On the Crux of Reality: Surreal Illustrations by Kerry Beall
Kerry Beall’s pieces have that distinct crossover between illustration and digital design. They sit on the crux of man-made and computer-designed, giving them a certain three-dimensional depth that only this kind of work can have.
Studying graphic design and working in the design industry for over 7 years; Beall uses the skills she learned for composition and detail to create pieces that combine the free-flowing elements of illustration which also include the more rigid, scientific elements of graphic design.
Each piece is made using several methods. Kerry Beall starts by applying chaotic ink lines and detailed charcoal drawings to her canvas, which varies. Sometimes it may simply be a piece of paper and another may include a cutting from an old newspaper that she was attracted to because of the typography. For the most part, Beall incorporates the human face into her pieces, perhaps to add a sense of humanism to her essentially digital works, or perhaps to show the intricacies and chaotic nature of human life.
Despite her leanings towards portraiture, Kerry Beall often ends each piece with a surreal twist. In one piece, a bird might be emerging from a woman’s head, it’s wings flapping around her hair and ears. In another, the realistic human face might be covered with the harsh black lines of a butterfly and dripping with green and yellow ink.
It might just be these blurred lines between reality and dream, human and robot, that make Beall’s work so enthralling. When the base layers of ink and charcoal are down, Beall merges everything together into a finished digital piece that adds depth and texture to the original drawing.
“There is something so truly exciting about having a blank piece of paper and watching something come to life,” says Beall, adding that it’s the eyes that intrigue her the most. “I don’t always know what is going to be created, but often the finished piece takes on a personality of its own.”
The majority of Beall’s portraiture pieces feature unknown women, veiling her works with a sense of anonymity, or the idea that these women are no one and everyone all at the same time. However, she has deviated from this at times: “I don’t often draw familiar faces but I find it’s good practice to draw an iconic face,” she says of a painting that depicts the recognisable features of Marilyn Monroe.
And, in another piece, she reaches below the surface of the face entirely: “I love drawing faces, but I wanted to unveil the real core of a face, being the skull, which is never seen, and create a subjective ‘beautiful princess’.”
The result of Beall’s dedication to depicting the human face, along with the surreal twist she adds to each piece, has seen an impressive body of work that sits at the cusp of reality, allowing viewers to relate to the anonymous faces and encourage them to think about the moment where humanity meets digitization and how that has affected our lives.
Enjoy the track “Re-Volution” by David Morley while viewing the addition works below.
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