As we approach Halloween, we look at 5 contemporary artists inspired by all things spooky, stange and supernatural.
We need look no further than the bewitching paintings of Francisco Goya (Witches Flight, 1797–98) or the mystical woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer (The Four Witches, ca. 1497) to realise that the supernatural and occult have always had a place in Western art and culture. A fascination with the miraculous and the macabre is not something limited to the past, however.
Born in Turks and Caicos, Bradley Theodore is a contemporary artist who started his career in New York. Famous for his bold palette and confident brushstrokes, Theodore is best known for portraits in his signature Dia de los Muertos style. Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is an annual Mexican tradition that commemorates friends and family who have passed. Theodore notes that growing up he ‘was around death all the time… it wasn’t something you were afraid of, it was something you embraced.’ Theodore’s vibrant skeletons and kaleidoscopic skulls can be seen as an unapologetic celebration of life, explored through the lens of death.
Graceland is an emerging British artist whose playful and humourous artwork is informed by the spiritual and occult. Citing 15th and 16th century Flemish painting as a key influence, Graceland is particularly inspired by the otherworldly characters in Hieronymous Bosch's famous The Garden of Earthly Delights (1515). Through her work, Graceland explores the concept of heaven and hell, and often subverts traditional iconography in the process. Her mischievous and witty paintings are the perfect spooky surrealist piece to add to your collection this Halloween.
Canadian street artist Richard Hambleton is best known for his Shadowman paintings. First appearing in the streets of New York in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Hambleton’s mysterious silhouettes would materialise overnight. Often lurking behind street corners or at the end of dark alleyways for full effect, Hambleton’s kinetic figures would confront viewers with a menacing and all encompassing presence. His enigmatic works have gained a cult following, meaning that his mystical Shadowman paintings are highly sought after.
Nick Veasey is a British photographer whose work spans the fields of science and art. His x-ray images are created with high-energy electromagnetic radiation, a dangerous but ethereal medium. Through his artistic process, the everyday object is transformed. When introducing viewers to his work, Veasey states ‘welcome into my strange world, where the otherwise invisible becomes visible and where I aim to transform the ordinary into something extraordinary.’
Born and raised in Matsumoto, Japan, Yayoi Kusama’s practice spans sculpture and installations. Taking inspiration from Minimalism, Pop and Surrealism, Kusama’s works are both whimsical and iconic. From her immersive infinity mirror rooms to her polka dot pumpkins, everything about Kusama’s art is otherworldly and transformative.