self-portrait

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Art

Digital Renderings Collage 3D Objects into Futuristic Self-Portraits by Artist Omar Aqil

May 13, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Omar Aqil, shared with permission

Lahore, Pakistan-based artist Omar Aqil (previously) digitally assembles technology, 3D objects, and textured masses into figurative collages for his series Self-Portraits 2050. The futuristic characters all sport a pair of glasses but are otherwise distinct, sometimes conveyed through sleek geometric shapes stacked into facial features and others sprouting whimsical florals and various organic elements. Experimentation and play are at the heart of this new series—which Aqil refers to as “profile pictures”—and his practice overall, resulting in an eclectic collection of self-portraits rooted in the current digital era.

Find more of the artist’s sculptural renderings, which include a variety of abstracted figures and colorful assemblages, on Behance and Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Figurative Wool Sculptures by Nastassja Swift Explore the Memories and Narratives of Blackness

April 13, 2021

Grace Ebert

Detail of “Passage, when momma lets my braids flow down my back,” wool, synthetic braiding hair, wood, plaster, resin, satin. Collaborators are Kiki Jewell, Nyja Amos, Grace Jewell. Photo by David Hunter-Hale. All images © Nastassja Swift, shared with permission

In her salient text, In The Wake: On Blackness and Being, scholar Christina Sharpe delves into the multiple definitions of “wake,” which span from “the path behind a ship, keeping watch with the dead, (to) coming to consciousness.” “In the wake,” Sharpe writes, “the past that is not past reappears, always, to rupture the present.” Largely focused on conversations around anti-Blackness and continued violence, the book is rooted in the afterlife of slavery and what sentiments, practices, and memories linger into the current moment, questions that similarly ground the work of artist Nastassja Swift.

Through fiber-based figures often arranged in large gatherings, Swift explores various narratives tied to Blackness, particularly those that relate to water and ancestral presences. “I’m interested in taking those things as starting points and imaging a space or happening that involves my sculpture and allows me to think through a hypothetical rooted in that memory or history,” the Virginia-based artist says. She derives these stories from texts like Sharpe’s, discussions with friends, and in one instance, a conversation with an older Black woman at a Toni Morrison film screening.

 

“Freedom Whispers in the Sky,” wool and wire

While there are multiple narrative threads in each of her pieces, Swift doesn’t strive to disclose each one, preferring explicit gaps in the connections. “I love knowing that there’s more to what’s being made and imagining other characters or continued happenings around what’s being made,” she says. “That’s not something I’m attempting to convey, rather information that I’m okay not sharing.”

Many of the faces evoke imagined subjects, not relatives Swift has met or seen in photographs, but rather somewhat of “an ancestral presence that allows my hands to make the face in any particular moment without my mind being aware of it.” She always begins with the supple shape of the face and then sculpts the facial details and hair from dyed wool and felt, a process that’s intimate and that’s evolved with two more recent works.

 

“Your Banks are Red Honey Where the Moon Wanders-Self Portrait,” wool, cocoa butter soap, black sand, resin on wood. Photo by David Hunter-Hale

“With ‘Passage, when momma lets my braids flow down my back’ (2021) and ‘Your Banks are Red Honey Where the Moon Wanders-Self Portrait’ (2020), everything changed,” Swift says, describing the shift in the process to that of a ritual. The first of these two works, “Passage,” is a bubblegum pink figure sporting a collar marked with smaller heads arranged in a gradient. Long braids descend down the torso and pool on the floor. Second is Swift’s self-portrait, which features a calm face shaped in deep red wool that’s silhouetted by braids and figurative tendrils. Both interpret specific subjects as West African masks and sculptural forms in order to question “what it means to worship someone, and how that word could be reshaped to allow us to honor those around us,” the artist says.

Swift will have a satellite exhibition titled Canaan: when I read your letter, I feel your voice at the Contemporary Arts Network in Newport News from June 5 to July 3, 2021. Thanks to the Art as Activism Grant from the Black Box Press Foundation, the pieces will then travel for a stay at the Galveston Arts Center. The artist sells some felted dolls and other goods in her shop, and head to Instagram for glimpses into her studio and a larger collection of her sculptures.

 

“A Party for Sojourner,” wool, natural dyes, and tulle. Photo by Marlon Turner

Passage, when momma lets my braids flow down my back,” wool, synthetic braiding hair, wood, plaster, resin, satin. Collaborators are Kiki Jewell, Nyja Amos, Grace Jewell. Photo by David Hunter-Hale

“Inner City,” indigo-dyed wool and felt fabric. Photo by David Hunter-Hale

“Concealer,” wool and wire

Swift working on “Passage, when momma lets my braids flow down my back.” Photo by Nalan Smart

 

 



Photography

An Intimate Series About Aging and Time Compiles Portraits of Photographer Nancy Floyd Every Day Since 1982

March 26, 2021

Grace Ebert

Left: February 8, 1984. Right: January 6, 2013. All images © Nancy Floyd, courtesy of Gost, shared with permission

For four decades, Nancy Floyd has fostered a routine around confronting aging directly. Every day since 1982, the Oregon-based photographer has taken a portrait of herself perched on a chair in her living room, standing on the front porch, or posing wherever she’s spending the day for her series, Weathering Time. A forthcoming volume published by Gost compiles thousands of these images in a visceral rumination on what changes as we age.

Each black-and-white photograph frames a posed Floyd, who continually exudes a calm, laid-back temperament, and chronicles the way time impacts her body, relationships, and environment, honing in on her experience as a woman in the United States. Although the images are profoundly intimate and personal—many show her pets, stints in hospitals, and her parents aging—they simultaneously broach the universal. Floyd devotes an entire section to the “Evolution of the Typewriter,” and the project creates a broad visual timeline of advancements in technologies, fashion trends, and larger cultural shifts.

At the moment, the series is comprised of more than 2,500 photographs, 1,200 of which are laid out in simple grids in the 257-page volume. Floyd used a film camera for the first 36 years of the project, a choice that allowed her to take a blank image when she was unable to photograph herself, and only switched to digital last year.

Weathering Time is available for pre-order on Bookshop, and you can find more shots from the expansive collection on Floyd’s Instagram.

 

October 2, 1987

April 12, 2000, Floyd with Cavallino Rampante Berlinetta Fang Smith

Left: 1982. Right: 2016

July 2, 1999, Floyd and Robin

 

 



Art

Architecture and Bold Geometry Fragment Cubist Portraits by Patrick Akpojotor

March 1, 2021

Grace Ebert

“FELA” (2019), acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 inches. All images © Patrick Akpojotor, shared with permission

In his architectural portraits, Patrick Akpojotor visualizes the exchange between humans and their built environments, whether real or imagined. The artist’s spatial body of work, which explicitly contemplates the relationship between interiority and exteriority, is founded in his childhood in Lagos, a city checkered with traditional, colonial, and contemporary structures where he still lives today. “I saw how a former residential area became a commercial one changing how people interacted with that community,” he says.

Rendered in bold blocks of acrylic, Akpojotor’s paintings encourage introspection as they consider how identities inform the design of single buildings and infrastructure, which in turn shape the people who occupy those spaces. The anthropomorphic structures evoke cubist geometry and illusion, fracturing the body with a staircase, brick chimney, or entire house, and some works shown here, including both “In Memory of the Living” pieces, are self-portraits.

Beyond his surroundings in Nigeria, Akpojotor derives inspiration from ancient African sculptures and masks, particularly “the way the forms are intentionally distorted to pass messages and symbols of their (beliefs),” he shares. “In my work, the way object(s) are placed does not matter. What is important is that the object(s) are represented, and the message is passed.”

Find a collection of Akpojotor’s paintings, drawings, and sculptures on his site, in addition to studio shots and glimpses at works-in-progress on Instagram. (via Juxtapoz)

 

“In Memory of the Living I” (2019), acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 inches

Left: “In my Image” (2020), acrylic on canvas, 96 x 63 inches. Right: “Oga Boss” (2020), acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 inches

“Girl with Red Ribbon” (2021), acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 inches

Left: “Witness to the times” (2020), acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 inches. Right: “Time” (2019), acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 inches

“In Memory of the Living II” (2019), acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 inches

 

 



Art Photography

Set Against Lavishly Patterned Backdrops, Photographer Cecilia Paredes Disguises Herself in Stunning Self-Portraits

October 28, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Zanzibar” (2019). All images © Cecilia Paredes, shared with permission

Whether immersing herself in swathes of ornamental textiles or against paisley-style backdrops, Cecilia Paredes is adept at camouflaging herself in the most elaborate settings. The Peruvian artist disguises her figure by painting her exposed skin and draping her torso in lavishly patterned clothing, leaving just her hair and eyes untouched as she snaps a photograph. The meticulously composed self-portraits, which are part of an ongoing body of work, blur the boundaries between subject and surrounding environment as they consider themes of nature, origin, and transformation.

Paredes is represented by Ruiz-Healy Art, where some of her smaller works are on view as part of two group exhibitions. See more of her multi-media pieces that explore elements of disguise on Artsy.

 

“Asian Dreams” (2018)

“Shield” (2018)

“The Voyage” (2019)

“Of Wings And Thorns” (2020)

 

 



Art Photography

Vivid Botanics and Butterflies Encircle Photographer Fares Micue in Striking Self-Portraits

August 26, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Memories of a rainy day.” All images © Fares Micue, shared with permission

Surrounded by monarchs or a blanket of blue leaves, Fares Micue (previously) captures vividly composed self-portraits. The Spain-based photographer conceals her face and instead focuses on the organic elements surrounding her torso. Whether a series of origami birds or yellow and red twigs resembling flames, the natural additions merge seamlessly with Micue, who bends and contorts her figure to follow the shapely forms of the arranged objects.

In a note to Colossal, the photographer said she’s been more inclined to create since the onset of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, considering her work an invitation into self-reflection. “I am a firm believer that how we think and feel about life is how we will perceive reality. We must train our brain to always search for the bright side and find hope among the desolation,” she says. While people may not have control over global crises, they are not without agency. “I want them to feel powerful and (acknowledge) the power they have over their life experience and how to use that experience to grow and learn,” she writes.

Find more of Micue’s nature-infused photographs on Instagram, and pick up limited edition prints on Saatchi Art.

 

“The power of becoming”

“Imaginary prison”

“Growing wiser”

“Fly me away”

“Defensive III”

 

 

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