Sinister Beauty: The Surreal Worlds of Ray Caesar

SirenRay 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.

Silent PartnerCaesar’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.

About Stephen Kelly Creative

Hi, I'm Stephen Kelly, a writer, editor, photographer and graphic designer living in beautiful San Francisco, CA, USA. Amongst the things I love are writing, photography, movies, music, fitness, travel, Batman, all things Australian, food and fun, all of which I hope to reflect in this here blog. Welcome aboard ... now let's get busy!
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33 Responses to Sinister Beauty: The Surreal Worlds of Ray Caesar

  1. fgassette says:

    They say that some people with creative abilities often come out of great suffering either personally experienced or witnessed.


  2. patriciamoed says:

    I’m going to share this post with my son who is a visual effects artist and works with Maya. Caesar is really a Maya master.

  3. Impybat says:

    Haha, I love his take on Jean-Honore Fragonard’s “The Swing”! Beautiful work and yes, I completely agree with what Francine said.

  4. Angeline M says:

    His career at the Children’s Hospital had to have definitely made a deep impression on him; and was this the cause of his Dissociative Identity Disorder? Very interesting artist.

  5. kayrpea61 says:

    Just amazing. Thanks for sharing, Stephen.

  6. How gorgeous and creepy at the same time! I think it’s the surface textures, or the apparent surface textures, which make this art so startling and so memorable.

  7. Amy says:

    Amazing creative art work! Admire his strength!

  8. viveka says:

    Wonderful find again … very interesting artist – even if I wouldn’t like any of his art on my walls … if I had to pay for it. A bit “macabre” for my taste, even if I see beauty in this are too. Like you top image. By the way .. the top one I would love to have, if I had the money. It’s truly stunning. Her pale skin against that midnight blue ..

  9. pommepal says:

    Amazing what a creative genius can do with digital art. I find it beautiful but quite disturbing.

  10. Interesting paintings and post. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Paula says:

    These are weird and attractive. Thank you for showing Stephen 🙂

  12. c3design says:

    Reblogged this on Swackhammer and commented:
    These are just gorgeous!

  13. itisnovember says:

    Very interesting artwork here. Thumbs up! Thanks for the share!

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