surreal

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Illustration

Face Masks Hold Fish Tanks and Overgrown Patches of Botanics in Surreal Illustrations by Kit Layfield

July 17, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Kit Layfield, shared with permission

A long way from the packs of blue, disposable masks many of us bulk purchased at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the face coverings Philadelphia-based illustrator Kit Layfield envisions are a bit more complex and otherworldly. He draws intricate contraptions featuring the traditional nose-and-mouth covering that then are connected to larger collars adorned with luxuriant shrubs, miniature ecosystems, and tiny fish tanks. The individual subjects all are situated within the diverse environments, providing the necessary structure to keep the micro-systems flourishing.

Layfield shares with Colossal that his surreal illustrations reflect a fascination with what he terms digital climate change. “I like to think of the various information ecosystems online in the same terms I would think of a natural ecosystem,” he says. “A fact can not exist alone, in the same way a flower can not exist alone. It needs to be rooted in something.” As media floods online, it becomes more difficult to wade through, which he expands on by saying:

The perfect example of digital climate change is the information ecosystem surrounding actual climate change. Every year, the information supporting climate change has become more and more undeniable, and simultaneously Americans’ belief in climate change has dropped. I think the information online backing up the truth of climate science is out there. However, the ecosystem that allows that information to survive and spread has been severely endangered.

Although Layfield’s illustrations are interwoven with fantastical elements, he hopes they inspire people to understand how connected they are to others and their environment. “Could somebody see a mask online, one that is so absurd it could never exist in reality, and make them think about wearing a mask in reality? I think it’s possible,” he says.

Find more of Layfield’s bizarre projects that merge social and environmental commentaries on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Food

Berries, Cookies, and Salami Slices Anonymize Vintage Portraits by Digital Artist Harriet Moutsopoulos

July 9, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Idaeus,” 20 x 24.01 inches. All images © Harriet Moutsopoulos, shared with permission

Telling someone that there’s an errant herb stuck between their teeth or a dot of sauce just below their lip is likely to spur embarrassment, so noting that they’re covered in egg or raspberry or a gloopy mound of ketchup might be too much to bear. Harriet Moutsopoulos, though, helps her subjects save face by completely masking their distinct features with singular bites of fruit, bowls of ice cream, and slices of salami, ensuring their anonymity.

The Australian artist, who works under the name Lexicon Love, combines found portraits and edibles into strange collages. Although her techniques are digital, Moutsopolous often considers analog practices, preferring basic technologies to programs like Photoshop or Illustrator. She also imposes limits of two or three elements to maintain the integrity of each piece. “The most significant challenge for me is giving each artwork the slight imperfections of hand and the general look and feel of being made entirely from traditional, analog practices,” she says.

Moutsopolous tells Colossal that she’s “drawn to the surreal and unsettling and try to inject that into my work where possible, always seeking out the unexpected connections between humor and tragedy.” At times both comical and unsettling, the bizarre compilations inspire questions about the subjects’ identities. “On the surface, this absurd combination appears to reject any sense of reason (an extension of my own twisted sense of humor). However, obscuring the faces of my portraits with food is designed to not only challenge traditional notions of beauty but also to provoke, tease, and confuse the observer,” the artist says.

Pick up one of Moutsopoulos’s prints on her site, and follow her future food-covered assemblages on Instagram. (via Inag)

 

“Protogonus,” 20 x 24.01 inches

“Carry on Regardless,” 20 x 24.01 inches

“Cancelled,” 20 x 24.01 inches

“You Win Again,” 20 x 20 inches

“First Love,” 20 x 24.01 inches

“Lorem Ipsum,” 20 × 24.01 inches

“Dog’s Balls,” 20 x 24.01 inches

 

 



Art Illustration

A Surreal Watercolor by Illustrator Marija Tiurina Captures a Miscellany of Thoughts in Quarantine

June 23, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Marija Tiurina, shared with permission

If Marija Tiurina’s latest watercolor appears to be a random mishmash of dreamy scenes, that’s because it is. The London-based illustrator (previously) recently completed “The Lockdown Project,” a dense composition inspired by dozens of submissions she collected during the first few weeks of quarantine. Complete with childhood memories, dreams, and colloquialisms, the illustration depicts a rich network of bizarre characters and fictional tales that flow organically between scenes.

In a short video (shown below) detailing her process, Tiurina said she began with a central figure resembling herself before sketching submission ideas in the surrounding areas, aptly referring to the project as “a weird salad where everyone’s thoughts, memories, dreams, and ideas are mixed in a bowl and dressed with my imagination.” Out of nearly 1,0000 contributions, her favorites included a coat snatcher, a pasta-eating man named Anchor, and a floating potato.

You can snag one of the signed prints on Tiurina’s site and follow the illustrator’s future compositions on Behance and Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Unusual Interventions by Artist Stefan Visan Juxtapose Leaves, Cutlery, and Everyday Objects

June 15, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Stefan Visan, shared with permission

Stefan Visan fashions surreal interventions out of mundane objects: a silver safety pin pierces verdant leaves, a burning candle is sliced and positioned at a tilt, and limp spaghetti lengthens fork prongs. The artist spends hours tinkering in his studio each day, constructing bizarre combinations with no prior intention for what he’ll create. Often sharing his unusual projects on Instagram, Visan doesn’t limit his artistic process to one medium. “I’m always exploring different things, from painting to collage, video collage, photography, illustration… For example, collage is a break from painting and reverse. Everything that I create is hand-made, nothing digital,” he tells Colossal. The result is a series of interventions that merge the ephemeral aspects of nature with enduring, manufactured objects.

 

 

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Art

Globes and Astronaut Helmets Form Heads of Figurative Sculptures by Artist Yinka Shonibare CBE

June 4, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Woman Shooting Cherry Blossoms” (2019), unique fiberglass sculpture, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, bespoke hand-colored globe, steel, brass, zamak, wood, resin, and silk, 244 x 193 x 436 centimeters. All images © Yinka Shonibare CBE, by Stephen White

Through life-sized sculptures, artist Yinka Shonibare CBE considers the grasp of colonialism and its lasting effects on modern conceptions of identity. Each faceless figure is in the midst of an action, presented shooting a mass of cherry blossoms from a rifle, lumbering forward with a hefty mesh sack, or balancing a towering stack of cakes. Evocatively posed, the figures are topped with globes and astronaut helmets, which simultaneously gestures toward movement in the form of travel and exploration while obscuring individual identities.

Known for using patterned textiles across mediums, the British-Nigerian artist outfits his surreal sculptures with Batik fabrics, which have a history rooted in colonialism. Originally practiced in Southeast Asia, the wax-dyeing method was adopted by the Dutch, who commercially produced the patterned textiles and sold them to West African colonies. Since the 1960s, the vibrant fabric has come to signal African independence and identity.

To dive deeper into Shonibare’s artworks that explore identity, colonialism, and globalization, head to Artsy and Instagram.

 

“Woman Shooting Cherry Blossoms” (2019), unique fiberglass sculpture, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, bespoke hand-colored globe, steel, brass, zamak, wood, resin, and silk, 244 x 193 x 436 centimeters

“Refugee Astronaut (2015),” sculptures, fiberglass, printed cotton, net, wood, metal and plastic objects, and steel baseplate, 208 x 93 x 90 centimeters

“Girl Balancing Knowledge” (2015), fiberglass mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, books, globe, and steel baseplate, 179 x 139 x 89 centimeters

Left: “Butterfly Kid (Boy)” (2015), fiberglass mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, silk, metal, globe, leather, and steel baseplate, 127 x 75 x 88 centimeters. Right: “Planets in My Head, Music (French Horn)” (2019),
fiberglass mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, French horn, globe, and steel baseplate, 137 × 55 × 51 centimeters

“Cake Man IV” (2015), fiberglass mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, pocketwatch, plaster, polystyrene, globe, leather and steel baseplate, 315 x 140 x 92 centimeters

“Planets in My Head (Trumpet Girl)” (2018), fiberglass mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, trumpet, globe, and steel baseplate, 160 x 69 x 50 centimeters

 

 



Art Photography

Women in Motion Energize Dreamy Photographs by Kylli Sparre

May 22, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Wonder Wheels.” All images © Kylli Sparre, shared with permission

Often blurring or concealing the faces of her dramatically posed figures, Kylli Sparre (previously) captures magical portraits of young women and girls. The fine art photographer, who is based in Tallinn, captures her lone subjects amidst swirling swaths of fabric or perched atop a towering mass of bicycle wheels. Many are in motion, whether dancing against hazy landscapes and or scooting across calm waters.

Sparre tells Colossal that she’s begun to experiment with technical aspects of her process by using a scanner, piecing together images in collages, and experimenting with movement and exposure time. Although she notes that many of her forays into underwater photography “will never see the light of day,” she’s “trying to be as open as I can… I think what has demanded me to grow, is the wish to keep finding the “something” in an image, that would touch a chord in me. Because what I find interesting, slightly changes over time. It is not always an easy task to be truthful to this inner scale, but still essential.”

To see more of Sparre’s conceptual projects focused on the female figure, head to Instagram.

 

“Disquiet”

“Learning Wheels”

“Modest Troubles”

“Mismeeting”

“Wild Things in Mild Wind”

“Line in Time”

“Excusing Shadows”