For a show at Birzeit University, Palestinian artist Amer Shomali chose to create a portrait of Leila Khaled, the woman known as the “poster girl of Palestinian militancy.” Unlike a typical portrait, Shomali’s medium of choice for this project is lipstick. Rather than painting the iconic member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine with paints or even drawing her image with lipstick, the artist uses a custom-built board on which fully intact tubes of lipsticks are affixed—3,500 tubes, to be exact.
Using 14 different colors, Shomali has managed to recreate the famous image of the revolutionary woman wearing a kaffiyeh and holding an AK-47. Though it’s not entirely clear why Khaled’s pixelated portrait titled The Icon is made specifically out of lipstick, the piece is open to interpretations. One theory could be the intriguing and controversial juxtaposition of a powerful and independent woman with an item that is associated with frivolous materialism and femininity and how it parallels the contrasting image of Khaled herself, a woman adorned with a traditional Arab headdress typically worn by men while holding a destructive firearm.
check out the time-lapse video
Seen through an art historical context, Matthew Watson‘s portraits mimic Northern Renaissance aristocratic portraiture. The pigments and the media Watson uses – powdered venetian glass, fir balsams, silver-point, copper plates – are suggestive of and influenced by the Old Masters. His subjects are impoverished immigrants, usually alcoholics, whose rosacea and broken capillaries are captured in excruciatingly realistic detail. Each flaw is depicted with an obsessive quality that defies any romantic ideal of traditional portraits. However, rather than repulsing with their hyperrealism, each painting engages the viewer to examine exaggeration versus accuracy, and art versus real life. Matthew Watson graduated with Honors from Williams College in 2004 with a B.A. in Studio Art and is currently pursuing an MFA in Visual Artsat Columbia University. He lives in New York. (viaDavidson Contemporary)