The Best Luminous Markers for Otherworldly Effects
May 20, 2021

If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, we may receive an affiliate commission In the early 1900s, Dr. Sabin Arnold von Sochocky formulated a radium-based paint that glowed in the dark. For many years the radio-luminescent paint was used on things like watch faces so they could […] Continue reading

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Graphite Portraits Distort and Intertwine Subjects to Visualize Metaphors of the Body
April 12, 2021

Malmö, Sweden-based artist Miles Johnston portrays subjects whose figures are in states of flux, whether through fragmented bodies, multiplied faces, or limbs contorted into impossible positions. Often depicting Johnston (previously) or his partner, the graphite portraits distort typical anatomy in a way that balances the familiar with the unknown and visualizes the thoughts and emotions otherwise hidden inside the mind.
Whether set against a trippy backdrop or quiet beach, each piece portrays the experience of the body “through a kind of internal metaphorical language,” the artist says. More Continue reading

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Digital Portraits Reinvent Classical Paintings by Enveloping Subjects in Garments and Masks
March 24, 2021

Nearly a decade before masks became a ubiquitous part of our lives, artist Volker Hermes was fashioning lavish face coverings made of flowers, lace, and ornate baubles. In his ongoing series, Hidden Portraits, Hermes digs into the art historical archive and selects classical paintings that he then reinterprets. Elaborate accessories derived from elements in the original works become tools for obscuring the subjects’ faces, which subsequently draws attention to their garments, gestures, and surroundings. More Continue reading

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Faces and Fingers Glazed in Celadon Emerge from Surreal Vessels by Canopic Studio
March 22, 2021

Disembodied faces and fingers encircle the surreal vessels created by Canopic Studio, a Los Angeles-based practice helmed by Claire and Curran Wedner. Known for their ceramics that display human anatomy in a repetitious pattern, the husband and wife recently diverged from the black-and-white works previously mentioned on Colossal to create a series entirely in celadon, a jade color with a rich history.
The translucent glaze originated in China and was prominent throughout the country for centuries before being replaced by blue-and-white porcelain. More Continue reading

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A Hypnotic Short Film Rhythmically Spins Through 3,745 Masks from Around the World
March 11, 2021


Spiraling through ancient, painted faces, cartoon figures, and the now ubiquitous N95, the short film “Beyond Noh” by Patrick Smith sequences 3,745 masks in an entrancing rhythm. The individual images span multiple cultures and time periods and shift from one to the next with the beat of a hand drum.
A decades-long mask enthusiast, Smith photographed three-fourths of the works from museum archives, galleries, and his own collection, with the remaining segment submitted by folks around the world. More Continue reading

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Varied Patches of Color and Textured Stitches Delineate Expressive Embroidered Portraits
March 5, 2021

Brenda Risquez is deliberate in her use of texture, density, and color in her boldly embroidered portraits inspired by friends and pop culture icons. Varying patches of long, single-stitch rows and rounded tufts map onto the subjects’ faces, many of which display the textile artist’s affinity for pronounced, single-hued cheeks. Her hoop-bound portraits are expressive and dotted with playful elements, like a jaw outlined in pink or highlights stitched in bright, geometric shapes.
Textiles have played an outsized role in Risquez’s creative trajectory—she holds degrees in Fine Arts from the University of Granada and Textile Art from the School of Art of Granada—although she only started embroidering in the last five years. More Continue reading

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Mixed-Media Portraits by Nelson Makamo Reflect Childhood Innocence and Wonder
February 12, 2021

Nelson Makamo (previously) is known for his oversized, lively portraits of the children and teens he meets around Johannesburg. Using a distinct blend of acrylic, watercolors, monotypes, silkscreen, and oil paint, the South African artist often delineates their silhouettes with a thick line of charcoal before adding colorful details to their clothing and faces. The resulting works are simultaneously earnest and imbued with a sense of wonder.
Whether posed or engaged in rowdy activities, many of the subjects sport bright, round glasses, emphasizing Makamo’s focus on viewing the world through the lens of childhood. More Continue reading

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Artist Spotlight: Coady Brown
February 8, 2021

Coady Brown Figures inhabit tightly framed, intimate spaces in paintings that explore the vulnerability of the body and the tenuous nature of our connections and relationships. Groups, couples, and solitary figures examine self-presentation in both private and public life. Figures become reflections of their environments, mirroring these heightened, surreal, frenetic, sexy, and sorrowful states. Patterns … Continued Continue reading

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Trimmed in Gold, Ceramic Vessels by Artist Yurim Gough Challenge Notions of Gender
January 22, 2021

Through nine ceramic bowls, Yurim Gough untangles the complex narratives surrounding performance, appearance, and gender fluidity. Her identity-centric pieces—which are infused with layers of pencil renderings, thread, and other materials that can require nearly a dozen rounds of firing at multiple temperatures to complete—depict figures outfitted with ostentatious costumes and elaborately painted faces. Drawing on aspects of queer culture, Gough’s vessels are disruptive and revisionary, simultaneously exposing the dated and constructed nature of traditional gender categories while reveling in the history of those who’ve subverted norms. More Continue reading

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