Joseph Bounds: Contemporary Cubist Portraits

By admin in Featured Artists > Oil Paintings

North Carolina artist Joseph Bounds creates stunning, one-of-a-kind portraits and figure paintings by blending elements of Cubism, Neoclassicism, and Minimalism.

In fact, you might be surprised to learn that his paintings ARE paintings, at first glance. The smooth application of paint (with very few visible brushstrokes) and abstracted forms bisected with angular lines and hard edges brings to mind digital photo-editing and modern design elements that are rarely seen in traditional oil paintings.

Case in point, Have I Found You?, shown below, is a perfect example of the multiple perspectives and unique compositions seen in his paintings:

Cubist portrait of a young woman with hard 3-dimensional lines and edges distorting her image

Joseph uses the concept of virtual “mirrors” to combine several perspectives at once in a single composition. Overlapping areas are painted almost like reflections seen in a window, where the faint image of a second, reflected portrait (often at a drastically different angle) may at times appear darker, or lighter, than the first portrait, and will often filter or accentuate the colors in the first portrait as well.

Returning Blush features a variety of shaded and tinted sections formed in that exact manner, by the crisscrossing of the two images:

Multi-view portrait of a young man

Other non-representational planes cut into the scene as well, adding right-angles and crisp lines to break up the composition even further. The colors seem increase in intensity as they echo each other, forming an almost self-referential, nearly monochromatic color palette.

And it’s more than just colors that become multiplied—at times, Joseph’s paintings feel like a blending of two figures into one strange being. In this last painting, entitled Divide, the subject is less “reflected” and more “overlapped” which seems to add a third eye, and a second mouth to the original three-quarter portrait.

Soft, surreal portrait of a woman

Of course, a final reflection appears at the bottom of the composition as well, adding yet another mysterious angle to this painting.

Joseph Bounds is an artist who clearly pushes the envelope of human abstraction, but it’s his genius of composition that keeps these paintings from falling apart into chaos (and keeps me coming back for more). If you’d like to view the rest of Joseph’s stunning abstract portraits, please visit his website at


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