Canadian artist Mathieu Laca crafts oil paintings that use texture and abstractions that toy with the conventions of portraiture. Whether it’s famous subjects or the vague everyman or everywoman, the artist packs both meticulous, odd flair and personality into each of the paintings. He’s given this treatment to anyone from Henry David Thoreau and Albert Einstein to historical arts figures like Vincent Van Gogh.
From certain angles, works by Noah Scalin can just look like piles and piles of clothes strewn along the floor. But at the right angle, absorbing portraits come into focus. Recent subjects include Hellen Keller, Maggie L. Walker, and others. The length of these sculptures can comprise around 30 feet. His work explores “the theme of transience – specifically the temporary nature of our individual lives and tenuous nature of human existence on the planet.”
Bart Nijstad, an artist based in the Netherlands, creates surreal portraits that move between pop and everyday subjects. Though the artist would say that his topics and environments can be considered “sober and Dutch.” He uses different mediums in accomplishing this, including gouache, watercolor, and pencil.
Matthew Ivan Cherry, a Boston-based painter, creates oil portraits that ooze with vulnerability and a erratic, yet cohesive style. He uses his subjects, often met on the streets or on social media, to explore issues of individuality, gender identity, and the inherent beauty of the human form. Certain projects, like “somewhereX,” are tethered to Cherry’s upbringing as a Mormon. The project features enormous portraits of LGBTQ mormons (whether active or inactive), including Cherry himself.
Amy Sherald’s oil paintings are arresting portraits, absorbing in their choices of palette and mood. Within her works’ titles, we’re given further insight into the personalities of these figures, like “What’s Precious Inside Of Him Does Not Care To Be Known By The Mind In Ways That Diminish Its Presence (All American)” and “Try On Dreams Until I Find The One That Fits Me. They All Fit Me.” Yet, these works stand alone as engrossing, vibrant odes to individualism. For a recent show at Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago, the venue said that the artist creates “imagined figures based on real-life interactions, subverting and exploring notions of black identity through her unique sense of visual culture, color and line.”
Hollis Dunlap, a Vermont-born artist, crafts portraits that blend painted realism and sculptural concepts and abstractions. These oil paintings can appear as distorted photographs, yet hidden within these textured backgrounds and surprising hues are several hidden decisions and possibilities. Hollis started painting when he was 14, studying strictly realism before developing this current style.