When scouring through the minute details of artist Cayce Zavaglia’s embroidered portraits (previously), it’s difficult imagine each work is scarcely larger than 8″ x 10″. Her process, which she refers to as both “thread painting” and “renegade embroidery,” begins with a photoshoot of each subject, namely friends, family, and fellow artists. Roughly 100-150 photos are winnowed down to a single selection which she then begins to embroider with one-ply embroidery thread on Belgian linen. She shares via her artist statement:
Over the years, I have developed a sewing technique that allows me to blend colors and establish tonalities that resemble the techniques used in classical oil painting. The direction in which the threads are sewn mimic the way brush marks are layered within a painting which, in turn, allows for the allusion of depth, volume, and form. My stitching methodology borders on the obsessive, but ultimately allows me to visually evoke painterly renditions of flesh, hair, and cloth.
Zavaglia is also interested with the backs of her portraits, a tangled mesh of thread and knots resembling a more abstract version of the exacting portrait on the reverse. In a return to her roots as a painter, she creates gouache and large format acrylic paintings of the backsides, effectively creating a painting of an emboirdery of a photograph. Included here are several works from the last two years including works that will be on view at Art Miami this December through Lyons Wier Gallery. (via Booooooom)
When it comes to fancy studio portraits of pets, it’s no surprise people are willing to hire photographers for loving photos of their cats and dogs, we’ve even seen cameras thoughtfully trained on chickens and exotic snakes, but commercial photographer Kevin Horan decided it was high time for an artistically neglected group of barnyard animals to step into the spotlight: goats and sheep. In 2007, Horan moved from Chicago to Whidbey Island, Washington where he approached a neighbor about photographing one of his sheep. The neighbor agreed and his portrait series Chattel was born.
British artist Nick Gentry (previously) created a new series of portraits by painting on cut film negatives, part of an ongoing effort to repurpose obsolete media—he’s widely known for his paintings on floppy disks—which he uses as a backdrop for his portraiture. The new pieces are part of an upcoming show titled Synthetic Dreams at Robert Fontaine Gallery in Miami in November. You can see some of Gentry’s most recent work in his online gallery.
Penguin. Magpie. (She’s not dead, just goofing off!)
To say photographer Leila Jeffreys had an eclectic upbringing would be a bit of an understatement. With a mother from India and a father from the Isle of Man, she has lived in Papua New Guinea, a house boat in Kashmir despite an ongoing war, and in an Indian village surrounded by buffaloes, mongoose, and monkeys.
As a child, Jeffreys was taught by her father to rescue and nurse birds back to health, an experience that resulted in a deep understanding of wildlife that is immediately apparent when viewing her spectacular portraits of birds. Her affectionate photographs of owls, eagles, cockatiels and budgies seem to capture the essence of each animal’s personality, portraying many of them with surprisingly human characteristics.
Jeffreys now lives in Sydney and recently completed work on her latest series of predatory birds titled Prey. She just opened an exhibition at Olsen Irwin Gallery that runs through September 28, and you can also see a collection of her cockatiel photos later this year at Purdy Hicks Gallery in London. Do yourself a favor and follow her on Instagram.
No matter how many times I stop to consider artworks by Parisian street artist C215 (previously) I’m left wondering just how he pulls it off. The texture, the color, the detail, all executed with stencils and spray paint on any available surface. C215 says that he frequently portrays “things and people that society aims at keeping hidden: homeless people, smokers, street kids, bench lovers for example,” though one of his favorite muses is his daughter Nina who has appeared in numerous portraits over the years. He also sneaks in references to pop culture, most notably one of the best tributes to Robin Williams I’ve seen yet.
Collected here are a number of pieces from the last year or so, you can see more on Flickr and Facebook. A retrospective of his work opens at Opera Gallery in Paris in October.
When meeting somebody for the first time, or maybe just viewing a portrait, the brain goes into overdrive for a few seconds to quickly form a first impression. Whether we like it or not, rapid assumptions are made based on age, gender, race, culture, physical appearance, the surrounding environment, and especially other people present—all things that help form who we are, real or perceived. Since 1999, Czech photographer Dita Pepe has explored this idea of identity and environment in two photographic series titled Self-Portraits with Men and Self-Portraits with Women, where the photographer seeks to completely assimilate into the lives of other people.
In the beginning, Pepe first posed with people she knew, but now works with people from all walks of life with vastly different backgrounds and family structures, often incorporating her own daughters into the portraits. Each photograph is shot on location where a family or person lives, or engages in their hobbies or daily life. Pepe goes to great length to appear as if she belongs in each portrait, a chameleonlike quality that some compare to the works of Cindy Sherman; however, unlike Sherman’s studio portraits, Pepe’s images appear more like hasty snapshots, bringing a strange level of believability and authenticity to each portrait.
Pepe most recently collaborated with writer Bara Baronova on a new book of photography titled Love Yourself, and you can see more portraits with both women and men on Feature Shoot and at Lens Culture.
Photographer Oleg Oprisco (previously) who lives and works in Kiev, continues to wow us with his vivid style of conceptual photography that places subjects in the middle of surreal and fantastic tableaus. Oprisco spends large amounts of time scouring flea markets and resale shops to collect props, costumes, and other items for each shot which he often sketches beforehand in a sketchbook, with the final shoot requiring 2-3 days of preparation. I love this bit from an interview with 500px earlier this year where he was asked to give advice to amateur/student photographers:
I strongly advise to use your time wisely. Laziness is your worst enemy. Enough looking at photographs taken by your idols. You’ve commented on enough work that you hate. It’s time to take photos. Your best photos. Let go and shoot, shoot, shoot!