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Art

In Richly Patterned Portraits, Ruby Sky Stiler Dismantles Art History’s Most Persistent Archetypes

November 28, 2022

Kate Mothes

A geometrically patterned, abstract portrait of two figures and a paint palette.

“Artist with Muse” (2022), acrylic, acrylic resin, paper, glue, and graphite on panel, 60 x 50 inches. All images © Ruby Stiler, shared with permission courtesy of Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, New York

Throughout the history of Western art, certain tropes occur again and again in painting and sculpture. The motif of mother and child has been reflected throughout the centuries in the likeness of the Holy Virgin and infant Christ or in domestic family portraiture, like in the works of Impressionist painter Mary Cassatt, who specialized in the theme. The archetype of the female muse dates back to ancient Greek mythology and religion, when goddesses like Calliope or Melpomene were considered the source of creativity and knowledge. Brooklyn-based artist Ruby Sky Stiler challenges these preconceptions and archetypes in her ongoing series of Relief Paintings.

Stiler’s works play with gender conventions by turning the male subject into a muse for the female artist or representing parenthood through an image of a father with his children. In “Old Woman (Blue),” she taps into society’s lingering taboo of aging, especially for women. “I’ve recently been exploring the trope of the ‘muse’ and placing the male figure as object. And also in the role of parent, which is strikingly uncommon (in contrast to the abundant depictions of mother and child),” she tells Colossal. “I’ve also re-positioned the female figure in the empowered role as The Artist.”

In bold, geometric patterns, Stiler’s subjects are human-scaled and gaze directly at the viewer. Black-and-white, tile-like patterns provide the background for abstracted figures that nod to Cubism—a movement practically synonymous with masculine figures like Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Stiler dismantles the “male gaze,” or the lens through which women are depicted as objects of desire for men in visual culture. She explores the notion of the gaze further in the way that the paintings are experienced by the viewer; from far away the outlines of the figures are easy to see, but the closer one gets, the more the fractal-like patterns distort the image.

A monograph of Stiler’s work is scheduled for publication by The Tang Teaching Museum in the spring, and a solo exhibition of her work will open in March 2023 at Nina Johnson Gallery in Miami. She is represented by Nicelle Beauchene, and you can find more of her work on her website and Instagram.

 

A geometrically patterned portrait of a figure holding a cat.

“Cat Sitter” (2022), acrylic paint, acrylic resin, paper, glue, and graphite on panel, 32 x 25 inches

Detail of “Cat Sitter”

A geometrically patterned, abstract portrait of a father holding his two children.

“Father and Children” (2022), acrylic paint, acrylic resin, paper, glue, and graphite on panel, 60 x 50 inches

A detail of a painting showing a hand cradling two small feet.

Detail of “Father and Children”

A geometrically patterned, abstract portrait of three figures in a family.

“Generational Portrait” (2022), acrylic paint, acrylic resin, paper, and glue, 60 x 50 inches

“Old Woman (Blue)” (2022), acrylic paint, acrylic resin, paper, and glue, 18 x 15.5 inches

A geometrically patterned, abstract portrait of a figure seated next to a vase.

“Seated Woman (Facing Left)” (2018), mixed media, 50 x 60 inches

A geometrically patterned, abstract portrait of a parent figure sitting beside a child.

“No Title (Father and Boy” (2020), acrylic paint, acrylic resin, graphite, and paper, 44 x 50 inches

A geometrically patterned, abstract portrait of two women in gold, one holding a flower.

“Women in Gold” (2022), acrylic paint, acrylic resin, paper, glue, and graphite on panel, 32 x 25 inches

 

 

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Art Illustration

Watch Artist Zak Korvin Draw a Precise Geometric Emblem in a Mesmerizing Timelapse

November 14, 2022

Kate Mothes

Artist Zak Korvin offers a look into the process of making a geometric crest of three birds in a mesmerizing timelapse. Drawing inspiration from Japanese mon, an emblem used to designate an individual or family, Korvin incorporates three birds in a circular motif that are drawn into the framework of a precise network of lines that he first traces in graphite using a compass. Korvin regularly shares videos on YouTube, and he also offers tutorials on Patreon. You can find more work on his website.

 

An animated image of the artist's hand drawing a geometric drawing of three birds.

All images © Zac Korvin

An image of a drawing of geometric birds in progress.

An animated image of a hand holding a pencil and drawing in a geometric shape.

A compass drawing geometric shapes.

An image of drawing of geometric birds in progress.

 

 

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