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Art

Memory and Self-Love Highlight Profound Portraits of Black Figures by Harmonia Rosales

January 27, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Summer,” (2018), oil on linen and gold leaf, 24 x 24 inches. All images © Harmonia Rosales, shared with permission

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.

“Compromise” (2019), oil on canvas, 24 × 24 inches

“Birth of Eve” (2018), oil on linen

“Oya” (2019), oil on linen with gold leaf, 12 x 12 inches

“The Harvest” (2018), oil on linen and gold leaf

 

 



Art

Animal-Human Hybrids Spotted on New York Subway in Surreal Paintings by Matthew Grabelsky

January 12, 2020

Andrew LaSane

Images courtesy of the artist, used with permission

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.

 

 



Photography

Portraits of Venezuelan Families Reframe the Harrowing Journey of Immigrants

January 10, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Arianny Torres packed a few changes of clothes, a couple toys, medicine, diapers, a baby bottle, photos of relatives and her bible into her backpack. With her son, Lucas and daughter, Alesia, she traveled 976 kilometers from Maracaibo to Bogotá. Sometimes they hitched a ride. Other times they caught a bus, cutting into the small amount of money Arianny had put aside for food. Now she sells candy in Bolivar Square and though things could be better, at least life is more stable than it was in Venezuela and her kids are able to eat three times a day. I see Arianny’s determination to find a more hopeful life in her fixed gaze.” All images © Gregg Segal, shared with permission

In his Undaily Bread series, Gregg Segal photographs Venezuelan immigrants with the entirety of their belongings lying around them. Created in collaboration with UNHCR, an organization that helps refugees worldwide, the affective project shows a glimpse at what life as a Venezuelan refugee looks like, from the meager ingredients of their daily meals to the battered sneakers on their feet. Every image posted on Segal’s Instagram also includes a lengthy caption describing each family’s difficult journey.

“For me, photography communicates better than simply words. Statistics are important, but people are not that interested in statistics,” Segal tells Colossal. “They’re emotional because they describe how little the people have.” This consequential series is an offshoot of Daily Bread, Segal’s well-known project that captures images of kids from around the world surrounded by what they eat each day.

“Nathalia Rodriguez (9) who walked from Barquisimeto, Venezuela to Bogota with her mom, ate only bread, crackers, arepas, chips, water, juice, lollipops and the one fruit they could afford, bananas. It’s been 3 years since Nathalia’s eaten an apple. Apples run 5,000 Bolivas now in Venezuela, about $12 US. Despite the harsh road she traveled, Nathalia projects resilience and resolve.”

“Yosiahanny’s daughter feels for the kick of her brother or sister in her mother’s womb. They made the journey from Venezuela surviving on arepas and water. Though life in Bogotá is difficult, Yosiahanny is grateful she’s able to eat more than once a day. What makes the crisis tolerable is love, she says.”

“When I met 7 year old Williams, he showed me his backpack in which he carried a few things from home including his last homework assignment. He misses his grandmother’s arepas and stewed chicken. On the long walk from Venezuela, there was only bread, water, cookies and fruit to eat.”

“Michell, a single mom, made the trip with her two kids twice. During the 2nd attempt, Michell had an epileptic seizure and lost consciousness. 16 days later she made it to Bogotá and was admitted. In her portrait, Michell contends with the dueling energy of her kids, trying to soothe her daughter while her son appears to be driving the bus. After the shoot, her little boy held onto two loaves of bread, carrying them around the studio, tucked under his arms for later.”

 

 



Art

Thick Impasto Strokes Form Abstract Portraits in New Paintings by Salman Khoshroo

December 31, 2019

Grace Ebert

All images © Salman Khoshroo

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.

 

 



Art

Striking Portraits Featuring Powerful Women of Color Painted by Artist Tim Okamura

December 23, 2019

Grace Ebert

“Rosie no. 1.” (2016), 29.5 × 44.19 inches

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.

“The Parlor,” (2019), Oil on canvas, 80 × 56 inches

“Courage 3.0”

“Revelation No. 1” (2019), Oil and acrylic on wood, 42 × 30 inches

“From the Spark Comes the Light” (2017), Mixed media on canvas, 48 × 36 inches

“Artemis”

“Stay Warm Keep it Cool”

“Presence”

 

 



Art Photography

Photographer Tim Flach Highlights Unusual and Endangered Birds in Striking Portraits

November 25, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Jacobian Pigeon. All photographs © Tim Flach and shared with permission from the artist

London-based photographer Tim Flach travels the world capturing the nuanced expressions, unique patterning, and unusual profiles of animals large and small. Often focusing his lens on endangered and vulnerable species, Flach highlights the traits of animals that are at risk of disappearing due to habitat loss, climate change, and human activity. The photographer has worked with a huge range of wild, domestic, and captive animals, from Saiga and Beluga Sturgeons to Pied Tamarin and Pangolin.

Set on plain backdrops à la studio portraits, Flach’s bird photographs particularly stand out. His sharp, clear portraits show the colorful and wildly shaped feathers and beak of birds from the U.S. to the Himalayas. A stately Jacobian Pigeon, its two-toned ruff of feathers framing a white-crested face, seems to peer elegantly at the view, while an assertive cardinal stares pointedly, a white highlight glinting off the hook in the bird’s red beak. A statement on his website explains the relatable emotional quality of his work:

Tim Flach is an animal photographer with an interest in the way humans shape animals and shape their meaning while exploring the role of imagery in fostering an emotional connection. Bringing to life the complexity of the animal kingdom, his work ranges widely across species, united by a distinctive stylization reflecting an interest in how we better connect people to the natural world.

Flach has published several books of his photography: one is centered around endangered animals, while others are species-specific, celebrating horses or dogs. You can explore the artist’s catalog as well as several galleries of animal portraits on his website, and follow him on Instagram for first glimpses of new work.

Himalayan Monal

Virginia Cardinal

Philippine Eagle

Gouldian Finch

Silver Laced Poland Chicken

King Vulture

Shoebill

 

 



Art Design Illustration

Painting With Code: UI Engineer Diana Smith Creates Baroque-Inspired Portraits with CSS

November 9, 2019

Christopher Jobson

With little more than a text editor—and years of experience as a web developer—UI engineer Diana Adrianne Smith creates Flemish and baroque inspired portraits using HTML and CSS, the two primary presentation markup languages designed to display web pages. The portraits fill thousands of lines of code, and Smith has a stringent rule that leaves this former web developer a little flabbergasted: all elements must be typed out by hand. Meaning that she doesn’t rely on libraries, shortcuts, or some kind of visual editor. These images are instead written in part like an essay, with what I can only image is an unreasonable amount of trial and error.

Troubleshooting the complexities of CSS or HTML problems can stymie even a good developer for hours, let alone forming pearl necklaces, hairdos, facial expressions, and lace collars. Via Twitter Smith says she finished her most recent piece over a period of two weekends. The designs are created for viewing in Google’s Chrome browser, but Firefox seems to do a great job too. Your mileage may vary using anything else. Here’s another work from last year titled Pure CSS Francine.

A portion of the 1,968 lines of CSS code Smith wrote to create the portrait above.