Using round canvases with a range of diameters, Alonsa Guevara deftly paints the plump, juicy insides of oranges, watermelon, and other fruits. Each circular piece depicts a seemingly perfect slice down the middle, capturing the fibrous veins and central seeds found within fresh produce.
Guevara spent her childhood in the Ecuadorian rainforests surrounded by tropical landscapes and nearby agriculture, an experience of nature that influences her artistic practice. The Chilean artist, who lives in New York City, began fruit portraits in 2014 as she reflected on her adolescence and thought of creating a body of work that felt universal.
“Immediately I thought of fruits; they are everywhere and have been present as an essential part of evolution and as symbols throughout human history,” Guevara shares with Colossal. “I decided to paint the fruits cut open, revealing their insides, recreating and depicting all the incredible patterns, seeds, and infinite information they carry, which many people take for granted.”
Now an extensive series with dozens of paintings—the artist creates both miniatures that are as little as 1.5 inches and larger works spanning 30 inches—Guevara considers the collection a representation of desire and fertility, in addition to death and decay. “These fruits of the earth can be delicious/poisoning, juicy/rotten, real/imaginary,” she says. No matter the type, though, every work is painted to elicit a sensory response.
A limited print series of Guevara’s orange, kiwi, and pomegranate will go on sale on October 21 on Her Clique, a new platform dedicated to promoting women’s art, with a portion of the proceeds donated to a program for low-income international students at The New York Academy of Art. Explore the full series of fleshy fruits on Guevara’s site, and stay up to date with her work on Instagram and Artsy.
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On the campus of University Hospital Marqués de Valdecilla in Santander, Spain, a trio of interventions by street artist Pejac (previously) simultaneously responds to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and offers potential paths for healing. The new series, titled Strength, is Pejac’s direct response to the 50,000 people who have died from the virus in his home country. “The idea of the Strength project arises as a gesture of gratitude to the health workers of Valdecilla, for their work in general and during this Covid crisis in particular. Offering them what I do best, which is painting,” the artist says.
In “Social Distancing” (shown below), a horde of people escape from a crevice in the building’s facade. The trompe l’oei artwork is a multi-layered metaphor for the ways the virus has ruptured society and the necessity of community care and compassion. “Caress” features two silhouettes standing six-feet apart, with Monet-style reflections on the ground nearby. The figures, which represent a patient and doctor, stretch their hands toward each other.
Pejac worked in collaboration with young oncology patients to complete the third piece, titled “Overcoming” (shown below), in which a child perched on a wheelchair recreates Van Gogh’s “Wheat Field with Cypresses.” “This is something that we, as a society could do—take this crisis and use it to propel us forward,” he says.
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Using a combination of acrylics, gouache, and ink, Yellena James cultivates brightly-hued ecosystems ripe with lines, patterns, and nature-based motifs. The Portland-based artist paints organic forms that resemble both marine species like coral and kelp in addition to full-bloom flowers, creating brilliant, labyrinth-like ecosystems. Although Prussian blue ink has been a mainstay in James’s practice for years, she recently discovered that the specific color serves as a remedy for certain toxic metal poisonings. This realization spurred the series shown here, which is aptly named Antidote. Each work features the vibrant hue in some capacity.
If you’re in Portland, check out James’s solo show at Stephanie Chefas Projects through October 10. To see the artist’s works in progress, head to Instagram, and try your hand at similar drawings with James’s book, Star, Branch, Spiral, Fan: Learn to Draw from Nature’s Perfect Design Structures. (via Supersonic Art)
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In Laura Berger’s minimalist paintings, female figures entwine together in abstract formations. Their dark locks flow with the curves of their bodies, which are posed in relaxed, natural stances. Using tight color palettes of muted tones, Berger works mostly in acrylic, although she’s ventured into oil since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’m not sure if it’s related to everything that’s been going on in the world or to the shift in medium itself, but my ideas have been moving in a more narrative direction which has really opened up a lot of new things for me to work with,” she tells Colossal.
The Chicago-based artist (previously) continues to explore themes of identity, community, and connection, in addition to more abstract conceptions of energy and quality of life, throughout her largely geometric body of work. “As a woman, I usually paint from that perspective point, but the figures are really meant mostly to serve as characters through which to explore our collective humanity and shared experience,” she says.
If you’re in New York City, check out Berger’s solo show, which is open from November 21 to December 12, at Hashimoto Contemporary. Otherwise, follow her on Instagram to see her latest considerations of the female experience.
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Chrome Faces Protrude from Drippy, Graffiti Backdrops in Hyperrealistic Paintings by Artist Kip Omolade
Set on a graffitied backdrop, the chrome masks Kip Omolade (previously) paints appear to emerge from the canvas, jutting out from the vibrant display to confront the viewer. The Harlem-born artist layers dripping colors and typographic markings that contrast the smooth, gleaming faces protruding from the center for his new series Masks: Portraits of Times Square and Luxury Graffiti, which he completed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement, he explains the history of the collection:
In New York City during the ’80s, my tag was ‘Kace’ and I would ‘get up’ on MTA subway car interiors, public walls in Brooklyn, and graffiti black books. Throughout the ’90s, I never stopped tagging. Even when I was painting from life, I was still tagging here and there in random spaces. Years later, I produced a real-life ‘Kace’—when my twin sons were born, I named them Kent and Kace. The ‘Kace’ tags in these paintings reference NYC subway ‘bombing’ of the ’80s, but mostly it’s about legacy. I want my work to represent our shared experiences of the past, present, and future.
Omolade’s process includes sculpting a resin mold of a chosen subject, which he then covers with chrome and uses as a reference for his hyperrealistic portraits. Many of the masks are reflective, revealing a hidden landscape. In Omolade’s self-portrait (shown below), an American flag in the shape of a bullseye marks his forehead, a nod to racial injustices in the United States.
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Based in Oshawa, a suburb of Toronto, artist Toni Hamel (previously) is concerned with human morality—or lack thereof. In her subtly hued artworks, Hamel portrays subjects in the midst of futile and trivial pursuits: children pluck stars from the night sky, a couple attempts to reconstruct a flower after its petals have fallen, and a young family literally watches wet paint dry. Many of the satirical pieces consider socially accepted anthropocentrism and the relationship people have with the surrounding environemnt.
Since 2017, Hamel has been adding to High Tides and Misdemeanors, an ongoing series that is intentionally political. “It confronts us with the repercussions of our actions and denounces the current thinking models. In this age of alternative realities, ‘fake news’ and a culture that is increasingly more self-absorbed and superficial, I feel that it’s even more important for me to carry on reporting what I must,” she writes.
Explore more of Hamel’s visual commentaries on culture and politics on Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Design
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.