Tattoos used to be taboo in the United States unless you were in the navy. Heavily tattooed men qualified for the circus sideshow, and a woman with a tattoo was loose if not an outright criminal. In contrast, the people of the Pacific Islands have always held tattoos sacred.
In the last few decades of the 20th century, the stigma all but disappeared here, and by the new millenium tattoos were everywhere.
As tattoos began to be seen as an art form in the United States, people became interested in the tattooing rituals of other cultures. The Pacific Islands have been particularly fascinating because of their elaborate designs on the face and torso, as well as the distinctive tapping method of dye application using a sharp bone comb.
For 16 years photographer Markus Cuff has traveled around the U.S. and Pacific Islands documenting the changing styles of tattoos. His slick photographs are often featured in tattoo magazines, and his shots of rock’s biggest names dominated Rolling Stone’s book “Tattoo Nation.” Fun fact: Cuff also played the drums for Emmylou Harris.
Thursday, November 20 at 8pm, La Luz de Jesus will celebrate the release of “Torso,” a hardcover collection of Cuff’s “darkly addictive” images. Featured works include the detailed back pieces of Japanese artist Jill Bonny, the colorful designs of Khalil Rintye, fantastical, exotic sleeves from Nate Bunuelos, and Aaron Coleman’s cartoon and horror influenced tats. Markus Cuff will be signing copies purchased from Wacko. Reserve a copy today.
Wacko/La Luz De Jesus Gallery4633 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, California 90027 (323) 663-0122.