Depending on how you look at one of Lee Wagstaff‘s paintings, you may see a pattern or a face. That’s because the Berlin-based artist uses repeating geometric patterns in a uniform color to render his oil portraits, hiding the facial features from the viewer until they view his work at just the right distance.
“The source material comes from AI-generated faces (none of the people portrayed have ever or will ever exist in the real world),” Wagstaff tells My Modern Met. “With these paintings, I wanted to see how image data from the original faces could be altered, removed, or camouflaged whilst still maintaining the essence of the original forms.”
To integrate a portrait into the pattern, Wagstaff makes subtle changes to the design. In Morphic Resonance, for instance, he broadens the strokes of the overlapping rings in key areas of the face—eyebrows, eyes, nose, and lips—creating shadows in the place of the features. The amount of refinement he is able to add to the portrait depends on the delicacy of the pattern. Bolder designs like Fountain Head, for instance, reveal a slightly simpler face than more intricate patterns like Definable Aspect.