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Art

Vibrant Curved Lines Flow Through Foster Sakyiamah's Dynamic Paintings

February 23, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Red Easter Sunday” (2022), 150 x 200 centimeters. All images courtesy of Noldor

A single color grounds the intricate, swirling paintings that compose Foster Sakyiamah’s body of work. Relying on reds, blues, and yellows, the Ghanaian artist renders dancers in choreographed synchronicity and demure women wearing thin lace gloves and wide-brimmed hats. Dressed in clothing that blends into the backdrop, the figures emerge through fields of pulsing, curled lines, which add texture and energy to the dynamic pieces.

Sakyiamah is currently a Noldor artist-in-residence, an Accra-based program designed to support emerging African artists that’s now in its second year. The residency is also an integral part of the newly founded Institute Museum of Ghana, which opens to the public next month. If you’re in Rome, you can see Sakyiamah’s paintings through March 3 at Andrea Festa. Otherwise, take a peek into his process on Instagram. (via Kottke)

 

“Synchronized Blue Motion” (2021), 200 x 200 centimeters

Right: “Abena Green Street” (2022), 80 x 95 centimeters

“Red Dressing Room” (2022), 216 x 216 centimeters

“Synchronized Sun Dance” (2021), 200 x 300 centimeters

“Bloom Sun Dance” (2021), 200 x 300 centimeters

“Elizabeth’s Yellow Sunday” (2022)

 

 



Art

Red Eyes Are Bold Counterparts to Subjects in Shades of Gray in Annan Affotey's Portraits

February 17, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Annan Affotey, shared with permission

In his sensitive, introspective portraits, Ghanaian artist Annan Affotey (previously) sharpens the contrast between soul and appearance. His works are large in scale and rich with texture, and he often sets figures against solid, monochromatic backdrops with visible brushstrokes. Similar to artist Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, Affotey renders his subjects’ skin in shades of gray and dresses them in vibrant garments and patterned accessories. The distinctions in color and fabric coincide with the figures’ facial expressions and gestures, all of which the artist uses as a prompt. He says:

The first assumptions made about people are based on sight. So things like skin colour, clothing, accessories, background, setting, and pose dictate emotion. There’s no guarantee those things match the character underneath. We’re often identified by what we’re compared to (or against). My work is a social commentary on this, asking the viewer to take a second look at what they read from my portraits and why.

Using a mix of acrylic and charcoal, Affotey also continues his signature red eyes, which reference his experience of being questioned about his lifestyle when he moved to the U.S. Now more bold, the recurring feature ranges from subtle halos around pupils to bright washes of pigment that spread across the sclera.

Some of Affotey’s figurative pieces are on view at both Arushi Gallery in Los Angeles and PM/AM in London through mid-March, and you can find more on Instagram. He also has two residencies slated in 2022, which will culminate in exhibitions in Saint Paul de Vence, France, opening on May 1 and another in mid-October in London.

 

 

 



Art

Piped in Decadent Layers, Yvette Mayorga's Bright Pink Playhouses Luxuriate in 90s Nostalgia

February 15, 2022

Grace Ebert

Surveillance Locket 2″ (2021), acrylic piping, and collage on panel, 36 inches in diameter. All images © Yvette Mayorga, shared with permission

Within the luscious pink acrylic that composes Yvette Mayorga’s Surveillance Locket series, messages of joy and nostalgia for a 90s childhood coexist with critiques of consumerism and gendered labor. The Chicago-based artist uses tools like piping bags and tips to apply paint in peaks, curls, and scalloped edges evocative of an elaborately decorated cake. She builds each relief layer by layer, drawing on techniques she gleans from baking shows and Instagram tutorials. “Cake decorating is a true craft that is super laborious,” she says.

This sense of labor permeates Mayorga’s body of work and provides a conceptual framework that’s as subversive as it is celebratory: “The color pink holds so much weight that is tied to fragility and prescribed to femme identity and gender norms. Piping and baking labor is also very gendered and constitutes a perceived notion of labor,” she says. “I am saying that pink and baking labor is powerful. The hyper femme is powerful.”

Alongside fields of ornate textures, the artist also uses the tactile material to define labyrinth-like playhouses, which reference the small, plastic clamshells called Polly Pockets. “It’s a toy that I always dreamed of owning,” she tells Colossal. “To me, it’s a marker of attaining an Americaness that as a child of immigrants is often sometimes forced upon us in order to fit in.” Mayorga’s iterations include recreations of her childhood home alongside gilded rooms, staircases, and Rococo-style flourishes she admired while spending her childhood summers in west-central Jalisco and Zacatecas, Mexico. More modern emblems like cartoon-style characters and the televisions she used to watch MTV and Looney Tunes, alongside frames showcasing art historical works and selfies, complete the decadent mansions.

 

Detail of “Surveillance Locket 2” (2021), acrylic piping, and collage on panel, 36 inches in diameter

Beyond their idiosyncratic and playful reflections, though, Mayorga’s works contain more ominous messages. She stations toy soldiers in entries and underneath staircases, shrouding the works with “a feeling of an impending doom” as the concealed characters surveil the scenes in a nod to patrols at the U.S./Mexico border. “My practice is a compounding of these two worlds coming together to create surrealist landscapes that are about the pink, decadent, playful, real-time, nostalgic, art historical, surveillance, and consumerism. To me, the decadence becomes the surrealist in-between space that marks my identity, because it is imagined and an aspiration,” she shares.

You have multiple chances to see Mayorga’s dioramas in person this year: in April, she’ll be at EXPO Chicago, in a group show in Hong Kong this fall, and will open a solo show at Crystal Bridges The Momentary in October. A commissioned work will also be installed in O’Hare’s Terminal Five at the end of the year. See more of her works on her site and Instagram. (via It’s Nice That)

 

“Surveillance Locket 3” (2021), acrylic piping and collage on panel, 36 inches in diameter

“Surveillance Locket” (2021), collage and acrylic piping on wood, 60 x 35 x 2 inches

Detail of “Surveillance Locket” (2021), collage and acrylic piping on wood, 60 x 35 x 2 inches

“The Procession (After 17th-century Vanitas) – In loving memory of MM” (2020), acrylic nails, decals, collage, piteado, rhinestones, and acrylic piped on canvas, 72 × 72 inches

 

 



Art

Minuscule Landscapes and Tiny Creatures Nestle Inside Painted Pennies and Other Coins

February 15, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Bryanna Marie, courtesy of Abend Gallery

Within the confines of a coin, Bryanna Marie paints quaint cabins, idyllic landscapes, and whimsical mushrooms with spotted caps. The Tucson-based artist’s fascination with miniature canvases started back in 2014 when she painted a 3 x 3-inch piece, and she’s since gravitated toward smaller spaces, ending up with the 1-inch diameters of pennies and other currencies. Rendered in oil paint, each work corresponds to the coin’s origin. “For instance, I’ll use an Irish penny for their rolling hills, or a Euro to paint my trips to France,” she shares.

For more of the artist’s miniature creations, visit her site and Instagram, and shop available pieces at Abend Gallery. (via Escape Kit)

 

 

 



Art

Oil Paintings by Paco Pomet Brighten Vintage Scenes with Satirical Elements in Color

February 10, 2022

Grace Ebert

“A Prequel” (2021), oil on canvas, 100 x 150 centimeters. All images © Paco Pomet

Succeeding his series of paintings titled Beginnings, Paco Pomet’s Endings applies a similarly satirical veil to his provocative and outlandish scenarios: a cleaved camper reveals red steak marbled with fat, businessmen shake hands through an elongated finger trap, and a woman walks a hand-standing friend on a leash. The Spanish artist (previously) is known for his keen sense of wit and humor and distinct visual commentary on contemporary issues like capitalism, the degradation of the environment, and moments in American history that have global impacts. He shares in an interview:

I am very interested in current affairs, but in order to fully understand today’s world, it is necessary to look back and examine historical events. The past is full of hints that can unveil the present, so in some ways, we could paraphrase that statement which says that there’s nothing new under the sun. I have always thought that subjects and themes remain the same over centuries, and that human pursuits, aspirations, and chimeras are cyclical. Nowadays, we might have different tools and ways of approaching those issues, but the important questions remain the same, even though the way they show up changes throughout the years.

Often working with anachronistic scenes and symbols, Pomet depicts children of a past era sparring with glowing lightsabers in “A Prequel” and a vintage car blurring into a trail of greens and yellows in “Trip.” Each oil painting is rendered largely in neutral tones with bright, colorful elements supplying the artist’s signature dose of irony.

You can explore an archive of Pomet’s surreal works and follow his latest compositions on Instagram.

 

“Prime” (2021), oil on canvas, 38 x 46 centimeters

“Rearguard” (2021), oil on canvas, 38 x 46 centimeters

“The Restrainers” (2021), oil on canvas, 60 x 73 centimeters

“The Last Executive Committee Meeting” (2021), oil on canvas, 130 x 150 centimeters

“Amblers” (2021), oil on canvas, 73 x 60 centimeters

“Apart” (2021), oil on canvas, 130 x 170 centimeters

“Trip” (2021), oil on canvas, 100 x 150 centimeters

“Dissident” (2021), oil on canvas, 130 x 170 centimeters

 

 



Art

Minimal Strokes Applied with a Broom Form Jose Lerma’s Tactile Portraits

February 7, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Jose Lerma, shared with permission

To create his thick, abstract portraits, Chicago-based artist Jose Lerma trades his brush for hefty, commercial brooms that follow the lines of preliminary sketches. “The process of these paintings is laborious. I make my own paint and fabricate my supports. The material is heavy and unwieldy,” he tells Colossal. “It is done in one shot because it dries very fast, so there is a minimal margin for mistakes.”

Lerma’s impasto works shown here have evolved from his original series of Paint Portraits, which revealed the general outline of a figure without any distinctive details. Wide swaths trace the length of the subject’s hair or neck, leaving ridges around the perimeter and a solid gob of pigment at the end of each stroke. His forward-facing portraits tend to split the figure in half by using complementary shades of the same color to mirror each side of a face.

 

With a background in social sciences, history, and law, much of Lerma’s earlier pieces revolved around translating research into absurd, childlike installations and more immersive projects. “In recent works, maybe due to returning to my home in Puerto Rico and a much more relaxed non-academic setting, I have eliminated my reliance on history and research and now concentrate on just making portraits,” he shares. “It’s an approachable, tactile, and disarming aesthetic, but the absurdity remains perhaps in the excessive materiality.”

Now, Lerma “works in reverse” and begins with a specific image that he reduces to the most minimal markings. “It’s a large work painted in the manner of a small work, and I think that has the psychological effect of making the viewer feel small, more like a child,” he says.

Living and working between Puerto Rico and Chicago, where he teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Lerma currently has paintings on view in a number of shows: he’s at Yusto/Giner in Málaga through March 24 and part of the traveling LatinXAmerican exhibition. In April, he’ll be showing with Nino Mier Gallery at Expo Chicago and in May at Galeria Diablo Rosso in Panama. Until then, see more of his works on Instagram.