Portland, Maine based artist Sascha Braunig is a portrait painter of sorts. She uses traditional baroque portraiture techniques with a nod to Op art and a wink at Surrealism. Braunig’s figures seem to barely emerge out of a hypnotic (and nearly seizure inducing) patterned background. Her canvases are striped with colors that contrast so much they nearly appear to glow. The effect is hallucinatory and almost a bit haunting. The gallery statement from her current exhibit describe the various concepts at play saying:
” Braunig’s geometric figures have a visual fluidity, as if their delicate skins can barely contain their bodies. Subject and background merge, creating ambiguity and optical tension. An alliance is forced between flat patterned designs and observed, mimetic representation.”
Sascha Braunig is exhibiting her work through December 22 at Manhattan’s Foxy Production.
Sculptor Loren Schwerd documents the wreckage hurricane Katrina left behind by building artwork from it in her series Mourning Portrait. While in New Orleans shortly after the storm Schwerd came upon the flooded St. Claude Beauty Supply shop, much of its inventory spilling out on to the sidewalk. She uses the human hair extension she picked up off the curb to build what she calls “commemorative objects”. Each piece is a “portrait” of a building in various stages of deterioration. The images of dilapidated homes give an indication of the massive amounts of damage from the storm while the hair alludes to the human loss. Schwerd explains her use of the human hair extensions in her work this way:
“The portraits draw on the nineteenth-century tradition of hairwork, in which family members or artisans would fashion the hair of the deceased into intricate jewelry and other objects as symbols of death and rebirth and remembrance.”