Faig Ahmed’s surreal sculptures incorporate ancient carpet-weaving techniques from his native country of Azerbaijan into forms that anyone would identify has hyper-contemporary. His intricately patterned weavings are mounted on architectural structures, fabricated in wood or plastic. Sometimes the stark contrast between white form and traditional tapestry is startling enough on its own; other times, Ahmed alters the patterns to suggest digital manipulation, pixelation, and distortion.
Baldwinsville, NY based artist Lacey McKinney‘s haunting portraits depict women and distorted figures, rendered in energetic strokes and accented with bold patches of color.
McKinney demonstrates she is not afraid to continually reexamine her approach to the figure and investigate new ways in which it can be used to communicate ideas and manipulate aesthetic elements. The ideas she explores play with issues of identity and the complexities and ambiguities of “self. ” Her compositions give a nod to the multiple perspectives inherent to cubism.
Toronto based Elly Smallwood is a contemporary artist who focuses on expressive portraits. In her portraits, Smallwood explores the distortion of the face through movement and expression by abstracting the form through messy brush strokes and sometimes even layering multiple images/sketches over the top.
UK artist Carl Beazley’s portraits are twisted and multiplied, clearly surreal, yet based on real faces with their pores and blemishes. Completely self-taught, the 26-year old artist credits his unique point of view to being able to find his own voice absent the outside influence of teachers or mentors.
“By not going to University and not studying the all different painting techniques from history, I feel it has given me the freedom of learning from trial and error. I am always trying to look for something new and original that’s never been done before, and although I love the paintings of the old masters, it is important to me to look to the future so that in a hundred years from now we have our own history, not just a regurgitated version of the generation that came before us. If we don’t try to take art to the next level by looking forward, we will just end up going in circles.” Carl Beazley
Brooklyn based Photographer David Samuel Stern builds a bridge between direct portraits and abstraction. His way of abstracting the images does not only offer his subjects a way to hide within themselves, but also turns digital photography into physical objects by adding geometric texture.
Taking several photos of his subjects, Stern then physically cuts them apart and threads them together, causing both the image and the sitter to become a complicated fracture of bits and pieces we cannot fully make sense of. The series is a kaleidoscope of splintered identities, the distortion adding another layer to what would generally be considered a standard portrait.
Mason Lindroth’s work exists somewhere between the realm of a hellish nightmare, surreal art, and collages. It’s all those things, and also none of them. Lindroth’s repeated animated aesthetic is wholly unique. The objects themselves are grotesque, ranging from eerie blank-staring faces to vintage stock-like footage of families. Nothing blends together, it becomes a distorted conglomerate of gif-able lo-fi clipart.
You can recognize Lindroth work due to the sparing, dotty Apple II-like visuals and use of claymation. The aesthetic compliments Mason’s interest in warping the ordinary: black-and-white is the status quo, whereas color can punctuate a peculiar presence with immediacy.
Amsterdam-based Raymond Lemstra likes to refer to, with his work, the illustrative nature of primitive drawings and sculptures. What he finds interesting about these is the distortion as a result of selective emphasis; parts of interest are emphasized, unimportant parts reduced or left out. For characters this means they come out big headed, where focus is on the face and the body is trimmed to its essential properties.
He applies this primitive logic as a method, but he doesn’t apply it equally to all aspects of his work. Instead, he chooses to use a very mature, highly laborsome technique for the execution of his work. This contrast, between the naive and sophisticated, gives the work a somewhat awkward taste. A clash of intent, simultaneously assuming simplicity and complexity, randomness and reason, flaws and perfection. The purpose of which is to inspire a sense of joy and discovery.
Enköping, Sweden based Mikael Takacs uses pipettes to distribute acrylic paint across the canvas to create his subjects, which he then distorts by dragging the paint around using various tools, like sticks and combs.
Takacs combines the classic abstract expression of marbling with concrete figures. He prefers to blur the lines and to present an abstract artwork. According to him, abstract art makes the dialogue between the viewer and the piece of art more interesting. This results in intricate patterns that forms his subjects.
Growing up in the flat countryside of Denmark, Rune Fisker spent most of his time drawing with and on whatever he could find. Now, many years later, Rune runs his own animation company Benny Box along with his brother Esben. Whenever Rune is not animating, drawing storyboards, or making things that moves, he is working as an artist and illustrator on a mixture of commercial and personal projects. Rune’s abstract, surrealist style plays with geometries, line, and tone. The result are subconscious scenes where characters of distorted proportions entangle with phantom scenes hinged between fiction and reality.
San Francisco-based painter Emilio Villalba creates portraits that are crafted at a crossroads of two influences, as cited by the artist: master works and the human condition. As a traditional portrait can captivate with the subject’s eyes, your own gaze must adjust first to the distorted points of entry.
“My portraits are inspired by master works, as well as the contemporary human condition. They explore the dissonance created when the familiar is fractured and distorted by outside influence.”