Self-taught artist Stella Im Hultberg creates surreal sculptures and pensive portraits that expressively explore the concept of identity. Though the Korean-born, Oregon-based artist has been dazzling audiences with her imaginative works for years, she is constantly experimenting with new materials and fresh motifs. In her most recent work, Im Hultberg employs acrylic paints and colored pencils to create ethereal portraits of women cloaked in bright blooms of flowers.
Each of Im Hultberg’s dreamy portraits presents an intense yet hazy study of an unknown individual; since her subjects share a number of visual similarities with one another, like their porcelain skin tones and dark, flowing hair, one may even assume they are of the same individual—an idea that Im Hultberg hints at. “Her paintings of ethereal women subtly excavate the possibility of multiplicities in a single self,” Thinkspace Gallery explains. “By combining detailed figurative rendering with surreal imagery, Im Hultberg probes the porous boundaries between self and other. The figures in her work appear in various guises, and she mobilizes them as vehicles for affect and suggestion.”
Though the figures appear physically alike, each portrayal is still unique. In addition to changes in composition and positioning—from lounging figures to dreamlike depictions of floating busts—the subjects’ expressions and body language vary. While some intensely stare at the viewer, others look away or softly close their eyes as they deeply sleep. Still, whether strikingly similar or obviously unique, the portraits all portray a beautiful juxtaposition between somber, mysterious figure and beaming blossoms—a characteristic aesthetic of Im Hultberg that combines “the organic and the graphic [to] create compelling tensions and associations.”
Starting today, Im Hultberg’s stunning selection of floral portraits will be featured in Hollow Resonance, an exhibition at Thinkspace Gallery through December 3, 2016.
My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Thinkspace Gallery.