Portraits are getting an avant-garde face-lift; big-city homes take inspiration from industrial surroundings, and interior residential spaces make bold monochromatic statements. Here, the latest trends in art, architecture, and design.
Contemporary artists are putting a new face on the traditional portrait, spurning the staid, somber realistic depictions of yesteryear for more unconventional concepts. For Lauren Brevner, who is based in West Vancouver, British Columbia, it’s the female face that undergoes a feminist transformation.
She sees her mixed-media portraits, which have been compared to the work of Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt, as a commentary on the subject of women and their depiction in art through the ages.
“Although my portraits aren’t necessarily self-portraits, I do feel like there are pieces of me in all of the women I paint,” Brevner says. Brevner, who apprenticed in Osaka, Japan, employs stylistic elements of traditional Japanese art and culture in her works, which primarily are executed in oil. She says the portraits empower rather than objectify women: “They are a reflection of the vitality of sensuality over sexuality.”
Frans Smit, who reimagines Old Master paintings by the likes of Rembrandt, John Singer Sargent, Van Eyck, and Velázquez, goes one step further to make the familiar foreign: He obliterates the faces of his subjects with violent brushstrokes or graffities them with sprays of aerosol paint.
The South Africa-born artist, who is based in Cape Town, has cited a number of painterly influences, including Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, and Frank Auerbach, for his jarring realistic/abstract portraits.