PortraitsA continuing cycle in my work plays within the genre of formal portraiture. I rarely accept commissions; instead, the portrait form itself acts as a foil for contemporary exploration. In the wake of the Avant-Garde, contemporary figuration continues to progress, often by expanding on old paths and historical modes. I am particularly interested in borrowing visual language and styles, often from artists hundred of years apart, and fusing them into new images that reference our time. What if Sargent tried to paint like Francis Bacon? Where does the mean between Bronzino and Dekooning lie? These are questions that enter my mind every time that I approach this subject.
Portraits are curious objects, heavy with paradox. They pose first as a recognizable being, yet we know that they are ultimately a projection of the painter’s fancy. They offer a surface, a façade, which can relate little of the depth of any sitter’s psyche. Yet what strange staring objects they become, both lifeless and alive, haunting walls in museums and homes. From their function as specters of posterity, to documents of contemporary life, portraits reflect the fundamental mystery of what it is to know someone, or ultimately, to not know them. We can only hope their curious company reveals a little of themselves over time.
This may seem particularly obtuse, since my portraits are chiefly of friends and other artists that I know quite well. I’m not opposed to capturing likeness; however, my first responsibility is to the painting.
Every painting begins and ends with its material, and
I like to think that I make as much object as image. In doing so, I like to
see the loose threads that pull the sweater apart, play with how the form is