Ethereal Underwater Photographs by Elinleticia Högabo Glimpse the Subjects Below the Surface
July 31, 2020

As a child, Elinleticia Högabo had a troubled relationship with water. Despite a deep fascination with its dreamy qualities, she avoided swimming below the surface or in any areas of considerable depth after two traumatic experiences in which she almost drowned. When she was chosen for an exhibition that centered on rusalka—a female creature similar to a mermaid that’s found in Slavic folklore—Högabo tried to capture shots of her submerged subjects from above before realizing she had to plunge in.  More Continue reading

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Artist Spotlight: Jesse Howard
July 15, 2020

Jesse Howard In the past several years I have embodied a particular moment in time, sourced from media imagery of outrage and protest. I am sensitive as well as an observer of African-American portrayal by a white-centric media. My observations coupled with my studies within my community, I’m driven to create a distinctive figure poised … Continued Continue reading

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Vivid Paintings by Artist Jessica Spence Highlight the Beauty of Black Hair
July 13, 2020

Through stunning renderings of Black children and women, Jamaican-American artist Jessica Spence explores the beauty of finished braids, twists held in place with plastic barrettes, and perfectly laid edges. Her acrylic paintings generally depict a single subject, who often is turned away from the viewer, centering the hair and how it’s presented rather than the person’s face. Spence focuses on the intricacies of each lock, comparing the styling process to that of painting. “I nurtured each brushstroke like I would a strand of hair, a two-strand twist, or a braid,” she shares with Colossal. More Continue reading

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The Descendants: Photographer Drew Gardner Recreates Portraits of Historically Significant Figures
July 10, 2020

To prepare for a recent portrait, Shannon LaNier pulled a black coat over his head and wrapped a thick, layered collar around his neck, a costume to match what Thomas Jefferson wore in an iconic 18th-century painting. The Houston news anchor was participating in an ongoing series by British photographer Drew Gardner that recreates photographs, paintings, and other images of historical figures by styling their descendants in similar garb. LaNier’s photograph is particularly significant, though, because he’s the sixth-great grandson of Jefferson and Sally Hemmings, who the third U.S. More Continue reading

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Berries, Cookies, and Salami Slices Anonymize Vintage Portraits by Digital Artist Harriet Moutsopoulos
July 9, 2020

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. More Continue reading

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Ornate Fabrics Cloak Models in Disquieting Portraits by Artist Markus Åkesson
June 30, 2020

Swedish artist Markus Åkesson enshrouds his subjects in elaborately patterned silks and satins, leaving only the impression of their faces, limbs, and torsos visible. An extension of his ongoing Now You See Me series, the artist’s latest paintings continue his exploration of repetition and the unsettling feelings evoked by being wrapped in fabric. By completely covering his models, they “became a secret. Instead, I started to tell a story within the pattern itself, like a sub-narrative in the painting,” he writes. More Continue reading

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Artist Spotlight: Kareem-Anthony Ferreira
June 25, 2020

Kareem-Anthony Ferreira In my work I am tracing patterns of personal, familial and social identity within the genre of black portraiture. In an effort to shift the overly simplified perceptions that my two disparate familial communities hold toward the other, I offer visual re-creations of both identities, personal family traits, and events. The experiences and … Continued Continue reading

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Solemn Faces Emerge from Hazy Portraits by Artist GyoBeom An
June 23, 2020

Rendered in thick pencil, a new series of portraits by Seoul-based artist GyoBeom An feature models’ faces obscured in a monochromatic haze. While the distinct characteristics remain, a smudged overlay casts each subject in a blur. An tells Colossal that he begins with a figurative drawing that’s composed and deconstructed over and over. No matter the medium—the artist works in pencil, pen, and acrylic paint—he strives to reflect the “conflicts and emotions aroused from distinct social roles…that ranges from models and cartoon characters to gods.” For more of An’s considerations of the self and societal dynamics, head to Behance. More Continue reading

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Hand-Tufted Patches of Color Form Lush Fiber Portraits by Artist Simone Saunders
June 18, 2020

Alberta-based artist Simone Saunders hand-tufts bold, colorful portraits with themes of identity and Black history woven throughout. Crafting vibrant patches of fibers that form eyes, lips, and garments, Saunders casts her earnest subjects against austere backgrounds, which sometimes are marked with “Black Lives Matter.”
The textured artworks serve as a site for conversation, prompting questions about race relations and societal injustices. “Textiles engage upon a search for belonging: studying the Black female body, personal identities, and a connection to Black history,” the artist tells Colossal. More Continue reading

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In Artist Adrian Brandon’s Incomplete Portraits, A Year of Life Equals One Minute of Color
June 17, 2020

When Adrian Brandon starts to color a portrait, he sets a timer. For his rendering of Breonna Taylor, the clock is set to 26 minutes—for George Floyd, 46 minutes, for Tony McDade, 38, and for Aiyana Stanley Jones, just seven. “When the alarm sounds, I am hit with a wave of emotions ranging from anger, to deep sadness, to hopelessness, to feeling lucky that I am still here,” he says.
The Brooklyn-based artist is working on Stolen, a series of partially filled-in depictions of Black people murdered by police. More Continue reading

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Striking Portraits by Artist Tawny Chatmon Embellished with Gold Garments and Ornate Backdrops
June 9, 2020

In The Redemption, photography-based artist Tawny Chatmon (previously) celebrates the beauty of Black hair through a series of arresting portraits superimposed with 24 karat gold flourishes. Each photograph features a solemn child who’s dressed in hand-painted ornate, gilt garments that are inspired by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt’s Golden Phase. “These portraits are meant to act as a counter-narrative and redemptive measure to uplift and elevate Black hair, tradition, and culture freeing us from negative stereotypes,” Chatmon says in a statement. More Continue reading

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Remarkable Portraits by Artist Amy Sherald Render Subjects in Grayscale Against Vibrant Backdrops
June 5, 2020

Amy Sherald grew up in Columbus, Georgia, which shaped her conceptions of identity and fundamentally influenced her artistic practice. “Acknowledging the performative aspects of race and Southernness, I committed myself to exploring the interiority of Black Americans,” the artist told Smithsonian Magazine in December 2019. “I wanted to create unseen narratives.”
Now living and working in Baltimore, Sherald paints distinctive portraits set against bold, vibrant backdrops. She renders each subject, who stares directly at the viewer, in her signature grayscale. More Continue reading

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Women in Motion Energize Dreamy Photographs by Kylli Sparre
May 22, 2020

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. More Continue reading

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Hundreds of Intricately Cut Layers Compose Impeccably Detailed Wildlife Sculptures by Patrick Cabral
May 16, 2020

Manila-based artist Patrick Cabral (previously) layers paper incised with decorative motifs and lacy patterns into dazzling sculptural portraits of wildlife. Ribbed tentacles with alternating gold and white dangle from an octopus, while elegant pieces comprise a rhinoceros’s exterior. Each multi-layered work contains hundreds of individual paper pieces that are entirely hand-cut.
The crowned lion (shown below) spans more than five feet and is one of Cabral’s largest projects to date. More Continue reading

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Homegrown Botanics Collaged into Conflict-Ridden Figures by Artist Meggan Joy
May 11, 2020

For Meggan Joy to begin creating her flowery assemblages, she first has to plant the seeds. The Seattle-based artist cultivates a plot in a community garden throughout the summer months, tending to each fern and vibrant petal. Once her patch is in full bloom, she captures thousands of individual photographs of her rooted plants before combining them into allegorical digital collages of the female body. Birds, butterflies, and other visitors to her garden make an appearance, as well. More Continue reading

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Unspun Wool Sculpted into Intimate Portraits by Artist Salman Khoshroo
May 8, 2020

For Salman Khoshroo, carefully fashioning thick fibers into masculine portraits has a therapeutic effect. The Iranian artist, whose impasto paintings we’ve written about previously on Colossal, says his Wool on Foam series is born out of recent trauma and experience in quarantine. By sculpting the wool rovings into slight noses, puckered lips, and flowing hair, Khoshroo has evoked the delicacy and vulnerability humans face in precarious situations. More Continue reading

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Cringe No More: An Online MoMA Exhibition Recasts Home Movies as Worthy of Critical Attention
May 6, 2020

In the popular imagination, home movies are rather like opinions: everyone has them and they are usually lousy. Such films conjure a series of unflattering associations, from the embarrassing footage on “America’s Funniest Home Videos” to endless vacation reels to birthday party documentation ruined by an errant thumb on the camcorder lens. Home movies are […] Continue reading

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Technicolor Animal Portraits Inked in Watercolor Tattoos by Sasha Unisex

Based in St. Petersburg, artist Sasha Unisex often begins a bold tattoo concept by painting a prismatic wolf or a cherry blossom-speckled origami crane with watercolor. She fills arrangements of stark shapes and precise gradients with crimson, cerulean, and tangerine hues. When the tattooist recreates her inky animals and florals on her clients’ bodies, the chromatic foxes and cats—which sometimes are outfitted with a plaid hat and pipe—look strikingly similar to the original watercolor paintings. More Continue reading

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