The blending of animals and humans is something that”s been featured in art from all over the world for thousands of years. In some ways, the sculptures of Liu Xue follow closely in this tradition. Xue”s sculptures take these mythical beings down a notch and present them in a way that”s equal parts vulnerable, humorous, and grotesque. They”re also unflinchingly lifelike, and show the human form at its less-than-idealized state. The result lands somewhere squarely in the uncomfortable place where we aren”t sure whether to laugh, recoil, or sympathize with these strange creatures.

The bodies chosen here are not always what we think of when we think of perfect bodies. They”re also often paired carefully with animal parts that call more attention to the physical characteristics of both. A giant man is attached to a walrus, which seems predictable, but also to a bat and a seahorse, which seem less expected. A gaunt man on an equally gaunt dog seems pained. Even the bodies of a young man and woman, both conventionally attractive and posing, are given huge duck and chicken feet, making them seem tremendously awkward.

(via BeautifulDecay)

None of these hybrid creatures seem particularly threatening, but their power rests in their ability to make us feel uncomfortable about the human body, its vulnerabilities, and its so-called imperfections. Yet there”s also something sympathetic about them, something that reminds us that anxiety about our bodies and our appearances is a common feeling among all people.

You can see more of this body of work on The Foundry for Art, Design + Culture”s Facebook page.