artist rebecca szeto transforms brushes into sculptures of women and art history

Reform beauty and purpose

Old brushes being given a resurrected purpose, a birthing of new life through art, has been the philosophy of San Francisco-based artist Rebecca Szeto. As she grabs them and brings them into her workspace, she sprinkles their bodies with fine paint details until she slowly transforms them into images of Old Master works and revered portraits. in history. Since 1999, Szeto has devoted her research, her time and her artistic development to “brush portraits”, plunging her sculptures in different narratives as his timeline changes.

The series engages in the magic of reforming beauty and value. “I use humble, end-of-life materials inspired by my past experience as a faux finisher and Diego Velazquez’s 17th century painting, Las Meninas”, the artist shares. As the brushes become the canvas of Szeto’s art – always flanked by his artistic eye for fine detail – they move from forgotten objects to coveted collections, anchoring the story, both personal and based on the books. .“These female portraits are a playful strategy that I use to draw the viewer into a more refined conversation about the nature of the work – by slowing down and observing the ordinary, however small, the deeper things are. discoveries”, she writes.

pictures of Rebecca Szeto

leisurely pace

The slow pace may be alien to the modern age, but proponents of the lifestyle and unhurried pace still hold sway, and Szeto is jumping on that wagon, encouraging his viewers to scrutinize the bundles that the hairs have formed over the years and melancholy life the portraits to savor and share. “The act of cutting serves as a metaphor for reducing something to its fundamental value or essence. These works pay homage to a sensitivity and vitality found in the works of the Old Masters,’ the artist shares.

Rather than focusing on aesthetics, Szeto imbues his series with reminders of social class, communities that rise and fall from the established – and often blurry and unspoken, social ladder, unfortunately. “The repetitive rhythm of size gives me time to think more directly about the idiosyncrasies of each individual brush versus the tangle of thoughts related to class structures, work and leisure, unseen work,” the artist shares.

The images Szeto has shared from his series are just a selection from his larger body of work. She tells how the first two editions dealt only with the history of art while the third evoked lost, obscure and impactful stories of women across history and geography. “The more recent ones have taken a less narrative orientation towards a more publicized translation of conceptual interests”, she writes.

artist rebecca szeto transforms brushes into sculptures of women and art history
artist rebecca szeto transforms brushes into sculptures of women and art history

Transformative art style

Szeto knits poetry with his exploration of material and immaterial, a process she calls ‘a transformative and often humorous synthesis of confounded expectations.’ Her process-based practice plays with everyday objects and materials that she encloses in her hands to sculpt and twist to her advantage. In addition to embracing the mundane nuances, the human condition and post-human political climate also infiltrate her work as she highlights overlooked and marginalized groups and thoughts to invite viewers to ruminate on their contributions and actions to the community landscape.

Working across the disciplines of painting, object-making and installation, Szeto weds elements of memories and art history with his immediate surroundings, as seen in his “Paintbrush Portraits” series. “I reused humble, mass-produced materials, and found waste widely to investigate possibilities of reforming beauty and value. In doing so, I set aside preconceived notions about materials so that I can freely explore their inherent qualities and search for meaning beneath the surface,” she shares.

artist rebecca szeto transforms brushes into sculptures of women and art history
Frida Kahlo

artist rebecca szeto transforms brushes into sculptures of women and art history
a girl with an earring

artist rebecca szeto transforms brushes into sculptures of women and art history
the series indulges in the magic of reforming beauty and value.

artist rebecca szeto transforms brushes into sculptures of women and art history
these works pay homage to a sensitivity and vitality found in the works of the old masters

artist rebecca szeto transforms brushes into sculptures of women and art history
transform paintbrushes into sculptures of women and art history

project info:

Name: Brush portraits

artist: Rebecca Szeto

situated at: San Francisco, California

Matthew Burgos | design boom

May 23, 2022

Christopher S. Washington