Following their lauded debut collaboration last year, artists Aaron R. Thomas and Yannick Hamon have teamed up to create an innovative contemporary art series of wall, sculptural and functional fine art furniture paintings on acrylic.
The artists’ mutual respect for their counterpart’s meticulous attention to detail—Thomas’ mastery in manipulating acrylic and Hamon’s photo-realistic hand-cut halftone stencils—vividly collide in an expressive collection of work. Their collaboration explores the practice of portraiture, the controversial debate about artistic authorship and distinguishing artist from artisan, and notions of celebrity-ism.
A five-day painting spree has resulted in more than 20 original pieces that make an honorary nod to Pop Art godfather Warhol, featuring Kate Moss as Marilyn Monroe (and herself), Cara Delevingne making a second appearance in the duo’s collaborative work and bold text messages such as, “F*** YOUR MORALS” on neon canvases.
Intrigued by cubism and inspired to innovate with transparency and light, the pair make an applaudable stand that contemporary fine art does not involve PhotoShop, at least not in their world. More than 70,000 microscopic squares were hand cut by Hamon, which reveal unbelievably realistic halftone stencils of iconic British models, Moss and Delevingne. The portraits are then hand painted on acrylic canvases and finished by Thomas in various applications. The process can be described as painstaking, maybe even unnecessary—especially in an era where digital prints are pumped out in seconds and offshore acrylic manufacturing has flooded the marketplace. However, rather than accepting obsolete industries the artists joined forces to return our attention to artistry where it seems to be disappearing.
The irony in their work is its deceptive nature, since at first glance one could assume they’re merely screen prints on acrylic. “It’s a compliment if people think our paintings are screen prints or collages of torn up magazines—then I know I’ve done my job well,” Hamon says. In reality, unlike a repetitious screen print the hand-cut stencils render completely unique paintings every time. They have a distinct resemblance to old film and the delicate stencils have an extremely short lifespan—each one offers approximately 20 editions before paint fills the holes and it’s no longer usable. This limited quality made acrylic an ideal canvas as its transparency captures the fleeting image like film. Shadows cast from light transmitting through the canvases add another dimension to one’s desire to preserve the transitory essence of the portrait.
For Thomas, the irony of creating minimalism with acrylic is no new feat. “Simplicity is one of the hardest achievements, I’ve been practicing the look of simple my entire career. Ask anyone who’s tried to fabricate with acrylic and they’ll tell you it’s far from simple,” he says. It’s for this reason the two artists felt their work complimented the other’s so perfectly.
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View exclusive photos direct from the studio of the contemporary art-in-progress below.