Tag Archives: Sylvia Ji

Top 5 Macabre Artists

Update:

Hello my goulish friends!! I wanted to first apologize for my neglect.  I recently graduated with a master’s degree and decided to put my focus on job hunting.  Luckily, I landed a public relations job with an agency in the Detroit area and will be moving this weekend!

This post shall be brief because I am supposed to be finishing a book chapter for one of my professors on advertising and the Great Depression… I’m procrastinating at the moment.

Brittni’s Top 5 Macabre Artists

This is in no way accurate, it’s just a list of some of my favorite macabre artists along with a photo of their work and a brief description.  I tend to shy away from gore and surrealism, so you won’t see any of the amazing artists who focus in those areas on this list.  I prefer dreamscapes, psychological horror and skeletal interpretations. http://blog.designnocturne.com/2012/03/01/the-art-of-zdzislaw-beksinski/I’ve written about some of these artists before, but a little reminder never hurt, right?

5. Zdzislaw Beksinski (Feb. 24, 1929-Feb. 21, 2005)- Beksinski was a renowned Polish painter whose work focused on post-apocalyptic landscapes, nightmarish scenery and death. His technique included a dark vs. light color palette of oil paints. Beksinski was found dead in his Warsaw home with 17 stab wounds, two of which were confirmed to be fatal.

4. Edward Gorey (1925-2000)- First of all, what a great name!  Gorey was an American author and artist most known for his Gothic illustrations. His past work includes illustrations for Dracula by Bram Stoker and War of the Worldsby H.G. Wells. My sister bought The Gashlycrumb Tinies, which was written by Gorey, for me because the artwork reminded her of me. ha! It is a small book that lists the alphabet along with a child whose name begins with the accompanying letter and a grim description of that child’s passing.  It has a dark humor to it and reminds me of American poet Shel Silverstein mixed with Tim Burton. I highly recommend it.

The first two pages of “The Ghashlycrumb Tinies”

3. Mia Makila (1979-present)- Ms. Makila is a Swedish artist who specializes in mixed media, painting, drawing and digital art.  Her work is FANTASTIC!  It is usually colorful, whimsical and humorous.  In her blog, she says, “You could describe my art as horror pop surrealism or dark lowbrow.” She accepted my friend request on Facebook! I’m excited to stay updated on her latest work! I imagine her status updates will be art-related and sarcastic-my favorite kind! I chose to show this darker artwork because it offers a different side to Mia’s work.

Weird Baby

“Weird Baby” is mixed media on an antique photo.

2. Sylvia Ji (1982-present)- For those of you who know me, it will be easy to see why Ji’s work is one of my favorites.  Not only are her paintings absolutely stunning, her interpretation of the Day of the Dead is engaging, sad and beautiful.  According to her blog, “Sylvia Ji is at once contemplative, spiritual, enigmatic, and yet whimsically funny. Above all else, it is perhaps beauty that emerges as her defining characteristic, and her art reflects this: an extension of herself; a passionate appreciation of simple aesthetic pleasure fused with intimately complex subject matter.”

1. Tim Burton (1958-present)- Tim Burton is probably most known for his work in film.  While he is a successful director, writer and producer for such cult films such as Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Alice in Wonderland and Beetlejuice, he is also a celebrated illustrator.  His partnerships with composer, Danny Elfman and actor, Johnny Depp have proven a recipe for success as he continues to wow audiences all over the world.

His work has been featured at an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Illustrations, film screen shots and sculptures were all available for viewing.  Above is a photo of “Untitled (Romeo and Juliette)” which was on display in another exhibit at LACMA in Los Angeles.  His illustration techniques include pen and ink, colored pencil, water color and marker. His high contrast in color creates a whimsical world for his misfit characters to live.

Untitled (Romeo and Juliette)

I leave you with a recorded interview with Tim Burton at MOMA in New York so you can hear for yourself his process, inspiration and character.  He is truly a visionary, and I’m always excited to see what he’ll do next. *cough* Frankenweenie. In conclusion, I love Tim Burton. His work makes me feel better about the scary, awkward, and lonely parts of the adolescent experience I had.

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Mexican Culture, Tradition and Macabre

El Día de los Muertos

Day of the Dead depiction

We all come from different places and different cultures.  You may not agree with the traditions of where you come from, but it’s important to at least be aware of them. I’d like to share one of mine with you.

I’m Hispanic and I continue to follow my Mexican and Puerto Rican customs out of love and respect.  Like a typical Hispanic person, I am Roman Catholic, I value family and music, and I am very familiar with El Día de los Muertos, also known as The Day of the Dead.

Celebrating our dead ancestors is not only important because it keeps their memories alive, but it also gives us hope that we won’t be forgotten when we’re gone. Despite the skulls and death, El Día de los Muertos is a happy and beautiful holiday.

Sugar Skull

Day of the Dead Traditions

Many people make sugar skulls to identify and honor each deceased family member.   The skulls are then decorated with paint and frosting, jewels, fruit and feathers to create a cheerful atmosphere. This symbolizes the belief that we are dreaming in life and truly awake when we die.  It’s a celebration of the continuation of life, even though our ancestors’ bodies are no longer living.

The altar is the center-point for each family, and can be set up inside the home or at the cemetery.  This ritual is celebrated differently depending on where you are, but the point is to choose a central area for the spirits to meet. The altar usually incorporates the four elements of nature: earth, wind, water, and fire.

Day of the Dead Alter

  • Earth is represented by crops.  People leave a feast of fruits and vegetables for the souls to eat when they arrive.
  • Wind is usually represented by something that moves easily if air is blown near it, such as tissue paper.
  • Water is offered in a container for the souls to quench their thirst.
  • Fire can be found by candle.  Each burning candle represents a soul, and any extra candles represent forgotten souls to ensure all the deceased are recognized.

Day of the Dead parades can be found in Mexico and parts of the United States.  Dancing, live music and dining are all typical activities that occur during a celebration.  If you ever find yourself near a celebration site, don’t be afraid to participate.  The opportunity to witness other cultures’ traditions is one I wouldn’t pass up.

Day of the Dead Art

Portrait by Sylvia Ji

Portrait by Sylvia Ji

Sylvia Ji is one of my favorite artists.  Her work is feminine with shadows of beauty, decay and power.  She seems dedicated to mixing her techniques with cultures different from her own.  The exploratory approach she takes is admirable and the paintings she produces are breath-taking.

Skeleton Painting by Jose Posada

Calavera Catrina by Jose Posada

Jose Guadalupe Posada was a Mexican engraver and illustrator in the late 1800s.  Although he worked on many projects with different job titles,he’s most famous for his calaveras (Day of the Dead skulls) and humorous paintings of skeletons interacting with the living.

Sugar Skull Tattoo

Sugar Skull Tattoo

Artists everywhere are embracing death.  I was pleasantly surprised at how many tattoos, paintings and sculptures I found that were created by non-Hispanic artists.  An area of expression that I’ve come to love is skeleton make-up.  People are so much creative. The concepts, shadowing and color are endless!  I could look at this stuff all day.

Thanks for taking some time to learn more about the Day of the Dead. Please enjoy more artistic ways to experience one of my favorite holidays with the photos below. What is one of your favorite holidays that isn’t so popular in the U.S.?

Day of the Dead beauty shot

Imperial Trio by CaptainMagnificent on Etsy. See?! The Day of the Dead is even mixed with American pop culture icons. How cool!