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‘Fixed It’: Portraits without a face
05.19.2017
10:12 am
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When we look at portrait paintings, we tend to look first at the face to find a connection with the subject and glean some understanding of their life experience. Portraits were once a symbol of status and class. Nowadays, while there is still some status attached to such paintings they are more often portraiture which reflects the vision of the artist rather than just a record of the subject’s importance.

New Zealand artist Henrietta Harris paints portraits that make the viewer question the essence of what they are looking at. Her work ranges from the more traditional portraits to ones where the face is distorted by color and line or obscured by mist. These paintings suggest the world that is usually beyond the artist’s ken—the interior life of the subject, their flickering thoughts, and daydreams. In a way, they remind me of Francis Bacon who distorted his portraits to present “the brutality of fact”—a more authentic representation of the subject.

A graduate of the Auckland University of Technology, Henrietta’s most recent series of paintings Fix It present well-crafted portraits finished with a slather of pink or gold paint sprayed across the subject’s face. This small but telling act of vandalism inspires the questions: Who are we looking at? Is it important that we see their face? What can we understand from their position, their clothes, or even their hair? Why was this painting made? What do we learn from it?

There is also a bit fun going on here. The term “Fixed It” is reminiscent of some words used by Doña Cecilia Giménez, the woman who famously decided to fix Elias Garcia Martinez’s 19th-century fresco of Jesus Christ, Ecce Homo, by painting a new face onto the wall. The resulting portrait looked more like Fozzie Bear or a deranged Bob Ross than the “Son of God.” Henrietta’s splash of vandalism asks what is the value of portraiture?

I’ve been drawn back time and again to Harris’ paintings over the past few days as I try to answer some of these questions.

Henrietta Harris has produced paintings for album covers, poster designs, and a whole catalog of commercial work, all of which you can see here.
 
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More of Henrietta Harris’ portraits, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.19.2017
10:12 am
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Artist creates huge portraits of cult icons from donuts
07.08.2016
09:52 am
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‘Alfred E. Neuman’ looking kinda doughy
 
Move over Chuck Close! Candice CMC creates art so good you could almost eat it. Well, not quite.

From the back of the room Candice’s large portraits of iconic cult figures from film, television, the arts and sciences look like bright, beautiful, Pointillistic paintings. Up close—they’re donuts.

Hundreds of photographs of tasty-looking donuts arranged by color, texture and tone—chocolate, vanilla, pink strawberry, blueberry, sugar glazed with sprinkles on the top. If they were real donuts instead of just photographs I s’ppose the big temptation would be to just eat ‘em all up.

Candice CMC is an artist, photographer and graphic designer—and her donut portraits are currently on show across Europe. However, if these pictures get your taste buds watering—you can order out as they are for sale.
 
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‘Marilyn with Blue Earrings’—Marilyn Monroe.
 
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Mister Spock from ‘Star Trek.’
 
More donut portraits after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.08.2016
09:52 am
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Hikari Shimoda’s strange and beautiful paintings of children on the edge
06.23.2016
10:51 am
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Kids are cute. Paintings of kids are cute. But Japanese artist Hikari Shimoda’s paintings of kids are cute and kinda scary.

Shimoda paints bright day-glo colored anime-inspired portraits of young children. These are no ordinary portraits. These are no ordinary children. Shimoda has said her paintings are not “human’ children—but are like avatars used to convey the artist’s “emotions and feelings to other people.”

Shimoda describes her paintings:

My motif is children whose ages are around 10 to 15 years old. Their attempt to adjust themselves to the modern environment in our time seems to be a hard battle to me. Also, they are living in an unstable time between being a child and a being an adult.

I pick up their warped attitude or feeling toward the outer world and express it through their unstable presence, I can express deep feelings I have inside, such as grief, alienation, and love.

I believe that adults who were once a child feel compassion with the children I paint.

These children are “magical.” They have no discerning age, gender or identity. They are heroic yet full of human weakness and fragility. Their vulnerability at odds with a dangerous and despairing environment—”a world of isolation and alienation.”

More of Hikari Shimoda’s work can be seen here.
 
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‘Children of this Planet #11’  (2013).
 
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‘Children of this Planet #6’ (2012).
 
More of Hikari Shimoda’s paintings plus video interview with her, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.23.2016
10:51 am
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Caitlyn Jenner, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis, Biggie, Beyoncé and more, painted in food
07.09.2015
08:50 am
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Jesse Bearden is an illustrator and art director who hails from Austin, TX and has a clear flair for portraiture. Her online portfolio is full of quite nice pencil, ink, and watercolor works, but she really shines when she takes her work to the fridge and pantry. Her Instagram—totally worth following, I suppose it should go without saying—is full of wonderful celebrity portraits that she executed in food. Few of the foods chosen are conceptually pertinent—Caitlyn Jenner rendered in Wheaties (and what I assume must be Cocoa Pebbles?) was a gimme, no? But Bearden’s choices are still inspired: the frosting Beyonce, condiment Notorious B.I.G., bagel John Lennon, chocolate Elvis (SO MUCH BETTER THAN VELVET ELVIS, RIGHT?) and a Hendrix made out of fruit preserves are all great fun. This thread in her personal work looks to be creeping into Bearden’s professional life—she recently did a time-lapse video, for McDonald’s, of herself painting a coffee drinker in McDonald’s coffee.

Hopefully, she didn’t get burned.
 

 

 

 
Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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07.09.2015
08:50 am
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Documenting madness: Female patients of the Surrey County Lunatic Asylum

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Among the early pioneers of photography in the 1800s was a middle-aged English doctor called Hugh Welch Diamond, who believed photography could be used in the diagnosis and treatment of the mentally ill. Diamond first established his medical career with a private practice in Soho, London, before specializing in psychiatry and becoming Resident Superintendent of the Female Department at the Surrey County Lunatic Asylum in 1848—a position he held until 1858. Diamond was an early adopter of photography, taking his first portraits just three months after Henry Fox Talbot licensed his “salt print” process for producing “photogenic drawings.” As a follower of “physiognomics”—a popular science based on the theory that disease (and character) could be discerned from an individual’s features or physiognomy—Diamond believed photography could be used as a curative therapy.

In documenting madness, Diamond was following on from his predecessor at Surrey County, Sir Alexander Morison who had produced a book of illustrations by various artists depicting patients at the asylum called The Physiognomy of Mental Diseases in 1838. Diamond believed the book was not scientific as the drawings were mainly illustrative interpretations of what the artist saw and could therefore veer towards caricature. He believed that the camera was the only way in which doctors could document illness without taint of prejudice:

The Metaphysician and Moralist, the Physician and Physiologist will approach such an inquiry with their peculiar views, definitions and classifications—The Photographer needs in many cases no aid from any language of his own, but prefers to listen, with the picture before him, to the silent but telling language of nature.

Between 1848-58, Diamond photographed the women patients at Surrey County, taking their portraits against a curtained wall or canvas screen. He became convinced he was able to diagnose a patient’s mental illness from their photographic portrait and then use the image as a therapeutic cure to sanity—the idea being the patient would be able to recognize the sickness in their features. As evidence of this, he cited his success with one patient who he had used the process on:

Her subsequent amusement in seeing the portraits and her frequent conversation about them was the first decided step in her gradual improvement, and about four months ago she was discharged perfectly cured, and laughed heartily at her former imaginations…

Convinced he had found a possible cure to mental illness, Diamond presented a paper “On the Application of Photography to the Physiognomic and Mental Phenomena of Insanity” to the Royal Society of Medicine in May 1856, in which he explained his theories. While many scientists and doctors saw the merit in Diamond’s propositions, they were eventually dismissed as “pseudo-science,” “snake oil” and “quackery.” However, the belief in physiognomy as a form of scientific empiricism was developed by police detective, biometrics researcher and inventor of the mugshot, Alphonse Bertillon, who devised a system of anthropometry for classifying criminals. This was later dropped in favor of fingerprinting and later DNA.

Diamond’s ideas on the diagnostic and curative nature of photography have long been discredited, however, he is now best remembered as a pioneer of psychiatric photography.

During his time at Surrey County, Diamond was able to document most of the female patients as the asylum was a public institution, which meant the patients had no rights to privacy. It’s interesting to note that when he left Surrey for a privately run asylum in Twickenham, Diamond was not permitted to take patients’ portraits. The following is a selection of Diamond’s portraits of the patients at Surrey County Asylum, more can be seen here. Alas, I was unable to find details to the identities of the sitters or their illnesses.
 
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More portraits after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.17.2015
10:29 am
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Exquisite embroidered portraits by Daniel Kornrumpf
06.17.2011
02:45 pm
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Daniel Kornrumpf‘s embroidered portraits on linen are truly unbelievable. His work is reminiscent of the great Chuck Close, but employing such unorthodox materials. I’m blown away by the detail in his stitches and the way he’s able to mimic brush strokes.

I wonder how long it takes him to make one of these?


 
More of Daniel Kornrumpf’s portraits after the jump…

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Posted by Tara McGinley
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06.17.2011
02:45 pm
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