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Art Photography

Vivid Botanics and Butterflies Encircle Photographer Fares Micue in Striking Self-Portraits

August 26, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Memories of a rainy day.” All images © Fares Micue, shared with permission

Surrounded by monarchs or a blanket of blue leaves, Fares Micue (previously) captures vividly composed self-portraits. The Spain-based photographer conceals her face and instead focuses on the organic elements surrounding her torso. Whether a series of origami birds or yellow and red twigs resembling flames, the natural additions merge seamlessly with Micue, who bends and contorts her figure to follow the shapely forms of the arranged objects.

In a note to Colossal, the photographer said she’s been more inclined to create since the onset of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, considering her work an invitation into self-reflection. “I am a firm believer that how we think and feel about life is how we will perceive reality. We must train our brain to always search for the bright side and find hope among the desolation,” she says. While people may not have control over global crises, they are not without agency. “I want them to feel powerful and (acknowledge) the power they have over their life experience and how to use that experience to grow and learn,” she writes.

Find more of the Micue’s nature-infused photographs on Instagram, and pick up limited edition prints on Saatchi Art.

 

“The power of becoming”

“Imaginary prison”

“Growing wiser”

“Fly me away”

“Defensive III”

 

 



Art Illustration

Monumental Ballpoint Pen Portraits Are Rendered on Vintage Collateral by Artist Mark Powell

August 9, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Mark Powell, shared with permission

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.

 

 

 



Art Illustration

Vibrant Digital Portraits by Artist Alexis Franklin Emphasize the Nuances of Emotions

August 3, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Alexis Franklin, shared with permission

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)

 

 

 



Craft Illustration

Dark Backgrounds Dramatize Colorful Portraits of Quilled Paper by Yulia Brodskaya

August 2, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Yulia Brodskaya, shared with permission

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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A post shared by Yulia Brodskaya (@yulia_brodskaya_artyulia) on

 

 



Photography

Ethereal Underwater Photographs by Elinleticia Högabo Glimpse the Subjects Below the Surface

July 31, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Elinleticia Högabo, shared with permission

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.

To follow Högabo’s shots that explore the perspective-altering abilities of water, head to Instagram. (via aint—bad)

 

 

 



Art Illustration

Formed With Geometric Blocks of Color, Modern Women Exhibit Strength in Artist Luciano Cian's Prints

July 23, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Luciano Cian, shared with permission

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.