South Korean artist Ilhwa Kim describes her meditative sculptural works as analogous to living architecture, “a live plant or the tree in (an) urban or natural space.” Comprised of carefully placed components in parallel lines and dense fields, Kim’s pieces materialize through innumerable rolled paper seeds that form organic, abstract landscapes and portraits—read about the artist’s painstaking process for crafting the individual elements previously on Colossal.
In each work, Kim arranges an assortment of depths, colors, and textures: she tucks visible folds among more upright segments and installs thin, sweeping lines evocative of a single brushstroke through vast expanses of white. “When moving from painting to sculpture, I wanted to do everything I was able to use in painting; even brush strokes and all the wide color paints,” she tells Colossal. “But I’d like my works to have a far stronger life presence in the physical surroundings as a sculpture.”
Because the dimension of each seed varies, the fluctuating compositions shift in color and texture depending on the perspective of the viewer, animating the scenes with light and shadow. Kim frequently photographs her pieces on sidewalks and in public places, which she shares on Instagram, to present the lively works within similarly bustling environments, and you can see the sculptures in person this October at HOFA Gallery.
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Bold Photographs by Yannis Davy Guibinga Explore Identity Through Color, Texture, and Lavish Fashions
Following his striking examination of the color black, Gabonese photographer Yannis Davy Guibinga returns to the bright, textured compositions he’s known for. His portraits and wider editorial shots center on single figures dressed in lavish gowns and coated with shimmering face paint, considering how garments, makeup, pose, and facial expression all impact identity. “By letting each image tell a different story and illustrate a unique experience, point of view, and perspective… (he) creates a world of powerful, beautiful, and dignified Africans regardless of gender performance, class, or sexual orientation,” a statement says.
Guibinga primarily hovers beneath his subjects when photographing as a way to further bolster the emotional impact of each shot. He explains:
Regarding angles, I try to have different ones in a story in order to have different perspectives, but looking up at my subjects has become with time something that I do almost every time. It offers a way to see the subjects in a very grand and dignified way, and because I collaborate often with young fashion designers, I found that it is also a great way of showing off a garment while still telling a beautiful story with the composition.
Currently based in Montréal where he’s completing a master’s degree, Guibinga has four collections on view at Brick at Blue Star in San Antonio through February 3 and will show another at Galerie XII in Santa Monica opening on February 6. He’s also featured in the recently published book As We Rise: Photography from the Black Atlantic and has a few projects slated for the coming months, which you can follow on Instagram.
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In her new body of work What About the Men?, Jamaica-born, Sarasota-based artist Alicia Brown extracts and reenvisions elements of traditional portraiture. She recasts objects of cultural and social status, like the elaborate gowns and thick ruffled collars worn by wealthy aristocrats throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, by instead rendering her subjects in casual clothing like shorts and rubber flipflops with colorful latex balloons, plants, and plastic bubble wrap coiled around their necks.
Contemporary and subversive, Brown’s oil paintings are rooted in history and a reinvented use of symbols interpreted as power, control, celebration, adaptation, and survival. She explains:
As an artist from the Caribbean, Jamaica, which was colonized by Europe, presently there is still that system of classism that has its origin during slavery and colonialism in Jamaica that the natives have to navigate in order to fit into society. I have referenced the collar as an object that is European and replaced it with objects such as spoons, cotton swaps, shells, balloons, bubble wrap, and recently elements of nature. These collars adorned the neck of the models who are regular people and who are constantly going through a performance of creating an identity to gain acceptance.
Derived from a photograph of a friend, family member, or neighbor, each intimate portrait is set against a lush backdrop of foliage or in domestic scenes with encroaching plant and animal life. “Through my work, I hope to convey to the viewer to look beyond their eyes and to see themselves as the person represented in the painting, to share their world, and to come to the awareness that we share so much in common, we are all connected as beings,” the artist shares.
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Blending sturdy metal with the soft warmth of wool, Joshua Adokuru winds vibrant fibers around precisely placed nails that anchor his expressive and abstract portraits. The Abuja-based artist always incorporates strings in shades of blue, which fill amorphous shapes highlighting the subject’s face or defining the checkered pattern of a sweater. It’s “a natural color, a color of the sky, a color of the sea,” he says, noting that he gravitates toward bold, fantastical hues for skin tones. “Blue has this feeling of peace, a feeling of serenity.”
Formally trained in computer science, Adokuru has been experimenting with different mediums since secondary school, but it wasn’t until spring of 2020 that he started working with thread. His pieces, which are often larger than life, begin with a photograph of a child or friend, which are then translated into a simple sketch on a wooden board. Adokuru accentuates the figure’s silhouette, facial features, and any motif on their clothing or in the backdrop with nails that are glued in place, sprayed with black paint, and finally covered in taught thread. Because the artist is most concerned with capturing his subjects’ exact expressions, he always completes the eyes last.
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Through delicate washes of peach, aqua, and smoky gray, St. Louis-based artist Ali Cavanaugh (previously) renders watercolor portraits that lay her subjects’ spirits bare. “I’m continually searching for something complex in human expression,” she tells Colossal. “Curiosity, sadness, wonder, hesitation, peace, and acceptance all in one glance.”
Cavanaugh paints her dreamlike works on wet clay panels, allowing the bright backdrops to illuminate the translucent pigments. The resulting works are introspective and intimate while simultaneously harnessing the universal experience of the sublime. “I want the viewer to look at one of my portraits and say, ‘What are they thinking?,’ and also at the same time say, ‘This is so familiar and is exactly how my loved one looks at me when they are vulnerable,'” she says.
If you’re in New York, you can see Cavanaugh’s portraits through January 28 at Salmagundi Club. Otherwise, shop available originals on her site, and keep an eye out for future print releases on Instagram. She also shares videos chronicling her process and tutorials on some of her techniques on Patreon.
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Beginning with a line drawing in pencil, U.S.-based artist Ruth Miller renders hand-embroidered portraits based on photos. Her wool tapestries and thread drawings layer stitches in yarns of both realistic and fanciful colors, creating expressive depictions that use the material’s texture to enhance light and shadow. “Coupled with realistic drawing, that tiny amount of physical depth brings the images closer, giving them a more immediate sense of presence… In the months that they’re still in my studio, the stories they tell become more concrete and nuanced in my mind, just as they would in a steadily lengthening conversation,” the artist writes.
Miller’s works are often life-sized and take months to complete, a process she details on her site. “At work, I spend a good deal of time simply looking; first seeing, then wondering,” she shares. “Each of the pieces you see on this page changed me as the narratives within them took form within me.” (via Women’s Art)
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