Beneath the Face of Art - Joe Smith

Presented in this gallery is a collection of different mediums used to create art involving the semblance of human skulls. 

When we think of skulls, we often think of smooth, round surfaces.  This gallery focuses on the use of different textures and use of contrast as portrayed by different artists from around the world and time periods.

NOTE: Please use the zoom feature to enhance your experience.

This small, less than an inch and a half tall, skull was carved from a piece of black jade. The jade provided a smooth surface enabling the artist to cut out negative spaces in order to create ridges and rough textures. These negative spaces, as seen in the eyes, teeth, nasal cavity and around the eye sockets produces enough contrast to give this tiny skull unexpected detail for such an ancient piece of art.
There is nothing smooth about the texture of this more modern interpretation of a skull. This oil on canvas painting appears to be, what I would describe as, multi striped bands of double sided grass sod, weaved into the shape of a skull, with small tongues protruding from it. The teeth look like colored wires connected to metal piercing ball studs. These multi striped furry/grassy bands are prevalent in many of this artist's work. The artist, Myung Su Ham, also created nice contrast using very dark colors to create the skull cavities and lighter colors on top of the skull to create a sense of light direction or light source.
Here we have a skull biting the flesh of a woman's cheek. The dimensions from the Google details are more than likely incorrect. I've seen a female model standing next to this sculpture in a different photo. I would estimate this sculpture to be between 5 and 6 feet tall, not 18000 cm or 590 feet tall. It is probably 5'9" or 180 cm tall. Made from polymerized acrylic, there are many smooth areas atop the skull, but the artists did a fantastic job of creating visually apparent textures above and below the teeth. It is a very accurate and realistic skull. It also has accurate use of negative space in the skull cavities creating the contrast needed to depict the hollowness of a real skull.
Gilded with brass and copper this skull and crossbones clock was created with a real human skull. The skull plated with brass has probably taken on more smooth areas due to the plating process. There are still some textured parts of the skull easily seen on the frontal portion, the clock being the most obvious. By having the femur crossbones at the base done in a darker non plated brass or copper resulted in great use of contrast putting the main focus on the skull.
Vincent van Gogh's painting, "Head of a skeleton with a burning cigarette", is a timeless masterpiece. Van Gogh's style and technique of using oil on canvas has a specific texture just on its own. Van Gogh's oil paintings tend to have thick applications of oil that create raised or elevated areas on his paintings. His heavy brush strokes on oil also creates rough textures as seen throughout this painting. Having used an all black background, the contrast of different shades of colors to create shadows lets us imagine the light source is coming from the left side of the painting. The lit end of the cigarette with smoke coming from it was a nice touch. Without the addition of the burning cigarette, this painting would probably not have the same appeal as it does. This painting could be seen today as a anti smoking advertisement, but was probably thought of as a satire of some sort in Van Gogh's eyes.
Focusing just on the skull portion of this wonderfully crafted figure, it's easy to see many different textures. The grittiness of the gold glitter in her eyes is a great display of texture. The artificial hair adds even more texture. Even the painted on eye lashes produces an illusion of texture. This artist used paper mache for the creation of this skull. This would have produced a lot of different textures from the creases or folds in the paper as you can see when zoomed in.
This installation was created from porno magazine cut outs of naked women. It's interesting because the skull's surfaces are in no way smooth, but the pictures portraying smooth naked skin complements the design very well. Again the excellent use of negative space to create bone structure and skull cavities gives us the contrast needed to see the skull emerge from the nonsense.
Here is an oil on panel painting that I had never seen prior to me exhibiting it here in my gallery. Again, focusing only on the skull, the artists did a great job of using dark colors to visually create negative space in the skull. I'd like to point out the missing teeth and how the artists realistically portrays not only the skull but everything in this painting. The attention to detail is phenomenal. If you look inside the eye cavities you can see the portrayal of textures even on the inside of the skull. This is realism in strong form.
For this boxwood sculpture I would like to speak about it as a whole and not just the skull. This is one of my favorite exhibits in my gallery. If you zoom in you can see that there are snakes visibly protruding from the negative spaces throughout this piece. What appears to be the skin tattered and torn even peeling off of the skull is just an insane concept. If you zoom in you can even see the cranial sutures, or jagged lines on top of the skull below the small rat/frog looking creature. There is so much texture and contrast from using wood in this piece that I could easily use over a thousand words and still not describe them all.
I saved my favorite of them all for last. I am now a new fan of the artist, Grupo Mondongo. This is considered a painting on Google galleries, but I see this as sculpture, carving, and a painting all in one. It was done on a flat panel of wood, using Plasticine to create the images. Plasticine is a clay like material that does not harden, used for modeling. I can't even begin to describe how amazing I think this piece is. Every part of this is a different texture. As three dimensional as the skull looks, it is flat against the surface of the plank it was placed on. The background portrays the classic arcade game, "Pac-Man", with many different textures in the background alone. Without the use of different colors painted on the Plasticine the contrast would not be there to give this piece the three dimensional effect that it has. The skull itself has so many iconic figures and objects in it that you would never know unless you zoomed in on it. I found Yoda, Jesus, Bender, the Mummy, Buddha, Ghandi, masks from several different cultures, a pharaoh, Kermit the frog, Sponge Bob, the 7 dwarves, King Kong, the tower of Babel, animals, plants, skulls, crests, and more. The time it would have taken to create this, to me, is an art form in itself. My apologies for the non objective approach on this piece. I was really taken by it.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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