When we first saw Kyle Bean’s artworks, we thought they were renders. We were so convinced, that we even reached out to him and referred to them as such, which is when the London-based creative then told me I was wrong. They are in fact, photographs. But photographs that are so perfectly lit under studio lights, and focused on such crisp goods, they really could be renders. What Kyle really does, is construct well-known food dishes out of paper in a mind-boggling construction that combines paper-craft skills and photography.
Born on the south coast of England, Kyle studied illustration at the University of Brighton. Growing up, Kyle was a huge Lego fan (we can see hints of this in the modular design of his paper constructions) but later become more interested in painting and drawing as opposed to model making. During uni, he landed on his signature mode of making, responding to briefs using limited resources and everyday materials – which is what led him to paper. “Having certain limitations to equipment while I was a student actually helped me focus my attention on using easy to find materials and processes,” he tells us. All he needed was a sharp blade, a cutting mat and some paper to get the creative juices flowing; a modest set of materials that haven’t changed much to this day.
The subject of his works tends to tell fun and succinct stories through a set of punchily photographed compositions. In his latest series, Mixed Media Meals, he lists the recipes for a number of delicious dishes using paper and other objects found around the house. A burger, smashed avocado on toast, sushi, tofu ramen, fish tacos, lasagne, pad Thai, are just a few of the dishes given the Kyle treatment. The series came about during the UK lockdown in the spring of 2020. “I didn’t have much commissioned work to be getting on with at the time so I was looking for inspiration for a personal project,” he says. At home, he spent much of his time cooking as a means of comfort and distraction from the bleakness of the outside world.