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Artist Uses Fire and Smoke to Create Incredible Paintings of Birds

Steven Spazuk fire painting fumage

For the past 16 years, artist Steven Spazuk has been honing the craft of painting with fire. The “fire artist” uses the resulting soot from flames to produce haunting, delicate work. By trailing his tools over the remnants of a flame, he almost sculpts his subjects on the canvas in a technique called fumage.

Spazuk is quick to point out that he didn't invent the technique—it's most likely how pre-historic man created cave paintings. But something about his work has captured the public's imagination, as he finds the perfect balance between unique execution and memorable, finished product. Recently, he began working with Zippo as a sponsored artist, where in an interview he explains that the idea first came to him in a dream. After dreaming of seeing a work in a gallery created by fire, he took the idea and set to work, developing fumage into his characteristic signature.

His newest set of work, which was recently on show at Boston's Adelson Galleries, continues his exploration into the fragility of our world. Mainly focusing on imagery of birds—the delicate nature of their wings and feathers mirrored by the wispy plumes of smoke that trail behind them—Spazuk's creations invite viewers to step into his ephemeral, fantasy world.

“Fire consumes, warms, and illuminates,” he explains, “but can also bring pain and death; thus, its symbolic meaning varies wildly, depending upon the context of its use. I mostly use it to talk about life's fragility. Exploring this fragility is the very essence of my work as a fire artist.”

Spazuk specializes in a technique called fumage, where he uses fire and soot combined with acrylics to create his artwork.

Steven Spazuk painting with fire fumage Steven Spazuk painting with fire fumage Steven Spazuk painting with fire fumage Steven Spazuk painting with fire fumage Steven Spazuk painting with fire fumage Steven Spazuk painting with fire fumage Steven Spazuk painting with fire fumage Steven Spazuk fire painting fumage Steven Spazuk fire painting fumage

Watch Steven Spazuk in action as he creates this fire painting of a woman.

Steven Spazuk: Website | Instagram
h/t: [Faith is Torment]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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