Photographer Wes Naman‘s Scotch Tape series is playful if not a bit creepy. Naman wraps clear tape around his subjects’ heads severely distorting their face. The tape tugs and squeezes lips, eyebrows, and noses making light of the idea of portraits. Slightly disturbing, the portraits resemble smiling car accident survivors or botched plastic surgery victims. Such simple but inventive ideas have made Naman a rather successful photographer winning him clients as diverse as High Times Magazine and T-Mobile. [via]
It’s difficult to overstate how large Jorge Rodriguez-Gerda‘s portraits are. While much of his work consists of enormous charcoal portraits inhabiting the sides of entire apartment buildings, Rodriguez-Gerada’s Terrestrial Series are best viewed through an airplane window. The artist typically uses natural materials such as sand and dirt to draw out faces from the earth. Speaking about the reasons for his portraits’ huge scale he says:
“I am critical of the marketing that has crept into so many facets of our lives. I decided to do work that would counter it by using the same codes used by advertisers such as scale, visibility and eye catching images. I wanted these new iconic images to be huge and placed in strategic places.”
Portland, Maine based artist Sascha Braunig is a portrait painter of sorts. She uses traditional baroque portraiture techniques with a nod to Op art and a wink at Surrealism. Braunig’s figures seem to barely emerge out of a hypnotic (and nearly seizure inducing) patterned background. Her canvases are striped with colors that contrast so much they nearly appear to glow. The effect is hallucinatory and almost a bit haunting. The gallery statement from her current exhibit describe the various concepts at play saying:
“ Braunig’s geometric figures have a visual fluidity, as if their delicate skins can barely contain their bodies. Subject and background merge, creating ambiguity and optical tension. An alliance is forced between flat patterned designs and observed, mimetic representation.”
Sascha Braunig is exhibiting her work through December 22 at Manhattan’s Foxy Production.
Illinois-based artist Chad Wys does a lot of different things. He’s worked with collage, sculpture, textiles, aerosol, digital media, and more. A lot of his w0rk manipulates and completely shuffles the tone of established, familiar forms. Strategically removing aspects of canonical portraiture, painting a kitschy duck sculpture in pastels, and stenciling text elements onto benign porcelain and china are a few methods he’s employed to mess with our brains. But this type of art isn’t produced in a malicious way. It’s just the artist’s way of getting us to see things the way he sees them for once. (via)
Marion Bolognesi makes emotive watercolor portraiture that seems to appear out of the nothingness of their stark, white backgrounds. She often uses drips and large blots to echo the transient feelings that make us human. This technique also adds a nice aesthetic to the artist’s work, which has spawned a few biters and copy artists. Bolognesi demonstrates a lot of economy- the artist’s ability to do a lot with a little is commendable. With such fundamental subject matter, it’s probably best to keep things simple anyway. It’s not always easy to capture the deeper elements of life with grace, but she pulls it off. The artist, who also does illustration and design work, lives in NYC.
Italian artist Federico Lombardo’s portraits are washy, delicate, and often straightforward, yet in their best moments they possess qualities that are strange and askew. His subjects look distinctly Angelo Saxon or Scandinavian, light skinned and fair, and are conventionally attractive. Their faces, bare and plain, stare straight at the viewer with the knowing look of being gazed upon, often smiling or glaring in response. He has series of women and men, as well as couples and children made with oil, watercolor and by digital tablet, but by far, his watercolors showcase his best efforts. The way Lombardo applies his paint is mostly very controlled, yet in crucial areas he gives way to the fluid nature of the medium and in effect produces subtle, bizarre deviationsin his otherwise bland looking subjects. In this sense, these instances of surrender are reflective of the work of Marlene Dumas; however, Lombardo’s work is wholly different in that it stays safe in its uncontroversial directive.
In 2002 Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada moved to Barcelona where he began his ‘Identity Series’. Gerada was drawn to the beauty of old surfaces and wanted to blend photo realistic images of anonymous locals to question the controls imposed in public space, and the use and abuse of iconic faces to sell us products and ideas. He decided to apply the same approaches used by advertising, such as strategic positioning and size, but with the intention of creating a poetic counter commentary that fades away with beauty. The Identity Series is about initiating a dialogue with a local community through art. These portraits transformed local, anonymous residents into social icons, giving relevance to an individual’s contribution to the community and touching upon the legacy that each life has to offer.
Gerada chose charcoal for its transparency and ephemeral quality. He involves the visual narrative of the textured wall instead of covering it. These time-based portraits gradually deteriorate. They become a metaphor of the fading of life, of fame and of the things we first thought were so important. The creation of the “Identity Series” is also an act that is environmentally sound and at the mercy of the natural world. The pieces fade away like the warmth after an embrace. The photo realistic drawing is only an aspect of the piece. The importance of the piece is the whole process of creation, destruction and memory. Watch a video of Gerada in action after the jump.
“Future Face” is an illustration project by graphic designer, animator, and videographer Billy Nunez, aka Biz20. Currently, this young talent is pursuing a BFA in Communications Design at Pratt Institute. Take a look at his feedback-loop-inducingly-awesome renderings of sexy cyborg ladies after the jump.