Strictly NSFW (Not Safe For Work) is the first thing you’ll need to know about the artist Relm. Her art links surrealism, sweetness, and eroticism in portraits of innocent outcasts and paints them into fairytale worlds.
Detailed hair made out of human organs or black or slimy tentacles crawling from the back of a graceful mermaid. Either way, Relm ensures that her work isn’t too pretty, leaving the viewer slightly disturbed.
We’re looking deeper at some of the most gorgeous and eerie portraits we’ve ever seen.
The Story of Relm
Relm was born in Bosnia and raised in New York City. Growing up, she moved from one extreme setting to another, living in Germany and traveling in Europe as a teenager. Having a mother who was a portrait artist immersed her in the art world since childhood. Relm is a self-taught artist and studied fashion design before pursuing art full-time.
Relatively new to the art scene in 2016, Relm made her debut painting images heavy with symbolism. Yet, at the same time, she didn’t give them any deeper meaning and preferred to let the viewer infer their own interpretation of each image.
Relm lives and works in Ontario, Canada. The artist explores erotic themes and dives into this sensuality and hedonism as she creates lesbian erotica that’s both playful and forbidden. The artist also works in sculpture.
What Is Relm’s Art Style?
Erotic surrealism is the perfect description of Relm’s style. Her use of young, nymph-like subjects mix both innocence and erotica in bizarre, dream-like themes.
With works ranging from basic portraits to twisted erotic dreamscapes in bleak settings, every piece is a glimpse into destitute lives. Yet, behind the full eyes and pouty lips, there is a background filled with varying emotions and experiences.
Relm creates her art in watercolors, pencils, ink, and even oil paints. She essentially draws women enjoying being sexually subdued by their partners. Her portrayal of women relishing each other’s bodies seeks to explain what a feminine embrace feels like to another woman.
Relm goes to extreme lengths to bring out the finer details of her subjects, painstakingly detailing the filigree, hair, and flowers that enhance her portraits. In addition, she weaves traditional Chinese paintings into her art.
Hair becomes houses, murals, and even muscle, ligament, and skulls, while lips and skin metamorphose into porcelain. The various styles showcase Relm’s versatility as an artist.
What Inspires Relm’s Art?
Relm’s early inspiration comes from her time growing up in Bosnia and from her teen years in Germany and Europe. The constant moving from one extreme place to another inspires the artist’s work to change constantly.
Taking inspiration from whimsical and distorted, her use of bright colors and soft skin cover something almost macabre. Additionally inspired by neoclassical artists, Relm gives new life to the old style. Unraveling the bucolic and ethereal, Relm wraps the predominantly nude, gorgeous, and sometimes grotesque figures in a modern edginess.
One of the central ideas for her art came after visiting a friend who had personalized diamond paintings hanging on the wall. The makeup of the work sparked her imagination and inspired her to create similar compositions.
What Are Some of Relm’s Art Pieces?
Relm uses design principles in her work incorporating balance, emphasis, movement, repetition, pattern, and variety. Her work is dreamlike and reminds one of a Lewis Carroll or C.S. Lewis novel.
Better Than Wine
Relm’s piece, Better than Wine, is part of her Knight Series and drawn in colored pencil on paper. It depicts a beautiful woman wearing only chainmail stockings and a sword hanging from a chain around her neck. She’s holding a glass of wine, with flowers in her hair and stockings. The knight on his knees holding her also has flowers in his helmet.
The Art of Missing You
From Relm’s Classic Painting Series is The Art of Missing You. The piece is a drawing on archival giclee fine art paper done in colored pencil. It depicts a woman with calla lilies protruding from her pores.
She’s being held in a submissive position by Michael Angelo’s statue of David coming to life and kissing her neck. The foreground features naked women bathing in a pool accompanied by flamingoes. You’ll notice one of the smaller women holds a pitcher to collect the tears of the larger woman. The sense is that the tears are what fill the pool below.
Glass Troop is an original drawing in colored pencil on paper. It shows a naked woman, seemingly made of porcelain, due to the cracking on her body. She’s wearing a Storm Trooper helmet made famous in the Star Wars movies.
The piece has a bondage element, with black ties around her ankles, knees, and genitals. She wears a utility belt with roses at her neck, waist, and ankles.
Where Can I See Relm’s Art?
We couldn’t find any permanent exhibits of her work, though there are several online galleries. However, we feel the best resource is Relm’s website which features an extensive catalog of each piece and the series it belongs to. Her Instagram page (@relmartist) is also a great place to see Relm’s art.
Fantasies Mirrored In the Relm of Surreal Eroticism
It can be overwhelming the first time you see Relm’s paintings. Her art doesn’t fully come alive initially, but after taking in all elements, you’re confronted with overpowering sexual imaginations. She showcases our subconscious, throwing light on sweet dreams and fantasies with a contrast of the surreal and erotic.
Outside Folk Gallery
You can explore folk, street, and outsider art in our personal collection at Outside Folk Art. We’re celebrating these creatives and giving voice to rising black, Native, immigrant, and working mother artisans.
We’ll also be offering pop-up shows and collaborations with small museums, so be sure to follow us to discover the where and when!