Dreamy Collage Portraits

Blemishing Human Facial Features with Fine-art Graphics

6
It’s been a while since photomontage and collage were an apparatus for artists who found a convenient way to subvert existing ideologies and critique contemporary commercial aesthetics by displacing ordinary visual signs under the guise of a smooth, crease-free surface. The practice of Matt Wisniewski, a web developer based in New York, is even further removed from such concerns, having found a style of photographic collage by combining multiple images on top of human portraits. Having been engrossed by art from an early age, the computer science graduate from Rochester Institute of Technology has been experimenting with a variety of artistic media for most of his life. Commenting upon his endearment towards art and technology, he told us, “I love tinkering and learning new things. Collage seemed like a natural way of combining the two.”

With three series of new work to showcase, his fine-art collages, in combination with paints and other, more unusual mediums, are there to provide an object of aesthetic beauty, delicacy and finesse, as well as personal enjoyment. “I’ve had some success producing commissions in my style but primarily work for my own satisfaction,” he told us.

Fluid Dynamics
1
2
3
4
5

Each section of his new series differs by way of intensity of colour, but their commonalities involve a striking use of the Victorian portrait photograph as inspiration. Each image uses the austerity of the human face, -bone structure, curves and skin-tone- to apply a vivid surrealist superimposition of effects. It is surprising how, in Matt’s work, faces are washed of their evident conveyor of emotion and are merely used as a canvas from which to apply that which sharply juxtaposes with it. Wet Canvas, for example, makes use of hyper-fluorescent light to dazzle the percipient, whereas Fluid Dynamics is stripped of colour in order for the subtle tones of black and white to impress themselves upon a viewer’s imaginary. Most arresting about these portraits is the substitution of paint for rocks and photographs of the sea. Matt achieves dynamism here by contrasting the static portrait with the movement of crashing waves against strong, jagged rocks, and the use of light enhances this fluidity. Fountain Collapse continues with the presence of rocks, but layers floral, pastel shades over the photographed portrait to create an expression of calm and serenity. The dream-like quality of his images can therefore produce different emotions for different situations.

Fountain Collapse
1
2
We caught up with Matt to ask more about this exciting new series.

The Plus: Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your process?
Matt Wisniewski:
I’m mostly known for collage using other people’s photography. Which has led to some really neat things in terms of collaborative projects, but there are a lot of limits in terms of how I can publish that work and most of the time. It’s just not possible. So it was always an interest to produce work that was 100% mine.

3
TP: Out of your three series right now – Wet Canvas, Fountain Collapse and Fluid Dynamics – which one did you enjoy working on the most?
MW:
Wet Canvas for sure. Doing the actual painting outdoors and seeing something come together was exciting to me. By itself it was a ton of fun, but that’s not the whole story. It took awhile to get the time and money for the equipment, travel and to convince people to sit for portraits. Eventually I did get enough money and I built up enough photography to use, but I couldn’t just crank out a ton of work immediately. Because I only had so much photography to work with and because I had this body of work of my own to compete with I needed something that stood out and was the absolute best I could do with what I had to work with.

4
TP: What was the reason for choosing such different backgrounds for these portraits?
MW:
The paint used for Wet Canvas is something that interests me quite a bit just by itself. Wout Werensteijn is a painter that really caught my eye and I wanted to do something similar. I didn’t really know where the collage was going to go. I just knew if I had photos like that I could make something of it. Fountain Collapse is a combination of volcanic rock and some small minerals I shot at home. It was a fairly obvious choice to me because the rocks are so beautiful on their own but alone the photography isn’t necessarily that interesting. Fluid Dynamics came about because I had successfully used water before with my own photos on some art for Young the Giant. I wanted to explore that in more depth and with my own rules.

5
TP: Does it mean the background images came after portrait images? Which one is the reference?
MW:
Almost all of the portraits were taken after the background images but that has nothing to do with my process. When I shoot I tend to aim for a lot of variety so when I’m working I have a ton of options to play with. I’ll usually start with a set of portraits as a base and build from them, but I’ll swap out pieces of a portrait or the entire thing if it helps the image. It hurts the quality if when I’m shooting I think, okay, I need this specific pose so that I can use it this way. When I actually get to putting the graphic together, I’ll find that another portrait fits better or my original idea will turn out to not be as strong as something else I find along the way.

Wet Canvas
1
2
3
4
5

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

comments policy

  • - Please don't leave racist, homophobic, sexist or other offensive comments.
  • - Please don't use any offensive words.
  • - Please don't use this comments section for self promotion.
  • - Please don't get too personal.