Five Towering Figures Sculpted in Wood by Artist Daniel Popper Loom Over The Morton Arboretum
May 27, 2021

Spread across the 1,700 acres at The Morton Arboretum just outside of Chicago are five enormous figures by Cape Town-based artist Daniel Popper (previously). Constructed mainly of wood with elements of glass-reinforced concrete, fiberglass, and steel, the looming sculptures stand out against the verdant landscape and pay homage to nature’s endurance and diversity, particularly the 220,000 individual specimens growing on the grounds. Human+Nature is Popper’s largest exhibition to date. More Continue reading

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Surreal Watercolor Illustrations Shake Back and Forth in Marija Tiurina’s Chaotic Stereograms

Longtime Colossal readers will recognize the surreal, fictionalized scenes illustrated by Marija Tiurina (previously). Whether a bizarre mishmash of thoughts from quarantine or a crowded parallel universe in North London, Tiurina’s works are a seemingly endless exploration of mystery, delight, and general chaos, themes the London-based illustrator continues in her new series Stereogramos—the title is a portmanteau blending the “Spanish world for a bouquet (of endless objects and limbs, in my case) and ‘-os’ ending that is typical to the worlds of plural female form in Lithuanian language,” she says. More 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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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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New Perspective-Bending Collages by Lola Dupré Distort and Reconfigure Pets and Portraits
March 19, 2021

Glasgow-based artist Lola Dupré (previously) continues her practice of slicing and rearranging photographs and art historical works into cleverly surreal collages. Her newest manipulations include a blockheaded Léon Bonnat, an entire row of irresistible puppy eyes, and a twisted rendition of George Stubbs’s “The Kongouro from New Holland.” Dupré’s cat, Charlie, still finds himself as fodder for the unusual works—see two pieces centered on him below—and the artist is currently in the process of creating her 33rd portrait of the orange-and-white feline. More Continue reading

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Pockets of Landscapes and Still Lifes Adorn Subjects in Lavish Portraits by Aniela Sobieski
February 11, 2021

Aniela Sobieski is intrigued by “the human impulse to self-decorate,” a fascination that permeates every aspect of her portraiture. Evoking both baroque paintings and contemporary fashions, Sobieski adorns women and the occasional dog with elaborate makeup and sculptural accessories placed conspicuously to mask the subject’s features. She seamlessly maps classic still lifes and sparse landscapes directly onto the sitter’s face, often highlighting the natural shape of the eye and coating the figure’s lips in bold red. 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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Elegant Figures Inhabit the Surreal Dreamworlds of Thanh Nhàn Nguyễn’s Sublime Illustrations
January 20, 2021

Populated with low clouds, oversized peonies, and birds covered in fish scales, Thanh Nhàn Nguyễn‘s dreamscapes merge fantasy and tradition in a celebration of Vietnamese culture. In his series, Season of Life, the artist digitally renders demure figures who wear áo dài, a long, split gown that’s tied to ideas of feminine beauty. The women are enveloped by the magical environment and depicted with pale tendrils grasping their ankles or cloaked by a fiery, plant-filled mass. More Continue reading

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Duplicate Limbs and Unusual Mashups Revitalize Vintage Ceramic Creatures by Artist Debra Broz
January 19, 2021

Simultaneously adorable and bizarre, Debra Broz’s porcelain creatures breathe new life into antique knick-knacks. The Los Angeles-based artist (previously) carefully gathers discarded figurines that she separates and reassembles into humorous and unusual sculptures: an entire flock of ducklings balances on just two feet, a hooved cat carries its equine baby, and tree branches sprout from a lounging ballerina.
Broz’s hybrid animals are included in Salvage, a group exhibition curated by Colossal’s Founder and Editor-in-Chief Christopher Jobson at Paradigm Gallery + Studio in Philadelphia. More Continue reading

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Massive Octopi and Floating Fish Comprise the Imaginary Universe in Ted Chin’s Surreal Composites
January 8, 2021

In Ted Chin’s surreal dreamland, it’s not uncommon to see massive anglerfish swimming through the sky or a figure scooping up shooting stars. The San Francisco-based artist merges idyllic landscapes and outdoor scenes with fantastical details, choosing to upturn an evergreen in mid-air or position an oversized octopus underneath a floating house. Simultaneously uncanny and calming, the composites are eye-catching and rooted in imagination. “There are things in the world that inspire childlike wonder and awe, and it is my passion to recreate and share them with the world,” the artist says. More Continue reading

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Surreal Sculptures of Translucent Glass and Clay Explore the Body’s Transformative Processes
December 8, 2020

“I have always viewed the body as a transitory object,” writes artist Christina Bothwell. From human-animal hybrids to pregnant creatures to figures fused together, Bothwell’s oeuvre suspends various life forms in states of flux: a baby precariously rests on a mother’s back, a young girl grasps onto another’s legs, and others peer into the distance as if they’re about to move forward.
The artist’s subject matter is rooted in the ethereal and embodies the delicate ways spirits and physical figures change over time. More Continue reading

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Metaphorical Scenes Examine Mystery in Dreamy Paintings by Artist Duy Huynh
November 9, 2020

Vietnamese aritst Duy Huynh (previously) examines balance through nuanced scenes replete with ethereal, surreal elements: individual flowers ascend from a teapot, a chain winds around an artichoke heart, and figures float mid-air. Rendered in muted hues, the acrylic paintings are metaphorical and narrative-based, visualizing stories by connecting unsual symbols or positioning disparate objects together. The North Carolina-based artist gives the works witty names— “Thyme to Turnip the Beet” and “ReciprociTea,” for example—adding to their playful and whimsical natures. More Continue reading

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Elegant Eats and Bread-Based Fare Form Quirky Interventions in Jill Burrow’s Photographs

From her home in Kansas City, Missouri, photographer Jill Burrow composes elegant dining tableaus captured in the fleeting light of golden hour. Complete with floral arrangements and unusual additions,  Burrow’s fare distinctly exhibits the artistic potential of a simple meal when presented in unorthodox settings. Her shadow-filled images frame a picnic spread hanging from a washline, a humble breakfast submerged in water, and a quirky still life of bread-based cookware.
Although she’s adept at transforming a simple piece of toast into a dandelion-studded canvas, Burrow’s forays into cooking and baking are recent. More Continue reading

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A Turbine-Faced Pilot Returns from War in a Surreal Animated Short About Love and Transformation


Presented by the National Film Board of Canada, an animated short by Montreal-based director Alex Boya considers the complex effects of war through a heartwarming tale. “Turbine” opens with a woman climbing aboard a train that inches along the track like a worm. The black-and-white film then chronicles her journey reuniting with her pilot husband, who returns from war with an airplane engine permanently replacing his face and subsequently falls in love with the ceiling fan. More Continue reading

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An Intimate Short Film Highlights 2020’s Crises through Exquisitely Surreal Scenes
September 22, 2020


Set to subdued music, Nicolas Lichtle’s short film titled “à la fin…” is an unusually ethereal depiction of the crises climaxing in 2020. The delicate animation flows through a series of lightly-hued scenes that explore reactions to COVID-19, the wildfires raging across the planet, and the endless distractions of technology. “It’s a moment of introspection, very intimate, staged through a succession of small moments imbued with poetry, absurdity, and sometimes surrealism…” Lichtle writes. More Continue reading

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