Colour, Portraiture and Symbolism

Colour-blocking has been a huge source of inspiration for artists and designers since the early 20th century, pairing complementary shades and producing strong visual contrasts. Bold palettes can be found everywhere, and they continue to influence culture at large, from Mondrian’s rectangles and Warhol’s silkscreens to Pantone’s colours of the year charts. In the following portraits, all published in previous issues of Aesthetica’s print magazine, bright hues meet surrealism, symbolism and visual poetry.

Kate Theo

Kate Theo (b. 1979) is a graphic designer based in Puglia, Italy, whose images are defined by block backgrounds, each frame created around the ethos of “essentials and simplicity.” The characters are placed in surreal worlds, where apples, butterfly cages, golden frames and curtains shroud figures from view. The above images make reference to moments in art history – from work by René Magritte to Banksy’s infamous shredded painting, which shocked the art world when it made headlines in 2018.

Nana Yaw Oduro

Nana Yaw Oduro (b. 1994) is a conceptual photographer based in Accra, Ghana. Oduro’s images are deeply inspired by poetry and spoken word from the likes of Leonard Cohen and Charles Bukowski, amongst others. Based on a creative process that transforms words into visuals, these images explore boyhood, masculinity and identity. Bare backs stretch outwards toward the sun; oranges nestle within overlapping arms; knees dip into stretches of open water – like the first few lines of a story.

Harriet Moutsopoulos

“I am drawn to the unsettling, and try to inject it into my work where possible, seeking out connections between humour and tragedy. At first glance, these emotions might not seem to go together, but it is in combining the two that true magic begins.” Harriet Moutsopoulos (aka Lexicon Love) produces digital collages to provoke, tease and confuse the viewer. Comedic, yet distinctly satirical, these pieces challenge traditional notions of beauty, whilst tapping into intimacy, security, and at times, revulsion.

Malick Kebe

Abidjan is a city on the Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa. It is the fourth most populated city on the continent, with approximately 4.7 million inhabitants, and one of the largest French-speaking locations in Africa. Malick Kebe is one of its rising talents. Kebe has a strong understanding of shape, colour and concept. “Even if I had the means, I would still shoot on iPhone. It pushes me to go further than with a pro camera. I want to show people that it’s not enough to have a great device, but it is enough to have a creative eye.”

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