To create his thick, abstract portraits, Chicago-based artist Jose Lerma trades his brush for hefty, commercial brooms that follow the lines of preliminary sketches. “The process of these paintings is laborious. I make my own paint and fabricate my supports. The material is heavy and unwieldy,” he tells Colossal. “It is done in one shot because it dries very fast, so there is a minimal margin for mistakes.”
Lerma’s impasto works shown here have evolved from his original series of Paint Portraits, which revealed the general outline of a figure without any distinctive details. Wide swaths trace the length of the subject’s hair or neck, leaving ridges around the perimeter and a solid gob of pigment at the end of each stroke. His forward-facing portraits tend to split the figure in half by using complementary shades of the same color to mirror each side of a face.
With a background in social sciences, history, and law, much of Lerma’s earlier pieces revolved around translating research into absurd, childlike installations and more immersive projects. “In recent works, maybe due to returning to my home in Puerto Rico and a much more relaxed non-academic setting, I have eliminated my reliance on history and research and now concentrate on just making portraits,” he shares. “It’s an approachable, tactile, and disarming aesthetic, but the absurdity remains perhaps in the excessive materiality.”
Now, Lerma “works in reverse” and begins with a specific image that he reduces to the most minimal markings. “It’s a large work painted in the manner of a small work, and I think that has the psychological effect of making the viewer feel small, more like a child,” he says.
Living and working between Puerto Rico and Chicago, where he teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Lerma currently has paintings on view in a number of shows: he’s at Yusto/Giner in Málaga through March 24 and part of the traveling LatinXAmerican exhibition. In April, he’ll be showing with Nino Mier Gallery at Expo Chicago and in May at Galeria Diablo Rosso in Panama. Until then, see more of his works on Instagram.
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South Korean artist Ilhwa Kim describes her meditative sculptural works as analogous to living architecture, “a live plant or the tree in (an) urban or natural space.” Comprised of carefully placed components in parallel lines and dense fields, Kim’s pieces materialize through innumerable rolled paper seeds that form organic, abstract landscapes and portraits—read about the artist’s painstaking process for crafting the individual elements previously on Colossal.
In each work, Kim arranges an assortment of depths, colors, and textures: she tucks visible folds among more upright segments and installs thin, sweeping lines evocative of a single brushstroke through vast expanses of white. “When moving from painting to sculpture, I wanted to do everything I was able to use in painting; even brush strokes and all the wide color paints,” she tells Colossal. “But I’d like my works to have a far stronger life presence in the physical surroundings as a sculpture.”
Because the dimension of each seed varies, the fluctuating compositions shift in color and texture depending on the perspective of the viewer, animating the scenes with light and shadow. Kim frequently photographs her pieces on sidewalks and in public places, which she shares on Instagram, to present the lively works within similarly bustling environments, and you can see the sculptures in person this October at HOFA Gallery.
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At once minimal and endlessly confounding, the elegant ceramic vessels that Matthew Chambers (previously) creates are precisely scaled iterations of the same shape. His hypnotic sculptures are comprised of individual, wheel-thrown pieces in varying sizes that are embedded within a larger form. Each abstract work is unique in color and position, sometimes displaying single monochromatic rings at incongruent angles or striped colors flush in alignment.
In a note to Colossal, Chambers says his most recent pieces are an experiment in allowing the inner pattern to pop from the outer vessel. “The process is essentially the reverse of how most of my other forms are made, and it’s still very much in the early stages of working it out,” he says. “I’ve also started making some upright vessel forms where the circles twist around the outside of the form from top to bottom, but again these are still very much in the early stages.”
Chambers, who’s based in St. Lawrence on the Isle of Wight, has amassed an extensive archive in the last few years, which you can dive into on his site and Instagram. If you’re in London., you can see some of his pieces on view now at Alveston Fine Art and this February with Cavaliero Finn at Collect Art Fair. He’ll also show works this coming July at Cornwall’s New Craftsman Gallery.
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What are the visual impacts of converging planes of color? This question is central to Scottish artist Daniel Mullen’s most recent series of paintings, which displays stacks of thin, rectangular sheets in exacting, abstract structures. “I am looking more at Rothko’s body of work and studying the vibrations of color and the almost alchemic effect that his work has on the sense,” the Rotterdam-based artist tells Colossal.
Comprised of meticulous angles and lines on linen, the acrylic paintings are studies of precision, geometry, and perception, allowing each element to collide in a mathematically aligned composition. Mullen’s process involves measuring and taping the individual planes before laying the slight, translucent marks. “In this way, the work is built up slowly over time, incorporating irregularities, brush strokes, and bleeding paint into a work that breathes, floats, and expands through the energy of color,” he says, explaining further:
The forms might seem to reference glass panels or other architectural configurations but that is only the scaffolding for the viewer to locate themselves within. Beyond that initial shape is an attempt to move towards a perception of ekstasis; or the vibrant energy of the universe, imaginary and unmapped. One that questions the symbols of power and place in today’s fast-paced, heavily digitized environments.
The pieces shown here follow Mullen’s collaborative synesthesia series that translates non-visual senses to the canvas—he and artist Lucy Cordes Engelman will be working more on this concept during a residency in upstate New York early next year. You can follow updates to that body of work and explore more of his recent paintings on Instagram.
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Thin ribbons of porcelain ripple across the surfaces of Alice Walton’s abstract sculptures. Gently sloped domes and pillars are covered in countless individual strips, which vary in thickness and length and add irregular texture and depth to the finished pieces. “Every mark I make, whether this be a tool mark or a fingerprint, are preserved in the firing and are not covered or coated or inhibited by a glaze,” the artist writes. “I want the viewer to be able to look at my sculptures from afar and to have one perception of the surface (and) then want to explore closer. On a nearer inspection, the surface decoration reveals layers of multiple colours and time spent through process.”
Focusing on the meditative qualities of repetition, Walton combines pastels and vibrant Earth tones to evoke the sights of her surrounding environment and travels. “The vividly painted sun-bleached street walls and the monsoon-drenched temples, to me, instantly resembled the dry powdery palette of coloured clays,” she shares about a visit to Rajasthan, India. Her choices in pigment still revolve around what she sees on a daily basis—these range from old maps to the seasonal landscapes nearby her studio in Somerset, U.K.—that result in undulating stripes or bold gradients composed with more than 40 colors in “Clements Shade.”
At the 2019 British Ceramics Biennial, Walton was awarded a residency with Wedgwood, where she’s currently working on a new series of sculptural vessels made from the English company’s traditional Jasper clay. Those pieces will be shown at the 2021 biennial in September. She’ll also have work at London’s Chelsea Design Centre from June 22 to 29 and at MAKE Hauser & Wirth Somerset in November. Until then, explore more of her sculptures on her site and Instagram. (via Seth Rogan)
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In Ilhwa Kim’s sculptural landscapes, innumerable paper seeds form precise rows, indented pockets of densely packed folds, and multi-color valleys that wind through the feet-wide works. The South Korean artist arranges individual units of the rolled material in a staggered manner, meaning that the color, shadow, and texture of the final pieces shift with each viewing. “I am probably a sculptor of senses. I have been very curious how my senses are being organized when I perceive a thing or a location. The order, priority, and the way of being assembled together surprise me. How the senses reunited keeps evolving from initial contact to temporary goodbye,” she says, noting that change and perception play a central role in her practice.
Each composition begins with blank, white paper that Kim dyes and rolls into tight tubes that can be sliced only with heavy machinery. She forgoes gluing any of the seeds prior until the entire piece is complete. “This working process gives big freedom to make meaningful changes even when very close to the final stage,” the artist shares. “That is how a child plays, as well.” The comprehensive process transforms the original material into durable units that resemble the organic lifeform and ultimately grow into larger sculptures.
Based in Seoul, Kim has a solo show slated for September 2021 at HOFA Gallery in London, and you can see a larger collection of her works, including shots of pieces-in-progress, on Instagram. (via Cross Connect Magazine)
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