Hercules marks the New York City debut of successful artist, art director, graphic designer, and musician, Emre Yusufi. Combining photographic elements with illustration and digital art, Yusufi mesmerizes audiences with his visually impressive and thematically bold pieces.
By merging elements from assorted time frames, Yusufi highlights the transformation of ideals over time. The Turkish artist’s past works include Return to Innocence, a group of adult portraits altered to feature exaggerated, infant-like facial proportions, and War Animals, which includes daring portrayals of animals as notably historic war participants. His spectacular ability to provoke thought on identity and human nature is apparent in his latest collection of works, Hercules.
The series depicts a traditional statue of Hercules executing a multitude of modern human tasks. By juxtaposing the ancient symbolic figure against current day scenarios, the artist brings into question the roles of heroism, masculinity and perceived godliness in today’s society. Its presentation adheres to a masculine declaration of power, utilizing a variation between spectacular and seemingly benign actions that are consistently presented with grandeur. When he is not posing or performing tremendous displays of ability and athleticism, Hercules can be seen intently reading, listening to music, being tattooed, and participating in everyday tasks which empower people through enhancing intellect, mood, and appearance.
In his pieces, Yusufi incorporates a concoction of strikingly sharp neutral tones, illuminated by rich infusions of vivid color. The balance and intensity of such hues assist in creating a signature, hyper-realistic quality, despite the subject matter’s fictitious nature. The statue’s grey-scale coloration against a boldly pigmented backdrop further enhances the juxtaposed relationship between subject and environment. Although he lacks human flesh, Hercules is far from inanimate, delivering engaging facial expressions and body language, even interacting with humans. His liveliness and real-world participation connect seemingly unreal, godly qualities back to the image of man. Daring contrasts in subject matter, as well as light distribution, vividly highlight the conceptual and compositional features in this captivating collection of imagery. The perspective generated is exquisitely immersive, varying between a level, drastically head-on interaction with the subject, and a lowered view which forces the viewer to quite literally look up to him. Dramatic movement through smoke, splashing water, and beaming lights further assert the artist’s attention to detail in his immaculate executions.
With its stunning visuals and societal relevance, Hercules immerses the viewer in Yusufi’s striking, yet playful depiction of masculine glory.