The Art: Cockaignesque
The Artist: Helen Sobiralski

About the Work: 

Few artforms have had such a transcendent impact on mediums beyond their own as baroque painting.

In the late 16th century, the Catholic Church was on the search for a new style of art to meet its needs. It wanted something spectacular and overt; the kind of simple-speaking art which connected with the masses, who had little knowledge or understanding of art, on their level.

This demand gave birth to baroque. Dramatic, visceral, and rich, it would become one of the most popular styles employed by painters over the next 150 years.

Soon, other artists would start employing the baroque style in their work – architects, sculptors, even interior designers. The grand scale, innovative use of lighting, and bold detail thrilled those who wanted to do something different. The appeal of baroque is a timeless one, and its influence can still be felt today.

Case in point: Cockaignesque, the award-winning fashion/photography series from German artist Helen Sobiralski.

Sobiralski balances on the border between the world of baroque and Cockaigne, the mythical land of luxury from which the series takes its name.

In doing so, she pushes the boundaries of both. Firstly, in her use of light, which feels like it belongs more in the paintings of old than in a modern photo. Then, in her choice of subjects. There’s a decadence to Sobiralski’s characters that would have never found its way into the religious pieces of Rembrandt or Caravaggio.

That’s what sets the series apart. Sobiralski has been influenced by baroque, but not to the point where it has limited the potential of the project. She has expanded upon it, evolved it, and invited others to do the same.

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