Although busy hives filled with honeybees tend to dominate mainstream imagery and conversations about bee populations, 90 percent of the insects are actually solitary creatures that prefer to live outside of a colony. This majority, which is comprised of tens of thousands of species, are also superior pollinators in comparison to their social counterparts because they’re polylectic, meaning they collect the sticky substance from multiple sources, making them even more crucial to maintaining crops and biodiversity.
“Whilst bee numbers, on the whole, are increasing, this is almost exclusively due to the increase in beekeeping, specifically honey bees,” wildlife photographer Josh Forwood tells Colossal. “Due to the artificially boosted populations in concentrated areas, honey bees are becoming too much competition for many solitary bee species. This, in turn, is driving almost a monoculture of bees in some areas, which has huge knock-on effects on the surrounding ecosystem.”
The U.K. alone boasts 250 solitary species, a few of which Forwood photographed in a series of portraits that reveal just how unique each individual is. To capture the creatures up-close, he constructed a log-and-bamboo bee hotel while bound to his home in Bristol during quarantine—Forwood frequently travels around the globe to document wildlife for clients including Netflix, Disney, BBC, National Geographic, and PBS.
After about a month, the hotel was in a buzz of activity, prompting Forwood to attach a camera to the end of the lengthy tubes and photograph the creatures as they crawled inside. The resulting portraits demonstrate just how incredibly unique each insect is with wildly differing body forms, color, eye shapes, and hair patterns. Every bee is in a nearly identical pose and its facial features dramatically framed in a ring of natural light for comparison, revealing how each insect truly has its own identity. Because the images only capture them from the front, Forwood says it’s difficult to estimate how many different species visited the structure considering most are identified by the shape and color of their bodies.
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Photographer Sebastião Salgado spent six years immersed in the Brazilian Amazon as he documented the world’s largest tropical rainforest in black-and-white. From wide, aerial shots framing the vegetation populating the landscape to sincere portraits of Indigenous peoples living throughout the region, Salgado’s wide-ranging photographs are a revealing and intimate study of the area today.
Titled Amazônia, a 528-page tome from Taschen compiles these images, which in the absence of color, are attentive to naturally occurring contrasts in light and texture. They explore the unique environment and cultural milieu Salgado experienced during his travels as he visited multiple small communities—the tribes include the Yanomami, the Asháninka, the Yawanawá, the Suruwahá, the Zo’é, the Kuikuro, the Waurá, the Kamayurá, the Korubo, the Marubo, the Awá, and the Macuxi—to create a visual record of their traditions and ways of life. “For me, it is the last frontier, a mysterious universe of its own, where the immense power of nature can be felt as nowhere else on Earth,” the Brazilian photographer said. “Here is a forest stretching to infinity that contains one-tenth of all living plant and animal species, the world’s largest single natural laboratory.”
Pre-order a copy on Bookshop, and keep an eye on Taschen’s site for a forthcoming art edition that’s packaged with a signed print. You also can explore an archive of Salgado’s photographs capturing moments around the globe from Botswana and Mali to Guatemala and Vietnam on Artsy.
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Iranian artist Salman Khoshroo (previously) continues his wool portraiture series with dozens of new sculptural works. Chunky, dyed rovings stretch and curl into facial features, beards, and coifs that pair the supple shape and color of the raw materials with a unique expression.
This nuanced set expands on the original collection he created last year in response to quarantine and personal trauma, although they deviate with more stable and durable structures and new materials like velvet and synthetic fur. Khoshroo describes this evolved process as therapeutic and indicative of wide-spread change:
Weaving inanimate fibers into faces has brought me comfort and helped with overcoming my own experience of contracting the virus. These portraits are delicate and vulnerable and resonate with my own precarious situation. 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.
In addition to shaping unspun wool into the portraits shown here, Khoshroo also has been creating full busts with the natural fiber along with sculptures made of foam paint, all of which you can see on his site and Instagram.
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An Expansive Exhibition Pairs Two Indigenous Artists to Explore the Power of Socially Engaged Artmaking
A monumental patchwork wolf, warriors sparring with a fang-bearing snake, and an abstract woolen tapestry made of restored blankets comprise Each/Other: Marie Watt and Cannupa Hanska Luger, which opens this weekend at the Denver Art Museum. The expansive exhibition—featuring 26 mixed-media sculptures, installations, and wall hangings—joins two of the leading Indigenous artists working today in a manner that distinguishes both the connective threads and nuances within their bodies of work.
Situated at the center of the space is the 16-foot creature the pair created together by fashioning about 700 patterned bandannas submitted by an international crew around a steel armature. The collaborative installation, titled “Each/Other,” physically tethers Watt’s and Luger’s individual artworks while drawing on the socially engaged aspects inherent to both of their practices.
Based in New Mexico, Luger is a multi-media artist of Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota, and European descent whose projects often speak to contemporary life within Indigenous communities. For example, his 2018 piece “Every One” strings together 4,096 ceramic beads into a pixelated portrait of a young figure. Each individual orb represents one of the women, girls, and queer and trans folks who have been murdered or gone missing in Canada.
Watt, who is a member of the Seneca Nation and has Scottish and German heritage, utilizes everyday objects steeped in historical narratives and collective memory. Whether presented through leaning, stacked towers or smaller wall hangings, the Portland-based artist primarily works with materials gathered from the community, like blankets stitched in sewing circles.
Following the end of its run in Denver on August 22, Each/Other will visit the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta from September 25 to December 12, 2021, and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem from January 29 to May 8, 2022. Find out more about Luger and Watt on their sites.
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Japanese artist Yoshitoshi Kanemaki (previously) carves fickle, ambivalent, and even contradictory sentiments in his figurative sculptures that embody a range of emotions. The wooden characters are surreal in form with multiple limbs, duplicate features, and recurring faces that wind entirely around their bodies. Whether conveyed through kaleidoscopic or blurred techniques, each portrait “expresses the dignity of life as a human being, the hate and harassment that people experience, and the importance of environmental awareness,” the artist says, explaining:
It’s the hesitation, contradiction, two-sidedness, or multi-sidedness, double standard. These are the problems that all people have, and I express them as sculptures under the concept of “ambivalence.” I want to portrait a modern person, who visualizes the “ambivalent” state that everyone has.
Kanemaki is based in Nagareyama City and is currently altering one of his older works titled “Memento Mori” to deepen its sentiments and add more complexity. Explore an archive of his glitched figures at Fuma Contemporary Tokyo.
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Annan Affotey has an affinity for bold, bright colors that set his subjects apart from the negative space framing their figures. Through gestural strokes that sweep across the canvas, the Ghanaian artist renders intimate portraits of his friends, family members, and the occasional public figure who, through distinctly red eyes, look directly at the viewer, a decision that’s both aesthetic and cultural.
“When I moved to the U.S. from Ghana, I was often questioned why my eyes were red and whether it meant I hadn’t slept or was doing drugs, neither of which was true. And it became a symbol for misinterpreted identities,” he says. That experience was complicated further by cultural expectations, which Affotey explains to Colossal:
I want the subject to have a direct conversation with the viewer, something I couldn’t do myself a few years ago. I am a shy person and when I first moved to the United States I would often look down when talking with people. In Ghana, looking down indicates shyness or respect. After being in the U.S. for a while, I finally came out of my shell and became more accustomed to looking people directly in the eye.
Currently living and working in Oxford, the artist prefers to surround his subjects with impasto strokes because of the liveliness they generate beyond the figures’ expressions. “I use textures in my paintings for several reasons. One reason is to portray energy or emotion centered around my subject,” he says. “I (also) use many textures so that people who can’t see will still have the opportunity to feel the canvas, brush strokes and feel a story from that.”
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