Author: Imogen Aldridge

Art and the Power of Distortion

The art of distortion and exaggeration can completely transform an image, giving new meaning, intention and feeling to subjects that would otherwise be familiar to the eye. Here, we take a look at artists who push the boundaries of distortion, exaggerating features, manipulating colour and reconfiguring familiar images. These artists warp our sense of reality to create artworks that sit on the boundary between ‘familiar’ and ‘unfamiliar’.

These artists disregard the need for optical illusionism, throwing away the ideas of beauty, perfection and normalcy for distorted images that embrace abnormality and change. More than the exaggeration of shapes, distortion takes many forms.

Whilst Nadia Attura uses her powerfully saturated colour palette to distort our perception of nature scenes, Dan Hillier, like Damien Hirst, digitally alters his images by repeating the use of faces, wings and limbs and use contortion as his main method of distortion. Nick Smith and Takashi Murakami play on the audience’s preconceived knowledge of famous artworks and popular culture, distorting images that are so familiar to the eye. The purpose of art is not to recreate reality, but to transform it into something more intriguing. We love how this selection of artists plays with perception, distorting reality to great effect.

 

Art and the Power of Distortion | Image

Art and the Power of Distortion | Image

Dan Hillier

Dan Hillier is a true experimenter, seamlessly combining the imagery of the Victorian era with elements of nature and portraiture. Hillier collages found imagery with his own ink drawing and engraving to create gothic-inspired artworks that are unsettling yet intriguing. Hillier embraces the freedom of expression that comes with collage, blurring the line between dream and reality and using the distortion of images to his advantage. His work embodies the ‘Steampunk’ aesthetic, embracing vintage-inspired, moody elements with a futuristic twist. Hillier distorts his figures, multiplying limbs, giving them wings, and turning them into otherworldly beings.

Hillier loves to “create work that reflects my love of the source material I work from, the natural world, various ancient mystery traditions, and the ever-unfolding and often mystical experience of being alive in a world that is apparently material, immaterial, and prone to all manner of interesting archetypal expressions and wonderments.” Hillier’s classically based subjects are unsettling, blurring the line between dream and reality.

 

Art and the Power of Distortion | Image

Cactus Grove - Small by Nadia Attura

Art and the Power of Distortion | Image

Nadia Attura

Contemporary artist Nadia Attura masterfully blends landscape photography with tactile collage to create poetic portrayals of place and time. Her unique, idealised interpretations of paradise are beautiful artworks that seem to be plucked straight out of the artist’s imagination. Attura reconfigures her exotic scenes of deserts, jungles and gardens by utilising a stunning oversaturated colour palette, distorting the image and giving it a new lease of life. Nadia’s enriched colours add a touch of the absurd to her compositions and distort our ordinary perception of our natural environment.

After gaining a degree in Photojournalism, Nadia Attura has featured multiple times in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and has been shortlisted on other occasions. Press features include The Guardian, The New York Times, and artist of the month for Vogue Magazine. One of five finalists at the VAO, Attura's work continues to delight viewers and feature in prominent residential and public projects across the world.

 

Art and the Power of Distortion | Image

Acupuncture Diptych - Terre Verte And Smell Of Blood, 2006

Art and the Power of Distortion | Image

Takashi Murakami

Internationally renowned artist Takashi Murakami is best known for his witty and playful artworks that blur the line between high and low culture. Drawing from a variety of motifs such as anime, traditional Japanese painting and popular culture. Murakami’s work is the intersection between art, fantasy and popular culture, combining a plethora of references to create his unique art style. The artist coined the term “superflat” to describe his well-known aesthetic, which is characterised as the visual distortion of iconic visual icons and motifs.

Murakami studied at Tokyo University of the Arts, where he earned his BA, MfA, and PhD. He studied the art of Nihonga, a painting style that draws on the traditional Japanese artistic techniques and subjects. He still uses these techniques in his work today. Murakami has also collaborated with various fashion designers. His first collection with Louis Vuitton catapulted him to fame. The artist has also worked with a variety of musicians such as Kanye West, Billie Eilish and J Balvin. 

 

Art and the Power of Distortion | Image

Marilyn (Green and Pink Diamond Dust), 2011 by Nick Smith

Art and the Power of Distortion | Image

Nick Smith

Contemporary artist Nick Smith repurposes iconic artworks and distorts them through methods of pixelation. Smith meticulously arranges small chips of colour swatches to create a collage of pixels. Inspired by his 11 year career in design, Smith’s handmade collages explore complex art-historical concepts. As the eye adjusts, the artwork that inspired Smith’s creation becomes clearer and clearer; from the distortion emerges another, more familiar artwork. We love how Smith uses the art of distortion in such a unique and effective way. Smith deliberately leaves his constructions open to viewer interpretation, sparking new debates and meanings.

Nick Smith’s work brings the old together with the new, by creating striking limited edition art prints of iconic artworks, simply using the humble Colour Chip swatch. Using colour theory, Smith is highlighting both the complexities and subtleties of the tones in these classic art prints. By juxtaposing classic art with modern digitalisation, Nick is making a commentary on the unforgiving culture of the modern digital world, whilst making the historic work relevant and accessible today, with his stylised pop art practice.

 

Art and the Power of Distortion | Image

Cage P19-5, 2020 by Gerhard Richter
Art and the Power of Distortion | Image

Gerhard Richter

Throughout his career, Gerhard Richter has navigated between realism and abstraction, exploring the material implications of various mediums without restraint. The artist has said of his practice: “I blur to make everything equal, everything equally important and equally unimportant.” Richter actively distorts his artworks by dragging paint across the surface, obscuring the marks he made previously. This multi-step process of creating an artwork and then immediately covering it with more layers is the perfect example of painterly distortion. We love this focus on the process of creation and how Richter uses distortion to add an air of mystery to his artworks.

 

Art and the Power of Distortion | Image

H10-5 Taytu Betul by Damien Hirst 

Art and the Power of Distortion | Image

Damien Hirst

Rising to fame as a figurehead of the YBAs in the 1990’s, and excelling on the international art scene, Damien Hirst has solidified his position in contemporary art history. A master of digital manipulation, Hirst takes one motif and multiples, distorts and rearranges his compositions so that the original subject is practically unrecognisable. Hirst creates hypnotising patterns that practically float away from the surface, giving the illusion of three dimensional space. This act of distortion shines through in Hirst’s butterfly series in particular, where the endless repetition of wings distracts and confuses the eye.

Hirst studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths college and was awarded the Turner Prize in 1995. He is an immensely established artist, with over 80 solo exhibitions and 260 group shows worldwide. Hirst has already had multiple major retrospectives, including ‘The Agony and the Ecstacy,’ at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, and a show, ‘For the Love of God’ at the Tate Modern. 

Has our distorted collection of artworks got you feeling inspired? Check out our large collection of artwork for all preferences here

Studio stock

£48

6 x 10 cm

Dreams Can Come True

55 x 56.5cm

£850

55 x 56.5cm

Masterpiece Minus Art Print by Remi Rough
Exclusive

Masterpiece Minus

42 x 29.7cm

£190

42 x 29.7cm

Love is the Drug - Pink Diamond Dust, 2020 Art Print by Ryan Callanan
Exclusive

£200

60 x 60cm

Debbie Harry Rainbow Art Print by Veebee
Exclusive
Veebee £160

£160

50 x 50cm

United Colour of London Art Print by Jayson Lilley
Exclusive

£195

31 x 24cm

Pangolin - Medium Art Print by Lisa Lloyd
Exclusive

Pangolin - Medium

40 x 40cm

£100

40 x 40cm

Not My First Rodeo (11th Edition) Art Print by Babak Ganjei
Exclusive

£135

50 x 70cm

Prince 2000 ZERO ZERO Art Print by Mike Edwards
Exclusive

£150

50 x 50cm

Rebel Rebel Art Print by R-W Studio
Exclusive

Rebel Rebel

50 x 50cm

£120

50 x 50cm

Choco POPek

15 x 12 x 6cm

£300

15 x 12 x 6cm

Pacific Grind

20.3 x 81cm

£200

20.3 x 81cm

Elvis Art Print by David Studwell
Exclusive

Elvis

50 x 50cm

£175

50 x 50cm

Gorilla - Lilac Foil

42 x 59.4cm

£195

42 x 59.4cm

MK-Ultra I

19 x 19cm

£65

19 x 19cm

Northern Scum Art Print by Katrina Russell-Adams
Exclusive

Northern Scum

29.7 x 42cm

£85

29.7 x 42cm

I Love London

22 x 17 cm

£60

22 x 17 cm

Kate Moss - Glow Art Print by VeeBee
Exclusive
VeeBee £285

Kate Moss - Glow

70 x 70 cm

£285

70 x 70 cm

£267

75 x 75cm

Humpek Purple Sculpture

12 x 6 x 12cm

£240

12 x 6 x 12cm

Fail Art Print by Babak Ganjei
Exclusive

Fail

50 x 70cm

£135

50 x 70cm

Sara Pope £150

Amped

18.3 x 18.3 x 3.2cm

£150

18.3 x 18.3 x 3.2cm

£165

45.72 x 60.96 cm

I Love Recycling

22 x 17 cm

£60

22 x 17 cm

£850

55 x 56.5cm

Ben Eine £35

£35

15 x 15cm each

R2Heart2 - Copper Art Print by RYCA
Exclusive
RYCA £150

R2Heart2 - Copper

50 x 70cm

£150

50 x 70cm

chatbot-image