self-portrait

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Art Craft

Extravagant Masks by threadstories Offer Cultural Commentary on Selfhood and Social Media

March 20, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © threadstories, shared with permission

Covered in full-face masks of fringe and knotted details, threadstories (previously) explores the tension between contemporary portrayals of public and private life. The Irish artist poses in front of gray backdrops for her self-portraits that obscure her face and only sometimes reveal a set of eyes or a mouth through the crocheted exterior.

threadstories tells Colossal that the process for creating each piece is similar. She begins by crocheting the balaclava—sometimes adding space for further detail like pointed ears or a hand-drawn face—before crafting various tufts and dense patches. “The yarns I use when tufting will create an endless array of outcomes from the same technique,” she writes. “The choice of yarn can mean the difference between a mask with a lot of movement or a mask with a strong form that can be brushed and manipulated to hold numerous forms.”

Once she’s photographed the finished project, threadstories deconstructs the pieces to transform them into a new extravagant work. “Generally speaking, I am working intuitively, no design or drawings in advance. I am thinking with my hands,” she says. “For me, it is the photograph or mask on film that is the artwork, not the physical mask. I don’t create pieces like a designer might. The masks are always in a state of flux.”

Each fiber-based creations serves as a visual representation of how people obscure their lives, both intentionally and not, for public consumption. “The masks are sometimes monstrous, other times farcical façades that poke at the performative nature social media cultivates and celebrates,” she writes. Each caption helps build a narrative.

threadstories is questioning how the erosion of personal privacy in the digital age shapes how we view and portray ourselves online. The masks deny the viewer the full story of who the sitter is, echoing the curated or false personas we view online daily. My masks are photographed against a sanitised white square. I know there is often chaos, mess and noise just beyond the margins of that photograph, but the messiness of life doesn’t make the edit for social media.

Find more of the artist’s work that intersects art and cultural commentary on Instagram.

 

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Art

22 Artists Consider the Connection Between Self-Portraits and Identity in ME

January 6, 2020

Grace Ebert

“A bigger splash of plastic” by Cesar Piette. All images shared with permission

ME: An Exhibition of Contemporary Self-Portraiture” asks 22 contemporary artists to explore who they are and how they present themselves. Curated by Sugarlift and Juxtapoz contributing editor and Colossal contributor Sasha Bogojev, the exhibition presents each artists’ understanding of themselves and of the history of self-portraiture. Cesar Piette’s abstract blue face resembles dripping paint partially masked by glasses, while Prudence Flint portrays a woman napping on a pink bed next to a guitar. Many of the artists created their first self-portraits in years, if not ever, specifically for the show, which includes work from Aleah Chapin, Cesar Piette, and Christian Rex van Minnen, among others.

In a conversation with Colossal, Bogojov answered a few questions about contemporary culture and self-awareness, how they influence self-portraiture, and the ways current conceptions of identity show up in ME.

Colossal: How have perceptions of the self changed since the creation of such a selfie-obsessed culture?

Bogojev: Oh, that is a tough one and I’m certain there are papers if not books written on that subject. But I do feel that a selfie-obsessed culture created more self-awareness on different levels. For this show, in particular, I feel like lots of artists wanted to fight against the popular idea of “self” or what we know now as selfie, by presenting themselves imperfect, flawed, caricatured, even grotesque in some cases.

Colossal: Could you talk a little more about the intersections between psyche, mirror, and others that you see in contemporary self-portraiture?

Bogojev: Modern-day takes are rarely realistic renderings of one’s mirror image and are often including elements that suggest qualities beyond that. Whether playing with light, formatting, color scheme, or simply going away from realism completely, they often focus on the author’s character, emotions, and such. I like to believe that this show encompasses that really well with the variety of approaches and visual languages presented.

Colossal: So many conversations about identity center ideas of multiplicity, of people not having a singular self. How do you see that relating to the face and to self-portraits?

Bogojev: Exactly! I think this is what most artists nowadays are fully aware of and that is why they struggle to find the “right way” to create self-portraits or they create multiple versions of it. Again, I feel it’s the superficiality of selfie-culture that made them extra wary of how they present themselves without jeopardizing their integrity and practice. With their artwork being the most direct and honest way of communicating with the world, it is not easy for an artist to pick one image, or even concept, as a single representation of oneself. I think this is why the artists in ME built their self-portraits by layering different visuals (Van Minnen), assembling a variety of elements (Shiqing), creating an atmosphere they connect to (Flint, Toscani, Chapin), captured an intimate moment that describes them best (Erheriene-Essi, O’Brien).

ME is on view from January 16 to 30 at High Line Nine in New York. If you’re in the city on January 21, stop by for “The Self-Portrait: Antiquity to #Selfie,” a talk by art and culture critic and author Carlo McCormick, historian and Sotheby’s VP of Old Masters Painting Calvine Harvey, and contemporary painter Jenny Morgan.

“Big Dumb Face” by Christian Rex van Minnen

“The Wish” by Prudence Flint

“The Observer” by Tony Toscani

“The Eagle Has Landed” by Esiri Erheriene-Essi

“Life Mask for the Doppleganger” by Jenny Morgan

“Cadmium Flesh Deep” by Paco Pomet

“Learning to be still” by Aleah Chapin, courtesy of the artist and Flowers Gallery, London/New York

 

 



Art Photography

Flower Blossoms Envelop Solitary Figures in Fares Micue’s Self-Portrait Photographs

September 26, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

“Golden Girl”, All photographs shared with permission of the artist

Spain-based photographer Fares Micue uses herself as a muse in spare, otherworldly portraits. Mostly set on plain backgroundsthough Micue does occasionally shoot on locationeach photograph depicts the artist incorporated with a botanical element. In some works, Micue’s face is obscured in a glass bowl sphere bursting with flowers; in others, blossoms cascade down her shoulders.

“It always starts with an idea in my head and the feeling I want to portray. Most times I create a sketch of the image I want to create together with as many details as I can get like colors, mood, location, clothing, props, etc… as well as a short story about the image,” Micue says. Even when working indoors, the artist uses exclusively natural light, and also utilized Photoshop to edit her final images in a way that matches her inner vision.

The photographer shares with Colossal that she is self-taught and started exploring the medium as a hobby in 2009. Micue grew to love the process of creating and critiquing each image as a conceptual work. In pursuing her work more seriously, the artist explains, she hopes to cultivate a range of emotional responses in viewers similar to how she feels in conceptualizing her photographs.

You can see more of Micue’s self-portraits on Instagram and her Saatchi Art profile, where limited edition prints are available for purchase. (via The Jealous Curator)

“Overthinking”

“Hunted”

“Eternal Sunshine”

“Lovely Us”

“Utopia”

“Celestial Girl”

“Deeply in Love”

“Tree of Life”

“Hanabi”

 

 



Photography

Quotidian Objects Enrich Striking Black and White Self-Portraits in a New Monograph by Zanele Muholi

April 29, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

"Bester I, Mayotte" (2015), © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, all images from Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness (Aperture, 2018)

“Bester I, Mayotte” (2015), © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, all images from Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness (Aperture, 2018)

South African photographer and activist Zanele Muholi creates striking self-portraits for their series Somnyama Ngonyama, which means “Hail the Dark Lioness” in Zulu. The black and white images elevate everyday objects like clothespins, sunglasses, and wire sponges into elaborate hair pieces and costumes that speak to radical identity and resistance. The extensive series of portraits has recently been compiled into a monograph by Aperture, which contains a conversation with London-based curator Renée Mussai, in addition to more than twenty contributions from writers, curators, and poets.

Ninety powerful representations of the visual activist occupy the pages of Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, which acts as both an autobiographical work and a compendium of resistance. In response to the book’s release Muholi states, “I am producing this photographic document to encourage individuals in my community to be brave enough to occupy spaces—brave enough to create without fear of being vilified. . . . To teach people about our history, to rethink what history is all about, to reclaim it for ourselves—to encourage people to use artistic tools such as cameras as weapons to fight back.”

Muholi has documented black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people throughout South Africa for the past decade. They are the cofounder of the Forum for the Empowerment of Women and founder of Inkanyiso, a forum for queer and visual media. Muholi currently lives and makes work in Johannesburg, South Africa, and is an honorary professor at the University of the Arts Bremen, Germany. You can see more of their portraits on Yancy Richardson Gallery’s website.

"Ntozakhe II, Parktown, Johannesburg" (2016), © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

“Ntozakhe II, Parktown, Johannesburg” (2016), © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

"Senzekile II, Cincinnati" (2016), © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

“Senzekile II, Cincinnati” (2016), © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

"Kodwa I, Amsterdam" (2017), © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

“Kodwa I, Amsterdam” (2017), © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

" Basizeni I, Amsterdam" (2016), © Zanele Muholi, commissioned by and courtesy of Autograph ABP, London

” Basizeni I, Amsterdam” (2016), © Zanele Muholi, commissioned by and courtesy of Autograph ABP, London

"Zithulele, Worcester, South Africa" (2016), © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

“Zithulele, Worcester, South Africa” (2016), © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

“Faniswa, Seapoint, Cape Town” )2016); © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

 

 



Art Photography

Camouflaged Self-Portraits Conceal Photographer Cecilia Paredes Against Bright Floral Patterns

November 26, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

"Both Worlds" (2009), all images provided by Cecilia Paredes

“Both Worlds” (2009), all images provided by Cecilia Paredes

Peruvian artist Cecilia Paredes is the subject of her own richly patterned photographs, yet her figure is often difficult to locate at first. For each portrait she hangs boldly printed fabrics as the backdrop, which she then matches either with her painted skin, custom clothing, or both. Her torso, arms, and face fade into the background, as the curvature of her body and brown hair become some of the only indicators of her presence.

“I wrap, cover, or paint my body with the same pattern of the material and re-present myself as part of that landscape,” she explains. “Through this act, I am working on the theme of building my own identification with the entourage or part of the world where I live or where I feel I can call home. My bio has been described as nomadic so maybe this is also a need of addressing the process of constant relocation.”

Paredes was born in Lima, Peru and currently works between Philadelphia, Lima, and Costa Rica. Currently she has a solo exhibition at Museum of Latin America Art (MOLAA) in Los Angeles through December 30, 2018, and will open another solo exhibition at the Museum of the University of Navarra (MUN) in Spain on March 27, 2019. (via LensCulture)

'Dreaming Rose"

‘Dreaming Rose”

"Mia Standing with Butterflies" (2015)

“Mia Standing with Butterflies” (2015)

'Paradise Hands" (2011)

‘Paradise Hands” (2011)

"En tus alas" (2014)

“En tus alas” (2014)

"Lilly" (2014)

“Lilly” (2014)

"Nocturne" (2009)

“Nocturne” (2009)

"Art Nouveau" (2011)

“Art Nouveau” (2011)

"Blue Landscape" (2007)

“Blue Landscape” (2007)

 

 



Art Craft Illustration

Hand-Sewn Portraits by Sheena Liam Capture Quiet Moments of Self Care

October 16, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Malaysian-born artist and model Sheena Liam (previously) creates self-portraiture through dark green thread and embroidery hoops. The hand-sewn images imitate her own subtle gestures from her day-to-day life, focusing on rituals of self care. “In a strange way modeling parallels my art in the sense I often have to use body language as means of expressing a certain sort of mood,” she explains. “It’s no different from my embroideries.”

Long locks flow off the canvas from sewn ponytails and braids, which give the monochromatic work a sense of movement from their static position on the wall. Liam’s first solo exhibition in France, Times New Romance, opens at Item Gallery in Paris on October 19, 2018 and runs through October 27, 2018. You can see more of her works on Instagram.

     

 

 

 

 

 



Art Craft Photography Science

Self Portraits Embroidered With Images of Blood Vessels, Bones, and Muscle Tissue by Juana Gómez

February 28, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Artist Juana Gómez turns her gaze inward in order to understand the larger systems that compose the outside world. She embroiders the bones, muscles, veins, and synapsis that lie below her skin onto self-portraits, tracing her biological structures as a way to translate the similar patterns found in nature and modern civilization.

“There is fundamental law that can be seen in the veins of a leaf, the course of rivers and their tributaries, the circuits of the central nervous system, the currents of the sea, and the routes of traffic on the Internet,” says Gómez in an artist statement. “Deciphering this common language, which connects the micro cosmos with the macro cosmos, the external and the interior world, allows us to distinguish a pattern that influences inert, biological, social and cultural systems.”

Gómez first photographs sections of her body—face, torso, hands, legs, feet—which she then prints onto loose linen or another similar fabric. Next, she embroiders onto her duplicated skin, stitching brightly colored thread over her tattooed body (an element which adds another layer of texture to her personal works). In addition to these embroidered self-portraits, Gómez has also created an in situ thread-based work titled Cultivo. You can see both methods of her practice on her website.