portraits

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Art Design History

Prominent Figures of the Harlem Renaissance Featured on New USPS Stamps

June 3, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © USPS

For those who aren’t keen on emblazoning their rent checks or letters with an American flag, the United States Postal Service recently released a stamp collection dedicated to one of the most influential periods in the nation’s history. The new set features pastel renderings of four prominent figures of the Harlem Renaissance, a profound artistic and intellectual movement that spanned the 1920s. This year marks a century since the period began and became a turning point for Black culture.

Nella Larsen is recognized most often for her two novels Quicksand (1928) and Passing (1929), which explore race relations at the intersection of gender, sexuality, and class; Educator, poet, and avid gardener Anne Spencer exemplified the far-reaching effects of the Harlem Renaissance by hosting artists and intellectuals at her home in Virginia; Arturo Alfonso Schomburg was an Afro-Latinx historian dedicated to furthering recognition of Black artists, writers, and intellectuals. His collections now are housed at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City; and writer, philosopher, and educator Alain Locke is one of the most prominent thinkers of the period. He also edited and contributed to the foundational text, The New Negro.

Designed by art director Greg Breeding with art by Gary Kelley, the 55-cent forever stamps are available for purchase in sheets of 20 from USPS. (via Hyperallergic)

 

 

 



Photography

Under Quarantine, Aquatic Photographer Turns His Lens on Radiant Sunbirds in His Backyard

May 28, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Steve Benjamin, shared with permission

Steve Benjamin generally uses his background in Zoology to capture the underwater lives of sharks, whales, and dolphins. But due to quarantine restrictions spurred by the ongoing threat of COVID-19—South Africa has imposed some of the strictest regulations in the world because a high percentage of the population has compromised immune systems—the Cape Town-based photographer has shifted his focus to the feathered animals visiting his backyard.

Sunbirds is a stunning series of portraits captured using the same techniques as underwater photography. Benjamin tells Colossal he established a miniature studio for his avian visitors by positioning a feeder in a small sunny area with nearby shade, plenty of blooming flowers, and twig perches. “This is a studio setting for wild birds that are free to come and go as they please,” the photographer says.

To ensure the backdrop was dark, he used shutter speeds of 1/2,000 of a second and mounted additional lights to illuminate the vibrant intricacies of the feathers, feet, and bills. “The birds did not like flash photography so I have to figure out how to get constant light onto them with my underwater video lights,” he writes. “I had to get the birds used to being close to bright lights, which took a while.”

You can see the full series on Benjamin’s site, in addition to a deep dive into his process and equipment in the video below. He also shares an array of wildlife shots on his Instagram. (via PetaPixel)

 

 

 



Art Photography

Women in Motion Energize Dreamy Photographs by Kylli Sparre

May 22, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Wonder Wheels.” All images © Kylli Sparre, shared with permission

Often blurring or concealing the faces of her dramatically posed figures, Kylli Sparre (previously) captures magical portraits of young women and girls. The fine art photographer, who is based in Tallinn, captures her lone subjects amidst swirling swaths of fabric or perched atop a towering mass of bicycle wheels. Many are in motion, whether dancing against hazy landscapes and or scooting across calm waters.

Sparre tells Colossal that she’s begun to experiment with technical aspects of her process by using a scanner, piecing together images in collages, and experimenting with movement and exposure time. Although she notes that many of her forays into underwater photography “will never see the light of day,” she’s “trying to be as open as I can… I think what has demanded me to grow, is the wish to keep finding the “something” in an image, that would touch a chord in me. Because what I find interesting, slightly changes over time. It is not always an easy task to be truthful to this inner scale, but still essential.”

To see more of Sparre’s conceptual projects focused on the female figure, head to Instagram.

 

“Disquiet”

“Learning Wheels”

“Modest Troubles”

“Mismeeting”

“Wild Things in Mild Wind”

“Line in Time”

“Excusing Shadows”

 

 



Art Craft

Hundreds of Intricately Cut Layers Compose Impeccably Detailed Wildlife Sculptures by Patrick Cabral

May 16, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Patrick Cabral

Manila-based artist Patrick Cabral (previously) layers paper incised with decorative motifs and lacy patterns into dazzling sculptural portraits of wildlife. Ribbed tentacles with alternating gold and white dangle from an octopus, while elegant pieces comprise a rhinoceros’s exterior. Each multi-layered work contains hundreds of individual paper pieces that are entirely hand-cut.

The crowned lion (shown below) spans more than five feet and is one of Cabral’s largest projects to date. “Working on a piece like this is a paradox. It’s a lot of work that usually spans around 3 months. I love the whole process of cutting because it’s sort of meditative for me,” he writes on Instagram. “It’s opposite though once I started assembling the pieces together because it becomes really stressful (especially) on pieces as big as this.”

For more of the artist’s intricate compositions, head to Behance and Instagram.

 

 

 



Illustration

Hypnotic Illustrations Blur Resolute Women into Heavily Patterned Portraits

May 15, 2020

Grace Ebert

“MARA” (2017), pencil and black marker on paper. All images © Sofia Bonati

Argentinian artist Sofia Bonati (previously) illustrates arresting portraits that question the distinction between subject and backdrop. She poses her often unsmiling women against dense floral motifs or within dizzying, black-and-white stripes that conceal the bounds of their hair or clothing. Rendered within a tight color palette, the figures stare forward calmly, adding an element of serenity to the otherwise hypnotic works.

Currently living in North Wales, Bonati shares many of her feminine illustrations and glimpses into her creative process on Instagram and Behance. Prints and other goods adorned with the earnest figures are available on Society6.

 

“LUCINDA”

Left: “EUDOXIA” (2016), pencil, marker, and watercolour on paper. Right: “VLADA” (2016), black gesso, pencil, and marker on paper. Right:

“ELGA,” Acryla gouache and pencil on hot-pressed paper

Left: “ANASTASIA.” Right: “ETHEL”

“TARA”

 

 



Art

Unspun Wool Sculpted into Intimate Portraits by Artist Salman Khoshroo

May 8, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Salman Khoshroo, shared with permission

For Salman Khoshroo, carefully fashioning thick fibers into masculine portraits has a therapeutic effect. The Iranian artist, whose impasto paintings we’ve written about previously on Colossal, says his Wool on Foam series is born out of recent trauma and experience in quarantine. By sculpting the wool rovings into slight noses, puckered lips, and flowing hair, Khoshroo has evoked the delicacy and vulnerability humans face in precarious situations.

We live in fragile times, and I feel the need to find new materials and the mindset to reinvent my practice. Wool brings warmth and intimacy to these portraits and plays with provoking the nurture instinct. Making male portraits with this habitually perceived feminine material is part of a personal journey in re-interpreting the masculine condition.

The artist tells Colossal that he preferred to keep the pigmented rovings in their natural form, rather than spinning them into thread or pairing them down before use. “I laid the wool like floating brush strokes and these are the results. I guess coming to a new material without any predisposition makes it easier to create something without the burden of established techniques,” he says. Khoshroo sees these works as an extension of his established practice that produces similarly abstract portraits. 

To follow his upcoming endeavors, which includes crafting larger wool sculptures, head to Instagram. Check out this process video on his site, too.

 

 

 



Art

Vibrant Skeletal Interpretations of Celebrities and Fashion Icons Define Bradley Theodore’s Paintings

March 30, 2020

Vanessa Ruiz

“Anna and Karl” (2017). All images © Bradley Theodore

Energetic brushstrokes, chromatic colors, and the skeletons of pop culture icons make up the prolific work of Miami-based artist Bradley Theodore. His bold use of color is inspired by his roots in Turks and Caicos and the fashionable subjects he’s met in New York and Miami.

The skeletal theme represents something far from morbid. Theodore explained to Omeleto in his documentary Becoming: Bradley Theodore, “a skull for me represents a symbol of a person’s spirit. It’s like I’m wrapping someone’s soul around their skeletal system.” Theodore finds a middle layer of vibrancy that serves as a source of unity.

Theodore is a self-taught painter learning primarily from YouTube and by analyzing the techniques of famous artists, like Salvador Dalí. The artistic practice came from a particularly dark period in his life where he decided that rather than be consumed by darkness, he would metamorphose through art. Theodore spent a year in near-total isolation obsessively painting—so much so that he injured his shoulder from repetitive motion.

Theodore emerged from isolation and painted an outdoor mural of fashion icons Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld together to honor their long-term friendship. The debut went viral and remains one of the artist’s most iconic pieces.

Since then, Theodore has depicted some of the most recognizable icons from fashion, music, celebrity, and history, including Tom Ford, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Kate Moss, Prince, Cara Delevingne, and Queen Elizabeth. His murals can be spotted on the streets of major cities, like Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Oslo, and Paris.

Theodore is represented by Maddox Gallery in London. Follow his vibrant paintings, street art, and collaborations on Instagram.

“Diana Vreeland” (2017)

“Tom Ford” (2015)

“Kate” 2016

“Frida” (2014)

“Untitled Self-Portrait” (2018)

“Queen Elizabeth” (2016)

“Coco’s Flowers” (2015)