Zdzislaw Beksinski surreal landscapes and abstract surrealism

Zdzisław Beksiński was a Polish painter, photographer and sculptor, specializing in the field of dystopian surrealism. Beksiński did his paintings and drawings in what he called either a ‘Baroque’ or a ‘Gothic’ manner. His creations were made mainly in two periods. The first period of work is generally considered to contain expressionistic color, with a strong style of “utopian realism” and surreal architecture, like a doomsday scenario. The second period contained more abstract style, with the main features of formalism.


I always find myself returning to Beksiński for inspiration. He’s a cornerstone of contemporary fantastic art, dark surrealism, or “horror art”– depending upon who is describing the work.

Regardless of the descriptors:

  1. Beksiński’s surrealist vision that rivals the greats in art history.
  2. Beksiński’s work is transcendent.

Elegance in Each Image

His images are elegant: while there are many details in the images, there tends to only be one central focus and then distant secondary or tertiary focal points. A contrast would be “The Garden of Earthly delights” by Hieronymus Bosch or “The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke” by Richard Dadd– where much of the painting demands attention.

But a hierarchy of content certainly isn’t what I’m referring to when I’m speaking of a purity of vision in Beksiński’s work. Both of those just mentioned certainly have a purity of vision. Rather, his entire body of work has a purity of vision, as do the individual paintings. The work’s main salient feature is dystopian surrealism, or doomsday scenarios. The central focus of the fantastic period is indeed an apocalyptic emotion, but his abstract work seems also marked by this sensation. While it’s not as dark directly, his abstract work always seems to be deconstructing the form like a sickness or decay.

His works don’t compete with each other ideologically, but reinforce each other. But even his digital work (not shown in the gallery) was a clumsy attempt at using the computer as his paintbrush to illustrate the same visions that he does so exquisitely in oils.

Beksiński’s Work is Transcendent

Beksiński’s art seems to transcend the work itself. Beksiński’s paintings always seem larger than they are. This is partially what I mean that they transcend. Also, they aren’t marked by any period-specific features. The viewer can never look at the content and claim it belongs from a specific time. “Aha, this was a reaction to the labor movement in the 1960’s.” Beksiński’s work sits outside of time. Each image creates a complete, visually satisfying world. Dystopian eye candy.

I believe that art criticism will eventually come to celebrate Beksiński as one of the great artists of the 20th century.

Against interpretation

Beksiński avoided concrete analyses of the content of his work, saying “I cannot conceive of a sensible statement on painting”. He was especially dismissive of those who sought or offered simple answers to what his work ‘meant’.


Beksinski Books & Prints

Mark Ryden Pop Surrealism

Blending themes of pop culture with techniques reminiscent of the old masters, Mark Ryden has created a singular style that blurs the traditional boundaries between high and low art. His work first garnered attention in the 1990s when he ushered in a new genre of painting, “Pop Surrealism”, dragging a host of followers in his wake. Ryden has trumped the initial surrealist strategies by choosing subject matter loaded with cultural connotation.

Ryden’s vocabulary ranges from cryptic to cute, treading a fine line between nostalgic cliché and disturbing archetype. Seduced by his infinitely detailed and meticulously glazed surfaces, the viewer is confronted with the juxtaposition of the childhood innocence and the mysterious recesses of the soul. A subtle disquiet inhabits his paintings; the work is achingly beautiful as it hints at darker psychic stuff beneath the surface of cultural kitsch. In Ryden’s world cherubic girls rub elbows with strange and mysterious figures. Ornately carved frames lend the paintings a baroque exuberance that adds gravity to their enigmatic themes.

Mark Ryden received a BFA in 1987 from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. His paintings have been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide, including a retrospective “Wondertoonel” at the Frye Museum of Art in Seattle and Pasadena Museum of California Art, and in the exhibition “The Artist’s Museum” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles.



Mark Ryden Books on Amazon

The Dream Logic Tarot

The Dream Logic Tarot is a collaboration between artist Jay Gidwitz and occultist Anthony Teth. Each tarot card is a combination of photography and mixed media. The artist use the traditional tarot card symbolism as it’s starting point. Using photography and digital techniques, the tarot deck contains images that range from surrealist, to painterly, to dark, to “visionary art” styled imagery using fractal imagery. The book that Teth is writing will contain musings ranging from traditional tarot divination as well as theory from chaos magic, NLP and general semantics. Learn more about the project here.




Wayne Barlowe

Wayne Barlowe’s art spans alien worlds, alien creatures, and the realms of hell. His work portrays his imagination in painstaking detail. Think less painterly indication and more photorealistic representation. Barlowe’s Hell is portrayed over the course of many illustrations in a book. It is perhaps as vast and sprawling a vision as Hieronymus Hosch’s. The viewer can practically smell the sweat on a poor soul being inspected by demons like a cow being chosen for slaughter. You can hear the howls of the tormented. Three dimensional sigils hover over demons, communicating in a forsaken ancient language. It is a bleak, unforgiving vision.


Books on Amazon

The Bio Mechanical Landscapes of Peter Gric

Peter Gric is Austrian painter, drawer and illustrator originally from Czech Republic. The pictures below feature epic, futuristic landscapes, architecture, and bio-mechanical surrealism.

I find it hard to explain what I’m painting, or why; actually, I don’t see any reason to analyse or justify my work. However, I like enigmas – they seem so boundless as long as they are unsolved.

-Peter Gric

Life’s ballet

A short surreal film with enticing visuals and music. The film plays with visual overlay.

More of Joe Zazulak’s Films


Additional notes:

MUSIC: Created for this film by Jonty Cotton

Additional & found footage:
Das Triadische Ballet
Girl in fractal image: Charley Gibb

L. Bustamante Art

Beautiful art by L. Bustamante. Her paintings conjure the magic of symbolist and art neavou art from the last century.

Portfolio: http://www.murkandmetal.com/




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Strange Figurations Exhibition Opportunity


SlowArt Productions presents the thematic exhibition: Strange Figurations. The exhibition will be held at the Limner Gallery from September 10 – October 3, 2015. This exhibition is open to all interpretations of the concept, Strange Figurations. Included are all forms of surreal, visionary and extraordinary figurative art. All interpretations of the theme “Strange Figurations” will be reviewed and considered.

Entry Deadline June 30, 2015

Apply Here: http://www.slowart.com/prospectus/strange.htm

Share other opportunities for artists with us here.