Today we take a quick look at ten contemporary urban artists painting women, the everlasting subject that has intrigued artists since the time they lived in caves. Some of them explore this subject exclusively, while others only visit it occasionally. When we look at their work, it is clear that the common subject is the only thing they share. From those who emphasize sexuality, over those that explore sensuality and human condition of their characters, to those that go deeper in the surreal. Regardless of what you prefer, there is no doubt you will be amazed by their skills and their aesthetics. So let us enjoy the female beauty through the works of these 10 artists.
English artist David Walker has created a signature multi-layered style of magnificent, color-explosive and chaotic female character portraiture, which he often “steals” from magazines, photography or websites. Using nothing more than spray paint, his elaborate and surreal portraits painted on large walls with high level of skill, captivate viewers, inspire joy, and challenge preconceptions of fine and urban art. His use of vivid, clashing colors with translucent drips, “a beautiful mess” as he calls it, makes it hard to believe this loner once used only black and white colors.
Member of the global collective Army Of Snipers International, Swiss artist Leza One has been referred to as "a modern era Caravaggio" because of the way he presents human emotions. And there is a reason behind that. His art, filled with emotion and drama, is a perfect example how street art can be grand and sophisticated. This became most apparent after he had moved to working on canvases. His vivid paintings have an amazing atmosphere and smoothness, but still retain a street spirit by following the same guidelines of his outdoor works. Always experimenting with various techniques, his most recent exhibition of “Urban Muses”, displayed on objects he found on the streets, drew a lot of attention.
One of the greatest revelations in recent years, Olivia Charmaine, a self-taught and extremely talented artist from California, works on wood panels and boards mostly in oils, but also in charcoal, pencil and pastel to create astonishing, meticulously rendered, ethereal compositions of female characters that are full of poetic passion. Her art is personal and oozes with sex appeal, often with a touch of the supernatural and surreal. Be prepared to get charmed.
Sultry female characters by Miss Van are instantly recognizable when seen in the streets worldwide. This French artist started wall-painting as a teenager, back in the 1990’s, and today is considered to be one of the best female painters of the graffiti scene, gaining worldwide acclaim. A big step forward in her art was when she moved into a gallery, which allowed her characters (dolls or poupées as she calls them) to mature and to become more intimate and delicately rendered due to working with more subtle media than in the streets. Recently her dolls started wearing animal masks which make them appear more sinister and mysterious.
American painter, muralist, graffiti artist and a genuine multimedia enfant terrible David Choe gained worldwide success with his dirty and frantic style, through which he explores themes of desire and degradation. His style is compelling and repulsive at the same time, and demonstrates what an intelligent and angry artist can achieve. His imaginative and provocative paintings of young urban women made with oil, acrylics and collage, are seductive and perverse, yet somehow comforting and narratively complex.
RONE is a notable street artist and a key individual in the Melbourne street art scene, renowned for the stylized images of glamorous women. Telling the story of beauty and decay, he is most famous for the portrait of Jane Doe, a character that is recurring in his work. His gigantic, yet subtle, closely cropped melancholic faces, that appear to be staring at the viewer and make it impossible for them not to stare back, are of visceral and raw style made of intricate line work.
South African artist Lionel Smit has established a substantial international following in the recent years. Portraiture of monumental size is his preferred style, and his models are everyday, but highly memorable people. He accomplishes this by the immense size of the paintings and his artistic technique, which he describes as “a burst of energy and balance of spontaneous actions”. As the viewer gets closer, a planned chaos ensues on the canvas, pictures start to disintegrate and reveal fine details. The eye is drawn to the drips, splatters and interruptions of bands of solid color or segments of canvas that are almost untouched. That is the moment when these faces begin to tell a story of their emotions and mental states, engaging the viewer’s intellect almost involuntarily.
Street art virtuoso from France, Hopare, uses a variety of interesting variations in line and color, relying heavily on drawing and deep blacks, to create expressive murals that appear to be popping off and sinking into the walls they are painted on. His captivating portraits of unique style and mix of the figurative and abstract, come together in an explosion of color and details, dramatically contrasted to the streets which surround them. It is a dynamic and hypnotic art that leaves a great impact on the audience, pulling them out of their surroundings and taking them on a voyage to view the surreal world of illusion.
Gigantic monochromatic posters by the French artist JR are socially and politically engaged, and deal with subjects like freedom, identity and commitment. From the slums of Kenya to the outskirts of Paris, this guerilla artist, who hides his true identity, aims to put a human face to the world’s poorest areas. With the Women Are Heroes project he emphasized the idea that women are the ones holding the community together. These are powerful images of sympathetic and unfortunate female characters who suffer and long to build a happy future, often looking death in the face.
Acclaimed Brazilian art collective Bicicleta sem Freio (or Bicycle Without Brakes) is internationally famed for the large-scale public works. They paint their surreal women characters with massive marine tentacles and colorful environment, typified by expressive line work and appearance of a sexy psychedelic comic. Their salient use of color and a twisted cynical Pop Art style is what makes their work stand out. And their work is definitely the one you can not miss. It is so good that looking at it for too long can melt your brain, it feels like taking an acid trip on a bicycle without breaks or, to simply put it in just one word: awesome!