Artist Gesine Marwedel's Body Painting Projects Are Almost Too Awesome to Believe

When you think about body art, you might think of the ritual face and body painting used within indigenous tribes to mark major events like the birth of a child, the entrance into adulthood, or readiness for war. Or if you’ve been as tainted as I have by our society, the term might conjure the more debaucherous body painting that occurs at Las Vegas nightclubs and Playboy Mansion events (think raunchy Red Riding Hood). Regardless, though, 27-year-old German bodypainter Gesine Marwedel takes the art form to a level so awesome that you'll forget all previous associations. Seriously.

By painting and then carefully posing her models, Marwedel converts the human body into images of animals, organs, and dramatic landscapes. Past works produced on a human canvas include a family of penguins, a series of seahorses, a brain, and a flamingo standing on one leg. Although body painting is an ephemeral art form, Mardewel preserves her creations through stunningly composed photographs, filled with movement, that make her works an intriguing amalgam of painting, performance, and photography. Her painted models could believably be performers in a stunning contemporary dance piece and, for me, they recall the intricate animal costumes made for The Lion King on Broadway.

“Body painting is not just paint on a living canvas... It is the transformation of a human being into a breathing, moving, living work of art,” she says on her website. Marwedel will paint bodies upon request, and even offers her services at events. (No, Playboy Mansion, you are not tainting this one!)

If the ESPN Body Issue didn’t give you a new appreciation for the beauty and capabilities of the human body, a visit to Marwedel’s website or Facebook page is sure to do so. Wow.

Images: Courtesy of Gesine Marwedel; Gesine Marwedel Bodypainting / Facebook