Art & Culture,  On Art and Aesthetics

Colouring the world: Angélica Dass

Our monthly series in collaboration with the blog features painters, sculptors, photographers and other artists, who offer new perspectives on important cultural, social, philosophical and spiritual issues. 


Tulika Bahadur, the founder of, introduces the work and themes of photographer Angélica Dass. For the full interview, click on the link at the bottom of the page.


In her ongoing project Humanae, Brazilian photographer Angélica Dass has set out to catalogue every conceivable human skin tone. Born in 1979 in Rio de Janeiro and having grown up in a multi­racial family, she is acutely aware of how small differences in colour can swell into large misconceptions and stereotypes about race.

In her work Angélica pairs thousands of portraits of people from different parts of the world with their alphanumeric Pantone codes. By bringing all the skin tones to the same platform, she topples hierarchies. No one ethnicity dominates any other. 

By noting such subtle variations, she subverts the black/white dichotomy that tends to govern our discourse on race. The collection that emerges is stunning in its aesthetic variety and diversity, with faces going from rose pink to caramel to chocolate to ebony. No other trait of identification and classification – like nationality, gender, age, social class or religion – is mentioned.

The process followed in Humanae is rigorous and systematic: the background for each portrait is tinted with a colour tone identical to a sample of 11 x 11 pixels taken from the face of the person photographed. 

Humanae Project by Angélica Dass. Courtesy of

Thousands of portraits have already been produced and there is no explicit intention to finish the project by a specific date. It is open in all senses and will include all those who want to be part of this colossal global mosaic. The only limit for the taxonomy would be reached by completing all of the world’s population. Not likely to happen any time soon!

In 2016, Angélica’s career soared following her TED Global Talk, confirming the great potential of her work to go beyond photography, becoming a tool for social change. Today, this TED talk exceeds two million views. Humanae has travelled to more than 30 countries across six continents – from The World Economic Forum in Davos to the pages of National Geographic – to promote dialogue that challenges how we think about skin colour and ethnic identity.

Angélica is also a powerful and inspiring speaker who has lectured at important organisations, such as the University of Salamanca, the University of Bologna, and the Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ), as well as the International Congress of Fundraising, The Resource Alliance, and National Geographic as a cultural leader. 

Angélica has founded the Humanae Institute, a non-profit-making educational platform with the objective of positioning diversity as a value in the educational process.

One could possibly query whether head and shoulders photos of people are actually art, but each photo certainly has something beautiful about it and reveals some aspect of the human psyche. So if art is about beauty and opening up some deeper truth, Angélica’s photos would seem to meet that requirement.

Learn more by reading the full article here:

PANTONE® and other Pantone trademarks are the property of, and are used with the written permission of, Pantone LLC. PANTONE Colour identification is solely for artistic purposes and not intended to be used for specification. All rights reserved.


Enjoy this article? Click here to take a read of this recent article in which Lisa Fraser interviews James Earley, whose portraits of people living on the edge of society are making waves.


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Tulika Bahadur obtained an interdisciplinary MA in art history, philosophy, literature and religious studies from King’s College London. She is the founder of the platform that celebrates artistic talent from all over the world. She is developing a consultancy around the blog which includes content production for the creative sector, the organisation of art- and culture-related events and tours, and art dealing for residential and corporate use. Tulika was born in central India and has lived in the United Kingdom, Thailand, Canada and Australia. Her company is based in Sydney.

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