Meet Joe Black and His Pixelated Portraits
Ellen Yoshi Tani
King of the readymade, the pun and the leading intellectual mind of modern art, Marcel Duchamp’s real passion wasn’t to art, but to the oldest and most desirable of games - chess. After opting out of the art world for a while in the 1920s for his other pursuit of the imagination, Duchamp’s endgame was to check mate the conceptual artists of the era with his seminal and important pieces, which changed the way art was seen forever. Deep Blue refers to the IBM supercomputer which was considered unbeatable. In 1997 Deep Blue won a six game match against Russian chess world champion, Garry Kasparov.
Joe Black’s work is the vanguard of the current Pop Art movement. He describes his works as “revealing the unexpected” as they are viewed both from a distance and up close to make the ordinary extraordinary. Black combines his natural craft skills with a love of materials - many of which are recognizable everyday objects - to create portraits and abstract works. Using a laborious technique of hand painting and altering each tiny object to give gentle lines and shading to his subjects, Black has pioneered an elaborate new form of pixilation that he uses to hide subtle implications within each of his images. This is perhaps best illustrated by his use of 5,500 plastic toy soldiers in his depiction of Robert Capa’s iconic boy soldier piece Made in China (2011).
British, b. 1973