black and white

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Photography

Bare Tree Branches Captured in Layers of Eerie Morning Fog by Michael Schlegel

January 2, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Michael Schlegel, shared with permission

Berlin-based photographer Michael Schlegel is fascinated by trees and their splaying branches. From his series featuring a Spanish olive grove to another capturing snow-covered trees in Germany, Schlegel consistently documents native plants around the world. The black and white photographs in his recent Fanal series spotlight trees with bare and twisting branches as they are enveloped by thick fog. The uncanny images were taken in the Fanal region of Madeira, Portugal.

The photographer tells Colossal that he visited the area in March 2019, hoping to experience the region’s cloudy weather.

It was only dense fog all day long and from the moment I first arrived at the trees. I photographed there for five consequent days and really enjoyed the atmosphere of walking around lonely, only being able to see what the fog allows me to and being alone with maybe one or a few of these old, mysterious trees at a time.

In each one of his works, Schlegel tries to shoot exactly what he sees on location. “With my photos I also don’t actively try to express an artistic message or interpretation—I rather simply try to show my vision of how I experienced the location,” the photographer writes. Find more of Schlegel’s monochromatic landscape shots on Instagram.

 

 



Art

Illustrations by David Alvarez Reflect the Intersection of Fantasy and Reality

December 14, 2019

Andrew LaSane

All images © David Alvarez, shared with permission

When working in black and white instead of a muted color palette, Mexico-based artist David Alvarez (previously) manages to still create illustrations rich in texture and contrast. Layers of graphite and charcoal on white and cream colored paper form complex shadows. Highlights emerge from the negative space and become the light on stone walls, on faces, and on glowing wings and shiny armor.

The depictions of creatures from myth and fantasy are personal projects from Alvarez’s notebook that have been reworked at random over time. “There is an attempt to represent how humanity moves, how it thinks, how humans are in collective,” he tells Colossal. “A jumble of undivided people who move by reflex and without autonomy.” The new drawings of little girls, stone pillars, and soldiers are illustrations for an as yet unpublished book that the artist says is about “social pressures and the search for freedom.”

You can see more of Alvarez’s contemplative work on Instagram and purchase prints of his illustrations via his Etsy shop.

 

 



Art

Fine Lines and Dotwork Form Surreal Monochromatic Tattoos by Michele Volpi

December 1, 2019

Andrew LaSane

Italian artist Michele Volpi tattoos highly detailed conceptual pieces using black ink and the negative space of her clients’ skin. With a surrealist style and a monochromatic palette, Volpi inks diagrams of insects, plants, and human anatomy that resemble vintage illustrations borrowed from science textbooks. With precise lines and controlled dotwork, each tattoo looks as if it were printed rather than done by hand.

Born in Sant’Elpidio a Mare, Italy in 1991, Volpi tells Colossal that he discovered the art tattooing 5 years ago and fell in love. While attending technical school, he also practiced various art styles to fulfill a desire to have his “fingers in many pies.” A friend recommended buying a tattooing starter kit, and Volpi said that it changed his life. After learning the basics and experimenting with techniques, the young tattoo artist found that line and dotwork were among his favorites. “My style was influenced by geometries, nature, surrealism, and the sciences,” Volpi says. “I like to push my self every day finding inspiration from all around me and trying to go beyond the shallow in what I see. The world of art is endless and I can’t wait to discover it with my passion.”

Volpi also translates sketches to paper to create handmade works of art. To see more tattoos and for appointment booking information, follow the artist on Instagram. To browse and buy his watercolor bookmarks, head over to his Etsy store.

 

 



Animation

SISTER: An Intimate Stop-Motion Short About a Family During China’s One-Child Policy

November 25, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Animator Siqi Song explores the deeply personal implications of China’s One Child Policy in her powerful animated short, SISTER. The film uses felt stop-motion animation to tell the story of a family that conceived two children during the years—1979 to 2015—that the Chinese government controlled the number of children families could raise. An adult man, the film’s protagonist, looks back on his youth and the complicated family dynamics among siblings and parents.

“Growing up with my brother has been a privilege and a bittersweet experience for me,” Song explains. She shares that, being an exception to the rule, she has been the subject of many questions from friends about the experience of growing up with a sibling. “I also want to tell the stories of my friends, who would’ve had a different life if their siblings were born,” says Song. “This film is dedicated to this group memory.”

The Los Angeles-based director and animator has worked on several of her own highly lauded shorts, as well as on the feature film Missing Link. Watch more of Song’s films on her website (where she also shares behind-the-scenes shots), and follow along with new projects on Instagram. (via Short of the Week)

 

 



Animation Music

A Monochrome Dystopian World Holds an Eerie Beauty in New Animated Music Video for Thom Yorke

November 6, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Saad Moosajee (previously) shows the richness and emotional power that can be found in grey-scale animation with his new music video for Thom Yorke. “Last I heard (…He Was Circling the Drain)” brings Yorke’s single to life in a hazy dystopian world populated by crowds of anonymous figures. Moosajee tells Colossal that the animation is comprised of more than 3,000 individual frames. Using 3-D and 2-D animation techniques, Moosajee and the team layered over the frames, integrating crowd simulation, charcoal washing, fire simulation, and stop motion powder texturing. He partnered with Art Camp, an experimental studio based in Brooklyn, on the project and was the co-director, co-designer, and 3-D animator alongside Zuheng Yin and Jenny Mascia. See more of Moosajee’s recent work on Instagram and tune in to other music videos by Art Camp on Vimeo.

 

 



Art History

Collages of Thousands of Strangers Convey the Vast Scale of Memory and Death

October 29, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

In his series Chronicle: Passing (6,393 Per Hour), artist Greg Sand creates analog super-edits of the repeated patterns found in old photographs. Drapery, flowers, shoes, shadows, hands, and faces are homed in on and grouped into enormous grids, representing the simultaneous enormity and specificity of human death. As the series’ title notes, approximately 6,393 people around the world die every hour. Each small black-and-white or sepia-toned image is from an ambiguous past era, though hairstyles and clothing offer clues to every individual’s specific moment in time.

Sand tells Colossal that the biggest challenge was collecting all the images he needed; he relied on eBay and local antique stores to source the thousands of old photographs. Using a half inch or one inch punch, Sand framed each visual element in a small square, and arranged them manually. “I was intrigued by the interactions of the various textures, values, and colors that developed,” Sand explains. “I found my eye bouncing around from light to dark, from matte to glossy, from bright to dull, from textured to smooth. The pieces became like pixelated masses from a distance that required getting very close to discover each image individually.”

Sand explains that he hopes the series sparks a reflection in the viewer on how memories fragment. Childhood recollections may focus on specific details like the clothing or gestures of a loved one. “Photographs function in a similar manner. They do not show a whole person or an entire life, but instead capture a single moment,” Sand says. “These keepsakes help determine some of the pieces of memory that stick with us.”

See the artist’s work in person at Momentum Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina in the exhibition Small Works | Big Impact, which opens November 14, 2019.

 

 



Art

Timeless Murals by MonkeyBird Are Inspired by Mythology and Alchemy

October 1, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

The anonymous artist duo MonkeyBird creates large-scale paintings of black-and-white cross contour depictions of mythical animals accented in gold. Most MonkeyBird artworks incorporate a humanoid monkey and bird, which represent “the two faces of humankind, the monkey being the realist, and the bird being a dreamer,” according to Paris-based 5Art Gallery. Old-world details like classical architecture, timekeeping devices, and weight scales add to the timeless look of the pair’s paintings. MonkeyBird’s members bring training in graphic design, as well as object and industrial design to their artistic aesthetic, which can be seen in their clean, technique-driven stenciling.

Based in Bordeaux, France, MonkeyBird travels widely to create outdoor murals as well as indoor installations. They’ll be working in Moscow from October 2 to the 11th. Follow along with MonkeyBird’s newest projects on Instagram, and pick up a limited edition print in their online store. (via Hi-Fructose)

 

 

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