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Ray Caesar

by Leonora Oppenheim in Culture on 28 November 2006

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Recently spotted in Los Angeles: two young girls wearing cat masks and outfits match ing the floral wallpaper behind them. Other strange figures, like a beautiful woman lying on a couch with a blood-red organism growing out of a wound on her back and another woman lying on the beach with a parasol and octopus tentacles for legs, were seen as well.

Welcome to the bizarre and fantastical world of Ray Caesar. His mesmerizing digital paintings were shown at the Berman Turner gallery at Bergamot Station art center last month.

Familiar and yet strange, contemporary but at the same time classical, the paintings have contradictory effects on the viewer. The compositions are inspired by famous paintings such as Boudin's impressionist "Woman with a Parasol on the Beach," or Boucher's "Mademoiselle O'Murphy." These revered art works are doctored by Caesar's extraordinarily furtive imagination, transforming classical beauties into beautiful but disturbing technicolor monsters. At first the works seem painted, but on closer inspection the incredible detail and texture of the image are clearly digital. Caesar says "from its creation to its method of printing, I create models in a three dimensional modeling software and cover these models with painted and manipulated photographic textures that wrap around them like a map on a globe. Digital lights and cameras are added with shadows and reflections simulating that of a real world." Except this is definitely not the real world, this is Ray Caesar's world.

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