Finding art that combines old-world mysticism but is yet both familiar and refreshingly new is tough to find, but the Russian artist duo Rotten Fantom fits within this unique niche perfectly. Hitting the visual intensity of heavy metal album art, but also incorporating the lyrical line work of art nouveau, these artists put their penmanship skills together to create highly intricate and hauntingly beautiful drawings.
Helen (from Saint Petersburg), and Vladimir (from Moscow), began creating together towards the end of 2012. They use a pointillism drawing technique, combining millions of tiny dots with graceful lines and heavy fields of black in ink, producing heavily detailed surreal imagery. The main idea within Rotten Fantom’s art is to reflect natural forces and the never-ending cycle of decay and resurrection.
As the duo state on their about page:
“Every artwork for Rotten Fantom is the result of a trance; mystic sacrifice helping to approach the state behind conditions of life and death, future and the past, personality and absolute, when all dead and living create the unique canvas of existence. The purpose is to behold the Great Spirit’s embroidery on that canvas.”
This visual scheme of death and growth is incorporated into recognizable stories in many of their illustrations. While many images stand alone, others hold familiar narratives like the tale of Ophelia, well-loved Edgar Allan Poe novelettes, or lesser-known Russian fairy tales like that of Vasilisa the Beautiful. Even tamer compositions often have a hidden bones or viscera.
Fortunately, Rotten Fantom’s talents don’t stop at drawing – they’ve worked collaboratively on other creative endeavors as well. Vladimir himself is a part of the music project Wardra (which of course showcases Rotten Fantom art for their albums), and it’s no surprise that several metal bands from around the globe have enlisted the duo to help visualize their music into unique album art and other merchandise. They also participated in a project and book entitled 666 Frames of Darkness, a tribute to the dark aesthetics that seem to be a growing influence in fashion, music, and art (more about that project can be found here).
Featured image by Rotten Fantom.