LA-based artist El Mac is a master of murals– from far away, his spray-painted subjects take on a softened edge with deep shadows, and it isn’t until you get close to the wall that you realize how intricately each layer of spray paint has been laid on top of each other for this amazingly realistic effect.

His work generally features a single person, bathed in the glow of different types of lighting ranging from saturated fluorescence to harsh sunlight, and the fact that spray paint alone can capture that lighting is a testament to his skill. There’s a heavy dose of religious imagery here, what with the background halos, but its balanced by what I would call a humble, warm view of humanity, in the faces of people that look familiar though yet unknown.

Also, note that some of the images below (some of which are my favorites!) are collaborations between El Mac and Retna, who is another graffiti artist with a strong sense of bold, typographic lines, which often serves as a backdrop to the individuals on El Mac’s urban canvas. From El Mac’s bio:

Some of his murals have become local landmarks, especially his collaborations with Retna, which combine Mac’s representational figures with Retna’s abstract lettering and designs. Mac continues to focus primarily on creating more public art in different parts of the world, painting photorealistic canvases, and evolving his brushwork style. His intent is to uplift and inspire through careful, perfectionist renderings of both the sublime and the humble. Most especially he enjoys the simple challenges and rewards of painting.

His work is so mesmerizing to look at– the intricate layers of light and shadow are nothing short of surprising, especially since it’s on such a large scale. Love, love, love.

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