Three Views

What is a portrait? A short definition given me by my computer: A painting, drawing, engraving or photograph of a person; a representation or impression of someone in language or film.  Fair enough, as far as it goes.

A photograph is not only a representation of the person photographed, but a representation of  the relationship between the photographer and the subject. The photographer gets to choose the split second to capture, thereby controlling to some extent relationship s/he wants reflected back.

Think of the world before cameras, however. Painters were the only instruments by which a person could have a lasting image preserved. Painters painted images that flattered (or at least, portrayed their subjects favorably) if they wanted to continue as painters. So the control of the relationship lay more with the subject than the painter.

What is the purpose of a self portrait to an artist? I am not necessarily referring to the narcissistic culture of the ‘selfie’. This is my impression of selfie culture: the idea that “I was here” at a particular moment or with a particular celebrity. I am sure there are valid artistic avenues to approach the cell phone selfie. But I am talking about well thought-out portraits of one’s self, photographic or otherwise.

I think that, an artist would wish to portray an aspect of his/her relationship with him/her self. That would be a project worth pursuing.

In today’s experiment, I use three vantage points to portray my relationship with my brother Mike, who is autistic, low functioning and nonverbal.  Not being able to communicate with him means I have to make up a lot of information about our relationship.

In the abstract below, the icon representing me gazes at half my brother’s face in the mirror. Behind the mirror is the mechanism that makes Mike who he is: his brain.  Somewhere in space or another (spiritual?) dimension is Mike’s avatar, gazing at himself.

Watercolor: Abstract Portraits with Icons

Portrait Fantasy
12″x9″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

Of course there are other narratives that would also hold up in this abstract expressionistic or surreal rendering. If you have any, I’d love to know them.

4 thoughts on “Three Views

  1. I like the your definition of self portrait. I think your idea of “self” will always be tied up with the mystery of your brother. This portrait illuminates the mystery. (K)


    • I think you are in large part, correct, Kerfe. I think it is an illumination of the framework of my relationship with my brother; a circuit that I keep traversing.
      I would like to have that submerge as a back story to express other aspects of my self. Some day, perhaps.

      Liked by 1 person

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