Candid Black-and-White Portraits Capture the Tender Bond Between Photographer Masahisa Fukase and His Cat
In what can simply be described as a love letter to his favorite companion, a series of black-and-white portraits are some of the more affectionate images in Masahisa Fukase’s vast body of work. The late Japanese photographer, who died in 2012 after living his last two decades in a coma following a tragic fall in 1992, is known for his portraiture and candid shots, including his groundbreaking collection spotlighting the wild lives of ravens. Largely focused on capturing the world around him, Fukase’s oeuvre also includes an array of photos of his beloved cat Sasuke.
Now compiled in a book published by Atelier EXB, 123 of the photographer’s portraits are a tender portrayal of the pair’s companionship. Although Fukase raised many cats throughout his lifetime, none played as important a role as Sasuke, the titular pet of the volume.
Fukase began photographing Susake in 1977, only after a heartbreaking rift. Just ten days after the photographer brought the cat home, he ran away. After pasting hundreds of missing posters around his neighborhood—these are recreated on the book’s cover—a woman called saying she had found a kitten matching the description in Harajuku and would bring it back. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the original Sasuke. “When I first set eyes on this cat that was not mine, I was disappointed,” Fukase said, “but as I’m a real cat lover and can’t resist them, I soon thought: ‘Come on, let’s pretend that it’s him,’ and that’s how I came to adopt Sasuke Two.”
Masahisa Fukase: Sasuke therefore features images of the second Sasuke, along with portraits of the cat he adopted later named Momoe. Because the pair traveled frequently with Fukase, they’re seen in both quiet moments at the photographer’s home and in public areas. Images include an array of feline antics, including shots of them scattering birds in a park, yawning, and even scaling a window.
Printed in English and French, Masahisa Fukase: Sasuke is available now from Atelier EXB, which also released two limited editions featuring collotype prints, and for pre-order from Bookshop. You also might enjoy Walter Chandoha’s massive volume dedicated to feline companionship.
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Curved patches and geometric blocks comprise the layered portraits by Denver-based artist Lui Ferreyra (previously). Working both digitally and with colored pencil on paper, Ferreyra overlaps outlined fragments filled with thin lines to convey shadow and light, creating nuanced portrayals of his subjects. The prismatic works shown here are some of the artist’s more recent personal projects and commissions, which show the development of his distinct style during the last few years, in addition to the contrast he continues to draw between densely composed fields of color and larger expanses of negative space.
Ferreyra is currently a resident in The Ramble Hotel’s Art Can program, and his illustrations will be on view at the Denver location’s pop-up gallery through September 7. A few prints are available in his shop, and you can follow his work on Instagram.
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Textured Patchworks of Sequins, Plastic Beads, and Oil Paint Comprise Trevon Latin's Dazzling Portraits
Through a patchwork of glitzy sequins and humble cottons, New York-based artist Trevon Latin renders a fantastical world fit for an equally nuanced ensemble of characters. His mixed-media portraits and stuffed sculptures, which uniquely contrast color, texture, and medium in striking collaged pieces, draw their founding characteristics from queer nightlife, virtual reality, and mythology.
Having completed an MFA in painting and printmaking at Yale in 2020, Latin expands on his classical training by utilizing various found materials, including swatches of patterned fabric, multi-color beads, plastic barrettes, and sequins. His portraits center on spliced, abstracted figures stretched on a round frame or couples mid-embrace, with lush, rolling fields occupying the foreground. These green expanses evoke the landscapes of southeastern Texas, which the Houston-born artist and performer knows well, and offer a contrast to the otherwise ostentatious subjects.
The plush sculptures highlight the more mythical qualities of Latin’s practice, portraying shimmering hybrid characters elevated on pedestals. His 2021 work “I Break Too Easily” is similarly fantastical, featuring an aqua 3D-printed mask with long beaded tendrils hanging from its mouth. Whether depicted on canvas or as a fully-formed figure, each of the works is a flamboyant and elaborate embodiment of Shaturqua Relentless, a non-binary character the artist has performed in recent years. The resulting works reveal an inherent intimacy and idiosyncrasy, marking an entry point into an evolving narrative.
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In her ongoing series of self-portraits, Spain-based photographer and artist Fares Micue (previously) trades her usual monarchs and lush, leafy botanicals for bright airborne balloons. The perfectly round vessels appear suspended in motion as they encircle Micue’s torso, conceal her face, or lead her up a painted stairway. The amorphous clusters follow the artist’s distinct use of color, adding either a stark contrast to her clothing and the backdrop or blending with the existing architectural palette.
In a note to Colossal, Micue shares that while she brings in organic elements like flowers and leaves to evoke the earth’s seasonal patterns, the ballons are derived from the universe’s more foundational and constant elements, like the sun, the moon, and the planets. She explains:
For me, the round shape represents perfection, feelings, energy, and the natural flowing of things…(It) has the ability to move easily like a ball and helps us to move forward like a wheel. They are delicate and soft. Nothing can be hidden around a circle cause it has no edges or pointy corners, and that’s what they represent in my work: the pureness and naturality of our feelings and how they help us to move forward, the energy we share with the world, and how they are always surrounding us shaping our everyday life
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Valencia-based duo Anna Devís and Daniel Rueda (previously) add a playful twist to mundane settings and architectural backdrops. Whether flaring a skirt into a wide, cheesy grin, posing to prop up a facade’s stripes, or gripping the tail of a balloon that looks like a tethered sun, their minimal compositions turn geometric elements and open spaces into theatrical sets ripe with humor and joy.
Devís tells Colossal that each narrative-driven image is the result of extensive planning that begins with an initial sketch, involves pairing a concept and location, and later constructing the props. They don’t use any photo-editing software, meaning that every shot is precisely composed on-site with natural lighting, a process she explains:
We carefully set the stage in real life using all sorts of everyday objects, colorful papers, matching outfits, and tons of natural light. At first glance, one would probably think that most of our images are not very difficult to capture because of their modest appearance. But, with the passing years, we’ve learned that achieving this level of simplicity is really, really complicated.
In the coming months, the duo plans to travel to various locales for photoshoots— “there are a lot of beautiful spaces where we’d love to tell a story, but we haven’t figured it out yet,” Devís says—and are in the process of working on a forthcoming book and a few exhibitions. You can find an extensive archive on both Devís’s and Rueda’s Instagrams, and buy prints on their site.
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At the heart of Matt Small’s practice is the idea that “there’s always potential within everything.” The British artist gravitates toward an overarching theme of disregard in both subject matter and material, choosing oxidized hunks of iron, bits of patinaed copper, and crinkled aluminum strips that have been relegated to the trash to construct his metallic portraits.
Expressive and emotionally charged, the corroded mosaics link rampant overconsumption and widespread tendencies to throw away what’s deemed obsolete or undesirable to the ways adolescents are marginalized and subsequently not seen as viable members of society. “Because of the social backgrounds they come from, young people find themselves overlooked, disregarded, and left uninvested in,” the artist says. “Marrying the discarded item and painting a portrait of a young person on it or utilizing the material to construct a mosaic face, I hope that the viewer sees that everybody and everything has a right to be viewed as valuable and of worth. It’s just up to us to see that.”
In a conversation with Colossal, Small references Marcel Duchamp’s urinal and the way that readymade sculpture upended long-standing notions of worth as a foundational concept he draws on his own practice. By turning debris and seemingly useless materials into works of significance, he hopes to prompt questions about the arbitrary values assigned to objects and people alike, explaining:
The scrap metal has worth because of what I did with it, not because I say it is of worth. The rusted tin can becomes a tone in the face. The shiny metal brings out a highlight on the forehead. All these worthless items have been incorporated into something that someone may now appreciate, and the potential of this scrap item can now be realized.
Small, who lives in his hometown of Camden, currently has work on view as part of Vanguard, which is considering the role of Bristol-area artists who’ve had an outsized impact on British street art since the 1980s. The extensive exhibition, which includes memorabilia and dozens of originals works, is open at M Shed through October 31. If you’re in London, watch for a large-scale mural portrait of the young British entrepreneur Jamal Edwards that Small is working on in Acton, and follow the artist on Instagram to stay up to date with his latest projects.
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