Sometimes exploring the darker side of life makes for the best art. The most frightening, shocking pieces of art are often the most passionate and technically daring. In creating images that could very well scare audiences, artists push their art to delve into psychological layers that peaceful and idyllic art leaves alone. In other words, the darker the art, the trippier the experience.
Kraken was no doubt aware of this when he created the works in his current exhibition, at Hold Up Art, entitled “Fantasmas,” a collection of everything from posters to four-color silkscreen prints. Somehow, in his renditions of thrillingly creepy figures, Kraken makes even the most nightmarish of images stunning. Taking inspiration from things such as movies and serial killer case studies, Kraken leads viewers into a world full of intriguingly attractive but horrifying figures.
About half of the exhibition focuses on the music posters that Kraken created, showcasing his graphic design talent. And while his talent is evident, it was the less-manufactured, more creatively-free figures that came from the depths of Kraken’s imagination that sent a thrilling fear and awe into viewers’ minds.
Focusing on female figures, Kraken gives his audience everything from a pupil-less but beautiful woman surrounded by vines and her own wild, gorgeous hair to a woman who has roses for eyes. Kraken takes many images we typically associate with beauty and turns them topsy-turvy.
“Olvido,” the figure with roses as eyes, could be beautiful with such a classic flower for features, but when you look closely there is blood dripping down her cheeks. It might not be the most inviting image to unprepared viewers but Kraken’s skillful attention to detail is undeniable.
In each frightening image there is layer upon layer of detail. The figure in the forefront immediately grabs the viewer’s attention, but the many details in the background call attention to Kraken’s talent for mixing patterns and bold colors.
It’s easy to throw together various colors to make an image pop, but a true testament to artistry is one’s ability to stick to a simple color palette and still create a compelling image. Kraken expertly chooses a few colors for his figures to make them pop.
Taking a closer look, you will see his play with shadow, going beyond the basic technique of choosing which spots to make darker. “Redemption Queen,” a complex silkscreen piece, uses lines to create shadows, defining the shape of the figure’s neck with a conglomeration of lines traveling in all directions. The figure’s transfixing blue hair looks realistic because of the expert placement of black lines. But as with all his female figures, Kraken seems to warn us there is something more complex about this figure with her Byzantine art-style halo and arresting stare.
Religion is a common theme in the pieces, with Kraken adapting the image of Jesus to his elusive, sometimes frightening female figures. It’s a gutsy move, and Kraken’s affinity for halos, blood and frightening eyes makes the piece anything but easy to look at, regardless of your religious affiliation.
But the works don’t seem like a cheap attempt to break down any religious beliefs. Kraken places more emphasis on delving into the darker side of the human psyche and presents images that force viewers to do more than gaze in passivity.
For being his first independent show and including only a few pieces, the exhibition showcases Kraken’s evident talent for mixing drama, emotion and movement into an explosive aesthetic style. The more the viewer stares, the more details reveal themselves, which is a good tenet for any art, no matter the subject or style.
Kraken’s pieces can be controversial, thrilling, frightening and perplexing, but quality art will always perplex its viewers into a state of curiosity that keeps them coming back for more. From his more graphic design related works to his complex female figures, it seems this is just the start of Kraken’s developing, yet exciting style.