Geometric Portraits by Allison Kunath
Re-imagining the human form through geometrical patterns and shapes
by Chérmelle D. Edwards
Allison Kunath, a Los Angeles-based visual artist and fashion designer, has developed a distinct style over the past few years, creating geometric portraits of people—such as famed figures like Maya Angelou and Frida Kahlo—as well as animals. "It was a merger of two styles into my own, fragmenting human forms into geometric shapes and detailed illustration," Kunath tells CH. "I use a low poly technique, geometric fragmenting, geometric portraiture and it’s the simplification of everything and the shading of fragments into triangles and cross hatching for density and body." The results are familiar faces seen through a new lens.
When contacted by the non-profit organization Beautify Earth, which scouts walls and pairs business owners with artists to transform them, Kunath found herself bidding on her largest portrait project to date—importing company Marco Polo Imports based in Venice, California. "They wanted a portrait of Marco Polo with a modern twist. The wall is massive, probably about 20x50 feet with a door in the middle," says Kunath.
Turning the massive surface into a testament to Marco Polo’s legacy of travel and adventure, Kunath’s process involved a lot of quiet planning before her pen touched paper. Treating the project as if it was one huge mathematical equation, Kunath deduced a method to transfer her original 9x12 (inch? ft?) sketch onto an estimated 20x50 foot stucco surface.
"I work ruler-free, making straight lines with short distances from one another. Once it’s broken down into simple shapes, I can actually go ahead and do it. Each triangle then informs the next and the shading is always relative to the triangle next to it." describes Kunath. Since Marco Polo’s travel to Asia was by land with a return by boat, Kunath kept the theme of movement as the focus, while imposing a sartorial three-piece suit for modernity. Free-styling the entire wall, she used a combination of water-based house paint, Krink graffiti pens and brush work—the latter more so—to create the mural in just 36 hours.
Peruse Kunath's full body of work online, including wearables, digital work and paintings.
Images courtesy of Allison Kunath