Saturday, November 26

Cuttings 39 - Self Portrait

The leaflet accompanying the Self Portrait (Renaissance to Contemporary) exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery disucsses some wonderfully relevant ideas:

'This is an exhibition about how artists have chosen to depict themselves...'

'The exhibition draws attention to the figure of the painter as a distinctive member of society, worthy of representation and considered to somehow be present in the works that he or she makes.

'Self-portraits seem to offer...not only peculiarly direct access to the great artists of the past, but also an opportunity to reflect on creativity and the idea of the self.'

Role Play:

'Every self-portrait is a performance of a kind. The artist chooses a particular costume and pose, and adopts a persona for his or her audience.'

'A mask can show the face or character of someone else, and is often assumed to conceal the 'real self' that lies beneath. It appeals in [some] self-portraits...as a symbol of painting or imitation. However, the mask's capacity to dramatise or conceal character actually depends upon a connection between this conventional face and the 'true'
person within.'

'There is also a performative element in the production of each self-portrait in oils. The painting is a fiction, where the final work may suppress or dramatise the processes involved in its creation, while still producing a certain record of the artist at work.'

(thanks A.E.)