Behold the absolutely jaw dropping work of Dutch interdisciplinary artist Levi van Veluw. He’s evolved the idea of self-portrait into an inspection of the human body not just as subject, but also as medium. The ultimate one-man show, van Veluw designs, creates, models, and photographs all of his works on his own face. Blending photography, surrealism, physiology, and ecology, he creates images that are strikingly visual and that also re-imagine the extremes of the human face. Visceral and elemental, there’s obviously an emotional reaction and power to the way he mutates his own image, the work is impacting not just because it’s a face, but because the face is being used as the secondary element – not the primary.
With a sense of body morphing and physical modification similar to one of my favourite boundary-pushing duos, Lucyandbart, van Veluw’s images are both cerebral and shocking at the same time.
In his latest series, “Landscapes”, he creates an entire ecosystem and then turns it through the seasons. The mixture of humanity and ecology, their inter-connection, is obvious. But normally we’re used to seeing ourselves amongst nature, not nature literally spread across our own skins.
Equally haunting is how his face itself is devoid of emotion, not hinting towards any conclusion. We’re forced to decide for ourselves whether this organic wonder, this almost planetary sized combination of earth and ground and man, is evolved and gracious, almost a deity, or if he’s carrying, truly, the weight of the world on his shoulders. Perhaps it’s both.
In “Material Transfers”, he takes the idea of his facial form as mold even further. By covering himself in carpet, sterling wood, and pebbles respectively, this series seems less like a meeting of two entities than a man who’s been literally engulfed and morphed into another state of being. Almost an anti-Midas, where instead of the man turning whatever he touches into gold, van Veluw is being transformed into whatever he touches.
Some of van Veluw’s older work is just an interesting. In “Colours” and “Candystick”, he takes things we normally associate with joy and makes them seem almost like an affliction. The lines of colour have him bound and suffocated, and the candy seems to be spreading itself into his body more like a subcutaneous rash than a sugar hit. In both shots, the colour acts more as a invasion than a celebration.
Finally, in “Ballpoints”, he plays another universal act: doodling. Again, using his entire face as notebook he uses his face as notepad. I can’t imagine how long it takes for him to create each pattern on his face, and even more, I can’t imagine how long it must take him to wash them off. I hope he’s got some bad ass soap.
Via Yay! Monday!