Though hyper-realistic dolls aren’t a new invention, Michael Zajkov finds a stirring balance of engrossing detail and beauty that isn’t idealized perfection. The Russian artist’s sculpts don’t just look realistic—they look like real people, even if they’re not from this century. When the creations don early-1900s attire and are posed with 13 movable joints, their humble expressions bring viewers closer, if not a little cautious, in case they begin to move.
In Tanzania, people born with Albinism (a rare condition, in which a person lacks the pigment that gives skin, hair and eyes color) are believed to be ghosts or bad omens. However, their body parts are highly prized by Shamans, who use arms and legs, genitalia and blood, to make potions intended to bring wealth and good luck. Artist Tip Toland uses sculpture to bring attention to these nightmarish acts of mutilation, and the prejudice, ignorance, and superstition that motivates the attackers. When exhibited in 2014 at the Portland Art Museum, the portraits of anguished albino children were accompanied by a larger-than-life Mother Africa, who lies down and hopelessly gazes at the heavens.
Born in Canada and based in Manhattan, Karel Funk discovered the meaning of personal space while riding the New York subway for the first time. His subjects are the every day men and women he observes there at a close range. As Funk closes in past the comfort zone, he's met with a certain rejection. Their clothing, hair or headphones act like a modern day armor that shields the viewer from any possibility to engage. Some paintings show only a jacket, a hood, or the back of a girl's ponytail. What is left for us to speculate are things like folds in fabric, which Funk renders to a hyper-realistic point, and we become a voyeur to these details.
In anticipation of Tim Okamura's upcoming solo at Yeelen Gallery, Miami this December, we take a look at his most recent portraits of empowered African-American women. We last featured the British-Canadian-Japanese artist's work in 2011, around the time of his "Bronx Brooklyn Queens" exhibition, which presented women of the NYC landscape who daringly transcend stereotype. Stylistically, his new pieces are hyper realistic yet also gestured and unconventional. Okamura's use of contemporary aesthetics and materials, as in his collaborations with fellow urban artists, and personal symbolism uniquely connect each piece to the artist.
Portland-based Korean artist Samantha Wall draws perceptive representations of women who exhibit a range of emotions and attitude. Her experience with ‘multi-raciality’ between living in Korea and now the United States inspired her latest drawings, “Indivisible” but it has roots in her previous works. Her simple yet profound drawings are the result of her own experiences and feelings. Emotional desire creates moments of hyper awareness, a characteristic specific to human nature. Wall believes that how we position ourselves in the world directly relates to our bond with others. Read more after the jump.
At the top of Mexican born artist Ana Teresa Fernandez’s Facebook page is a quote by Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda: “Pinned by the sun between solstice… And equinox, drowsy and tangled together… We drifted for months and woke… With the bitter taste of land on our lips.” It aptly describes her hyper-real paintings where anonymous figures drift through a vast ‘ocean’ that is their surroundings. Fernandez creates impressions of the female body based on real-life performances of her own design. In her recent exhibition, “Foreign Bodies”, she painted tanned arms, legs, and horses gliding through a sink hole in the Yucatan Peninsula jungle. Their bodies are unrecognizable through the light refractions in the water, referring to society’s distorted ideals.