with colored pencil
Fascinated by the transient expressions and feelings of his subjects, Uli Knörzer attempts to capture a moment in time. The Berlin-based illustrator draws richly detailed portraits that are simultaneously revealing and elusive. By positioning each subject against a solid backdrop, Knörzer eliminates the contexts that inspire their particular looks and moods. “Because a tilt of the head and look to the side or a smirk could be just that but by putting it on paper, detached from their surroundings, that fleeting moment can be charged with a completely different meaning. All of a sudden someone very outspoken and extroverted can appear very introspective, etc,” he shares with Colossal.
Always focused on idiosyncracies, Knörzer says his choice in subjects is particular. “It’s always the side scene, someone in the background, or a backstage moment that draws my attention, and I imagine what their ‘deal’ is, so I love to put them front and center,” he says. He then sketches the subjects entirely with colored pencils, highlighting the texture inherent to the medium.
Many of the deflty rendered portraits shown here are part of a commissioned project for Highsnobiety that centers on Black hair. Having previously worked on a variety fashion and journalistic endeavors, Knörzer received direction on styles and runway looks from the magazine and was able to determine the rest. “I had the freedom to draw people the way I saw them in those clothes and with that hair. And that’s how I like it the most,” he tells It’s Nice That.
Knörzer’s background includes a lifelong love of portraiture—he shares that he would draw his teachers as a child and enjoyed paging through books of Tomi Ungerer’s work—and a degree in graphic design and typography from HfG Offenbach. Explore more of his figurative illustrations on Instagram.
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The posed women in Hanna Lee Joshi’s latest series are comprised of vivid gradients: their chests are cobalt, shoulders rose, and palms lime. Created with gouache and colored pencil, the bright hues stray from flesh tones in favor of what Joshi terms “a more otherworldly aspect in my women. Reclaiming the goddess within and exploring the concept of embodying an ephemeral spirit in form,” she says. By rendering their enlarged, curved torsos and limbs in bold shades, Joshi subverts the tradition of the nude figure.
The Korean-Canadian artist, who’s based in Vancouver and recently was part of the group show “Somebody” at Hashimoto Contemporary, is concerned with how idiosyncratic experiences transcend the personal, which is why the subjects are all anonymous. Each work is, in part, a self-portrait that encompasses the physical, mental, and spiritual.
It is my way of coming to terms with being ok with taking up space; in society, in my day to day life. My pieces range from exploring a feeling of being contained within social constraints or self-created limitations to depicting the ceaseless chase for freedom. For me, it is a therapeutic reclaiming of how female bodies are depicted, little by little dismantling any internalized misogyny or any notion of how a woman should be or behave. It is a constant process where I am attempting to redefine how I see myself.
The unclothed figures also share messages with the positions of their elongated fingers and hands. Joshi depicts them with yogic mudras to embody “the beautifully poetic gestures that are so loaded with powerful symbolism,” she says.
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WanJin Gim (previously) continues to amaze with his detailed drawings that show the nuanced colors and textures of bare skin. Most often working on kraft paper, Gim uses cross hatching—a technique most commonly associated with ink drawings or prints—with an array of colors to capture hands, arms, feet, and the occasional cat. Though simple in subject, Gim’s drawings pulsate with the gestural energy that informs the postures of each carefully rendered limb. You can see more of the Seoul-based artist’s work on Instagram, and find prints of his drawings on Gim’s online store.
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Artist Cj Hendry (previously) rocketed to fame in 2017 with her unbelievably realistic colored pencil drawings of daubs of paint. For her upcoming solo show, which opens on April 10 in Brooklyn, the artist continues in her signature style, focusing on precisely rendering the imprecise nature of Rorschach blots. Each drawing by Hendry balances hyperrealism with abstraction and depicts a vibrant mirror image of a mix of squished paint, recreated in colored pencil.
The show is housed in an all-white inflatable bounce house, a playful nod to the test’s origins as a psychological diagnostic tool. RORSCHACH runs through April 21, 2019. You can see more of Hendry’s in-progress and completed drawings on Instagram. (via Trendland)
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Editor's Picks: History
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.