Adorable, mischievous, and undeniably spirited, the porcelain figures that Lisa Agnetun sculpts breathe new life into the simple, bedsheet silhouette we’ve long associated with ghosts. Brimming with personality and energy, the specters are similarly outfitted with asymmetric eye holes and fabric that bunches as their feet. “They’re dead souls, and I think it’s a challenge to make them come alive. It also gives me great pleasure and even hope to make this strong symbol of death into something playful and not scary at all,” Agnetun writes.
Made from a variety of clays, the pieces are wheel-thrown and then sculpted by hand to add final details. Each receives a thick coat of matte, glossy, or cracking glaze, with some getting a final wax treatment or an ink wash after firing.
Although the Gothenburg, Sweden-based ceramicist has been crafting the tiny apparitions to gift to friends and family for years, she only started selling them about six months ago. They’re a portion of her ceramics practice that spans teaware, LED-lamps, vases, and other sculptural objects. “Every time I open my kiln, I want to find new exciting things that I haven’t seen before,” she says. “The ghosts are the only pieces that really stick with me. They’re all unique and keep evolving along with my other work, so there’s no chance for me to get bored with them.”
Agnetun sells the playful creatures, which range from the size of a fingertip to a few inches tall, on Etsy. In the coming months, she plans to create a few jar sculptures, triple vases, and a new mug alongside more ghosts, all of which you can follow on Instagram.
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Expressive Portraits, Line Drawings, and Foliage Are Superimposed into Rich Illustrations by Ana Santos
At the center of Ana Santos’s practice is a commitment to discovery. The Salamanca-based illustrator fuses multiple mediums—her work ranges from watercolor, ink-based drawing, and digital painting to embroidery and ceramics—into portraits superimposed with clusters of foliage, birds, and small, black-and-white renderings, a technique she’s developed through experimentation. “Enjoying the process is very important and being open to error has given me unexpected results, which I really appreciate,” she tells Colossal.
Santos begins the layered works on paper, which she then scans to complete digitally in Photoshop. The resulting portraits are expressive and complex, weaving in elements of emotion, fantasy, and nature. “I don’t like to explain or give a concrete narrative to my work,” she says. “It seems magical to me that the viewer is open to a free and personal interpretation and that the viewer feels that it is their own.”
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A Stunning Shot of Sharks Cruising Under a French Polynesian Sunset Wins the 2021 Underwater Photographer of the Year
An exquisite shot of blacktip reef sharks circling underneath a jewel-toned sky in French Polynesia tops this year’s Underwater Photographer of the Year contest (previously). Captured by California-based Renee Capozzola, the winning entry frames a pair of the white-bellied fish and airborne seagulls, forming a serendipitous composition that combines air, land, and sea. “I dedicated several evenings to photographing in the shallows at sunset, and I was finally rewarded with this scene: glass-calm water, a rich sunset, sharks, and even birds,” she said.
This year’s competition received more than 4,500 entries from photographers in 68 countries, including images of wrecked barges, frogs peering out from a muddy pond, and two ornery blenny mid-tussle. Capozzola is the first woman to ever win the U.K.-based contest since its inception in 1965.
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We’re ushering in the Year of the Ox later this week, an occasion Felicia Chiao (previously) kicks off with an illustrated homage to the horned bovine. Rendered with gilded details and Chiao’s signature aesthetic, the drawing is the latest in the California-based illustrator’s collection of works marking the Lunar New Year. Each of the five pieces, which she creates with Copic marker and gel pens, relies heavily on red, a traditional sign of luck and prosperity for the upcoming year, along with layers of flowers, tassels, and a fantastic depiction of the animal.
Chiao tells Colossal that she’s celebrated the Lunar New Year with her family since childhood, which informed her first drawing, “Year of the Rooster,” back in 2017.
My family is Taiwanese, and so the Lunar/Chinese New Year is a big deal. I am very Asian American so I can’t say I’m the most traditional, but I grew up hearing all the zodiac animal stories and superstitions, and I wanted to make a drawing of my animal year back in 2017. It was a fun way to nod to my cultural background.
Prints from each year are available on Society6, along with a massive collection of Chiao’s fantastic illustrations. Head to Instagram to see more of her drawings featuring imagined worlds and emotional characters.
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For Christoph Niemann (previously), all it takes is a halved apple or pliers lying around his studio to spur a quirky drawing featuring the random object. The illustrator is known for his Sunday Sketches, a weekly drawing series, that play with scale and position. Imbued with humor, the cleverly arranged compositions turn a red pencil into a megaphone or a splayed book into a cat’s whiskers.
Although Niemann usually lives in New York for part of the year, he’s been working from his studio in Berlin since the onset of the pandemic. “I’m spending a lot of time just drawing—cityscapes, animals I saw at the zoo (one of the few places that are still open to visit), and turning these drawings into silkscreens and linocuts,” he tells Colossal.
Prior to lockdown, he was visiting cities like London and Tallin creating visual essays, and although he misses travel, he’s enjoyed the increased focus and routine of recent months. “Since March last year, I’ve been at my drawing desk almost every single day. The things I do depend on input and inspiration. But craft, attention to detail, and routine are hugely important, as well. These latter aspects benefit a lot from having such a plain and steady schedule,” he says.
Niemann’s recent projects include a vibrant cover for The New Yorker and his newly released book, Pianoforte, which speaks to his experience learning to play the piano as an adult. You can pick up a copy, which is an extension of this interactive feature that ran in The New York Times Magazine a few months ago, in Niemann’s shop, where he also sells originals, prints, and some of his other books. Follow his Sunday Sketches and other illustrations on Instagram,
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Crosswalks become perches and bike lanes morph into a monkey’s ropes in Roadsworth’s lively street interventions. For decades, the Montréal-based artist (previously) has been altering sidewalks, alleyways, and other public spots with largely nature-based projects that are informed by social issues and environmental crises. Whether a trippy koi pond or a simple yellow spider, the additions transform otherwise drab streets into unexpected commentary.
In recent years, Roadsworth has created large-scale projects for a variety of organizations, including revitalizing a basketball court for a social housing complex and another for Amnesty International that comments on the horrors of the refugee crisis. Beyond commissions, he continues guerilla street art tactics, installing oversized birds, insects, and other animals that often are overlooked.
The artist tells Colossal that these works reflect his “philosophy in regards to public art/street art which implies a questioning of urban space in general and an entreaty to rethink a city that is more conducive to walking/cycling and less dominated by cars, etc. The depiction of various animals is a playful way of reinventing the notion of urban space.”
Follow Roadsworth on Instagram to keep up with his site-specific works that merge art and activism.
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Editor's Picks: Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.