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(b. Flushing, New York, 1990; lives and works in New York, New York)
Elaine Chao begins with a physical object to develop her digital compositions. She takes photographs of her acrylic paintings on cardboard encased in gloss gel and transfers them to Photoshop where she “excavates” layers of paint, enhancing particular sections of color and texture to create animated .gifs. The series Moving Image (2019), featured here, is a collection of animated paintings that explore complex color combinations and light through digital manipulation.
(b. Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 1998; lives and works in Belo Horizonte)
Luise Eru works exclusively in Photoshop to create painterly digital collages. Using found photographs mined from libraries and free image banks, his final works are striking images that highlight the conditions of political chaos, poverty, marginalization and violence that Black people endure in his home country of Brazil. He describes his work as images of beauty that disrupt the violence that surrounds him while retaining the aesthetic richness that Black culture and skin carry.
(b. Portland, Oregon, 1996; lives and works in New York, New York and Bangalore, India)
Samhita Kamisetty begins her digital works with drawings executed on colored paper as underdrawings before she transfers them into Photoshop, where she applies rich textures and hues with digital brushes. She explores how physical spaces and seemingly mundane objects within them can be emotionally transformative and acquire symbolic meanings. The private domestic interiors depicted in her paintings are based on her home in Bangalore, India, chosen for associations with comfort.
(b. San Jose, California, 1994; lives and works in San Jose)
Collin Pollard’s work centers around the relationship between the physical world and its depiction within the digital realm, particularly the vastness of digital space itself. During the pandemic, only a screen could provide a look into the outside world, which was otherwise impossible to reach physically. His paintings are derived from computer screenshots of glitches that appeared in YouTube travel videos. They reflect on the irony of being able to access the boundless space that digital technology has to offer while being confined to a limited physical space.
(b. Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, 1961; lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland)
Donald Hargrove’s lush landscapes are rendered with painterly strokes, textures and subtle color gradations. Working from photographs, sketches executed both digitally and on paper, pure imagination or en plein air, Hargrove approaches digital art in the same way as traditional painting, describing it as working with “pixels rather than paint.” He began exploring the medium for the first time during the pandemic after a long period of inactivity and describes working in a digital format as “reviving my own creativity but also my identity as an artist.”
(b. Miami, Florida, 1966; lives and works in London, England)
These three works by Adam Blitz are part of his 2018 project Digital Apamea, an attempt to reconstruct the lost mosaic floor of a fourth-century synagogue at Apamea on Orontes in Syria. The digital works were constructed using such available sources as mosaic fragments, black and white photographs and comparisons with similar mosaic color schemes in Syria, Turkey and Italy. The artist refers to the resulting works as “fictions” since the available historical information is fragmentary and archaeological methods were used to complete them.
(b. Tartu, Estonia, 1993; lives and works in Los Angeles, California)
Polina Protsenko develops her digital abstractions with traditional media, beginning each work with monochromatic color swatches she paints in watercolor. Photographs of these images are transferred to the computer and collaged, rotated and manipulated in Photoshop, resulting in ethereal abstract works. Protsenko describes watercolor painting as “natural and fluid,” an art-making process that is partially out of her hands. Digital art, on the other hand, provides a tightly controlled format with which to explore purely formal concerns of color and composition.
(b. London, England,1999; lives and works in London)
Annie Lee‘s paintings ruminate on the surreal experience of earning a practical art degree online during the pandemic. She began exploring this concept by focusing on human marks left behind on the smartphone, tablet and computer screens that have become a necessity of everyday life. The monochromatic blackness of these paintings are accented with impressions of fingerprint smudges, questioning where the boundary of digital and physical space lies.
Carlos Torres Machado
(b. Guayaquil, Ecuador, 1981; works in Brooklyn, New York)
Carlos Torres Machado began exploring digital painting during the pandemic while working from home. Referring to his work as “extremes of rigorous geometry and lyrical abstraction,” his compositions explore the organization of social and technological information through pattern and complex color combinations. This is evident in his Data Centers series (2015–present), which began as large-scale canvas polyptychs that Machado developed into digital paintings.
(b. New York, New York, 1992; lives and works in Yonkers, New York)
Executed directly onto a tablet with a stylus, Stefanie Wolfson’s Plant Portraits (2019–present) series depicts plants that commonly appear in social media posts, particularly on Instagram, and are associated with a trendy design aesthetic popularized by social media influencers. Her project emphasizes the shallowness of social media’s fixation on keeping up with trends and reliance on superficial metrics of success. Wolfson’s portraits also touch on the damaging impact that over-consumption of these plants has on the environment.
All images © the artists 2021