Within the high-tech, hyper-linked, social media saturated moment we live in today, the portrait has become ubiquitous and we now present ourselves in personal profiles of all kinds in an attempt to share the essence of who we are with the world outside. Traditionally, portraiture was meant to capture the inner essence of a person, however this oversaturation of personal information in the social sphere ends up masking our essence as our “portrait” becomes one more in an endless stream scrolling past the eye of the viewer.
Selected from over 100 submissions to an open call for portraiture, this diverse collection of contemporary artists breathes new and electric energy into the genre. At times they zero right in to capture some aspect of their subject’s essence and at other times work to obscure signs of identity altogether. Through painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, digital media, video and sound, these artists deeply explore the practice of representing their human subjects. Using humour, pathos, ingenuity and impeccable rendering skills they present a wide spectrum of approaches, reflecting the diversity we find within our communities.
Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky contribute a video portrait of Queen Elizabeth made up from stills of Her Majesty’s portraits culled from coins while Olex Wlasenko’s panoramic characters in graphite are culled from Soviet era and European “Art House” cinema. Andrew Ackerman’s abject ceramic and resin busts rest languidly on the floor and emanate both familiar and alien sounds and J. Lynn Campbell works to make unfamiliar what was once familiar by subtracting and adding to the digital images of friends. The artists of Painters 6 meet regularly and all paint the same model in the same pose, someone invited from their York Region community, while Marnie White allows her subjects to stage the sitting themselves thereby having a say in what is portrayed in order to capture more of their essence. Mary Anderson considers the political implications of the portrait while Kristy Blackwell sees all portraiture to be in some way a personal reflection of the artist.
Each of the artists in FaceTime: contemporary portraiture find a distinctive way to represent their chosen subjects. Have a look around, maybe you will recognize someone.
image: installation shot FaceTime: contemproary portratiture