Love, lust, desire… and nightmares

Instagram artists spotlight

By Sonam Kaloti, Arts Editor

Tattoo by Charline Bataille via charlinnebataille on Instagram

Tattoo by Charline Bataille

Bataille (charlinebataille on Instagram) is based in Montreal and is a queer and nonbinary artist specializing in creative, flamboyant, and otherwise vibrant tattoos. A common theme in Bataille’s art is extremely body positive nudity; the realistic bodies are almost always all-natural with hair, fat, and features challenging today’s beauty norm.  Colourful mushrooms, snakes, and rabbits create a vivid world in Bataille’s tattoos—reminiscent of an even more psychedelic Alice in Wonderland.

Art by Alyssa D. Silos via alythuh on Instagram

“Are You Here,” “Bad Habits,” “Every Inch of You,” and “Bittersweet” by Alyssa D. Silos

Silos (alythuh on Instagram) is both an Instagram artist and a travel blogger. Her feed induces great wanderlust as you scroll through hundreds of aesthetically pleasing images of surreal places on Earth—such as rooftop pools in Thailand and hot air balloons in Turkey. Her Insta also offers organic paintings displayed beside leafy plants and a wooden backdrop.

Silos’ paintings primarily feature women of colour, often painted with flora strewn throughout their hair. My favourite pieces are those which feature LGBTQ+ relationships between women of colour. Although, most of the models in Silos’ pieces are shaped as the same with thin fit bodies and large breasts. It is worth questioning if there’s really much diversity in her art. Many of her pieces are available as fine art prints.

Art by Xue Jiya via xue.jiya on Instagram

“Civilization has only changed our way of life, But barbarism has changed the world.” by Xue Jiye

Based in Beijing, Xue Jiye (xue.jiye on Instagram) is a painter and sculptor with a plethora of work which may make the calmest of us a little uncomfortable. Raw emotion is captured vividly in Jiye’s characters’ expressions, and many of the characters’ bodies express an uncontrollable yearn, desire, or pure hostility. Many of the nude characters are painted as some type of beasts, perhaps to fully convey their internal emotions.

Jiye’s art has prompted some controversy, though, with one Instagram user commenting, “When I look at your paintings with male subjects, I feel like I’m encountered with the essence of human nature: lust, fear, pain, anger… however, your representation of women reduces them into sexual organs and violent orgasms.” In response to being asked if he is a misogynist, Jiye responded, “a painting is a window, the view in the window is not from you, but you can chose not to look into it, or close it,” also disclosing that his English isn’t the most proficient.

Without insinuating anything about the personal opinions of Xue Jiye, my overall take is that a majority of viewing art occurs in your personal projection of insecurities, fears, and feelings unto the respective work. Artists should not succumb to a witch hunt, especially since art is not made to please anyone anyway—but artists should be conscious of the “window” the artist is opening for the viewer. This consideration is necessary not only for what their art makes others feel, but also (mostly) for the sake of their own image.

“Lovers” by John Kenn Mortensen via johnkennmortensen on Instagram

Lovers” by John Kenn Mortensen

Mortensen’s pencil and ink pieces capture and throw me into a nightmare realm where all my sleep paralysis demons roam free. The work is exquisitely detailed, and horrifyingly semi-realistic. I don’t know what I’d do if the pieces were any more realistic—I’d probably have to cease viewing completely for fear of Mortensen’s creatures making waves in my dreams later. Many of the works feature a defenseless innocent person (usually a child) being stalked or surrounded by chilling beasts, which the person appears to be unaware of—making the works far more macabre.