] opposing forces are typically revealed: Life and death, good and evil, man and beast, predator and prey, war and peace. These dreamlike and often nightmarish fables reflect an outward and subconscious view of man and his destructive role in this world. Through this lens, my own place in these mostly impossible scenarios can be triangulated, and I am on my way to resolving the confrontation and understanding the need for such destruction." You can see these pieces in person on First Thursday, May 3rd, at Backspace Gallery and Cafe (115 NW 5th Ave) in Portland, and read a brief Q&A with Anderson below.