The hyper-realistic oil paintings of Joshua Suda will make you question whether you’re looking at a painting or a photograph as he recreates the features of the human face with stunning accuracy. Going beyond replicating life, many of Suda’s pieces also have elements of surrealism. Bizarre compositions, mixed with Suda’s impressive attention to detail, result in uncanny contortions of the human face. He often breaks the fourth wall, playing with the foreground and background to make it appear that the subject is bursting through the surface of the piece. In other works, he paints to mimic other media, replicating the detail of everything from pencil drawings to old photographs and contrasting them with how the subjects might appear to the human eye.
Chilean artist Alvaro Tapia finds something sinister even in his most innocent subjects. His portrait illustrations feature friends, famous people, artists and others he admires. What lurks beneath the surface in these subjects — something grotesque and often evil — is what most attracts the artist. The end result, however, is far from ugly. Bursting with color and life, his portraits are high-impact. Tapia arranges contrasting colors, vector lines and geometric shapes so that they vibrate off one another. His subjects not only seem alive but ready to jump off the page right at the viewer’s throat.
Rifle through French artist Julie Sarloutte’s art supplies and you might find not tubes of oil paint, but dozens of thread bundles. At first glance, her works appear to be paint on canvas, the unmistakable palette knife angling and impasto streaks making up portraits and muted scenes of political violence. But looking closer, you might see the pop of thread coming through, as all pieces are meticulously hand-embroidered by Sarloutte, who also dabbles in mosaic and yes, paint.
Argentinian photographer Romina Ressia shoots disorienting portraits, playing with textiles and props to adorn her sitters and their environments. Her recent series, “Renaissance Cubism,” is Ressia’s mash-up of two art historical eras that highly influence her work. She clothes her subjects in the austere black and white costuming of male nobility in the age of Velasquez. But a few seemingly simple placements of props and digital edits make these photographs the stuff of dreams. One character’s wig faces the front and obscures her face, suggesting her head has revolved 180 degrees. Meanwhile, another character wears a box on her head, the opening for her eye moved slightly to the right to complicate the harmonious proportions of her face. In Ressia’s “What Do You Hide?” series, the artist plays with the idea of the mask as a metaphor for the different roles we play, camouflaging the characters’ costumes with their backgrounds. Take a look at some of her work after the jump.
On Saturday night, Thinkspace celebrated Jacub Gagnon’s second solo exhibition at the gallery with “Worlds Collide” (previewed here). “My paintings become a space in which nature becomes unnatural, bordering surreal,” Gagnon shares. By leaving the surroundings of his royal animal subjects to the viewer’s imagination, the focus of his work becomes connectivity. In other words, Gagnon is inspired by the connection between human and animal relationships and mixes the two here. Gagnon begins his acrylic paintings with a black background, building the light and detail backwards until the final image is revealed. Details such as foxes wearing vintage teacups and bearded owls decorated with monarch butterflies are especially ornate.
Jennifer Nehrbass’s artworks look like collages at a first glance, but the seemingly cut and pasted images of geological formations, abstract patterns and human characters are actually painted with oils. The artist fits many disparate images and influences into her work. Her narrative paintings plant the viewer alongside female protagonists (most of whom are Nehrbass herself) who are undergoing journeys — adventures through the rocky, American Southwestern terrain as well as journeys of self-discovery. Nehrbass says that she uses herself as a primary subject because her work is a critique of the established art historical and sartorial cannons. Influenced by Cindy Sherman and author Margaret Atwood, she plays with different identities and creates various personas through the elaborate staging of details. Each woman faces a different adventure and must find her own path.