With the invent of GPS technology and map applications, paper maps are waning in use – but they are an essential material to English artist Ed Fairburn, who uses them as the canvas of his detailed portraits. Fairburn’s work is an imaginative incorporation of the human form and topography. He’s used maps of places from all over the world. The winding layouts of streets and rivers are enhanced to form wrinkles, veins, and other features of his subjects’ faces.
Allison Kunath uses strict geometric lines to convey the bold personalities of some of history’s most important personalities. Gloria Steinem wears her signature round glasses and long locks of the 1970s. The pioneering feminist and political activist is in the good company of fellow civil rights activist Angela Davis, who Kunath depicts with a strong upwards gaze, as if she is seeing a vision for a better future. Nelson Mandela joins the political camp alongside philosophers Nietzsche and Plato, depicted in profile, and existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre, drawn with square glasses perched upon a pointed nose.
Australian artist Alex Louisa draws upon life and death in nature with fervor in her soft pastel artworks. Primarily using PanPastels on textured paper, she is able to exhibit her unique fascination for her subject’s peculiarities. Among her still life and landscape drawings, birds and their features are the most common subjects in her work. Their softness is contrasted against that of callous skulls and bones, each rendered with an eye for small complexities such as veins and divots.
Houston-based artist Ana Marietta paints and draws animals with exaggerated human features to create sympathy for her subjects. Looking at a raven with wide eyes glassy with tears, or a frowning pelican dimpled with warts, one feels the animal’s deep sorrow. The creatures appear to look outward however, suggesting their sadness comes from the environment, as opposed to any personal ailments directly. Their anthropomorphic deformities hint at something unnatural, an effect explained only by human behavior and intervention.
Montreal based artist Nathalie Lagacé plainly draws ties between humans and nature in her latest graphite series of hybrid baby-animals. Titled “Legacy”, her drawings portray screaming newborn babies who express the same emotional rollercoaster as our relationship to the environment. In a way, they are almost comical in their bizarre pairings of animals like babies with chicken legs and “duck lips”, others posed like a Thanksgiving turkey ready for roasting.
New York based artist Mike Lee draws tiny, typical urban places that seem to float in negative space. We previously covered his graphite drawings here, mostly portraying an aerial view of a dollhouse-like world. Lee’s latest series, currently on view at Giant Robot’s GR gallery in Los Angeles, pushes the peculiarity of his artworks a little bit further. They still contain simplified spaces populated by chubby Lego-like urbanites, but have been spliced up to a more abstract effect.