Ray Caesar is a Toronto-based artist who creates worlds populated by pale beauties straight out of the gilded Victorian Age. His characters almost glow with a flawless, almost porcelain beauty, staring from cold, impassive eyes that project an eerie, sinister attitude of confidence and defiance.
But look closely and you soon see that this is no pastoral wonderland, as glimpses of tentacles, spider legs, bats and red-suited catwomen bring a Baroque darkness to his surreal worlds. It’s this literal and figurative interplay between light and darkness that is at the center of his work as bucolic scenes often have horrifying undertones.
Caesar’s strange visions may come from a past career in the Art and Photography department of the Hospital for sick Children in Toronto where for 17 years he documented horrifying cases of murder, child abuse, reconstructive surgery and premature infants in sketches.
If that weren’t enough, Caesar’s mother and sister both succumbed to cancer within six months of each other, but Caesar has used his many traumatic professional and personal experiences (along with a life-long battle with Dissociative Identity Disorder) as impetus for his art, which he sees as therapeutic. “In my work I create a window into a place that is a sanctuary or small heaven, or Eden, for troubled memories and disquiet spirits. A place where man and nature can never hurt them again.”
Amazingly, while Caesar’s work may look like classic oil on canvas, it’s all digitally created; in fact, Caesar has long been celebrated as the “grandfather of digital art.” He creates his dream-like images with a 3D modeling software called Maya, a program he mastered while working as a digital animator in the film and TV industry from 1998-2001.
This is just a small collection of the works of this demented genius, so check out more at his website (where his humorous bio recounts his birth and life as a dog) and a quote-filled BuzzFeed page that gives better insight into the traumatic experiences that shaped his life and his art.
Check out the gallery after the jump.