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Art

#paint#portraits#sculpture#social commentary

Sculptural Portraits Revive Used Paintbrushes with Social Commentary and Historical Details

May 4, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Caroline,” oil on carved wood, plastic, metal, plaster, and epoxy. All images © Rebecca Szeto, shared with permission

San Francisco-based artist Rebecca Szeto (previously) applies a heavy dose of social commentary to her ongoing Paintbrush Portraits. Through whittled busts and oil-based figurative renderings, Szeto alludes to a wide array of historical moments, significant figures, and issues that continue to impact the world today.

She transforms the used tools with hard bristles and stained ferrules—she’s committed to an ecologically-conscious practice that repurposes materials already available—into poetic works that are subversive and metaphorical. The optic handle of “Tapada Americana,” for example, references the Peruvian tradition of women wearing a skirt and mantel that fully covered their bodies, “leaving visible a single cycloptic eye,” the artist writes. “Differing from its cousins the burka and the hijab, it signified a level of discreet domestic freedom and sexual intrigue for women.”

Questions about modesty and dignity continue to influence Szeto’s practice, and she shares with Colossal:

I find myself circling this notion of grace, as the innate virtues and values we possess as humans. For me, grace signals our ability to keep an emotional distance that allows us the fortitude and creative agency to transform and re-imagine the world around us. My interest lies in how we transcend challenging times, linguistic labels and offer up teaching moments for serious play and energetic renewal.

For more of Szeto’s works that span painting, installation, and other mediums, visit her site and Instagram.

“Model Minority”

“Princess/Priceless (of Broglie. Ode to Ingres),” oil on carved paintbrush, 8 x 3 x .5 inches

“Princess/Priceless (of Broglie. Ode to Ingres),” oil on carved paintbrush, 8 x 3 x .5 inches

“Tapada Americana”

“Reflections on Beauty”

“Threading the Needle”

“Green (Immigrant)”

#paint#portraits#sculpture#social commentary

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