Portrait

Tagsmart weekly discovery: Sara Shamsavari’s global identity

Born in Tehran in the midst of the Iranian revolution, multi-disciplinary artist Sara Shamsavari overcame childhood cancer while she and her family fled persecution.

Raised in London and educated at Camberwell School of Art and Design and Central Saint Martins, her experiences inspired her exploration of identity and engendered a profound desire to make a difference through art.

At a time of increased division, conflict and polarisation around the world, Shamsavari’s works explore and celebrate global identity. While each of her photographic series has a distinct focus, together, they all seek to encourage a deeper understanding of our nuances as human beings in contrast to the current popular narratives that misrepresent, malign and often succeed in dividing and ‘othering’ those in the minority.

London Veil was her first series, portraying young women wearing the hijab on the streets of London, Paris, New York and Toronto.

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Her series Britain Retold: A Portrait of London is an exploration of British identity as known by the diverse communities living in London.

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She has also contributed to series such as The Dandy Lion Project by curator Shantrelle P. Lewis, which challenges its audience to rethink the outlook of black men perpetuated in the media today.

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With a belief that artists can be leaders in social and spiritual progress, Shamsavari seeks to encourage both participants and viewers in transforming the way we view society and ourselves.

Shamsavari’s work has been featured across various media and publications including BBC, The New York Times, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Elle, i-D and Dazed & Confused. Her work has been exhibited internationally in galleries, museums and public spaces and she has delivered a number of talks at cultural institutions, including Tate Britain and Southbank Centre.

Tagsmart weekly discovery: Matthew Seed, The Horse Photographer

Matthew Seed is one of the leading practitioners in equine portraits. Combining his accomplished skills in photography with his love for horses, Seed has been commissioned by royals and celebrities across the globe to photograph a lasting and unique impression of the majesty of their horses. 

His work, which has been exhibited in the UK and abroad, has earned comparisons with those of renowned painters who have chosen to make the beauty of horses their principal theme, including George Stubbs and Théodore Géricault.

His expansive experience allows him to create exclusive pieces in the blink of an eye, using a pioneering and skilful mix of natural and artificial light, and without relying on post-production softwares. 

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Included in his stunning series of works – which almost look like oil paintings –are horses used for work, racing, trekking, dressage, hunting and show jumping. And looking at his pictures it’s easy to see why, for horse lovers, Seed is top choice. 

World renowned as ‘The Horse Photographer’, his equine commissions demonstrate his recognised talent and artistry. Seed astonishes his customers by capturing the personality of their beloved animals perfectly on camera.

Tagsmart weekly discovery: Arteh Odjidja’s photographic narratives

Born and bred in London and influenced by his father who worked in filmmaking, Arteh Odjidja realised at a young age he was destined for a career in the arts. In 2004, Odjidja completed a degree in Graphic Design at the LCC University of the Arts but soon discovered his love for photography and storytelling.

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His keen eye for composition and passion for bespoke couture naturally led him to specialise in fashion, portrait and documentary photography. Having worked with some of the world’s most recognised brands, including Paul Smith and Montblanc, his innate bond to the arts however eventually led him to take up personal projects as well.

His first exhibition, Stranger in Moscow, was on display at Ozwald Boateng’s Saville Row store in 2013. The series shines a light on a young man’s story, and highlights the feelings of displacement and vulnerability felt by so many living in foreign environments. The social struggles faced by such people have defined the modern world we live in.

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He has since exhibited his work extensively in America and the UK, been featured in numerous industry publications such as Black+White Photography, The British Journal of Photography and The Photoworks annual.

Most recently, Odjidja’s Art of Monochrome series was featured in the Dandy Lion, The Black Dandy and Street Style book by Shantrelle P. Lewis, Leica UK and Aperture Foundation, alongside Hassan Hajjaj, Joshua Kissi, Travis Gumbs and Omar Victor Diop.

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On September 30, the photographer will present the Monochrome Street Portraits – Black and White Portrait Photography workshop at the Imago Fotokunst, Berlin. Teaching participants how to create a portrait narrative and achieve dynamic black and white portraits on location, the masterclass draws inspiration from his successful ongoing STRANGER series, which profiles young migrants in cities around the world.

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Mario Testino’s art collection goes up for auction at Sotheby’s in Los Angeles

One of the most influential fashion and portrait photographers of our time, Mario Testino kick-started his photographer career as a freelancer for Vogue and Vanity Fair after a chance encounter.

In his 40-year practice as a photographer, he gained worldwide attention with his unique talent in capturing his subjects candidly and effortlessly. Testino has documented A-list celebrities, supermodels and artists, as well as many royals, including his most memorable sitting with Diana, Princess of Wales, commissioned for Vanity Fair in 1997.

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In 2012 Mario Testino established the not-for-profit MUSEO MATE in Lima to promote and support local and global culture in Peru. 

His impressive contemporary art collection is now at auction at Sotheby’s revealing the artist as collector, patron and collaborator. All proceeds will go toward the expansion of the centre’s programme of exhibitions, residencies and education initiatives, ensuring its success in the future.

Some of the artists include Adriana VarejãoRichard Prince, Georg Baselitz, Wolfgang Tillmans, Cindy Sherman, and Gilbert & George.

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The Shake It Up: Works from the Mario Testino Collection auction will be taking place in Los Angeles from August 15 to 17.

Tagsmart weekly discovery: the art of Martin Yeoman

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Member of the New English Art Club and The Society of Portrait Sculptors, artist Martin Yeoman trained at the Royal Academy Schools from 1975 to 1979 and teaches today at The Royal Drawing School and the New School of Art

Prolific in portraiture, still life, landscape and sculpture, Yeoman is considered one of the finest draughtsmen today. Working across a broad range of mediums, the artist has developed a style that draws inspiration from Goya and Delacroix. 

As for the artist painting first and foremost should possess honesty, feeling and integrity, his work is rooted in personal impression, drawing and painting from life. 

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Among his most notable commissions to date is the portrait of singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran and of Her Majesty The Queen’s grandchildren, now housed in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. Yeoman has also accompanied HRH The Prince of Wales on official overseas tours to the Gulf States, Hong Kong, Nepal and India. His portrait of Sir James Whyte Black is in the National Portrait Gallery collection. 

The artist won the Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture in 2002 and the Doreen McIntosh Prize in 2016 and has been included in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition on 19 occasions (1976–2006), the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2017 and in the BP Portrait Award, 1981, 1983 and 2016.

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Selected for last year’s BP Portrait Award was Yeoman’s Laurie Weeden, D-Day Glider Pilot portrait, one of four studies the artist made following a special commission by HRH The Duke of Rothesay for the 2015 exhibition The Last of The Tide at the Buckingham Palace.

French firm to authenticate controversial Korean painting

Chun Kyung-ja was one of the most prominent female painters in Korea’s modern art history. She is best known for her portrayal of women and flowers, as shown in her controversial painting Beautiful Woman.

The controversy began in 1991 when Chun claimed that a painting attributed to her, which was (and has since been) on display at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), was a fake. An authentication process soon followed, but eventually the museum and the Galleries Association of Korea (GAK) announced that the work was legitimate.

Unconvinced and full of despair, Chun donated 93 of her works and left Korea for the United States in 1998, never to return. During the entire period of her exile to the U.S. up until her death in 2015, Chun never painted again.

But the authenticity dispute resurfaced with media coverage of Chun’s later years and the controversial painting, with Chun’s remaining family members and their team of lawyers filing a lawsuit in April against MMCA officials claiming that the museum had declared a counterfeit painting as a genuine one.

The lawyers have since demanded that an outside institution with no relationship to the MMCA or the GAK carry out an authentication process for impartiality, which is when the French art technology firm Lumiere Technology stepped in.

The authentication team from the French company arrived in Korea Tuesday, according to the Prosecutors’ Office, and has since been carrying out its authentication procedure using the company’s self-pioneered technique called Layer Amplification Method; the same method the company used to analyze the Mona Lisa and discover a hidden portrait under the iconic Da Vinci painting.

The method will analyse the controversial painting for its various elements, such as brush stroke, paints, and the order of workflow, and compare it to other works by Chun for a comparative analysis. According to the prosecutors, the process is expected to wrap up by the end of the month.

Prosecutors will be piecing together all the corroborative evidence, including the final verdict from Lumiere Technology, to determine the authenticity of Beautiful Woman, and officials are hopeful that the decades-long dispute will finally be settled.

Fake or Fortune couple discover €450 painting is actually worth €100K, but there's a catch

Jan and Chris Starckx purchased what they called The Portrait of a Child at an auction for just €450 back in the 1970s. However, over the years, they began to suspect that they were sat on something rather special. After various trials, which even took the pair to Miami to compare the picture to another genuine Kooning, Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould arrived at the couple’s Belgian home to deliver the good news.

“Well, what we have here is an advantage because we know the other painting went for €50,000,” Philip beamed. “I believe, in many ways, that your picture is superior. The artistic impact, the characterisation of the child, the condition is so good, and you have the name carved into the wet paint, and therefore think it’s worth excess of €50,000. I could see it making up to €100,000.”

However, despite buying the painting over four decades ago, they may not be entitled to own the portrait without being able to clear up who sold the picture to them and why.

Chris explained: “After Miami, we came back and I was contacted by the vendor. He told me the person who left painting died three years ago, and left a lot of money and his belongings to his son. This man, he managed to lose all of his money in a very short time and became homeless. At some point, he was asked to clear his house because he didn’t pay the rent, so he asked two friends to get rid of all his belongings and to sell them.”

Fiona chipped in: “This is really important; the man who owned the painting asked his friends to get rid of it for him? Did he write that down – was there any instructions or anything?”

“The sad fact is, you may not own this picture,” sighed Philip. “If the people who sold it to you did not have the right to sell it, you don’t own it.”

Spanish police make arrests over stolen Francis Bacon works

Seven people have been arrested in Spain on suspicion of involvement in the theft of five paintings by Francis Bacon, worth a total of £19m.

The paintings were stolen last July, along with other valuables belonging to the owner, who is reported to have been a close friend of Bacon. The works, which comprise portraits and landscapes, are yet to be recovered.

Detectives said they were approached in February by British private investigators specialising in the recovery of stolen artworks who had received an email with photographs of the paintings and asking whether they were listed as stolen. Investigators analysed the photo and were able to determine that the camera that took the images was owned by a photographic equipment rental company, which supplied details of the customer who had rented it at the time the paintings were photographed.

The customer, who is suspected of involvement in the crime, was among those arrested, along with a Madrid art dealer and his son.

When you're so rich you don't notice your Picasso is missing

Billionaire socialite Wilma “Billie” Tisch is suing a Florida gallery owner for trying to sell a US$1 million Picasso that was stolen from her Manhattan home — sometime after December 2009, according to court papers.

Tisch, 88, only recently discovered the 1928 portrait of the famed painter’s mistress, Marie-Therese Walter, was missing.

Computer paints 'new Rembrandt' after old works analysis

How long before anyone can copy any artist? A team of technologists working with Microsoft and others have produced a 3D-printed painting in the style of Dutch master Rembrandt.

The portrait was created after existing works by the artist were analysed by a computer. A new work was then designed to look as much like a Rembrandt as possible - while remaining an original portrait. It was then 3D-printed to give it the same texture as an oil painting.