Monday, 14 February 2011

Presence Through Absence

What is a portrait? Can we ever truly represent the person on canvas?

Another eternal return, and more self-imposed definitions! For me a portrait, or a landscape, is not defined by their subject matter; I see as much portraiture in hands, anatomy in trees and horizon in silhouette.
A portrait is not merely a face of a person, it is their heart. Not to say that figurative work cannot be considered a portrait, but I often find it is the more aleatoral works which produce a closer likeness to the model internally ,rather than a facade of representation.
Memory, Choice and Control are qualities I exert when painting a portrait....which further intrigues me to question whether I am painting an accurate or truthful image of the model, as memory can be selective, choice is contrived, and control is manipulated.
Is a portrait extracted from the model, to become an entity in itself ?
Is a portrait a phantom of the original?
We attempt to translate entities into other realms, such as portraiture into a visual language. Lest we forget, just as when deciphering French to English, words and their sentiments can often become mistranslated, changing their intent and content.
I prefer to think of portraiture as an essence, which can exist within everything, whilst being nothing.

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