From his Brighton-based studio on the seafront, Mark Powell (previously) pieces together crinkled book pages and postcards laden with travel dispatches. The vintage collages serve as backdrops for the artist’s oversized portraits of older folks, whose pensive stares and deep wrinkles are rendered gently in ballpoint pen. Often magnified, the subjects complement the weathered, ephemeral surfaces that span multiple feet. “I’m currently working on a series of larger works because they have much more impact on the viewer, more confronting yet comfortable I’m hoping. It is also much more tricky because by just using a ballpoint pen no mistakes can be made, and it would be a terrible shame to ruin a map, document, or letter that has survived hundreds of years only to be destroyed by me,” he shares with Colossal.
Each enlarged illustration—which sometimes depicts famous subjects, like Basquiat and Hunter S. Thompson— takes about a month to complete, and Powell generally works on more than one simultaneously. Recently, he’s started to slow down his artistic production as he shifts away from creating for dozens of shows every year. “The past two years, I’ve taken a step back from shows slightly to allow that evolution space to breathe. It has meant that the quality of the work has increased immeasurably (still much room for improvement of course),” he says.
Powell’s detailed illustrations will be included in an upcoming show at Hang-Up Gallery in London. Until then, dive into his repurposed projects on Behance and Instagram, and check out the available prints in his shop.
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Dallas-based artist Alexis Franklin considers her digital renderings a reinvention of the expected. “I’ve always seen the world through a filter that brings vibrance and excitement to things most people wouldn’t notice, and that’s something that I really want to have come across in my work,” she says of her expressive paintings. Through facial expressions, gestures, and color, each work highlights the nuances of the subjects’ experience, personality, and mood.
A church videographer by day, painting is Franklin’s side-project and one for which she’s received an influx of attention in recent days. She illustrated an affective portrait of Breonna Taylor, who was murdered by three Louisville police officers in March, for the cover of O, The Oprah Magazine. The two-decades-old publication has only ever featured Oprah Winfrey. This isn’t the 24-year-old’s first high-profile cover, though: she also created a powerful rendering of Anita Hill for Time earlier this year.
Franklin often shares time-lapses of her paintings-in-progress—which you can watch below and on YouTube and Instagram—that document every step of her process. “I tend to stay in the present with my work. I don’t really imagine where it’s headed,” she writes to Colossal. “I just let each project be what it is, and then I move to the next one with fresh eyes. And I’m very grateful that each project continuously seems to find me!” (via Kottke)
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For years Yulia Brodskaya (previously) has gravitated toward light backdrops for her densely quilled paper portraits. “It rarely even crossed my mind that I should choose any colour other than white. White allows all wonderful colour reflections and blended inter-reflections from paper strips to be visible and showcased at their fullest potential,” she tells Colossal.
In recent months, though, the United Kingdom-based artist has started to utilize dark canvases, which poses new challenges as some of her standard techniques, like composing portraits with thin strips, don’t translate well. “Black color is dense, dominating, it absorbs all reflections and most of the shadows; only top edges of paper strips are left to see,” she says.
Instead, Brodskaya has focused on thicker rolls and larger bends to create necessary contrast. Many of the vibrant portraits feature larger, three-dimensional swaths similar to brushstrokes, a nod to the artist’s method of “painting with paper,” that help to highlight distinct features. “I chose to leave plenty of empty dark space and blend in colored parts to gradually transition them into the black nothingness, so the background plays a crucial role in these new artworks,” she says.
To see Brodskaya’s paper-based works in progress, check out the video below and follow her on Instagram.
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As a child, Elinleticia Högabo had a troubled relationship with water. Despite a deep fascination with its dreamy qualities, she avoided swimming below the surface or in any areas of considerable depth after two traumatic experiences in which she almost drowned. When she was chosen for an exhibition that centered on rusalka—a female creature similar to a mermaid that’s found in Slavic folklore—Högabo tried to capture shots of her submerged subjects from above before realizing she had to plunge in. “But in search (of) better and better pictures, I finally got myself an underwater camera and went down in the silent world. The silent world concept is from the fact that under the water surface, it’s a silent world where you, as fully hearing people, hear as little (as) me,” says the photographer, who was born with a hearing impairment.
Today, Högabo gladly dives into lakes and other bodies with her camera in tow. She captures singular subjects or duos as they breach the water’s surface or descend to the algae-laden floor. Through ripples and small bubbles, the water disguises the models and their exact positions and gestures, which blurs any distinct features and perceptions of depth.
Based in southern Sweden, the photographer tells Colossal that she outlines the details of most photographs in advance, although she generally alters her plans in the moment. “The location, the water, the models, the bugs that might crawl by—all create conditions for the creation,” Högabo says. A multi-disciplinary artist, she styles and provides makeup artistry on-site, as well.
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Formed With Geometric Blocks of Color, Modern Women Exhibit Strength in Artist Luciano Cian's Prints
Artist Luciano Cian’s latest series Geo explores the power, perseverance, and stability of contemporary women through bold colors and gesture. Simple lines and geometric shapes comprise the nondescript figures, who tend to look away from the viewer with striking facial expressions. Relying heavily on the tension between symmetry and asymmetry, Cian tells Colossal he’s inspired the aesthetics of Brazilian modernist artists like painter Athos Bulcão and architect Oscar Niemeyer. Dive into more of the Rio de Janeiro-based artist’s vibrant prints on Behance and Instagram, and check out which pieces are available to add to your collection.
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Channeling M.C. Escher and the Droste effect, more broadly, a Chicago-based artist has been painting portraits of himself painting portraits of himself. Seamus Wray, who’s appeared in a similar project shared on Colossal, began with a single representation (shown above) and mirrored his pose in a photograph of the work. He then repeated that process five times, which resulted in a recursive, mixed-media series that changes slightly with each iteration—two cats make an appearance in the final portraits.
Wray hopes the potentially infinite project begs the questions, “What comes next? Another painting. Are we all just living in a painting? What if this is a painting, within a painting?… I have painted hundreds of self-portraits over the years, and this seemed to be a natural progression from those, as I seem to be going mad painting myself, painting myself,” he tells Colossal.
Much of Wray’s work is centered on internet culture and media, and he frequently paints bright, saturated depictions of memes and iconic characters from various television shows and movies, many of which he shares on Instagram. The artist also sells prints and other goods with his work on Threadless. (via Kottke)
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Editor's Picks: Animation
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