Karolis Strautniekas’ Stylized Digital “Portraits from Behind”

by Abby Lynn KlinkenbergPosted on

You have probably seen the work of Lithuanian artist Karolis Strautniekas– he has worked with Audi, Mini Cooper, The New York Times, among many other global enterprises; while his personal projects are lesser known, they powerfully convey Strautniekas’ aptitude for color and composition. “Portraits from Behind,” one of his ongoing personal projects, takes an unconventional perspective when approaching portraiture. This voyeuristic series of illustrations focuses on those intimate moments when our backs are turned.

These portraits are usually of men in various everyday, yet mystical situations. A sense of isolation pervades this series, as all but one subject is alone (the only illustration with two subjects is similarly eerie- the silhouettes of two construction workers standing in smoke above industrial machines). The moments chosen by Strautniekas are often reflective and always estranging: an old man alone in the woods, a composed man staring at an apartment fire, a man with his head cocked in an empty cinema. The figures’ poses and their surroundings come together to create an entirely unique aesthetic, at once cerebral and visual.

Strautniekas’ process is digitized, for the most part- he draws only with a graphic tablet after tweaking drafts from his sketchbook. However, what gives Strautniekas’ work its distinct style is his love for printmaking: “It seems that printmaking studies left their mark on my work, which means that I can’t keep away from paper textures, different print effects, sense of flatness, as well as natural colors, which sometimes ‘age’ so much that they almost remind you of vintage posters from the 70s or 80s.”

He aims to “purify” his shapes with precision and evade the “sentimentality of color” with new combinations; the effect is neatly geometric, but not cold- visually nostalgic, but not sentimental.

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