portraits

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Art

Vintage Family Photos Painted As Large Scale Murals by Mohamed L’Ghacham

April 21, 2019

Andrew LaSane

Separación De Poderes II, Ostend (Belgium) 2019

Morocco-born, Barcelona-based artist Mohamed L’Ghacham paints large figurative murals based on scenes from vintage family photos and everyday objects. Often choosing photographic “accidents” for their authenticity, the artist paints meals, table settings, toasts, and other communal rituals performed by normal people. When viewed at a wall-sized scale, the personal and seemingly unimportant moments gain new meaning and become more emotionally resonant for viewers despite never having met the families portrayed.

L’Ghacham’s use of muted color palettes connects the murals with their respective urban surroundings while also staying true to the vintage aesthetic of the source photography. Loose, layered brush strokes give the general shape of facial features and objects, but a step back from the image is necessary to appreciate the full snapshot. Head to the Mohamed L’Ghacham’s Vimeo page to see the artist in action, and follow his Instagram for more in-progress and completed mural photos.

Separación De Poderes II, Ostend (Belgium) 2019

Reunión de vecinos, Mataró (Spain) 2017

Le cadeau, Paris (France) 2017

¿Es papá y me lleva a casa? with Alba Trench, La Roca del Vallés (Spain) 2017

El Baile, Ragusa (Italy) 2018

Casa Paquita, Can Picafort (Spain), 2017

Aquí no et faltarà pa… with Ivan Floro, Granollers (Spain), 2018

Por Angelo!, Lioni (Italy), 2018

Cena para dos II with Alba Trench, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands (Spain) 2019

 

 



Art Photography

Black Bodies Painted and Photographed Like the Cosmos by Mikael Owunna

April 7, 2019

Andrew LaSane

Infinite Essence: “James” (2018) All images courtesy of Mikael Owunna

Mikael Chukwuma Owunna, a queer Nigerian-Swedish artist raised in Pittsburgh, has spent the past two and a half years photographing Black men and women for a series titled Infinite Essence. Hand-painted using fluorescent paints and photographed in complete darkness, Owunna’s subjects are illuminated by a flash outfitted with a UV filter, which turns their nude bodies into glowing celestial figures.

Owunna tells Colossal that the series was his response to the frequent images and videos of Black people being killed by those sworn to protect them: the police. The photographer’s friends, family members, dancers, and one person he connected with on Instagram serve as models for the project, which is named after an idea from his Igbo heritage. “All of our individual spirits are just one ray of the infinite essence of the sun,” Owunna explains. “By transcending the visible spectrum, I work to illuminate a world beyond our visible structures of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia where the black body is free.”

Infinite Essence: “Uche” (2019)

Having struggled with his own body image (and with his identity as a gay African man, which has inspired his previous work), Owunna says that the response to the project has been powerful, both from the public and from the models. “One of the models, Emem, broke down in tears looking at their pictures saying that they had always dreamed of seeing their body adorned with stars and that these images were beyond their wildest imagination,” he said. “They then told me – ‘every black person deserves to see themselves in this way’ and how the experience was life-altering for them.”

After seeing Owunna’s work via an NPR feature, a 60-year-old Black woman told the photographer, “I’ve hated my body all my life, but–for a glorious instant–that photo made me feel good about it.”

To see more of Mikael Owunna’s work and to be informed about his upcoming lectures and exhibitions, follow the artist on Instagram and Twitter.

Infinite Essence: “Sam” (2018)

Infinite Essence: “Sam” (2018)

Infinite Essence: “Sam” (2018)

Infinite Essence: “Sam” (2018)

Infinite Essence: “Kinya” (2017)

Infinite Essence: “Emem” (2018)

Infinite Essence: “Emem” (2018)

 

 



Craft

Antique Lace and Handkerchiefs Add Detail to Embroideries of Female Icons by Lily Bloomwood

April 5, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Portrait of Dorothy Gish

Self-taught artist Lily Bloomwood utilizes bits of antique lace, handkerchiefs, and delicate pieces of old knitting as the starting point for her embroidered portraits of female figures. Many of the works are inspired by women of the silent movie era such as the Canadian born actress and producer Mary Pickford or Olive Thomas, who is regarded as the very first “flapper.” Bloomwood is also inspired by relatively unknown medieval heroines, women she chooses to immortalize in her embroidered canvases. You can see more of the London-based artist’s work on Behance, and buy her work on Etsy. (via Colossal Submissions)

Portrait of Maude Fealy

Portrait of Maude Fealy

Portrait of Maude Fealy

Portrait of Maude Fealy

Portrait of Mary Pickford

Portrait of Mary Pickford

Portrait of Marion Davis

Portrait of Marion Davis

Portrait of Maude Adams

Portrait of Maude Adams

Portrait of Lillian Gish

Portrait of Lillian Gish

Portrait of Lillian Gish

Portrait of Lillian Gish

Portrait of Mary Pickford

Portrait of Mary Pickford

Portrait of Camilla Horn

Portrait of Camilla Horn

Portrait of Olive Thomas

Portrait of Olive Thomas

 

 



Art

Paint Smudges and Smears Form Abstract Portraits by Kai Samuels-Davis

March 31, 2019

Andrew LaSane

Images courtesy of Kai Samuels-Davis

Images courtesy of Kai Samuels-Davis

California-based artist Kai Samuels-Davis layers linear paint strokes and large washes of color to form shapes that are recognizable as faces, but without all of the visual information seen in traditional portraiture. The artist relies on the process to find the image, often starting with a sketch or a simple circle to build upon for the face. Working in a space between the representational and expressive, the artist is able to focus on emotion through abstraction so that the viewer can form their own narrative through each gesture and colorful brush stroke.

“None of the final aesthetic is planned,” Samuels-Davis tells Colossal. “Each mark, brush stroke and color is a reaction to what came before it. When I’m working on a portrait the subject appears to morph between multiple individuals over the course of the painting, often times becoming slightly androgynous in the process. I tend to bounce around the surface a lot, pushing and pulling between background and subject, painting over parts, figuring out what each piece needs until there’s nothing I would change.”

Working primarily with found images, Samuels-Davis spends months or even years on his portraits, with dozens of works in progress at a given time. His work will be included in the group exhibition PAINTGUIDE at Thinkspace Gallery this November. To see more of his completed paintings of faces, flowers, and animals, follow him on Instagram.

 

 



Art Illustration

Swirling Patches of Multi-Hued Colored Pencil Compose Portraits by Linsey Levendall

March 29, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Artist and illustrator Linsey Levendall constructs portraits by sketching hundreds of tiny patches of color, creating multi-hued landscapes that take the form of his subjects’ hair and skin. The prismatic works show a range of human conditions, capturing everything from deep introspection to pure bliss. Levendall shares with Colossal that his works are inspired by a wide collection of interests including Salvador Dali, animation, graphic novels, and Cubism. The artist grew up in Cape Town’s Cape Flats, however he now lives and works in rural Canada. You can see more of his portraits created in colored pencil and ink on Instagram and Behance.

 

 



Photography

The View From Down Under: “Under-Cats” Celebrates Cats at a New Angle

March 20, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Felines at the International Cat Show in Kaunas, Lithuania were already ready for their closeup, but they might not have been expecting these glass-bottomed glamour shots. Photographer Andrius Burba began shooting at this unique angle in 2015 with cats on a black background. In the intervening years he has documented dogs, rabbits, bicycles, and even horses. The most recent iteration swaps out the black backdrops for bright colors. Burba explains to Colossal that he places each subject on a glass surface (though we’d hazard a guess the horses stood on a sturdier material) and shoots from below, with the backdrop placed above the animal. The resulting photographs show the unique fur, eyes, and personalities of each cat, as they strike poses that convey curiosity, boredom, or annoyance. You can see the full collection from Under-Cats on the Underlook website. Underlook also shares updates on Instagram and Facebook, and offers merch in their online store. (via Design You Trust)

 

 

 



Art Craft

Colorful Quilts by Bisa Butler use African Fabrics to Form Nuanced Portraits

February 21, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

“Three Kings”, detail

Artist Bisa Butler draws from an array of vibrant patterned fabrics to create portraits of everyday people. She eschews representational colors, favoring layered jewel-toned hues to form the skin of her Black subjects, and often groups figures together into strong silhouettes.

“I have always been drawn to portraits,” Butler explains in a statement on her gallery’s website. “I was the little girl who would sit next to my grandmother and ask her to go through her old family photo albums. I was the one who wanted to hear the story behind every picture. This inquisitiveness has stayed with me to this day. I often start my pieces with a black and white photo and allow myself to tell the story.”

Butler studied fine art at Howard University. In a video interview by BRIC TV, the artist explains that she began using fabric in her paintings in college, and then converted to quilting as a way to continue her dedicated art practice while protecting her young daughter from toxic materials and fumes.

The artist was born in Orange, New Jersey, and now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She is represented by Claire Oliver Gallery. You can see more from Butler on Instagram. (via #WOMENSART)

“Three Kings” (2018), quilted and appliquéd cotton, wool and chiffon, 95 x 72 in / 241.3 x 182.9 cm

“The Mighty Gents” (2018), quilted and appliquéd cotton, wool and chiffon, 67 x 78 in / 170.2 x 198.1 cm

“The Mighty Gents”, detail

“The Mighty Gents”, detail

“Anaya with Oranges”

“The Safety Patrol” (2018), quilted and appliquéd cotton, wool and chiffon, 90 x 82 in / 228.6 x 208.3 cm

“The Safety Patrol”, detail

L: “The Unconquerable Lyric” R: “I Want To Smell The Flowers”

“Black Star Family, first class tickets to Liberia” (2018), cotton, silk chiffon, satin, silk and lace, 79 x 85 in / 200.7 x 215.9 cm