black and white
with black and white
Paola Delfín’s monochromatic murals found in Cancun, St. Petersburg, and cities worldwide all share a message of unity and community. The Mexico-based artist often creates impeccably detailed and stylized profile views, which show her subjects looking down or into the distance, joined by plants, grasses, and flowers of the local environment.
Her lifelike works center on ideas of women’s strength and their ability to build community, in addition to the ways families are bound together and remember their ancestors—although Delfín tells Colossal she has a more personal connection to the Cancun mural, which depicts a couple staring forward as they cradle a small boat.
My family, uncle and aunt, are part of (the) pioneers. They moved to this city almost 40 years ago and watched it grow. They started a school. My uncle worked on a ship for many years. Now the younger generations are trying to bring more culture since this city transformed into a tourist paradise, and sometimes we forget this was the place where centuries ago the great Mayan culture (rose).
The artist finds murals challenging because of her desire to “leave something meaningful” for those who pass by her work. Before she begins creating in any location, she studies the history and culture of the neighborhood she’s working in and talks to its residents to learn their stories. For “Familia/Suku,” the artist spoke with Tampere residents to understand how immigrants and natives across generations form a community in the Finnish city. In the horizontal piece, Suham, an Iranian expat, leans toward elderly Maya, who has lived in the country for 50 years, while Suham’s daughter Sofia stands in front of them.
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Born in Kirov and now based in Moscow, photographer Aleksey Myakishev is adept at capturing the simple moments of life and transforming them into alluring black-and-white images. Taken mostly throughout Russia, his projects tend to focus on unassuming subjects as they navigate their daily lives. In one photograph, three figures walk over a snow-covered landscape away from a lit firework, and in another, Myakishev creates an uncanny juxtaposition between a hilly horizon and a man swinging a child by his hands as a winter boot flies from his foot. When describing the dozens of series he’s created, the prolific artist said capturing life in his native country can be complex.
It is always difficult to photograph the place where you live. Nevertheless, sometimes I pick up my camera and go to the streets to capture the city’s pulse. When I look through the camera’s viewfinder, a dialogue with the city takes place. There are lots of everything here, be it people, vehicles, buildings. Sometimes the city looks ugly to me, sometimes beautiful. Through photography I try to find something especial in this city, perceiving the underlying surrealism of what is going on.
Myakishev also has published three books chronicling his monochromatic works. To find more of his documentary-style images, head to his Instagram and keep an eye out for his upcoming project on provincial Russia.
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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.
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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.”
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Italian artist Michele Volpi tattoos highly detailed conceptual pieces using black ink and the negative space of his 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 dot work 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.
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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)
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Editor's Picks: Art
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