No items found.

after ee cummings and others: an abstraction of the portrait

Portraits have been around for about as long as people have been making visual representations of the world around them. The handprints and rudimentary figures on rock walls for one. It seems we have been making representations of ourselves for a considerable period of time. 

A question I ask myself is where do we start saying “that’s a portrait?” 

There are multiple meanings to the word portrait, but at its basis is a representation of a person or subject. They can be visual, paintings, sculpture, drawings, photographs etc. They can be videos, abstractions, objects or written descriptions.  Options for these representations are broad. William Eggleston’s left leg with a case of Leica cameras comes to mind, and is a personal favourite. Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershoi demonstrated that you don't always need to show a face, for example, to paint a moving environmental portrait.

On first seeing a daguerreotype the painter Paul Delaroche reportedly exclaimed, “From today, painting is dead!”. He wasn’t exactly right, but one thing photography did for painters was to relieve them of the need for strictly figurative representation. Arguably it has done more than that, in that photography has influenced painting in its approach to composition. And portrait photography, with its ability to selectively focus on the subject has changed the way we look at the world as often the subject is placed against or in a defocused environment.

My approach to this project has been to embrace the freedom photography has given us to, well, make an abstraction of portraits.To create non prescriptive portraits with a freedom for viewers to imagine and wonder about the people I portray here.