Sunday, 7 November 2010

Less swilling, more forming

I’ve a lot of ideas about my artwork swilling around in my head at the moment; swilling but not forming properly, which probably means my work needs to change direction. Portraits seem to be where I’m at right now but I’m still very much drawn to narrative images. As The Undertaker’s Nuptials seems to have stalled (temporarily I hope), I’m thinking about how I can work narrative into straight portraiture. This has lead me to consider how we all have our own personal stories; who we are, where we’ve come from, what’s shaped us, what’s important to us, where we’re going and so on.

I’m reading an interesting book at the moment – Portraiture by Shearer West. How about this:

‘Portraits are not just likenesses but works of art that engage with ideas of identity as they are perceived, represented, and understood in different times and places. ‘Identity’ can encompass the character, personality, social standing, relationships, profession, age, and gender of the portrait subject. These qualities are not fixed but are expressive of the expectations and circumstances of the time the portrait was made. These aspects of identity cannot be reproduced, but they can only be suggested or evoked. Thus although portraits depict individuals, it is often the typical or conventional – rather than unique – qualities of the subject that are stressed by the artist, as demonstrated in Holbein’s George Gisze. Portraiture has also been subject to major changes in artistic practice and convention. Even though most portraits retain some degree of verisimilitude, they are nonetheless products of prevailing artistic fashions and favoured styles, techniques, and media. Portraiture is thus a vast art category that offers a rich range of engagements with social, psychological, and artistic practices and expectations.’

Less swilling, more forming.

Image: Hans Holbein the Younger, George Gisze, 1532

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