Terry Richardson is known for many things. The tired plaid shirts, the sideburns, his menacing thumbs up, a "raw" and hyper-sexualized aesthetic, the very serious allegations of sexual abuse against him. But a relationship to master of the macabre, figurative painter Francis Bacon? That was a connection we never made, until now.
An emerging Italian artist going by the pseudonym Kuinexs has combined the visions of the two transgressive figures in an unnerving yet transfixing series called "Photodissolutions."
For the disturbing photo-painting hybrids, Kuinexs used Richardson's photography series "TerryWorld" as canvas, working solvents over the printed emulsions to liquify them and paint through the wetness. "For me it is like painting backwards," Kuinexs explained in an email to The Huffington Post. Using red and black ink, Kuinexs gives Richardson's scantily clad models a touch of Bacon-esque gore. Upon finishing, the subjects' exposed bodies morph into a peculiar type of flesh, the kind that looks suspiciously like it's decaying before your eyes.
Why Bacon and Richardson, you ask? Although you may not think the painter of the most expensive piece of art ever auctioned and the guy shooting the entire next issue of Playboy have much in common, there are some common threads.
"First of all, figure is pivotal and all the tension is concentrated on the subject," Kuinexs writes. "Most of Terry’s figures like Bacon’s have a central position in compositions and stand against a uniform unadorned background, wall or empty hotel room. Eroticism is central for Richardson like it was crucial in Francis Bacon’s; many of Bacon’s subjects and models were his lovers and very close friends, he frequently painted male couples having sexual intercourse. Terry is obsessed with his own image like Bacon was; painting his self portraits over and over again through his life. The realism, the odd and isolated figures, bodies in unlikely poses, etc, [Terry's] got nothing more left to learn from Bacon."
You can probably detect that Kuinexs is curiously a huge fan of Richardson's work, placing the photographer amongst the greats as a masterful depicter of the exposed human form. When asked about the artist's infamously controversial reputation, Kuinexs attributed public backlash to Richardson's "innovative" art-making.
"I think there has always been such controversies with great artists. This makes me think of [Egon] Schiele, Bacon himself, [Robert] Mapplethorpe, [who] have been sexually very provocative in their art and Terry is among them."
While we think Kuinexs is mighty generous with the comparisons, we can't deny our attraction to these gushy Richardson/Bacon mashups. There's something so delicious about Richardson's nauseatingly naughty photos being infiltrated with a heavy dose of something far stranger, something actually transgressive and surprising. That fluctuating space between the erotic and the repugnant is made all the more messy with Kuinexs' invasion of wetness.
"What I try to represent is liquidation of formal identity," Kuinexs writes. "Liquidation also seen mainly as liquefying and dissolution; a change of state –- from static stillness to movement and constant metamorphosis." In our minds, it may just be Richardson's best work yet. Take a look at Kuinexs' art historical mashups below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.