Misako Shirasu. 7″h x 3″w x .75″d · Oil on Carved Paintbrush · 2017.
Drawing inspiration from across centuries, mediums, and cultures, artist Rebecca Szeto (previously) identifies both anonymous and historically significant women to depict atop the carved handles of old used paint brushes. From the first woman to graduate with a degree in architecture from MIT to a Chibok schoolgirl kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014, or an anonymous face lifted from a 17th century Baroque painting, each portrait presents the face of a woman who has come in and out of focus throughout history.
“I am interested in things that fall between the cracks of place and language,” says Szeto in her artist statement. “Rust, dead bees, beaten up paintbrushes and scrap materials from my immediate surroundings all become a starting point. Play and chance are integral parts of my process; they’re a way for me to detach from preconceived ideas about the materials so I can freely explore their inherent qualities and investigate their deeper implications.”
You can explore the individual stories of all the women featured in the works seen here on Szeto’s website, and she’ll have work on view at Root Division in San Francisco as part of an exhibition titled Bizarre Bizarre curated by Michael Arcega starting in July.
Musical Notation. 7.25″h x 2.5″w x .1″d · Oil, Plaster on Carved Paintbrush · 2016.
Marion Mahony. 8″h x 3″w x 1″d · Oil on Carved Paintbrush · 2015.
Angela Isadora Duncan. 6″h x 2″w x .5″d · Oil on Carved Paintbrush · 2015.
Chibok Girl: Salamatu Bulama Usman. 5.5″h x 3″w x .5″d · Oil on Carved Paintbrush · 2017.
Violet Jessep. 5.25″h x 2.5″w x .5″d · Oil on Carved Paintbrush · 2015.
Emilie du Chatelet (2 for Squared). 8″h x 4″w x .5″d · Oil on Carved Paintbrush · 2015.
Margaret Roper (1500). 7″h x 3.5″w x .5″d · Oil on Carved Paintbrush · 2015.
The female characters inhabiting the world of London-based illustrator Miles Johnston appear to be undergoing near perpetual transformation, their faces or bodies split in half, or their entire form morphing into globby organic forms. Over the past few years he’s examined four specific transformations organized into series titled Deform, Divide, Attract, and Recur. Johnston will have work on view at the upcoming Small Works exhibition at beinArt Gallery and you can also follow him on Instagram. (via Booooooom, Artnau)
Over the last three years photographer Jem Cresswell has photographed humpback whales during their annual migration to Vava’u, Tonga, swimming with the great creatures in the vast waters of the southern Pacific Ocean. Cresswell’s series Giants captures the individual personality of the great whales, each of which seem to pose specifically for his underwater camera.
“I was initially drawn to the whales’ gentle nature, sheer size and the feeling of insignificance in their presence,” said Cresswell. “Over the past 3 years returning to Tonga, I have sought to capture intimate portraits of these complex and conscious animals, bringing the viewer into the world of these mystical giants.”
In addition to being intrigued by the animals’ size, the Australian-based artist is also fascinated by their brains. In 2006, spindle cells, which were only thought to be present in humans and great apes, were also found to exist within the brains of humpback whales. These cells, which are tied to social organization, empathy, and intuition, were found to be more than three times as prevalent in humpback whales than they were in humans.
This sense of humanness is one of the reasons that Cresswell chooses to shoot his underwater subjects in black and white. “The main focus of the project concerns the whale’s sense of character and consciousness,” he explained to Colossal. “To me, black and white avoids distraction and draws the viewer directly to the subject. Black and white also has a sense of timelessness to it, which I feel represents how long these creatures have been around for.”
Cresswell will continue photographing humpback whales in the future, but at the present he is taking a break to work on a new series focused on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. You can get a behind-the-scenes perspective of Cresswell’s underwater shoots on his Instagram and in the short video below. (via My Modern Met)
Paper artist Yulia Brodskaya (previously) continues to produce elegant paper portraits, mixing geometric and organic forms through paper quilling to establish the details of each face. Over the last few years Brodskaya has been commissioned to create pieces for dozens of corporate clients from Starbucks to the New York Times, but still pauses to work on this portrait series that has slowly evolved over time. You can see new works and process photos on her Instagram and she’ll be speaking at the Reasons To: conference in Brighton this September.
From lumbering African elephants to diminutive cockatoos, fine art photographer Brad Wilson appears to look into the soul of unusual animals from the far reaches of the planet, isolating each bird, mammal, or reptile against a deep black backdrop. The images are part of the Santa Fe-based photographer’s ongoing Affinity series that explores human’s relationship with animals, both positive and negative, while highlighting the fragility of each subject with the aid of soft studio lighting. From his artist statement:
In the midst of our modern human civilization with all its technological complexities, animals still remain stark symbols of a simpler life and a wilderness lost. Perhaps these images can stand as a testament to this other fading world, and remind us, despite the pronounced feeling of isolation that too often characterizes our contemporary existence, that we are not alone, we are not separate – we are part of a beautifully rich and interconnected diversity of life.
Incorporating aspects of South American folklore, mythology, and religion, Berlin-based artist Olaf Hajek depicts thoughtful portraits of women and men infused with elements of life—often in their hairdos. Over the last few years Hajek’s illustration work has appeared in major publications from the New York Times to the Guardian, but he also exhibits his acrylic paintings on wood and cardboard in galleries around the world. His most recent collection of work is being published in a forthcoming book titled Olaf Hajek: Precious, and one of his pieces was selected for the Communication Arts Illustration Annual 58. You can see more of his work on Saatchi Art.