Gil Bruvel is known for his portraits that blur the line between reality and abstraction. His latest series, Pixelated Portraits, takes this a step further by entirely abstracting the human form. Thousands of wood sticks are used to create these portraits painted in vibrant gradients. The result is a set of masks that look like pixelated pictures. This collection is currently on display at Galerie Montemarte as part of the Face to Face exhibition. In addition to Bruvel’s sculptures, the exhibit also features portraits by Italian artist Silvio Porzionato.
His father, a cabinetmaker, inspired his interest in wood. He then spent time in a restoration facility where his understanding of wood grew after learning woodworking techniques from his father. He can deftly construct his paintings while also paying homage to his chosen medium by applying this knowledge.
To preserve his wood naturally, the sculptor employs a yakisugi wood-burning technique. This method, popular in Japan, blackens the wood and paints it in vivid color gradients to represent the emotions passing through our minds. Bruvel uses a variety of woods to produce distinct textures that enhance the sculpture. Different qualities are released according to the wood and the length of burning.
“To remove the ash from the surface exposes the wood grain’s enhanced pattern,” he explains. “This is relevant to me regarding the faces’ theme, which is meditation.”
Not only does he work with wood, however. The exhibition also features his Flow series of steel sculptures. The faces are made up of slender steel wires. These individual pieces construct the face features in a masterfully formed manner. The result is surprisingly smooth, given the material’s hardness, and it’s achieved by using texture once again.
Bruvel’s pixelated forms and curves offer the viewer serenity and calm while transforming organic matter into a geometric shape. The final products are sculptures that are unquestionably one-of-a-kind and emotive.
Galerie Montemarte in Paris is currently exhibiting It Isn’t Always the Same until May 14, 2022.