Michael Mapes creates, or sometimes re-creates, portraits of people by putting together pieces of photos and other objects, all placed in cases reminiscent of the cabinets used by entomologists for their insect collections. The boxes exist in an uncanny area between photography and sculpture, functioning both as portraits and as fascinating scientific canvases that make you question the the logic behind the organization of each piece.
Mapes’ portraits are like swarms of smaller portraits of the person they depict: tiny versions of the original portrait or dissected parts of it are pinned on the board, or are sometimes set inside small transparent vials and behind magnifying lenses just like scientific samples.
Brooklyn based Christian Rex Van Minnen‘s paintings are part Old Masters, part mad scientist, part carnival. Classical still life and portraiture are reimagined with sumptuous beauty that paradoxically can be hard to look at. But it is van Minnen’s masterful technique and eye that draw the viewer again to consider that which looks impossible.
“I think it’s interesting to take away the eyes and mouth. In a way it makes it easier on the viewer, myself included. It allows for a more prolonged voyeurism and freedom to explore the figure. Like staring at a blind man.” Christian Rex Van Minnen
Koen Hauser works as a photographer and visual artist. He finished his masters of science in social psychology, later followed by studying photography at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie.
Hauser is known for his intangible body of work flowing between fine arts, fashion and applied photography. From purely esthetical to highly conceptual, he frequently references or paraphrases the iconic visual language of historical photography, or even incorporates exisiting images into his work. Together with his distinguished feel for appearance and his love for the mysterious, alienating, strange and uncanny, these are the key elements that form the core of his body of work, which has a distinct metaphysical dimension.
Henry Taylor is an American artist and painter who lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Taylor is most well known for his acrylic paintings, mixed media sculptures, and installations. Taylor paints quick, loose portraits of his relatives, friends, celebrities, and athletes on large and small canvases, as well as creating evocative sculptures and assemblages of found materials.
Drawing on the folk art and modernism present in a strain of African American painting that traces back to Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden, Taylor has painted monumental canvases based on WPA photographs of black farm workers.
Seattle-based Kelly Bjork is an artist/freelance illustrator whose work focuses on portraiture and intimacy between friends and belongings. Bjork’s illustrations capture the funky and punky personas that thrive in her home city of Seattle. She grew up in Tacoma, Washington and graduated from Western Washington University in 2009 with a BFA in drawing and printmaking.
Aïda Muluneh is an Ethiopian artist based in Addis Ababa. In 2000 she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in film, radio and television from Howard University in Washington, D.C. Muluneh is the 2007 recipient of the European Union Prize in the Rencontres Africanines de la Photographie in Bamako, Mali, as well as the 2010 winner of the CRAF International Award of Photography in Spilimbergo, Italy.
Muluneh’s work on body painting is inspired by traditional body art from across the African continent. “Each work is a reflection of conscious and sub-conscious manifestations of time and space,” she writes.
Cameroon based artist Boris Nzebo’s multilayered paintings and collages conjure the astounding visual complexity typical of the West African city. Entirely drawing his subject matter from urban culture in his hometown Douala, Nzebo invests his works with psycho geographical impulse: their primary subjects are the elaborate hairstyles of men and women, which he lays on city views as integral features of the architecture.
Nzebo’s stylized execution owes a lot to painted haircut signs found outside Cameroon’s barber shops. Appropriating the language of advertising he creates portraits taken from detailed studies of traditional African hairstyles, often elaborate, and combines them with informal snapshots of local neighborhoods, urban architecture and scenes from daily life. This symbiotic connection allows for a multiplicity of readings of the image, rendering levels of information in a sort of visual polyphony that rhythmically integrates humans and the space they inhabit.
Berlin based Riikka Sormunen is an artist and illustrator. With her amazing eye for detail and color, and a slight flare for dark comedy, Sormunen has landed herself projects including being a contributor for The New York Times. She creates beautiful illustrations with the finest attention to detail. Her patterns and style are clearly inspired by her background in fashion design, but beneath the surface her illustrations often hold more sinister themes.
Ghent, Belgium based Michaël Borremans juxtaposes -in his figurative drawings and paintings- somber figures, jarring close-ups, and unsettling still lifes that are at once nostalgic, darkly comic, disturbing, and grotesque.
His seductive works contain timeless images of inner drive and external force, of the latent pressure involved in being human. Behind a veil of stylistic perfection, the artist simulates common rituals of interpretation and meaning. His intensely atmospheric images are puzzles involving political and psychological patterns of perceiving the world, which oscillate in a camouflaging, fragile way between inexorable realism and nebulous distance.
Turks and Caicos born street artist and New York based Bradley Theodore mixes and matches in vibrant colors key elements of art and fashion, plastering his power clashing hybrids around the city streets.
“Fashion allows people to become art. It’s the only time in our society that’s truly accepted for you to be a form of art. The average person on the street is trying to convey an image. That image could be an identity, he or she could be building himself as a painting: it might be the most super-glossed up glam queen, or they could be portraying this stupendous image of Madonna.” Bradley Theodore
He’s painted murals across the globe; done cover art for albums for the Wu Tang Clan, created art for Def Jam, Universal Records, and Sony. He’s been featured in Vogue for his iconic skeletal images of Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld. His works play- fully explores fashion, graphic design and popular culture.