surreal

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with surreal



Illustration

Elaborate Narratives Emerge From the Surreal, Mysterious Worlds of Victo Ngai's Illustrations

May 10, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Hummingbird” (2019). All images © Victo Ngai, shared with permission

Starting with a single word or short prompt from an editor or brand, Victo Ngai (previously) imagines fantastical dreamscapes brimming with surreal details. The Los Angeles-based, Hong Kong-born illustrator collaborates on commissioned projects that, although intended to be paired with an article or advertisement, become visual narratives in their own right. She shapes a tiger from coiled red ribbons, places an enormous hound among a nighttime cityscape veiled in shades of blue, and reinterprets the sun and its rays as a colorful, segmented circle hovering above the horizon. Each piece envisions an elaborately constructed world laced with metaphor and mystery.

Utilizing both analog and digital techniques, Ngai begins with an initial stylized composition. “Sometimes a bright spark can lead to nothing, and sometimes a great idea is not translatable visually. A concept can die anywhere through this ideation process, and I can only breathe easy once a solid preliminary sketch arrives,” she tells Colossal. After drawing a black-and-white outline, she combines various mediums and scanned textures into her final, layered works.

At the moment, Ngai is working on a few illustrated children’s books, which you can follow on Behance and Instagram. She also sells prints and other goods in her shop.

 

“Leap” (2013)

“Tiger” (2022)

“Late Night Dining” (2012)

“The Day” (2012)

“Breast Labyrinth” (2012)

“Empress” (2020)

 

 



Art Photography

Composed Photographic Works by Kylli Sparre Consider Restriction and Movement

May 2, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Sound of Deniance.” All images © Kylli Sparre, shared with permission

A sense of confinement pervades Kylli Sparre’s most recent photographic works, which center on figures trapped in clear vessels, encircled by narrow pools, or enclosed in empty concrete rooms. These surreal, claustrophobic images depart from Sparre’s otherwise energetic shots that tend to position women and young girls in motion, whether leaping in the air or sprinting through a house trailed by a swath of white fabric. The Tallinn, Estonia-based fine art photographer (previously) tells Colossal that the recurring theme of physically constraining her subjects was unintentional and likely informed by the limitations of the last few years.

In her practice, Sparre continues to explore the possibilities of the medium through digital manipulation, collage, exposure time, and movements that reflect her background in ballet. You can find more of her conceptual photos on her site and Instagram.

 

“Family Portrait”

“Advantages”

“Approach”

“Inhale”

“Moment of Soothe”

“Moving Forward”

“Revival”

“The Calling”

 

 



Art Illustration

Elegant Tattoos by Expanded Eye Combine Fragmented Figures and Geometric Details into Surreal Compositions

April 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Jade Tomlinson and Kev James, shared with permission

Splashes of primary colors enhance the dotted lines and angular forms that compose Expanded Eye’s tattoos. Artists Jade Tomlinson and Kev James (previously) are behind the distinctly geometric designs that pair foliage and natural matter with architectural constructions and figures: single hands extend with delicate gestures, fragmented faces open to unveil inner dimensions, and stripes, chevrons, and other patterns fill structural elements. The ink-based works are poetic and surreal, with each composition rooted in narratives of consciousness, relationships, and universal human emotions like grief and joy.

Expanded Eye currently tattoos at Lisbon’s Eritage Art Projects, which also has some of the duo’s prints and sculptural assemblages available in its shop. They just completed a window installation for Hermès in Barcelona, in addition to a print series titled Eyesolation, which constructed characters from the cobalt tiles typical in Lisbon. See those works alongside more of their tattoos on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Peculiar Characters by Sophie Woodrow Flaunt a Bizarre Array of Costumes and Hybrid Features

March 15, 2022

Grace Ebert

Photo by Ben Dowden. All images © Sophie Woodrow, shared with permission

Uncanny hybrid bodies, peculiar garments, and innumerable unearthly details comprise Sophie Woodrow’s troupe of porcelain figures. Living and working in Bristol, the artist sculpts the delicate, white material into characters that blur the line between nature and culture: giant ribbons wrap a horned bull in a bow, a face emerges from a cloud-like form, and multiple heads sprout from a single neck. Evocative of Leonora Carrington’s surreal creatures—the tall “Hearing Trumpet” figure is a nod to Carrington’s bizarre novel by the same name—Woodrow plays with artifice and makes it difficult to distinguish bodily features from costume or accessory.

Throughout her practice, Woodrow continually references art history, and she’s currently working on a series that contrasts wild landscapes with the human impulse to manicure and tame nature’s unruliness. You can follow her progress on Instagram. (via Women’s Art)

 

Left: “Hearing Trumpet,” porcelain, 45 centimeters. Right: “Woodwose,” porcelain, 15 centimeters

Left: “Cirrus,” porcelain, 29 centimeters. Right: “Lamas,” porcelain, 23 centimeters

“Chorus,” porcelain, 42 centimeters

“Bull,” porcelain, 16 centimeters. Photo by Ben Dowden

 

 



Illustration Science

Precise Lines and Stipples Detail Tattoos of Exquisite Scientific Studies by Michele Volpi

March 8, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Michele Volpi, shared with permission

Bologna-based artist Michele Volpi (previously) inoculates his monochromatic tattoos of anatomical figures and biological diagrams with a dose of the surreal. Working in black ink, Volpi renders exquisite scientific illustrations across botany, astronomy, physiology, and chemistry with precise detail. He uses intricate linework and stippled shading to create realistic renderings of human skeletal systems and weather cycles, while skewing the scale or pairing seemingly disparate subject matters to achieve the more unusual qualities.

Although Volpi’s books are closed at the moment, he plans to announce new slots this spring—keep an eye on his Instagram for specifics—and he also has prints and shirts available in his shop.

 

 

 



Art

Floral Arrangements Instigate Trivial Actions in Ethan Murrow's Meticulous Graphite Drawings

March 7, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Retreat” (2022), graphite on paper, 36 x 36 inches. All images © Ethan Murrow and courtesy of Winston Wächter Fine Art New York, shared with permission

In his solo exhibition Magic Bridge, Vermont-born artist Ethan Murrow (previously) overwhelms his subjects with sprawling floral assemblages that cloud their senses and judgment. The graphite drawings center largely on figures undertaking precarious and trivial activities to exert some form of control, often through futile underwater adventures and inexplicable actions atop wooden platforms.

On view at Winston Wächter through April 30, the meticulous renderings are tinged with parody and embrace the bizarre and indeterminate. In addition to the smaller works on paper, Murrow is also creating a large-scale mural in his signature imaginative style at the New York gallery—see the work-in-progress on Instagram. Each of the pieces “mull(s) the lines between logic and belief,” he writes.

A limited-edition lithograph of Murrow’s “Planting Time” is currently available from Deb Chaney Editions, and the artist also has works on view at Winston Wächter’s Seattle space through March 19.

 

“Garnering” (2021), graphite on paper, 48 x 48 inches

“Drumbeat” (2022), graphite on paper, 48 x 36 inches

“Harmony” (2021), graphite on paper, 80 x 46 inches

“Conviction” (2022), graphite on paper, 36 x 48 inches

“Glow” (2022), graphite on paper, 36 x 36 inches

“The Vaudeville Admiral” (2021), high flow acrylic on panel, 48 x 60 inches