Paging through a photo album detailing every moment of a friend’s poolside vacation might not be a riveting activity, but flipping through Angela Mckay’s sketchbooks filled with tiny paintings of her travels certainly is. The Brooklyn-based pattern designer and illustrator of Ohkii Studio documents the lush scenery, cavernous waters, and hilly villages she sees on the streets of Lagos, Calamosche Beach on Italy’s southern coast, and in Joshua Tree National Park. Mckay generally positions her miniature paintings against the real-life backdrop, juxtaposing the two depictions that she then shares on Instagram.
The artist tells Colossal that she frequently recreates some of the pieces in her sketchbooks on a larger scale after returning home, relying on her earlier representation for the tiny details she otherwise might not remember. “Often when I’m traveling, I have this urgent feeling that I need to capture everything I’m experiencing, the sights, feelings and textures of a place,” she says.
I really enjoy that feeling of walking around a new place not knowing what I might discover around the corner. I often try to recreate the feeling of a place I have visited in my personal work… I really enjoy the experience of looking at a painting and being transported back to that experience. It’s a nice way to escape from your day to day!
The pocket-size notebooks are a crucial component of Mckay’s process, and she utilizes them in both her personal projects and her work for clients. “They just allow me to play with ideas and explore other directions without having to commit to anything,” she says. To pick up one of Mckay’s watercolor and gouache artworks or prints, head to her shop. (via Lustik)
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Barcelona-based painter and photographer Connor Addison situates his recent series of oil paintings within the context of philosopher Edmund Burke’s theory of the sublime. That notion is based on the idea that “whatever is in any sort terrible or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling.” Aptly titled Sublime Affliction, Addison’s works often feature one or two people lying or sitting still, their expressions conveyed by the shaded geometric shapes that form their fragmented faces and bodies. “Brother & Sally” even expresses the bond between species, portraying a man with his arm slung over a sleeping dog.
Employing muted reds and blues, the artist’s angular paintings explore the human emotions inspired by art, love, and relationships. “Sublimity comes from somewhere beyond, or deeper than immediate sensation—it cannot be literally visualized,” he says of the project. “Thus, figures in the Sublime Affliction series interact with mysterious overbearing entities, sources of sublime power, fear and anxiety.” To keep up with Addison affective pieces, follow him on Instagram. (via Booooooom)
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Chicago-born artist Harmonia Rosales says her striking portraits speak to “the part of me that has been the least represented in our society.” Rosales tells Colossal that much of her work—she largely features a central black figure surrounded by floral and animalistic details—is linked to her Afro-Cuban background. “I empower women of color through art that challenges ideological hegemony in contemporary society,” she writes. “The black female bodies of my paintings are the memory of my ancestors expressed in a way to heal and promote self-love.”
In “Harvest,” a seated woman holds three children, while two others gather at her bare feet. A small stack of nondescript books, a brown skull, a broken string of pearls, and a writhing snake line the steps, providing contrast between the natural and human-made elements. Although she often utilizes religious iconography, like in her Orisha’s series, Rosales says she hopes instead to give her viewers healing tools rather than spiritual indoctrination. Frequently offering alternative portrayals, Rosales’s 2017 work “The Creation of God” garnered viral attention because the artist presents God as a black woman.
Rosales’s upcoming project Miss Understood, which considers the relationship between feeling dissociated from ancestral cultures and still trying to protect that history in America, will be on view at MoCADA in Brooklyn from February 28 to April 16. Head to the artist’s Instagram to follow her profound projects, and check out the pieces she has for sale on Artsy.
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An ongoing series by artist Jim Darling depicts many of the scenes you probably miss while you’re napping on a lengthy flight. “Windows” mimics that of an airplane view, depicting lush landscapes, rocky gorges, and dense urban areas from a 35,000 foot view. Since we last wrote about the Los Angeles-based painter, Darling has produced more cityscapes, glimpsing pockets of skyscrapers and lengthy freeways as the viewer swoops overhead. The white-framed paintings even seem to feature the shade that can be pulled down to block the aerial views. Pushing his lifelike portrayals even closer to reality, Darling refers to the piece shown above as “DFW to LAX” on his Instagram. (via Booooooom)
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Los Angeles-based artist Matthew Grabelsky (previously) is back with a new collection of oil paintings of people with animal heads casually navigating the New York City subway system. The paintings combine the mundane with the surreal, as others on the commute and the environments remain neutral to the hybrid creatures.
Grabelsky’s paintings are inspired by the years he spent riding the subways in New York as a kid and by his early fascination with Greek mythology. Small details including zoo posters, stickers, T-shirts, and toys add humor to the art, while light reflecting off subway tiles and molded sets show the artist’s technical ability to paint hyperrealistic scenes.
In a recent interview with Thinkspace Project‘s blog Sour Harvest, Grabelsky shared that his characters will soon leave the subway, but added that he wants the shift to be organic. “My concept is that these characters started on the subway and then go out into the wider world. I certainly want to do paintings set in different locations in New York. I was born and am currently living in Los Angeles and so I expect that my characters will make it out to LA at some point.”
To witness the characters’ eventual emergence from the East Coast underground, follow Matthew Grabelsky on Instagram.
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“ME: An Exhibition of Contemporary Self-Portraiture” asks 22 contemporary artists to explore who they are and how they present themselves. Curated by Sugarlift and Juxtapoz contributing editor and Colossal contributor Sasha Bogojev, the exhibition presents each artists’ understanding of themselves and of the history of self-portraiture. Cesar Piette’s abstract blue face resembles dripping paint partially masked by glasses, while Prudence Flint portrays a woman napping on a pink bed next to a guitar. Many of the artists created their first self-portraits in years, if not ever, specifically for the show, which includes work from Aleah Chapin, Cesar Piette, and Christian Rex van Minnen, among others.
In a conversation with Colossal, Bogojov answered a few questions about contemporary culture and self-awareness, how they influence self-portraiture, and the ways current conceptions of identity show up in ME.
Colossal: How have perceptions of the self changed since the creation of such a selfie-obsessed culture?
Bogojev: Oh, that is a tough one and I’m certain there are papers if not books written on that subject. But I do feel that a selfie-obsessed culture created more self-awareness on different levels. For this show, in particular, I feel like lots of artists wanted to fight against the popular idea of “self” or what we know now as selfie, by presenting themselves imperfect, flawed, caricatured, even grotesque in some cases.
Colossal: Could you talk a little more about the intersections between psyche, mirror, and others that you see in contemporary self-portraiture?
Bogojev: Modern-day takes are rarely realistic renderings of one’s mirror image and are often including elements that suggest qualities beyond that. Whether playing with light, formatting, color scheme, or simply going away from realism completely, they often focus on the author’s character, emotions, and such. I like to believe that this show encompasses that really well with the variety of approaches and visual languages presented.
Colossal: So many conversations about identity center ideas of multiplicity, of people not having a singular self. How do you see that relating to the face and to self-portraits?
Bogojev: Exactly! I think this is what most artists nowadays are fully aware of and that is why they struggle to find the “right way” to create self-portraits or they create multiple versions of it. Again, I feel it’s the superficiality of selfie-culture that made them extra wary of how they present themselves without jeopardizing their integrity and practice. With their artwork being the most direct and honest way of communicating with the world, it is not easy for an artist to pick one image, or even concept, as a single representation of oneself. I think this is why the artists in ME built their self-portraits by layering different visuals (Van Minnen), assembling a variety of elements (Shiqing), creating an atmosphere they connect to (Flint, Toscani, Chapin), captured an intimate moment that describes them best (Erheriene-Essi, O’Brien).
ME is on view from January 16 to 30 at High Line Nine in New York. If you’re in the city on January 21, stop by for “The Self-Portrait: Antiquity to #Selfie,” a talk by art and culture critic and author Carlo McCormick, historian and Sotheby’s VP of Old Masters Painting Calvine Harvey, and contemporary painter Jenny Morgan.
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A recent finding in Sulawesi, Indonesia, is changing our conceptions of the origins of visual art. Fifteen researchers this week published an article in Nature describing prehistoric cave art that they believe was created about 43,900 years ago. The art depicts multiple therianthropes—mythical creatures that have both human and animal characteristics like beaks and tails—hunting wild pigs and cattle with spears. Traditionally, therianthropes were employed for sharing folklore, religious myths, and spiritual beliefs. Clear renderings of the creatures are uncommon, the report says. The oldest depiction previously recorded is a carved figurine with the head of a cat that originated in Germany and dates back nearly 40,000 years. These Indonesian findings also predate the Lascaux cave paintings found in France by about 20,000 years. “This hunting scene is—to our knowledge—currently the oldest pictorial record of storytelling and the earliest figurative artwork in the world,” the report said. (via Artnet)
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Editor's Picks: Craft
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