Artist Realistically Paints Fractured and Peeling Portraits of Women

Contemporary Painting


Artist James Bullough disrupts conventional portraiture and lettering in his latest series of dynamic paintings. Staggering in their technical ability and attention to detail, his subjects are fragmented and distorted with their bodies askew or, in some cases, ripped to shreds. Bullough’s photorealistic style also employs trompe l'oeil elements with several of the compositions appearing as paint that’s chipped and peeling from canvases.

The emphasis on fragmentation is a driving force behind Bullough’s latest pieces. “As is the case with most of my work,” he tells My Modern Met, “my inspirations and explorations are mostly technique-driven. I like to push myself with every painting to make something more interesting or complex or just different than the last painting. It can be simply pushing the design and composition further, or working with more complex photos or more interesting models or just doing a better job with the actual painting of the image.”

Bullough showcased his new work in a solo exhibition called Parallel Truths at the Thinkspace Projects in Culver City, California. “I am actually presenting three different bodies of work which I’ve been developing over the past year and a half,” he explains. Each has its own point of view. “The first is my traditional fractured portraits but pushed a bit further in terms of composition and delicacy of the painting and level of detail,” he reveals. “The second is my peeling portraits which give the feeling of the painting peeling off of the wall or the wall peeling away and revealing the portrait underneath. The third is what I’m calling ‘hidden words' which is a spin-off from the peeling portraits but instead of revealing a portrait underneath the peeling wallpaper reveals a hidden word which you really have to work to find.”

Artist James Bullough disrupts conventional portraiture and lettering in his latest series of dynamic paintings.

Contemporary Figurative Painting

“Morning Light”

Contemporary Painting

“Into Shadow”

Contemporary Painting


Contemporary Figurative Painting

“The Ghost in Me”

Contemporary Figurative Painting


Contemporary Painting


Contemporary Painting

“Into the Ether”

Contemporary Figurative Painting

“Love Hate”

Contemporary Painting


James Bullough: Website | Instagram | Facebook

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by James Bullough.

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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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