Monday, 30 July 2012

Jesus: Limbo Champion

Benvenuto di Giovanni lived in the 15th century, and purchased a vineyard and took public office when painting didn't work out for him as a career choice.  I console my lack of creative success with wine and politicking, too.  Just look out for my upcoming ad campaign, "Ninjas for the Provision of Free Booze at Polling Stations."

Presumably prior to dabbling in Sienese politics with goblet in hand, Benvenuto produced "Descent into Limbo."

The painting depicts Jesus' triumphant descent to free all the souls who had been stuck for millenia attempting to dance under an ever-lower pole with "Limbo Rock" playing in the background.  Jesus obviously knew he was going to a party, because he thoughtfully remembered to bring a pizza on his head.

However, Jesus isn't happy to see everyone--he seems to be attempting to strangle this guy, who barely deflects his power-grip.  I assume that the man had been too greedy in trying to get his share of 'za.

On Jesus' other side, things are a bit more friendly--but it's possible he's just being nice because their faces all seem to be slowly drooping off of their skulls.

Of course, this divine delivery is only made possible because Jesus took out the demonic bouncer that had been guarding the door.  Or is it? 
It really looks like the whole limbo cave dropped down on the guy a la the Wicked Witch of the East, breaking his arms and turning him into a rather scrawny devil-pancake.  Maybe this was just a really tan guy minding his own business in the desert, and then BOOM, Limbo Smackdown. 

On that note, I think I should get back to working on refining my platform.  Mandatory cave insurance, and pizza parties for everyone.

Divine Mafia: The God-mother

Source: here.

All I could think of when I saw this was, "Madonna is descending to leave that sleeping couple the gift of decapitated baby heads."

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Temptation Is A Hollow Fish-Hat Circus

Dear readers, this week we return to the realm of 16th century "Painters Who Got Their Drugs From Hieronymus Bosch's Dealer."  I assume this is what you come here for, because the top search engine results that have brought people to this site are apparently "hell" and "naked bottoms."  That is not even a joke.   Thank you, Google.

Anyway, I present to you this painting by Dutch artist Jan Mandijn, "The Temptation of Saint Anthony."  At least, that is the title as far as I can tell; there is remarkably little information immediately available about it.  The best-quality copy I could find is from this actual art blog.

This is another doozy, so I will pick a few details and let you just soak in the rest.  We'll start with the small stuff, like...

This is a gnome with a giant beer belly that he carries around in a wheelbarrow.  Currently said belly is being closely inspected by a man in a pink dress, but the gnome is far too distracted by the bird blocking access to his Venti Caramel Macchiato.  He also carries what looks like a frog on a stick, perhaps as a snack for later.

This little detail is over by the burning village.  A person is dangling from a tree branch, hiding his or her head in a sack while farting dead leaves.  At least it is a sign he's been getting plenty of roughage in his diet.

A man half-emerges from an egg to lap up raw fish with his tongue.  I guess he wanted his sashimi as fresh and fast as possible.  Meanwhile, a fish with arms and boobies goes on the rampage with a scimitar--oddly, not against the fish-murderer next to her.

I guess fish were a big theme in temptation for Mandijn.  This amazing fish-hat comes festooned with an entire tree--no minor floral accents for this stylish accessory.  It even comes with its own intra-fish circus, with a tent and someone doing a headstand.  This is clearly the height of tempt-o-fashion.  The alien swamp creature looking in seems jealous, anyway.

Finally, the pièce de résistance: the Head Hut.  With its convenient dock for your private gondola, this skull house makes for an ideal dwelling for the man with a watery commute.  The mouth-kitchen provides plenty of ventilation for a wood-burning stove, allowing for gourmet cooked meals and smoked meats year-round.  Instead of the window to the soul, here the eye is just a window, and the designer's quirky reinterpretation of pince-nez glasses is sure to be the envy of the neighbors.  The eye-socket lamp makes for a friendly invitation, suggesting visitors should come in for a nice drink and a cyanide pill.

Through all this, Saint Anthony remains untempted.  In fact, he looks downright bored, completely oblivious to the arson, decapitated architecture, and rampaging fish-creatures lurking just over his shoulder.  If this is what temptation looked like in the 16th century, I pale to think what made them horrified.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Madonna and the Saintly Groupies

With the cryptic title "Madonna and Child with Saints," you might not be able to guess what exactly this Lorenzo Lotto piece is depicting.

 I will give you a clue.  In the middle is the Madonna, and she has a child.  Around them are a number of saints.  Based on his Wikimedia entry, Lotto painted about 15 different variations on this theme, with more or less saints present.  Would that I could make a living regurgitating the same basic imagery!  Guess I'll just have to keep being original and write comments about them all instead.

Anyway, the first things we shall examine here are the descending angels

This first group appears to be pouring over a map.  I guess they are running late to the Madonna party, since all the saints are already there.  Angels just refuse to ask for directions, you know?  It's easy to get lost among all the clouds (or rivers of fire, depending on your cosmology) on the way down to Humanville.

Here are more angels trying to read while plummeting from the sky.  I like to think this one was assigned to give an insightful sermon to mark the occasion, but forgot to write it beforehand, so now he is desperately trying to find relevant quotes.  Do you know how hard it is to read while free-falling?  Well, the angel in green is finding out, with possibly the least comfortable book-holding position ever.

Moving down to the saints below, here is St. Sebastian, covered in holes.  Supposedly he was shot full of arrows, but here he appears to be holding a bunch of wooden stakes, including one he is currently yanking from his chest cavity.  It is possible people heard him talking about drinking Jesus' blood at communion, and mistook him for a vampire.

Finally, at the very bottom we have John the Baptist.  Already shunning worldly comforts such as clothes but not yet stooping to eating locusts and honey, here he appears to be attempting to strangle a lamb, and possibly gnawing at its face.  His neck appears to be dislocated, possibly from excessive lamb-wrestling.  

As a parting thought, I bet a fight between the angels and the saints would be totally awesome.  I mean, the angels can fly around and stuff, but mostly they are armed with musical instruments and books.  The saints, on the other hand, all have staffs or stakes or torture implements.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Art for the Tormented Soul (With Delicious Pancakes)

 Today we'll be going a little out of my usual taste into the realm of Expressionism, or art that "doesn't shun the violently unpleasant effect," and is willing to "throw some terrific 'fuck you's."  That is definitely what I look for in art, for those times when life hasn't thrown enough of its own lately.

You probably know Edvard Munch for the painting "The Scream."  Munch was Norwegian, which explains a lot.  
Oh God!  It's November!  This is the last of the sun I will see until January!

However, that is not the painting I would like to bring to your attention.  Rather, I present for your enjoyment "Golgotha."

In dramatic fingerpaint fashion, it depicts the scene of Jesus' crucifixion, capturing the tense moment when all the tentacle monsters reached out to him in a great swarm.  Front and center are the faces of evil.

They grin in delight at the impending tentacle-doom.  (I assume the guy on the right is grinning under drooping papayas on his face, although he also seems to have an alien about to burst from his skull, so it might be a grimace.)  To the far left lurks another creature...

What is it?  Is it someone's body?  Is it the face of someone with a disproportionately large head?  Is it a giant pancake?  Is it a pancake WITH a face?  The world may never know.  It's quite a serene Pancake-Face, all things considered.

Really the best part of this image, however, is this:

Jesus is up there on the cross, he's not serene, or angry, or in torment...his expression is more like a worried puppy.  "Uh....guys?  This is all a bit awkward.  Could you stop being all tentacle-y and amorphous and evil and just get along?  Please?"

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Sexy Fairy Action (And Forest Creature Abuse)

Sir Joseph Noel Paton is a 19th century Scottish fairy-painter.  In that he painted a lot of fairies, not that he was one himself.  He painted other things too, but here we will be looking at fairies.  Just to give you fae warning.

...Right.  On to the painting.  The title is "The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania," depicting Titania telling Oberon to keep his dirty hands off of her Indian boy-toy.  Amorous hijinks ensue.  Amorous hijinks really make up most of what is happening in this picture, so we will ignore those and look at some of the goings-on that don't involve much fairy erotica.

First: the Snail Cowboy.  He roams the forest ranges, herding earthworms and tormenting annoyed goblins.

Continuing in the abuse of tiny animals, here is a demented moth wrangler.  Maybe moths ate all the fairies' clothes, making them natural enemies and explaining why minimal gauzy sheets are their garments of choice here.

Moving into proper fairy bloodsport, here a group of fairies appears to be trying to beat an owl in flight, except possibly for the fairy directly below it, who looks like she is rather distracted.  The owl looks like it will need therapy, in any case.

But sometimes, the tiny creatures get their own back, as this spider finds its dinner.  Mmmm, tasty fairy midget.

This group of cartoonish villains presents their leader with a weeping ball of subjugated fairy maiden, and....a slug.  Neither of these offerings seems to calm the boss, who remains angry or constipated.  Some sort of scheme appears to be afoot against the quarreling king and queen, who are about ten times their size.  A scheme that involves DIY, given the tools in Fearless Leader's grasp.

I assume this is meant to be a playful pounce....but OH LORD THOSE EYES.  He looks like he's going to claw her face off. 

And finally, a man's dream way to die: being strangled in old age by two hot, nude women in a jacuzzi.

Return of the Ninja

Dear Internet,  after a month on hiatus, SARFT is BACK.  It's been a busy month, but now I will be bringing you quality weird art observations once more.

In other news, I've decided to include ads on the blog, on the off chance you want to support this little project and get the hankering to do some online shopping.  Hopefully they will not be too distracting from all of the scantily-clad people, mutant animals, and divine laser beams that I know you come here for.

Finally, if there is a piece of art that you would like reviewed, by all means please let me know!  I am always looking for interesting works to dissect.  Without inspiration, the giant radioactive man-eating sewer rats win.

Edit: The image is a bonus tidbit from Bosch's Hell--see here.