London based artist builds portraits from test tubes, chess pieces and toy soldiers

Joe Black creates portraits of famouses from Obama to Bowie, Marilyn to Mao. Far away, they are simple replicas of iconic images. Up close reveals the images are mosaics, made up of thousands of small objects like toy soldiers or chess pieces.

While not a new idea, Black’s work is striking for its intricacy and its revelatory value. Move in close to the black and white Obama portrait and you discover it is built from a collection of closely packed toy soldiers.

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The pieces are somewhere between fine art and sculpture, no surprise given that Black studied as a sculptor before moving into illustration. He then spent time as a commercial artist before becoming a full time fine artist.

Ways of Seeing is at Opera Gallery, London from 18 October