Surreal Portrait Paintings Visualize the Chaotic Worlds We Keep Inside of Ourselves

Surreal Portrait Painting by Irene Pérez

Artist Irene Pérez blends realism with the utterly surreal in large-scale paintings that delve into the psyche of the human mind. In a minimal color palette, she depicts unconventional portraits of people who have been distorted by thoughts bubbling beneath the surface.

One of the artists’ most recent and striking works features a portrait of a man that opens into the labyrinth that is his head. Atop his face is an M.C. Escher-like maze that shows a tiny male figure—presumably himself—as he sits within the structure, head in hand. The small person is further obscured with abstract paint splotches caked on the canvas. The addition adds another layer (both literally and figuratively) to the inner turmoil of the subject.

The hidden strife strikes at the heart of Pérez’s paintings. “My artworks deal with a psychological theme,” she explains to My Modern Met, “the realistic characters work as a self-portrait of all of us, while the abstract part represents all that chaotic world that we keep inside us; it is a way of making visible through painting what in reality is imperceptible before our eyes.”

Scroll down for more of Pérez’s thought-provoking works that beg for a long and considerate look. Then, follow her on Instagram to see what she’s painting next.

Artist Irene Pérez blends realism with the surreal in paintings that delve into the psyche of the human mind.

Surreal Portrait Painting by Irene Pérez

The works feature distorted portraits of people overcome by the thoughts in their heads.

Surreal Portrait Painting by Irene PérezSurreal Portrait Painting by Irene Pérez

“My artworks deal with a psychological theme,” Pérez tells My Modern Met.

Surreal Portrait Painting by Irene PérezSurreal Portrait Painting by Irene Pérez

“…the realistic characters work as a self-portrait of all of us, while the abstract part represents all that chaotic world that we keep inside us.”

Surreal Portrait Painting by Irene PérezSurreal Portrait Painting by Irene Pérez

“It is a way of making visible through painting what in reality is imperceptible before our eyes.”

Surreal Portrait Painting by Irene PérezSurreal Portrait Painting by Irene Pérez

Watch the artist work in the videos below:

Irene Pérez: Website | Instagram 

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Irene Pérez.

Related Articles:

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Artist’s Giant Pencil Drawings Blur the Line Between Hyperrealism and Surrealism

Artist Combines Graffiti and Poetry To Create Expressive Portraits Steeped in Symbolism

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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