Syaiful A. Rachman, an Indonesian artist, created a series of celebrity images. These pictures are instantly recognizable by their subjects, with the images becoming timeless in their own right. Think of the Abbey Road album cover, the publicity still of Bruce Lee in his white tank top, and others like them. Celebrity-themed art is nothing new, but Rachman’s twist on a traditional portrait provides a refreshing approach.
The paintings show the faces of celebrities when viewed from afar. Upon closer inspection, you can see that Rachman painted them using hundreds of tiny human figures. The positions and clothing of the figures form the larger portrait. It takes a lot of work to do a straightforward portrait, but imagine the work in creating each one of those tiny people!
The concept of these paintings invoke the idea that the average person—faceless, unseen and small—is ultimately responsible for others becoming iconic figures. Without popular support, celebrities would be nobodies like everyone else.
“Amid our glorification and idolatry of the sought-after crowd, it is easy to forget that it is the power of our favor that holds them aloft,” Rachman explains. It’s also part of a larger concept in his work, dealing with “mass culture” and what that entails. Despite the apparent facelessness of fans, each fan is an individual, and Rachman’s work reminds us that mass culture is “in fact much more profound and complex than we might think.”
All images via Syaiful A. Rachman.