watercolor

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Art

Brimming with Lush Texture, Mixed-Media Tapestries by April Bey Envision an Afrofuturist World

May 5, 2022

Gabrielle Lawrence

“Your Failure is Not a Victory for Me” (2022), watercolor, graphite, acrylic paint, digitally printed/woven textiles, hand sewing, 110 x 72 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and GAVLAK Los Angeles | Palm Beach. All images shared with permission

How do we get from where we are to where we want to be with all of these constructs in the way? How do we move forward if we are constantly having to fight back? The past rolls in like a fog and clogs conversations about tomorrow with despair.

April Bey, a Black, queer, mixed-media artist, reminds us that sometimes, in order to get free, we must transcend. Positioning herself within the Afro-futurist tradition, she works with a fictional universe called Atlantica. Atlantica is inspired by the alien stories her father used to tell her as a child to explain racial oppression in the Bahamas and the U.S. Now, based in Los Angeles, Bey uses Atlantica to construct the aesthetics of the future—a reality where Black people are free from the confines of white supremacy, capitalism, and colonialism.

As a Nassau, Bahamas native, Bey also incorporates the region’s tropical flora in her work. She positions the futurity of Black people in direct relationship to the environment, which can manifest as a physical landscape buzzing with harmonious texture, and draws on the legacy of Black art and literature that demonstrates how the natural world has always been part of Black liberation.

Her intricate stitching of Black people in grandeur also adds a layer of decadence to these stories that is reminiscent of African diasporic cuisine. Food seasoned over long periods of time or slow-cooked absorbs the depths of those flavors, and when tasted, envelops the palette. The process and attention to detail, alongside the historical and cultural knowledge, are the foundation.

 

“Don’t Think We’re Soft Because We’re Gracious” (2022), watercolor printed sherpa and sequins on canvas hand-sewn into faux fur, 45.5 x 57 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and GAVLAK Los Angeles | Palm Beach

This work, like the environment and cuisine, is immersive. Sequins, eco-fur frames, wax fabric woven into large-scale blankets, and colorful patterns are enticing in their pleasure and vitality. The sense-heavy appeal helps transport the viewer beyond the visual and into the spirit of the body, connecting generations across space and time and planting the seeds of the future. Alexis Pauline Gumbs demonstrates this connection in an essay on combat breathing, which our ancestors used to claim their freedom in a world that would not acknowledge it, and Bey conjures this through-line in stirring pieces such as “Don’t Think We’re Soft Because We’re Gracious.”

Bey’s work adds to the long and transformative history of Black and queer people who have subverted power structures through futurity, love, and hybridity. And how fitting? For she knows that to be queer is to live in the future anyway.

You can catch the artist’s solo exhibition, Colonial Swag, at Tern Gallery until May 28 and follow her on Instagram for updates and to see close-ups of her works.

 

“Calathea Azul” (2022), woven textiles, sherpa textiles, resin, glitter on canvas, 24 x 24 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and GAVLAK Los Angeles | Palm Beach

“I’m the One Selling the Records…They Comin to See ME” (2021), digitally woven tapestry, sherpa, canvas, metallic cord, glitter (currency), hand-sewing, epoxy resin on wood panel, 36 x 48 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and GAVLAK Los Angeles | Palm Beach

“Fear No Man” (2022), digitally printed and woven blanket with hand-sewn “African” Chinese knockoff wax fabric, 80 x 60 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and GAVLAK Los Angeles | Palm Beach

“Calathea Barrette” (2022), woven textiles, sherpa textiles, resin, glitter on canvas, 24 x 24 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and GAVLAK Los Angeles | Palm Beach

“They Fine Pass Mami Wata” (2022), woven textiles, sherpa, metallic thread, resin, glitter on canvas, 24 x 24 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and TERN Gallery

“You Toilet Paper Soft” (2022), woven textiles, sherpa, metallic thread, resin, glitter on canvas, 24 x 24 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and TERN Gallery

 

 



Illustration

Watercolor and Ink Illustrations Imagine Cluttered Rooms and Well-Stocked Shops

March 30, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Rain Szeto, shared with permission

Packed within Rain Szeto’s introspective works are untidy kitchens, cluttered market shelves, and mechanical disarray. The San Francisco-based illustrator finds magic in the mess and chaos of everyday life and imagines solitary activities like hanging laundry on the line or browsing record bins. Dreamy in color, the pieces exude a sense of calm and nostalgia for quiet moments.

Each work is replete with colorful objects stacked and assembled into tight spaces, a style Szeto developed drawing comics in art school. “These details range from technical details, such as electrical mechanisms or a lamp design, to more personal quirks, such as how someone might arrange their garden or a particular plastic stool they might use,” she tells Colossal. “I try to give them a sense of specificity that makes it feel as though these places could really exist.”

Szeto is currently working on pieces for a few upcoming group shows at Giant Robot in Los Angeles, and you can find prints and more of her detailed illustrations on her site and Instagram. (via Booooooom)

 

 

 



Illustration

Architectural Drawings Detail the Spatial Dimensions and Unique Amenities of Japanese Hotel Rooms

March 25, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Kei Endo, shared with permission

In preparing for her own design projects, Tokyo-based architect Kei Endo sketches elaborate diagrams of hotel rooms. The watercolor works depict overhead views of floor layouts, color schemes, lighting, and the details of special amenities from hairdryers to soap bottles paired with precise dimensions. While focused on the uniform details of spaces like Hotel Siro in Toshima-ku or The Okura Tokyo, the drawings reveal how the designer’s attention to space, comfort, and lodgers’ needs inform every inch of the room.

In addition to her travel-based works, Endo also deconstructs desserts with similar measurements, and you can find more of her renderings on her site and Instagram. (via Spoon & Tamago)

 

 

 



Art

Black Ink and Watercolor Bleed into Hazy Creatures in Endre Penovác's Paintings

March 11, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Endre Penovác

Serbian artist Endre Penovác (previously) wrangles the bleeds of black ink and watercolor in his shadowy renderings of domestic and wild animals. Sometimes delineating a talon or ear with thin markings, Penovác primarily allows the medium to run across the paper, transforming a housecat or chicken into a dreamy, phantom-like character. Many of the works frame the central animal with negative space and utilize the soft, hazy edges to evoke fur and feathers. Originals and prints of his paintings are available from Saatchi Art, and head to Instagram to explore an extensive archive of his ghostly creatures.

 

 

 



Art

Contemplative Works by Ali Cavanaugh Consider Vulnerability and the Sublime Through Watercolor

January 20, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Steep” (2017), 16 x 20 inches. All images © Ali Cavanaugh, shared with permission

Through delicate washes of peach, aqua, and smoky gray, St. Louis-based artist Ali Cavanaugh (previously) renders watercolor portraits that lay her subjects’ spirits bare. “I’m continually searching for something complex in human expression,” she tells Colossal. “Curiosity, sadness, wonder, hesitation, peace, and acceptance all in one glance.”

Cavanaugh paints her dreamlike works on wet clay panels, allowing the bright backdrops to illuminate the translucent pigments. The resulting works are introspective and intimate while simultaneously harnessing the universal experience of the sublime. “I want the viewer to look at one of my portraits and say, ‘What are they thinking?,’ and also at the same time say, ‘This is so familiar and is exactly how my loved one looks at me when they are vulnerable,'” she says.

If you’re in New York, you can see Cavanaugh’s portraits through January 28 at Salmagundi Club. Otherwise, shop available originals on her site, and keep an eye out for future print releases on Instagram. She also shares videos chronicling her process and tutorials on some of her techniques on Patreon.

 

“Above,” 12 x 12 inches

“Smolder” (2017), 12 x 12 inches

“Only Once” (2015), 18 x 18 inches

“Confidante” (2017), 12 x 16 inches

“One to Listen and One to Love”

“Rest on Water” (2017), 12 x 12 inches

 

 



Art Illustration

Miniature Watercolor Works by Ruby Silvious Are Painted on Stained Teabags

November 26, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Ruby Silvious, shared with permission

Ruby Silvious’s quaint seaside scenes and bucolic landscapes nestle between the torn edges and wrinkled folds of a used teabag. The Coxsackie, New York-based artist (previously) paints miniature scenes of everyday life on the stained paper pouches, leaving the string and tags intact as a reminder of the repurposed material’s origin. Silvious sells prints of her watercolor pieces on her site, and you can follow her latest projects and news about upcoming exhibitions—she will be showing her upcycled works in France and Japan in 2022—on Instagram.