emotions

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Art

Chaotic Facial Markings Express the Wildly Varied Emotions of Reen Barrera’s Imaginative Ohala Dolls

September 16, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Reen Barrera, shared with permission

Growing up in the Phillipines in the 90’s, Reen Barrera would often repurpose scraps of fabric and wood into imaginative figures that became central to his play. The constructions were stand-ins for what the Filipino artist considers a “toy-deprived” childhood, and today, Barrera continues the visual language of those early sculptures in his recurring Ohala characters.

Often dressed in stripes and animalistic patchwork hoods, the wildly expressive figures are covered in a chaotic mishmash of symbols and patterns. Barrera likens these markings to the idiom “it’s written all over your face,” a concept that, similar to his earlier figures, continues to ground his practice. “Regardless of what we say, our true feelings can still be emancipated by our facial expressions,” the artist says. “For me, it’s a silent way of communicating something without noise.”

 

Barrera pairs this concern with fleeting emotion and more personal experience with larger themes about class and social standing. While some of the wooden figures are rich with colorful fabrics and splotches of acrylic, oil, and aerosol paints, others are more minimal. “One thing that I want to emphasize is the amount of detail each Ohlala artwork has. Like humans, some have little while some have more,” he shares, explaining further:

Some people are born rich, some are born middle class, some are born poor. But the common ground for everyone is, we all have to deal with it… I cover all the Ohlala dolls heads with canvas cloth to give a freedom to paint their own symbols on their heads, as if they are designing their own fate. I guess that’s what we all have in common; the power to make things happen for ourselves.

In a collaboration with Thinkspace Projects, Barrera’s solo show Children of Divorce is on view through January 15, 2023, at Mesa Contemporary Art Museum. For more of the artist’s works, visit his site and Instagram.

 

 

 

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Illustration

Human Minds Burst into Splashes of Color in Surreal Digital Illustrations by Carolina Rodríguez Fuenmayor

January 18, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Carolina Rodríguez Fuenmayor, shared with permission

Bogotá-based illustrator Carolina Rodríguez Fuenmayor draws portraits and intimate scenarios brimming with surreal elements and spots of color. In her digital pieces, Rodríguez Fuenmayor tends to obscure subjects’ faces with bright bursts, masses of florals, and whirlpool-like ripples that cloud their minds and explode into their surroundings. The vivid illustrations peek into the workings of the human psyche and the idiosyncratic commotion it produces. “I wouldn’t say that there’s a particular feeling I’m focused on,” she shares. “I infuse all my pieces with a mix of random, confusing, and funny emotions about what I think life is about.”

Pick up a print and explore more of Rodríguez Fuenmayor’s imaginative pieces on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Waves of Engraved Lines Texture the Emotional Figures Sculpted by En Iwamura

December 17, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © En Iwamura, courtesy of Ross + Kramer Gallery, shared with permission

From hunks of clay, artist En Iwamura (previously) sculpts minimal forms with wildly varied facial expressions that range from shock and surprise to moody contemplation. Etched across the surface of each character are neat pathways of parallel lines, which evoke the clean, sweeping patterns in zen gardens, that are a physical manifestation of the Japanese concept of Ma. The philosophy identifies “the space between the edges, between the beginning and the end, the space and time in which we experience life. Ma is filled with nothing but energy and feeling.”

Although his aesthetic and process remain relatively consistent—Iwarmura is generous about sharing works-in-progress and studio shots on his Instagram—his approach to spatial questions continues to evolve. “My work size has physically got bigger,” he tells Colossal. “That can have (a) different relationship with Ma, either micro (or) macro.”

Iwamura is currently living in Shiga near his hometown of Kyoto, and if you’re in New York, you can see his oversized faces in January at Ross + Kramer Gallery.

 

 

 



Art Colossal Illustration

Interview: Sara Hagale Discusses the Therapeutic Nature of Her Practice and Why She Doesn’t Think About Authenticity

August 31, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Walkerings.” All images © Sara Hagale, shared with permission

Considering their undeniable relatability, it’s no surprise that Sara Hagale’s witty, whimsical, and at times anxious drawings have amassed an incredible following in recent years, a topic she speaks to in a new interview supported by Colossal Members. Her body of work is broad and idiosyncratic, spanning fanciful bouquets of leggy flowers to smudged self-portraits to quirky characters struggling through life, and it offers an array of emotional and aesthetic nuances that are unique to the artist.

I don’t have to feel goofy all the time in order to still be me. And I’m allowed to draw something that feels right to me in that moment even if it doesn’t match up perfectly with the other work I produce.

In a conversation with Colossal managing editor Grace Ebert, Hagale discusses using her practice to process her emotions in real-time, the impossibility of authenticity, and why she prefers to work with limitations.

 

“Unconscionable”

 

 



Photography

Surreal Photos Convey Psychological States Through Minimal Color-Centric Scenes

August 26, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Loose.” All images © Dasha Pears, shared with permission

Through conceptual shots that focus on color and long lines, photographer and artist Dasha Pears emphasizes the chasm between inner and outer worlds. Her images celebrate myriad psychological states and phenomena sometimes deemed unsightly, capturing their beauty and inherent transcience with a surreal twist. Her focus on the minimal, she says, “is my way of expressing that controlling your mind and creating space is crucial for discovering who you are and who you are not.”

While many of the works deal broadly with inner tension, self-discovery, and perspective, others are grounded in Pears’s own experiences, like her ongoing series titled Synesthetic Letters. Through vibrant compositions, the photographer translates her understanding of synesthesia, a condition that can cause alphabetic characters and numbers to be conveyed as colors. Simple materials like lengths of fabric, tires, and bananas complete the perceptual scenarios, which Pears applies slight digital alterations to post-shoot.

The Helsinki-based photographer sells prints in her shop, and you can find an extensive archive of her emotionally charged works on Instagram.

 

“Up and Go!”

“A”

“B”

“C”

“One”

“Invasion”

“Scarlet Caravan”

 

 



Art

Capricious Characters Express Emotional Ambivalence in Yoshitoshi Kanemaki’s Glitched Sculptures

May 19, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Fleeting Moment Caprice.” All images @ Yoshitoshi Kanemaki, courtesy of FUMA Contemporary Tokyo, shared with permission

Japanese artist Yoshitoshi Kanemaki (previously) carves fickle, ambivalent, and even contradictory sentiments in his figurative sculptures that embody a range of emotions. The wooden characters are surreal in form with multiple limbs, duplicate features, and recurring faces that wind entirely around their bodies. Whether conveyed through kaleidoscopic or blurred techniques, each portrait “expresses the dignity of life as a human being, the hate and harassment that people experience, and the importance of environmental awareness,” the artist says, explaining:

It’s the hesitation, contradiction, two-sidedness, or multi-sidedness, double standard. These are the problems that all people have, and I express them as sculptures under the concept of “ambivalence.” I want to portrait a modern person, who visualizes the “ambivalent” state that everyone has.

Kanemaki is based in Nagareyama City and is currently altering one of his older works titled “Memento Mori” to deepen its sentiments and add more complexity. Explore an archive of his glitched figures at Fuma Contemporary Tokyo.

 

“Singing in Rounds Geometry”

“All Day Believing”

“Singing in Rounds Geometry”

“Swing Caprice”

“Swing Caprice”

“Repetition Geometry”