with oil painting
Agnes Grochulska imbues her portraits with various emotions but leaves room for the viewer to determine which ones, preferring to create works “in which not everything is fully realized.” In The Outline Series, the Virginia-based artist uses impasto strokes to capture the distinct facial features of her characters, while drawing less attention to the rest of their figures. She finishes each portrait with a bold outline, adding bits of the vibrant blues, purples, and yellows to highlight portions of the face and neck.
While my work is anchored in representation, I try to not only focus on depicting the details of my subject but also try to capture the emotion—the essence of it. That particular ‘something’ that drew me to that subject in the first moment… There is a moment when I look at the painting and feel the emotion is there. This is the moment to step aside and realize the painting is finished.
Grochulska tells Colossal that the outline colors are intuitive and that she chooses them near the end of each piece, often gravitating toward one that either directly compliments or contrasts the rest of the work. “The outline acts as a metaphor here… It also represents the contemporary aspect of the painting in its bold and vibrant expressive character,” she says. “My hope is that the abstract form of the outline adds an emotional weight and highlights the human subject by drawing attention to the portrayed face they frame.” You can find more of the artist’s lively portraits on Instagram.
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Combining a dense mix of natural elements, Bologna, Italy-based artist Nunzio Paci (previously) reckons with the fragile line between life and death. Many of his 2019 oil paintings visualize both alert and recumbent animals, often with open eyes, intertwined with each other, leafy vines, and tall flowers. “Let me rest between brome and stones” depicts a dead deer with glazed over eyes lying among tall grasses and prairie flowers. “Blueberry chicken that thinks about tomorrow” has a more literal correlation to its title, featuring a blue- and purple-hued bird with its breast feathers replaced by the similarly colored fruit.
Paci tells Colossal that he hopes this surreal series reflects his “current exploration of the natural world and its connections with the dream sphere, nostalgia, and memory.” He created these pieces during his residency at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.
If you’re in Los Angeles, head downtown to Corey Helford Gallery, where Paci’s work is part of the group exhibition The Influence of Fellini: A Surreal 100th Birthday Celebration until February 29. Otherwise, follow the artist on Instagram.
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Through hazy lines and obscured faces, Joshua Flint (previously) reflects on the blurriness of in-between states in his most recent paintings. “Big Earth” shows a group of kids reaching up toward red- and pink-hued orbs that are set on a shadowy backdrop, while “Memory of Nature I” features a portrait of a man with a nondescript face as an enlarged hummingbird flies so close that it appears to be drinking from the man’s mouth.
The Portland, Oregon-based painter tells Colossal that much of his newer work is influenced by Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost, which inspired him to consider the link between the interiority and exteriority of human movement. “These paintings have a loose narrative of exploring this unknown territory, these liminal spaces, and the people who populate them,” he says. “I continue to explore themes such as memory, ecological issues, pyscho-geography, identity, loss, and transformation.” Flint says that each body of work elicits a new line of thought for the next project.
What I’ve noticed over the last few years is that I’m making a sort of alternate reality, a kind of parallel world or a world that exists under the surface, where the physical and the metaphysical blend in more obvious ways. This world also relates to literature, poetry, philosophy, science and nature writing rather than current events or the historical canon. Although, I think some of those latter themes inevitably find their way in.
Flint’s upcoming plans include creating a companion to “The Exhibit,” in addition to expanding the story around the subject in “The Messenger,” which are included below. From March 6 to 28, he’ll have a solo show at Robert Lange Studios in Charleston, South Carolina. Until then, follow more of his surreal work on Instagram.
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Focusing heavily on the female figure, painter Prudence Flint combines pastels and flat, geometric shapes in her minimalistic works. Rarely showing their faces directly, Flint’s oil paintings often portray women lying down, sitting, or performing daily tasks like showering while they look straight ahead, adding to the pieces’ pensive atmospheres.
In a recent interview with Juxtapoz, the painter expounded on why she mostly centers on women, saying she wants them “to be all things, whole, boundless, perverse, and representative of humanity. I want to give voice to this experience of being alive, now, in this culture, as a woman.” The ways Flint constructs female bodies exemplifies these ideas of womanhood, as she often paints small heads on top of broad torsos and long limbs.
As a woman, I feel constantly up against the idea of what is meant to be happening to me versus what is actually happening to me … I think I have found a solution by distorting the bodies, which becomes representative of what experience does to you. It marks you and creates emotional weight.
Flint’s self-portrait “The Wish” is on view from January 16 to 30 at High Line Nine in New York as part of ME, an exhibition that considers the relationship between identity and the face. If you can’t see the Melbourne-based artist’s paintings in person, head to Instagram where she shares much of her work.
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Iranian painter Salman Khoshroo uses a palette knife and sizable layers of paint to create the emotive portraits in his recent series, “White on White.” In contrast to his previous work that relied on swirling reds, blues, and yellows, Khoshroo’s latest impasto pieces are monochromatic. Starting with a hunk of paint, the artist then forms the portrait’s outline before shaping the rest of the face that lacks distinct physical features. Viewers can follow his creative process step-by-step by looking at the edges of each stroke.
Khoshroo tells Ignant that he hoped “to capture a human spark with minimal intervention,” and create portraits of “people that make you feel something, people you didn’t even know you were looking for.” Stay up to date with the artist’s lively work on Instagram and check out his available pieces on his site. You also might enjoy taking a peek at Joseph Lee’s colorful portraits.
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In his portraits of women, Brooklyn-based painter Tim Okamura explores the human relationship to identity. His powerful works largely feature a single black woman in an exceptionally strong pose, with some pieces including natural elements like butterflies and rodents and others using graffiti reminiscent of city landscapes. Originally from Canada, Okamura “investigates identity, the urban environment, and contemporary iconography through a unique method of painting—one that combines an essentially academic approach to the figure with collage, spray paint and mixed media.” In an interview with Nailed, the artist spoke about why he began spotlighting people who are often underrepresented in art, saying he wanted a way to learn about those different from him and to question his conceptions of his own identity.
With art – you come to realize – its not just about the work, it just doesn’t end there but, who made it. Sometimes it doesn’t always line up as the viewer imagined. That part of my work I didn’t intend to be conceptual, but it has challenged people’s ideas of who can represent who through art. People can quickly sense if artwork is from a place of authenticity or not – my messages are positive and so are my representations and this is a celebration of my community.
Several recent works by Okamura are currently on view in the group exhibition Still I Rise at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art through May 25, 2020. Find the artist’s available portraits on Artsy, and follow him on Instagram.
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Li Songsong uses dramatic textural repetition to create portraiture and landscapes in his large-scale oil paintings. The Chinese artist often centers visual narratives around historical events of the 20th century, working from found photographs and news images. In some instances, the story becomes more personal, as in “Civil Rather Than Military”, which depicts Songsong’s grandfather. In a statement about the work provided by Pace Gallery, Songsong shared:
I started this painting a month after my grandfather passed away. It’s from a photograph of him that I think was taken in the early1960s, when he was about my current age. I know what kind of person he was, but not until this year was I really willing to think deeply about him. I used a technique in which it is nearly impossible to paint delicate details, but in the end, the work still ended up with lots of expressive detail and an almost idealized quality, as if from a fairy-tale.
In both his intimate and anonymous paintings, Songsong balances content with process, employing tactile techniques that obscure the subject and emphasize the painting as an object or artifact in and of itself. Take a closer look at Songsong’s work in his solo show “One of My Ancestors”, on view through December 21, 2019 at Pace Gallery in New York City. You can also explore more of the artist’s work on the gallery’s website.
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Editor's Picks: Design
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.