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Art

In Bright Paintings Full of Color, Artist Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe Depicts Black Subjects in Gray

July 6, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Sitter” (2019), oil on canvas, 86 x 54.75 inches. Photo by Robert Wedemeyer. All images © Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, shared with permission

For Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, pastel backdrops and numerous shades of orange, blue, and pink directly connect to the Black subjects depicted in his oil paintings. The artist, who was born in Ghana and now resides in Portland, uses a range of bold hues to engage with emotions. “Through time, I have formed a unique language through color, one that serves to communicate directly to my audience,” he tells Colossal.

With skin rendered in shades of gray, each subject helps to establish the contours of the textured piece. Through the style and color of their clothing, distinct poses, and facial expressions, Quaicoe reveals their personalities, of which he writes:

When I first see my subjects, whether in real life or in photos, I see in them their resilience, their power, their inner strength. These are the character traits that arrest me, that jump out at me and grab my attention… My subject’s attitude is very important to me. I try to put myself in their place. See what they see, experience what they experience, be who they are.

When painting men, Quaicoe inserts softer elements, like in his recent works “Fur in Black” and “Kwame Asare in Stripes.” “When I paint male figures, I typically incorporate floral elements into the painting as a means to subvert the overall masculine energy of the work,” he says. “These questions—what’s makes someone read as a man, or manly—and how this comes down to societal expectations is something I try to engage within my work.”

Follow the artist’s vivid, subversive work on Instagram and see his available pieces on Artsy. (via Juxtapoz)

 

“Alimatu Yussif” (2019), oil on canvas, 85 x 54 inches. Photo by Alan Shaffer

“Fur on Black” (2020), oil on canvas, 40.25 x 30 inches. Photo by Alan Shaffer

“Kwame Asare in Stripes” (2020), oil on canvas, 84 x 52 inches. Photo by Alan Shaffer

“Lady on Blue Couch” (2019), oil on canvas, 48 x 36 inches. Photo by Robert Wedemeyer

“Radiant” (2019), oil on canvas, 40.75 x 30.5 inches. Photo by Robert Wedemeyer

“The Artist II Kwesi Botchway” (2019), oil on canvas, 85 x 55 inches. Photo by Robert Wedemeyer

“Man and his Black Cat” (2019), oil on canvas, 86 x 54.75 inches. Photo by Robert Wedemeyer

 

 



Art

Ornate Fabrics Cloak Models in Disquieting Portraits by Artist Markus Åkesson

June 30, 2020

Grace Ebert

“The Grove” (2020), oil on canvas, 180 x 140 centimeters. All images © Markus Åkesson, shared with permission

Swedish artist Markus Åkesson enshrouds his subjects in elaborately patterned silks and satins, leaving only the impression of their faces, limbs, and torsos visible. An extension of his ongoing Now You See Me series, the artist’s latest paintings continue his exploration of repetition and the unsettling feelings evoked by being wrapped in fabric. By completely covering his models, they “became a secret. Instead, I started to tell a story within the pattern itself, like a sub-narrative in the painting,” he writes.

Åkesson’s pieces begin with designing the traditional, florid motifs that are printed onto the largely unshaped fabrics. The artist then envelops models in the textiles before posing the subjects for the discomfiting portraits. “I have always been interested in patterns, I am drawn to the repetition and the rhythm,” he tells Colossal. “I did a lot of paintings with people that were surrounded by patterns, different surfaces, and materials, almost drowning in them. Eventually, they became completely covered in fabrics.”

Åkesson’s work will be on view this fall at Da-End Gallery in Paris. Until then, follow his heavily patterned paintings on Instagram.

 

“At the heart of it all (2020), oil on canvas, 60 x 50 centimeters

“Now You See Me” (2019), oil on canvas, 180 x 140 centimeters

“Yellow Veil” (2019), oil on canvas

“Now you see me (Dysmorphia 10)” (2018), oil on canvas, 145 x 100 centimeters

“Now you see me (Blue and Gold Kimono)” (2019), oil on canvas, 180 x 140 centimeters

“In the quiet morning” (2020), oil on canvas, 145 x 100 centimeters

“Danse Macabre” (2020), oil on canvas, 145 x 100 centimeters

 

 



Art

Solemn Faces Emerge from Hazy Portraits by Artist GyoBeom An

June 23, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © GyoBeom An, shared with permission

Rendered in thick pencil, a new series of portraits by Seoul-based artist GyoBeom An feature models’ faces obscured in a monochromatic haze. While the distinct characteristics remain, a smudged overlay casts each subject in a blur. An tells Colossal that he begins with a figurative drawing that’s composed and deconstructed over and over. No matter the medium—the artist works in pencil, pen, and acrylic paint—he strives to reflect the “conflicts and emotions aroused from distinct social roles…that ranges from models and cartoon characters to gods.” For more of An’s considerations of the self and societal dynamics, head to Behance.

 

 

 



Art Craft

Hand-Tufted Patches of Color Form Lush Fiber Portraits by Artist Simone Saunders

June 18, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Black Lives Matter II,” 23 x 32 inches. All images © Simone Saunders, shared with permission

Alberta-based artist Simone Saunders hand-tufts bold, colorful portraits with themes of identity and Black history woven throughout. Crafting vibrant patches of fibers that form eyes, lips, and garments, Saunders casts her earnest subjects against austere backgrounds, which sometimes are marked with “Black Lives Matter.”

The textured artworks serve as a site for conversation, prompting questions about race relations and societal injustices. “Textiles engage upon a search for belonging: studying the Black female body, personal identities, and a connection to Black history,” the artist tells Colossal. “I create colorful portraits of Black people who are leaders within their respective disciplines: the arts, music, sports, advocacy. It’s important to carry forward their message and have their legacy move through different channels, like my textiles.”

To keep up with Saunders’s socially engaged projects, follow her on Instagram, and several of the artworks shown here are available for purchase on her site. (via Design Milk)

 

“G a i a,” 23 x 33 inches

“Little One”

“Justice for Ahmaud” (2020), 23 x 31 inches

“It Matters” (2020)

“It Matters” (2020)

 

 



Art

In Artist Adrian Brandon’s Incomplete Portraits, A Year of Life Equals One Minute of Color

June 17, 2020

Grace Ebert

Breonna Taylor. All images © Adrian Brandon, shared with permission

When Adrian Brandon starts to color a portrait, he sets a timer. For his rendering of Breonna Taylor, the clock is set to 26 minutes—for George Floyd, 46 minutes, for Tony McDade, 38, and for Aiyana Stanley Jones, just seven. “When the alarm sounds, I am hit with a wave of emotions ranging from anger, to deep sadness, to hopelessness, to feeling lucky that I am still here,” he says.

The Brooklyn-based artist is working on Stolen, a series of partially filled-in depictions of Black people murdered by police. Each portrait remains incomplete as Brandon only colors one minute for each year of the subject’s life before it was cut short. “Aside from being able to give the viewer a visual of the various ages affected by police violence, the timer creates a lot of anxiety for me as the artist,” he says, wondering, “’When is the timer going off?’ ‘Will I be able to finish this eye?’ ‘Damn, I haven’t even gotten to the lips yet.’” In a note to Colossal, Brandon expanded on the project:

Although this anxiety may seem minor in that the consequences for me are very low, it does really have an effect on me. Anxiety is a feeling that black people are far too familiar with, and to experience that feeling while illustrating these portraits allows each piece to feel like a performance. A lot of Black people are forced to live with this anxiety and accept it as part of our every day. But these feelings build up and are exhausting. I shouldn’t have to do a prayer every time I see police pursuing a Black person in the streets. I shouldn’t feel anxious when the police are talking to a person of color. I shouldn’t feel so damn anxious that I remove my hat and jewelry when the cops pull me over. I shouldn’t feel so anxious that I would second guess calling the police if I ever needed to. This series is pulling me in, in ways that art has never done.

Brandon has been sharing deeper insights behind the portraits, in addition to timelapse videos, on Instagram. (via Kottke)

 

Aiyana Stanley Jones

George Floyd

Left: Samuel DuBose. Right: Jordan Edwards

Botham Jean

Tony McDade

Left: Gregory Gunn. Right: Jemel Roberson

Sandra Bland

Left: Philando Castile. Right: Eric Garner

Akai Gurley

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Adrian Brandon (@ayy.bee) on

 

 



Art Photography

Striking Portraits by Artist Tawny Chatmon Embellished with Gold Garments and Ornate Backdrops

June 9, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Tawny Chatmon, shared with permission

In The Redemption, photography-based artist Tawny Chatmon (previously) celebrates the beauty of Black hair through a series of arresting portraits superimposed with 24 karat gold flourishes. Each photograph features a solemn child who’s dressed in hand-painted ornate, gilt garments that are inspired by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt’s Golden Phase. “These portraits are meant to act as a counter-narrative and redemptive measure to uplift and elevate Black hair, tradition, and culture freeing us from negative stereotypes,” Chatmon says in a statement. “An intent, not to be confused with seeking validation, but rather an unyielding affirmation of Black beauty.”

By evoking Klimt, the Maryland-based artist hopes to elicit similar feelings as when considering some of the painter’s pieces like “The Kiss,” for example. “I remember being drawn to the details, the poses, of course, the gold, and the grace,” she says of her initial reaction to his pieces. The ornamental additions immediately signal beauty, which has many different meanings for Chatmon.

Beauty is every child in these portraits. Beauty is individuality and nonconformity. Beauty is something that you saw, that you can’t stop thinking about because it made such a good impression on you. Beauty is the way I felt when I got to hold each of my babies after giving birth to them. Beauty is motherhood. Beauty is when my 15-year-old son makes it a point to hug me every night and tells me he loves me. Beauty is goodness. Beauty is knowing you’re beautiful even in a world hellbent on making you think otherwise.

To explore more of the artist’s layered photographs that consider both personal and cultural conceptions of allure, grace, and strength, head to her site and Instagram.

 

 

 

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