Combining photography and painting, New Zealand-based artist John Pusateri composes beautifully surreal portraits of birds in his series Phase Transition. The animals featured are highly detailed and display individual feathers as well as crevices on their beaks and between their feet. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell whether the birds are photos or paintings because they appear so realistic. Pusateri achieves this effect by layering the different media which creates a richly-colored and complex picture.
Most of Pusateri’s birds exist in abstract environments. Sometimes, there’s a calm gradient of blue color around them, and other times it’s more chaotic. He will use non-representational marks or brush strokes to surround his subjects in a brilliant-yet-strange haze of texture.
Pusateri is inspired by museum exhibits, which could be why we see the birds standing on small pedestals or raised surfaces as if they’re on display. Their stances are reminiscent of something you’d see as you were walking through a natural history museum. Here, the artist takes them out of an institutional setting and into a place that he imagines.