Contemporary Mosaic Portraits Dazzle in California

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We’ve been covering some amazing mosaic portrait exhibitions lately – ready for another one to add to your calendar? The “50 Faces” show at the Bankhead Theater Gallery in Livermore, CA is a must-see. Large, accessible, and innovative works let viewers get up close and personal. Whether looking for inspiration for your own mosaic projects or simply to appreciate the craftsmanship involved in creating modern mosaic wall art – you’ll find it on the walls in a beautiful setting.

Sophia Loren by Vanessa D’Andrea
Image source Pleasanton Weekly

Created in conjunction with the famous Scuola Mosaicisti del Friuli in Spilimbergo, Italy, this exhibit is built around a central theme of contemporary celebrities and icons. Remarkably, all these works were created by students at the school – which has been open since 1922! All mosaics on display are winners of their recent Mosaic Young Talent Competition. If the results on view are any indicator of the quality of the school’s programs, we can expect great things from their future alumni.

Walt Disney by Alessia Filippi
Image source Pleasanton Weekly

Utilizing more traditional materials such as glass mosaic, marble mosaic, and stone, these pieces are thoroughly modern. Depending on the artist, you’ll also see elements such as plastic, bone, metal, wood, jewelry, and fiber added to their artwork. One of the joys of attending the 50 Faces exhibit is teasing out the various items that have been added to the mosaic portraits.
Although mosaic art straddles the line between two-and-three-dimensional art, many of the custom portraits have embellishments that really make them stand out. The necklace in this rendering of artist Frida Kahlo adds the textures of raw wood, twigs, and broken pottery to the composition.

Frida Kahlo by Annachiara Felcher
Image source Pleasanton Weekly

Lady Gaga receives an extra helping of shine and glitz – as one would expect from the singer and actress. Viewers can zoom in and enjoy the details of her diamond jewelry – recreated with all the blingy detail.

Image source Livermore Arts

The exhibition covers a wide range of notable figures – making this a fun destination for families and anyone interested in other cultures. On one wall, Marilyn Monroe makes an appearance, while on another, the celebrated Indian actress Aishwarya Rai entices viewers with a smoldering gaze. It’s a powerful look at beauty standards around the world.

Aishwarya Rai by Francesca Cafarelli

The interpretation of each figure confers deeper meaning. The student artists didn’t just copy traditional portraits – they elevated the story of each subject with their composition and choice of mosaic tiles. Take a look at the rose incorporated into the background of Amy Winehouse’s image.

Amy Winehouse by Ilaria Del Signore
Image source Pleasanton Weekly

Likewise, a depiction of Johnny Depp as his Edward Scissorhands character employs numerous playful elements. Peer closely at his tangled locks, and you’ll see actual scissors, as well as a number of other wiry pieces.

Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands by Denise Toson
Image source Pleasanton Weekly

Says Curator Guglielmo Zanette about the exhibit: “50 Faces is a unique blend of art, technique, tradition, and culture. It is an exquisite innovation in the contemporary art scene.”

Viewers will delight in seeing everyone from famous actors to industry leaders such as Steve Jobs and Walt Disney.

Morgan Freeman by Alina Chubova
Image source Pleasanton Weekly

Make your way to the Bankhead Theater Gallery for this free exhibition – it’s open to the public on Thursdays – Sundays through January 16, 2022. It’s rare to have such an extensive showing of work from Italy available, and we encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity!
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