Sublime Renderings of Women and Girls Explore Notions of Beauty in Portraits by Rosso Emerald Crimson
In her exquisite portraiture, London-based artist Rosso Emerald Crimson renders female subjects who emerge through a haze of pastels and muted tones. She infuses the dreamy oil paintings with responses to current affairs and questions about the future, which often serve as a catalyst for her projects. “I don’t ‘think’ specifically about political or ethical issues when I paint although my creative flow is undoubtedly fuelled by the impressions and emotions many global events leave subconsciously,” she tells Colossal. Issues of racial justice and the unrealistic portrayal of beauty have both played a role in her recent works, including the compelling portrait of a young Black girl titled “What Are We Waiting For.”
Generally, the subjects are people Rosso has a relationship with or someone who’s caught her eye, although she’s expanded her purview to models she’s never met as a way to adapt to pandemic restrictions. The artist often depicts the women and girls staring forward with unsmiling expressions. “I am enchanted by the diversity of human beings which is what truly makes us beautiful,” she says.
If you’re in London, you can see Rosso’s paintings that are part of an exhibition celebrating Women’s History Month at Zebra One Gallery until March 31. She’ll also have pieces on view at Southbank Centre this summer and a solo show at Chrom Art Gallery in November. Prints and originals are available in her shop, and you can see works-in-progress on Instagram.
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After spending more than a century in a private collection, one of Vincent van Gogh’s artworks has been shown to the public for the first time since the Dutch artist painted it in the spring of 1887. “Street scene in Montmartre (Impasse des Deux Frères and the Pepper Mill)” depicts a couple walking on a windy day in front of an entertainment hub in Paris. Full of color and vitality, the landscape marks van Gogh’s turn to his distinctive Impressionist style.
Prior to being put up for auction, only a small, black-and-white photograph taken in 1972 existed of the painting that’s reminiscent of some of the artist’s other works. The lively street is thought to be the same as that in “Impasse des Deux Frères,” which currently hangs at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and similarly depicts a mill and flags promoting the cabaret and bar through the gates. According to The Art Newspaper, there’s speculation about how the family obtained “Street scene in Montmartre,” considering many of van Gogh’s artworks at the time were gifted to his brother, Theo.
Pending COVID-19 precautions, the work is slated for short exhibitions in Amsterdam, Hong Kong, and Paris throughout March.
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Dozens of Mushroom Characters Populate a Family Tree in Whimsically Painted Photographs by Jana Paleckova
An affinity for fleshy spores runs in the long line of ancestors laid out in a family tree by Jana Paleckova. The Prague-based artist layers antique photographs with playful oil paintings of spindly enoki or ribbed chanterelle, creating hybrid characters brimming with fungi-fueled personalities. “There are many types of mushrooms, all of which have different characteristics. Just like people,” she says.
In a note to Colossal, Paleckova says she was prompted to start the whimsical project when she was flipping through her family’s atlas of fungi. “Czech people are known mushroom hunters. It’s quite common for families to go out looking for mushrooms together,” she says. This atlas later served as a reference point for the 90 small portraits, which consist of the dozens of vintage photographs that the artist sourced from flea markets, that comprise the sprouted kin.
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In his architectural portraits, Patrick Akpojotor visualizes the exchange between humans and their built environments, whether real or imagined. The artist’s spatial body of work, which explicitly contemplates the relationship between interiority and exteriority, is founded in his childhood in Lagos, a city checkered with traditional, colonial, and contemporary structures where he still lives today. “I saw how a former residential area became a commercial one changing how people interacted with that community,” he says.
Rendered in bold blocks of acrylic, Akpojotor’s paintings encourage introspection as they consider how identities inform the design of single buildings and infrastructure, which in turn shape the people who occupy those spaces. The anthropomorphic structures evoke cubist geometry and illusion, fracturing the body with a staircase, brick chimney, or entire house, and some works shown here, including both “In Memory of the Living” pieces, are self-portraits.
Beyond his surroundings in Nigeria, Akpojotor derives inspiration from ancient African sculptures and masks, particularly “the way the forms are intentionally distorted to pass messages and symbols of their (beliefs),” he shares. “In my work, the way object(s) are placed does not matter. What is important is that the object(s) are represented, and the message is passed.”
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Swollen, glistening, and saturated with illusion, the ubiquitous water drop absorbed Kim Tschang-Yeul throughout his career. The Korean artist, who died earlier this year, was faithful to the seemingly mundane subject matter, choosing to depict the dewy orbs repeatedly after an initial painting in 1972 following his relocation to France. Inspired originally by a water-soaked canvas in his studio, Kim nurtured the viscous element in his hyperrealistic paintings created across nearly five decades. In an essay about the artist’s unending commitment, Dr. Cleo Roberts writes:
It is a tendency that seems to unite many of Korea’s avant-garde who took from Art Informel in the early ‘60s, including Ha Chong-Hyun and Park Seo-Bo. In this generation of artists, there is a ritualistic devotion to a chosen form, process, and, at times, colour. One could venture that, in the context of living in a volatile country ravaged by war, the security of immersion in a singular mode was an empowering choice, and may have been a necessary psychological counterpoint.
Whether depicting a singular pendant-shaped drop or canvas strewn with perfectly round bulbs, each of the oil-based works exhibits a deft approach to shadow and texture. The bloated forms appear to bead on the surface and are imbued with a sense of impermanence: if disturbed by even a small movement, they look as if they could burst or run down the surface.
Gleaming with occasional patches of gold and white, the transparent renderings foster a deeper connection to Taoist principles, in addition to questioning the tension between nature and contemporary life. “The act of painting water drops is to dissolve all things within [these], to return to a transparent state of ‘nothingness,’” Kim said in a statement, noting that his desire was to dissolve the ego. “By returning anger, anxiety, fear, and everything else to ‘emptiness,’ we experience peace and contentment.”
If you’re in London, you can see the first posthumous show Water Drops, which covers Kim’s entire career and features many of the works shown here, at Almine Rech from March 4 to April 10, 2021. Otherwise, head to Artsy to see a larger collection of the artist’s paintings.
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A Massive Seven-Volume Collection Chronicles the Pioneering Legacy of Abstract Artist Hilma af Klint
Following a wildly successful retrospective at the Guggenheim in 2018, Hilma af Klint (1862–1944) has firmly secured her place as a groundbreaking figure in abstract art. In recent years, her colorful, spiritually-minded body of work has reshaped art historical timelines, supplanting male artists like Vasily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Paul Klee, and Josef Albers, who have long been regarded as the pioneers of the 20th-century movement.
Throughout her lifetime, the prolific Swedish artist created more than 1,600 works, an impressive output now collected in Hilma AF Klint: The Complete Catalogue Raisonné: Volumes I-VII. Published by Bokförlaget Stolpe, the seven-volume series is organized both chronologically and by theme, beginning with the spiritual sketches af Klint made in conjunction with The Five, a group of women who attended séances in hopes of obtaining messages from the dead. These clairvoyant experiences impacted much of her work, which the books explore in her most famous series, The Paintings for the Temple, in addition to her geometric studies, watercolor pieces, and more occasional portraits and landscapes.
“What makes her art interesting is that the works are highly interconnected. A catalogue raisonné is necessary in order to see the different cycles, motifs, and symbols that recur in a fascinating way,” said Daniel Birnbaum, who co-edited the volumes with Kurt Almqvist. Each book is around 200 pages with hundreds of illustraitons.
The first three volumes are available now on Bookshop, where you also can pre-order the entire collection, and the remaining four are slated for release later this year. You also might enjoy Beyond the Visible, a 2020 documentary exploring af Klint’s iconic legacy. (via Artnet)
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Highlights below. For the full collection click here.