Masterpieces on iPhone

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Even from a few feet away, you can see the bold strokes that Sao Paulo artist Roberto Lautert applies to his portraits of iconic art figures, but step closer and you’ll notice that brush lines are strangely missing. That’s because there were no brushes—these works are enlarged versions of the portraits Lautert “paints” by fingertip on his iPhone 3G, using the Finger Draw app. The pieces are currently on display at Loja do Bispo in Sao Paulo in his first-ever solo show.

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Lautert, an art and creative director at his own agency, has always loved doing portraits of friends and family, which in the past were made by pencil, acrylic or watercolor. So when Lautert discovered the Finger Draw app in 2009, he knew that his first stab would be a portrait. He painted his wife, who later gave him the idea of doing a six-image series of the artists he admired most—David Hockney, Lucien Freud, Avigdor Arikha, Alex Katz and Elizabeth Peyton.

Painting on such a small screen as the iPhone is challenging in itself, but Lautert finds putting in the details to draw the eyes and the shape of the face the most difficult to achieve. “Every new portrait becomes a drama because it seems like it’s not going to turn out right,” he said. “You suffer until the results start to excite you. But even so, every time you hit save and return hours afterward, you see there’s so much still left to do.”

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Because the digital size of the Finger Draw portraits are so small, the images had to be put through a vector process to enlarge them before they’re printed on canvas. “What’s beautiful about Finger Draw on the iPhone is that you can put in your pocket, as if it were a Moleskine,” says Lautert.

Lautert is looking to bring his pieces to other major cities in Brazil, and the current show runs through 25 May 2012.