Just when you thought tattooing couldn't be pushed any further, artists like Dave Paulo come along and blow your mind. For the last couple of decades, it seems like body art had reached a pinnacle of sorts as numerous artists began to produce jaw-dropping and picture-perfect color realism, portraiture being at the very apex of this relatively young genre of body art. As of now, there are lots of tattooists who have mastered this lifelike style, but no one is professing it in quite the same way that Paulo is. He has taken this representational form and expounded on it in a captivating way, bringing in elements of art pop to give each one of his tattoos of celebrities an aesthetic that is fitting of the 21st century.
Aside from its overall radical appearance, one of the most interesting aspects to Paulo's outstanding take on color realism is the process behind it. As demonstrated by the tattoo below, he uses actual photographs of musicians and supermodels, and then infuses them with art-pop flare. Often he makes these figures look two-faced, for lack of a better term, illustrating their faces partially in normal, fleshy colors, while the other portions are rendered in black and grey, shades of blue, or even vibrant pastels.
The bold black lines that divide his figures give them a fragmented appearance, almost as if you were viewing them in a broken mirror. Ultimately, the way that he abstracts and expands on the images of various celebrities seems to be suggestive about the nature of pop culture itself, drawing ideas of commodification, interchangeability, and mass production directly into question.
The most intriguing aspect of Paulo's edgy portraits is that the way he artistically embellishes his subjects aesthetically compliments their real-life personas. For instance, his flashy depiction of Com Truise matches the synthwave artist's musical style, casting a virtual light-show across his visage. The same goes for his portrait of pop star Lady Gaga in how it channels the spirit of her brand of art pop. Speaking of this post-modern movement, his tattoo of Andy Warhol couldn't be more perfect; it embodies artistic values put forth by the Factory scene of the 1960s in a truly authentic fashion.
Art pop is not the only influence that Paulo channels into his portraiture. Occasionally, he works in the vein of horror as well, as seen in his illustrations of Regan from The Exorcist and Ash a la The Evil Dead. His portrait of Ash is particularly interesting, because by setting the cult film's protagonist inside the bust of a gentleman in a tuxedo, Paulo highlights the character's psychic break.
If you want to see more of Paulo incredible portraiture, visit his Instagram. He is based in Portugal but travels all over the world tattooing, so if you want one of his avant-garde portraits, reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a consultation.