All too often, the term surrealism gets recklessly applied to tattoos that are merely trippy or a little odd. True surrealism does something beyond just being strange, psychedelic, or bizarre. It has to artistically create a bridge between the fathomable and unfathomable, between reality and the imaginary. This is the case with U-Gene's body of work. He avoids the trappings of light surrealism and goes straight for consciousness' throat, making lifelike tattoos that tumble into the uncanny in intriguing ways. He has a knack for illustrating sublime mixtures of dreamlike and nightmarish imagery in an incredibly realistic fashion. Continue on if you're willing to go down a very dark rabbit hole, but be warned, you might not sleep so easily tonight.
U-Gene's talent for rendering realistic images is what enables him to make such impressive surreal tattoos. He is a master portraitist. One can see just how much he excels at creating representational art in his lady heads. Each one of the seductive women he illustrates has a unique appearance, almost as if based on a real-life individual. The way he weds these ladies with other objects is thought-provoking, but the most interesting aspect about this blending between the living and the inanimate is that it generates profound meaning. For instance, the one with a rose atop her scalp is suggestive of beauty's allure, while the one with a dead tree where he mind should be is evocative of a somber perspective on what constitutes the beautiful. Or, what do you make of the gorgeous girl fused with a broken hourglass?
Though U-Genes' surreal depictions of ladies are rich with subtext, his tattoos that feature skulls are equally if not more compelling. They operate in virtually the same associative fashion, but his skeletal pieces of body art are redolent of more crippling aspects of humanity than merely the loss of superficial beauty. These eerie tattoos bring up some of the most universal and unnerving fears that we share as sentient creatures. Concepts related to mortality rise out out of his deathly images. In the piece featuring a landscape and a wolf, for example, the lethal disposition of nature is drawn into sharp focus, while the skull-clock gestures toward the inevitability that we humans all have to face, before being laid to rest in a grave shockingly reminiscent to the one below.