In the hands of Justin Bateman, colorful rocks can be arranged into just about anything. The British artist specializes in arranging pebbles to create temporary works of art based on art history and real life. One of his latest installations brings to life an iconic portrait of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo using hundreds of similarly-sized stones.
From afar, this exquisite mosaic has the same effect that some modern works of art have—appearing more realistic at a distance and more impressionist when viewed up close. In a recent piece, Bateman places numerous rocks of various hues in key places to slowly model the face of Frida Kahlo. He assigns darker stones to key areas like the hair, clothing, and under the nose, and lighter stones to areas where the light hits, such as the forehead and chin.
While some of Bateman's previous works used larger stones, in this piece, he relies on much finer pebbles. This smaller medium helps him model Frida's face with more precision. Additionally, the artist makes sure to use more rocks of comparable size and hue to fill in the background of this portrait. In this way, when the rocks transition from the finer, golden tones to the large and more uneven texture of the other rocks on the ground, it mimics the presentation of a painting matted within a frame.