When an artist creates a piece, whether it is a painting, a sculpture, a piece of music or a poem, they will often feel a strong connection to it.
The bond that many artists share with their work is unbreakable, with their passion for what they do forging a link between each of their creations. Many artists would argue that this link is similar to the bond felt between a parent and their child.
A form of artwork seen prevalently over the years brings this connection between artist and creation to a far more physical, literal level. This artwork is known as human canvassing, which involves transferring imagery and artistic materials on to the human body itself, using the skin and bodily form as the basis of an artistic piece.
The body is usually stylised to blend in with the surrounding area, such as copying the pattern on a nearby wall onto the skin. The resultant effect can be compared to a form of camouflage.
An artist who has utilised this form of artwork to its fullest effect is Keyana Tahmaseb, who has become known for her blending of the human body with surreal imagery through her work on the photo series Human Canvas. The inspiration for this project came from Irving Penn’s photo, Girl in Bed (1949).
In Tahmaseb’s images, human figures are portrayed in a variety of surroundings- in an office, in bed, with a phone and so forth. As is common with most forms of human canvassing, the imagery surrounding the central figures can also be found on the figures themselves.
What is especially notable about many of these images is that the face of the figures depicted are hidden or otherwise obscured in some way, perhaps as a further way to blend the person in with their surroundings, removing any sense of personal identity.
Of course, artwork on the human body can be found in a perhaps less dramatic format: the format of tattoos. All over the world, in many different cultures, people use tattoos in their various artistic forms, for many different reasons.
Whether they use tattoos to tell a story, or as a form of identification, or to bond with other people, the folks who have artwork transferred onto their bodies in the form of a tattoo will have their own reasons, whether artistic, personal or for the sake of amusement, for decorating their bodies in a creative way.
There are a number of tattoo studios which celebrate the art of human canvassing, such as The Human Canvas Tattoos and Art Project, Belfast and Human Canvas Tattoo, Walsall. With these organisations, people can pursue their own passions for celebrating both the human body and great artwork, combining the two in the process.
For as long as humanity has existed, its people have thrived on creating beautiful artwork. Perhaps one of nature’s greatest creations is the human body itself. When people combine their own artistic productions with the creations of the natural world, finding safe and harmonious ways to infuse art with their own natural resources, wonderful things can be achieved.
–Luke Mayo, Editor (Art)
(-Picture, aka Tman)