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Art

Mixed-Media Portraits by Nelson Makamo Reflect Childhood Innocence and Wonder

February 12, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Nelson Makamo, shared with permission

Nelson Makamo (previously) is known for his oversized, lively portraits of the children and teens he meets around Johannesburg. Using a distinct blend of acrylic, watercolors, monotypes, silkscreen, and oil paint, the South African artist often delineates their silhouettes with a thick line of charcoal before adding colorful details to their clothing and faces. The resulting works are simultaneously earnest and imbued with a sense of wonder.

Whether posed or engaged in rowdy activities, many of the subjects sport bright, round glasses, emphasizing Makamo’s focus on viewing the world through the lens of childhood. His subjects “embody the peace and harmony we all strive for in life, the search for eternal joy lies in the child within us all. We are just so consumed with worldly things that we forget the simplicity of life through a child’s perspective,” he says in a statement.

Makamo recently closed a solo exhibition at Botho Project Space this January, and you can find more of his dynamic pieces on Artsy and Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Hyperrealistic Portraits by Artist Arinze Stanley Reflect the Emotions of Black Experiences

September 19, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Mindless #3.” All images © Arinze Stanley, courtesy of Corey Helford Gallery, shared with permission

Arinze Stanley describes his hyperrealistic drawings as “a simple language of my feelings.” In a statement about his new series titled Paranormal Portraits, the Nigerian artist (previously) says he uses his art as a form of political activism and as a way to amplify the voices of those who are unheard. Stanley notes that the relationships he fosters with his subjects are complicated and more often a reflection of himself:

In my opinion, artists are custodians of time and reality, hence why I try to inform the future about the reality of today, and through these surreal portraits seen in my new body of work, Paranormal Portraits, navigate my viewers into what is almost a psychedelic and uncertain experience of being Black in the 21st Century.

Using graphite and charcoal pencils, Stanley draws with such detail, capturing a stray hair or glimmer of beading sweat. Whether featuring a subject wrapped in hands or dripping in paint, the monochromatic portraits are intimate, expressive, and “born out of the zeal for perfection both in skill, expression, and devotion to create positive changes in the world. I draw inspiration from life experiences and basically everything that sparks a feeling of necessity,” Stanley says.

If you’re in Los Angeles, Stanley’s work will be on view at Corey Helford Gallery starting October 3. Otherwise, head to Instagram and check out this video from Great Big Story capturing his deftly rendered artworks.

 

“The Machine Man #7”

Left: “People and Paper #1.” Right: “The Machine Man #6″

“Paranormal Portrait #3”

 

 



Art

Hyperrealistic Drawings by Arinze Stanley Capture Surreal Moments and Powerful Emotions

October 25, 2018

Andrew LaSane

Black Noise, 2018. Arinze Stanley

Self-taught Nigerian artist Arinze Stanley (previously) is a wizard when it comes to putting charcoal and graphite to paper. The artist creates hyperrealistic portraits at a scale just larger than life, spending hundreds of hours detailing his subjects’ skin, hair, and sweat so that the works are nearly indistinguishable from black and white photographs. The artist recently opened a solo exhibition of new drawings at Jonathan LeVine Projects in New Jersey titled Mirrors, which seeks to pull viewers in so that they can connect with and see themselves in the subjects.

From new takes on familiar works like in Negro Mona Lisa (below), to drawings with more surreal elements like Black Noise (above), the emotion that Stanley is able to depict in the faces and gestures is compelling even from a distance. Getting up close to one of his pieces adds to its weight, as the viewer’s brain tries to reconcile the amount of labor that went into each work.

In an artist statement on his website, Stanley explains that his art is “born out of the zeal for perfection both in skill, expression and devotion to create positive changes in the world.” In a press release for his current exhibition he tells Jonathan LeVine Projects that the process of drawing is “like energy transfer,” and that by transferring his energy through graphite, each blank piece of paper becomes art. Mirrors is on view through November 11 at the gallery’s space at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, New Jersey. You can see more of his portraits on Instagram.

Negro Mona Lisa, 2018. Arinze Stanley

Faustina, 2018. Arinze Stanley

A Lady in Black, 2017. Arinze Stanley

Losing Dream, 2017. Arinze Stanley

Mindless, 2018. Arinze Stanley

Mirror 000, 2018. Arinze Stanley

Painful Conversations, 2018. Arinze Stanley

 

 



Illustration

Swirling Lines and Swaths of Charcoal Form Dramatic Portraits by Lee.K

June 5, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Seoul-based artist Lee.K creates incredibly dynamic portraits using combinations of charcoal, pencil, and ink. The artist layers fine cross contour lines over broad swaths of charcoal to build hair, cheekbones, noses, and eyes with a strong sense of life despite the grayscale palette. You can see more from Lee on Instagram. (via Booooooom)

 

 

 



Art

A Gigantic Helium-Filled and Charcoal-Studded Sphere Covers Rooms with Unpredictable Designs

May 30, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Polish-German artist Karina Smigla-Bobinski gives buoyancy to the act of drawing with ADA, a large inflatable drawing tool. Filled with helium, ADA floats freely, making lines with its charcoal spikes as it moves through a room. More dramatic mark-making starts to occur when humans are added to the mix: the video above shows visitors engaging with ADA at Muffathalle where it was installed for a week in Munich, Germany.

The artist describes ADA in a statement: “The globe put in action fabricates a composition of lines and points, which remain incalculable in their intensity, expression, and form however hard the visitor tries to control ADA, to drive her, to domesticate her. Whatever he tries out, he would notice very soon, that ADA is an independent performer, studding the originally white walls with drawings and signs.”

Smigla-Bobinski categorizes ADA as biotechnology and pays homage to past creatives that have designed computer-like works, which give unpredictable outputs once given a command. She mentions Ada Lovelace, Jean Tinguely, and Vannevar Bush as influences.

The artist studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow and Munich. Her work, which ranges from kinetic sculptures to multimedia theater performances, has been shown in forty five countries. ADA made its debut at the Electronic Language Int. Festival in São Paulo, in 2011, and has since traveled the world. You can see more from Smigla-Bobinski on her website and YouTube channel.

 

 



Art

Towering Charcoal Portraits of Women by Clio Newton

August 28, 2017

Christopher Jobson

Artist Clio Newton has been hard at work on a series of larger-than-life portraits of women portrayed entirely with compressed charcoal. The towering drawings can reach nearly 8 feet tall and capture near photographic detail of her subject’s faces, hair, and bodies. Several of the new portraits will be on view in an upcoming show at Benjamin Eck Galerie in Munich titled ‘Realism‘ that opens September 14, 2017. You can read an interview with Newton on Quiet Lunch and see more of her recent work and studio photos on Instagram. (via Supersonic Electronic, Gaks Designs)