The human face has fascinated us for millennia. In this narcissistic age we now live in, the selfie has become an accepted form of personal expression. We are told that we must nurture and develop our own personal brands in this digitally obsessed world of gadgets and devices. The portrait has had great currency in the art world for a long time. It has waxed and waned over the centuries but returns to us now renewed by the cultural obsession with social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Basic colour filters are available on these applications to allow us to manipulate sharp digital images with some mood lighting machinations.
Portraits Back on the Agenda
The painted portrait delivers something beyond the ken of mere digital representations. The artist draws forth his or her impression of the subject in colour, texture and style. Facial expressions are exaggerated and feeling responses engendered in the viewer. Something emerges in the picture which, hopefully, shines a light from the inner world of the portrait subject. Elements such as teeth can represent the danger that lurks beneath the smile. Creases upon brows and wrinkles around eyes can bestow gravitas and Roman like dignity. Painted portraiture goes far beyond mere photographic representation.
Artist & Subject Converse & Share
Portraits can reveal the pain in peoples’ lives, which, often, remains hidden from the camera’s lens. It is why portraitists spend time with their subjects prior to putting paint to canvas. Artist and subject converse and share. There is an exchange of intimate reflections upon lives lived. Human beings are drawn to depictions of human faces like moths to a flame. We gaze into portraits seeking answers to some of life’s great questions. The eyes of a subject are particularly important to the viewer. What do they say about him or her? What do they reveal about the character on display?
Portraits Have a Life
Portraiture: Facing up to the painted mirror can be a powerful experience for subject and artist. The painting is a creation, which has a life all its own. It will not go quietly away, it will boldly speak its truth to whomever turns its way. Great portraiture stands the test of time, unlike the cheesy snaps on camera phones. There is a depth of vision beyond the superficial appearance captured by an untrained camera lens. My sincere recommendation is to have a few challenging portraits hanging on your walls at home.