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Art Illustration

Plants, Motifs, and Cultural Symbols Are Superimposed onto Digital Portraits by Sam Rodriguez

June 30, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Sam Rodriguez, shared with permission

San Jose-based artist Sam Rodriguez might liken an abstract leaf sprouting from a young woman’s garment or a Pac-Man-esque rendering floating near a subject’s face to scenic elements. His portraits, which he’s been referring to as “cultural landscapes” for the past few years, are topographies of identity that involve replacing trees, rivers, and horizons with social markers. “It’s interesting to see the endless variants that each individual carries when we unpack who they are,” he shares with Colossal.

Informed by the analog techniques that were the foundation of his early practice, Rodriguez has been working digitally since 2018, rendering portraits rife with symbols. He references an abundance of layers evocative of a visual editing program but incorporates each element as if a feature of an unseen augmented reality app. Sometimes, he deconstructs a nation’s or organization’s flag and recontextualizes its color palette, while others, he superimposes plants, minimal emblems, and bits of typography into densely constructed motifs. His works depend on discovery, he shares, explaining further:

During the process, you absorb, sample, and cook visual ingredients and afterwards you are left as an audience member wondering what it is that you’ve just made. In that regard, I feel that each piece (outside of commissions) is a sort of taste test… This approach is probably a byproduct of our time period where digital and physical co-exist so seamlessly. It should be noted that I am mimicking what so many musicians have done since the 80s, especially in hip-hop with sampling for beats.

Currently, Rodriguez is at work on a book about how prosthetics and artificial intelligence require rebalancing the relationship between humanity and technology. You can follow news on its release on his Instagram, and head to his shop to add one of his prints to your collection.

 

 

 



Art Photography

Light Pierces Through Colorful Haze Suspended Above the Composite Landscapes in ‘Metamorphe’

June 17, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Taste.” All images © Reuben Wu and Jenni Pasanen, shared with permission

In the unearthly Metamorphe series, smoke-like masses swirl around hoodoos and dunes dotting the terrain. A mysterious air pervades the six illuminated works, which blend the drone-light photographs of Reuben Wu (previously) with Jenni Pasanen’s digital creations produced through artificial intelligence. Each piece envisions the earth’s surface following metamorphosis when living beings are extinct and only the landscape remains.

Named after human senses, the otherworldly composites imagine topographies brimming with enormous formations of stone and sand to explore the “sublime and beyond emotion,” the artists say. “Humans are emotional beings, their decisions led by their feelings. A machine has no such constraints, enabling it to conceive what human minds could never be capable of on their own.”

For more from Wu and Pasanen, head to Instagram.

 

“Sight”

“Smell”

“Preception”

“Hearing”

“Touch”

 

 



Art

Vivid Contours and Bold Colors Illuminate Empowering Portraits by Naledi Tshegofatso Modupi

June 6, 2022

Kate Mothes

“Colours.” All images © Naledi Tshegofatso Modupi, shared with permission

In vibrant and expressive digital portraits, Cape Town-based artist Naledi Tshegofatso Modupi captures the essence of individual style, confidence, and joy. Pools of color highlight eyelids, cheekbones, chins, or ears while continuous lines define the contours of the subjects’ features and profiles. Intricate linear patterns adorn an array of distinctive hairstyles and accessories, celebrating women’s unique and empowering stories. Focusing on the beauty of Black people, the artist says in a statement that she aims to “inspire confidence and awaken hope in those who are able to find their reflections in her pieces.”

Modupi will have work in Modern Flavours with Brutal Curation in Cape Town from June 11 to July 1. She also has prints available in her shop, and you can find more of her work on Instagram and Behance.

 

“Hair is Jewellery”

“Accept Imperfections”

“Inhale Peace”

“Issa Rae”

“Stay Shining”

“What a Woman”

 

 



Art Illustration

Minimal Lines Contour the Expressive Women in Luciano Cian’s Bold Portraits

May 27, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Luciano Cian, shared with permission

Rendered in sparse, sweeping lines and textured shapes, the women of Luciano Cian’s Tête portraits embody proximity and escape from formality. The digital series, short for tête-a-tête, is the latest in the Rio de Janeiro-based artist’s geometric body of work, which utilizes bright color palettes and minimal markings to define the contours of a cheek or shoulder. Each piece is an invitation, Cian shares, offering an intimate interaction with the anonymous subject.

The artist (previously) recently finished ten digital drawings and one acrylic painting (shown below) for Vozes Negras, A Força do Canto Feminino, or Black Voices, The Power of Feminine Singing, a musical theater production at Teatro Prudential on view through June 26. Originals and prints are available from Saatchi Art, and Cian shares an extensive archive of portraits and other works on Behance and Instagram.

 

From Vozes Negras, A Força do Canto Feminino, or Black Voices, acrylic on wood

 

 



Illustration

Elaborate Narratives Emerge From the Surreal, Mysterious Worlds of Victo Ngai’s Illustrations

May 10, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Hummingbird” (2019). All images © Victo Ngai, shared with permission

Starting with a single word or short prompt from an editor or brand, Victo Ngai (previously) imagines fantastical dreamscapes brimming with surreal details. The Los Angeles-based, Hong Kong-born illustrator collaborates on commissioned projects that, although intended to be paired with an article or advertisement, become visual narratives in their own right. She shapes a tiger from coiled red ribbons, places an enormous hound among a nighttime cityscape veiled in shades of blue, and reinterprets the sun and its rays as a colorful, segmented circle hovering above the horizon. Each piece envisions an elaborately constructed world laced with metaphor and mystery.

Utilizing both analog and digital techniques, Ngai begins with an initial stylized composition. “Sometimes a bright spark can lead to nothing, and sometimes a great idea is not translatable visually. A concept can die anywhere through this ideation process, and I can only breathe easy once a solid preliminary sketch arrives,” she tells Colossal. After drawing a black-and-white outline, she combines various mediums and scanned textures into her final, layered works.

At the moment, Ngai is working on a few illustrated children’s books, which you can follow on Behance and Instagram. She also sells prints and other goods in her shop.

 

“Leap” (2013)

“Tiger” (2022)

“Late Night Dining” (2012)

“The Day” (2012)

“Breast Labyrinth” (2012)

“Empress” (2020)

 

 



Art Illustration Science

Clusters of Marine Life Rendered by Zoe Keller Illuminate the Incredible Biodiversity of the Ocean

April 15, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Octopodes.” All images © Zoe Keller, shared with permission

From her studio in South Portland, Maine, Zoe Keller (previously) continues to work at the intersection of art and science with her ongoing Ocean Biodiversity Print Series. The digital illustrations are evidence of Keller’s meticulous technique and attention to anatomical detail, and each piece highlights a vast array of marine life, with dozens of species of octopuses, jellyfish, and other sea creatures congregating in dense crowds—she also pairs every work with a key to easily identify each specimen.

Made in collaboration with PangeaSeed Foundation, a nonprofit working toward ocean conservation through art, the series is the result of in-depth research, Keller says, and she often references organizations like the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and the Schmidt Ocean Institute to focus on the species most at risk. She explains:

Something that is definitely challenging about tackling marine subjects is that we simply do not understand ocean life as intimately as life on land. With this series, I take as much information as I can, and combine it with a bit of artistic license, to—hopefully!—inspire wonder for all of the incredible species living beneath Earth’s waves.

Keller’s most recent addition to the series is “Deep Sea,” and there are still a few of those prints available in the PangeaSeed shop. The next release is slated for fall, so keep an eye on her Instagram for updates. You can also see the artist’s work in person this June at Antler Gallery in Portland, Oregon, and in September at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming, and Nahcotta Gallery in Portsmouth, New York.

 

“Medusozoa”

Detail of “Deep Sea”

“Syngnathidae”

Detail of “Medusozoa”

Detail of “Syngnathidae”

“Deep Sea”

Detail of “Octopodes”