self-portrait

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Art

Red Eyes Are Bold Counterparts to Subjects in Shades of Gray in Annan Affotey's Portraits

February 17, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Annan Affotey, shared with permission

In his sensitive, introspective portraits, Ghanaian artist Annan Affotey (previously) sharpens the contrast between soul and appearance. His works are large in scale and rich with texture, and he often sets figures against solid, monochromatic backdrops with visible brushstrokes. Similar to artist Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, Affotey renders his subjects’ skin in shades of gray and dresses them in vibrant garments and patterned accessories. The distinctions in color and fabric coincide with the figures’ facial expressions and gestures, all of which the artist uses as a prompt. He says:

The first assumptions made about people are based on sight. So things like skin colour, clothing, accessories, background, setting, and pose dictate emotion. There’s no guarantee those things match the character underneath. We’re often identified by what we’re compared to (or against). My work is a social commentary on this, asking the viewer to take a second look at what they read from my portraits and why.

Using a mix of acrylic and charcoal, Affotey also continues his signature red eyes, which reference his experience of being questioned about his lifestyle when he moved to the U.S. Now more bold, the recurring feature ranges from subtle halos around pupils to bright washes of pigment that spread across the sclera.

Some of Affotey’s figurative pieces are on view at both Arushi Gallery in Los Angeles and PM/AM in London through mid-March, and you can find more on Instagram. He also has two residencies slated in 2022, which will culminate in exhibitions in Saint Paul de Vence, France, opening on May 1 and another in mid-October in London.

 

 

 



Art Photography

Ornate Painted Patterns Conceal Photographer Cecilia Paredes Against Textile Backdrops

November 8, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Blue Flight” (2021). All images courtesy of Ruiz-Healy Art, shared with permission

Peruvian artist Cecilia Paredes continues her ongoing series of camouflaged self-portraits with deceptive new works that leave only her hair, eyes, and ears untouched. Set against lavish backdrops printed with birds in shades of blue, floral motifs, and ornate flourishes, Paredes paints her skin and positions herself in a precise alignment with the chosen pattern, disappearing among the colorful landscapes. Each work, which the Lima-born artist refers to as “photo performances,” considers how individual identities are informed by natural environments and the broader cultural milieu. Explore an archive of Paredes’s lavish portraits at Ruiz-Healy Art, Artsy, and Instagram.

 

“The Unseen Glance” (2021)

“Paradise Hands IV” (2020)

“The Whisper” (2021)

“The Forest” (2021)

“Magnolia Stories” (2020)

 

 



Art

Colorful Raw Wool Is Twisted into Expressive Busts by Salman Khoshroo

September 27, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Salman Khoshroo, shared with permission

Complementing his series of raw wool portraits, Iranian artist Salman Khoshroo shapes chunks of dyed fibers into expressive busts. The figurative sculptures capture an array of emotions and vary in abstraction, sometimes using aqua rovings for lips and eyelids and others remaining more faithful to a subject’s features. Whether an intimate self-portrait or mischievous character outfitted with jackal teeth, the pieces are evidence of Khoshroo’s perceptive, nuanced practice. “Constructing the face with transparent layers of thinned wool creates depth, much like glazing in painting,” he writes about his process. “I make self-portraits regularly about one every year. This one is the first sculpture and has a unique presence. (It) reminds me of my own mortality.”

Khoshroo recently moved from Tehran to London to study at Goldsmith’s University, and you can follow his work, which includes impasto portraits and other fiber-based sculptures, on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Posed Women Rendered in Vibrant Gradients by Hanna Lee Joshi Embody Loss and Acceptance

July 28, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Alignment of Virtue.” All images © Hanna Lee Joshi, shared with permission

Twisting into subtle backbends or hunching into a cross-legged crouch, the faceless women that find themselves at the center of Hanna Lee Joshi’s practice all personify an aspect of the artist herself. Conveyed through vibrant gradients in gouache and colored pencil, the figures shown here are companions to those the Korean-Canadian artist created last year, although they plunge deeper into themes of loss, acceptance, and inclusivity. “The magic and mystery of life can seem very fleeting when you’re in the pits of depression. I wanted to reconnect with that spark of fire within,” she says, explaining:

I’m working on pieces that explore finding my identity and the nature of the self. Reconnecting with my Korean heritage and accepting all the things that make up who I am. In the end, I am just a piece of this earth having an experience of the self, and I’m trying to make a visual representation of some of it.

The introspective subjects have signature features like elongated torsos and limbs, dark, glossy locks, and large hands gesturing yogic mudras that further visualize emotion and feeling. The women are subversive in color and form, deviating from the skin tones and body shapes typically associated with nude figures.

Joshi, who’s based in Vancouver, is preparing for upcoming exhibitions at Spoke Art SF on August 7, at Thinkspace Projects in October, and later in fall at Hashimoto Contemporary. Prints are available in her shop, and you can see a few works-in-progress on Instagram.

 

“Wheel of Desire”

“Liberation”

“Pursuit of Prosperity”

“I’m a Little Shy But That’s Okay”

“Sun, Moon, and Fire”

 

 



Art Photography

Clusters of Bright Balloons Envelop Photographer Fares Micue in Her Expressive Self-Portraits

July 26, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Contagious energy.” All images © Fares Micue, shared with permission

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

Limited-edition prints of many of the pieces shown here are available from Saatchi Art, and you can explore an extensive archive of Micue’s exquisitely composed portraits on Instagram.

 

“Chasing illusions”

“Endless options,” in collaboration with Artstar

“Winter blues,” in collaboration with Artstar

“Too many expectations”

“The happiness source”

“Revive your curiosity”

“I choose you”

 

 



Art

An XXL-Edition Compiles All of Frida Kahlo's 152 Artworks in an Extensive Celebration of Her Life and Work

July 22, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Self-portrait with Small Monkey” (1945), oil on masonite, 22 x 16⅜ inches, Mexico City, Xochimilco, Museo Dolores Olmedo, photo by akg-images

An enormous new book from Taschen explores the life and work of famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907–1954). Widely recognized as a groundbreaking figure in contemporary understandings of gender and sexuality, Kahlo’s now iconic image—particularly derived from her more than 50 self-portraits showing her bold brow, braided hair, and range of floral adornments—has secured her legacy as one of the most influential and profound artists of the 20th Century.

Spanning 624 pages and weighing nearly 12 pounds, Frida Kahlo. The Complete Paintings compiles all 152 of her works paired with diary pages, letters, drawings, an illustrated biography, and hundreds of photos taken by Edward Weston, Manuel and Lola Álvarez Bravo, Nickolas Muray, and Martin Munkácsi that glimpse moments from Kahlo’s life with her husband and muralist Diego Rivera and of the Casa Azul, her home in Mexico City. Many of the pieces included haven’t been exhibited publicly in more than 80 years.

 

Edited by Luis-Martín Lozano with contributions from Andrea Kettenmann and Marina Vázquez Ramos, the volume contextualizes Kahlo’s paintings by offering an intimate and wide-reaching exploration of her oeuvre that was so profoundly impacted by her experiences with a lifelong disability and an unending need to question politics and notions of identity. Lozano describes her unparalleled contributions in a conversation with It’s Nice That:

Her uniqueness in art history is not only based in a feminist agenda as it has been stressed out in recent years, but mostly in her capacity to engage in ideological and aesthetic discussions of her time and contemporaries, in subjects such as public art and surrealism, and make them part of her core as an artist.

Frida Kahlo. The Complete Paintings is currently available from Taschen and for pre-order on Bookshop.

 

“The Little Deer” (April–May 3, 1946), oil on masonite, 8⅞ x 11 inches, Chicago, private collection, photo © Fine Art Images/Bridgeman Images

“Portrait of Luther Burbank” (1931), oil on masonite, 34 x 24. inches, Mexico City, Xochimilco, Museo Dolores Olmedo, photo by akg-images

“Ixcuhintli Dog with Me” (c. 1938), oil on canvas, 30 x 20 inches, United States, private collection, photo by akg-images

 

 

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