OPENING RECEPTION: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2006, FROM 5 - 7PM
A portrait involves a complex negotiation between the sitter and the artist. Difficult questions arise in the process. The artist must ask, “How do you see yourself?” The sitter’s response may then seem calculated or natural, but it always prompts a new question, “How do you see me?” The portrait evolves as a dialog between artist and subject about the construction of identity. It is a delicate matter.
A viewer’s relationship to a portrait makes matters more interesting. Drawn to the crook of a wry smile, a pair of particularly interesting glasses, a certain expression, or even a tattoo, viewers might see themselves in the work. The experience can confirm or transform their own sense of identity.
Historically, portraiture has focused on the likeness of the rendered picture to the subject. A good portrait was said to be a good likeness and an exceptional portrait was said to convey the inner person. With the advent of photography however, the importance of capturing an accurate physical representation of the subject declined.
Fortunately, Jack Smith’s portraiture has always focused on revealing the inner person. When the people in his paintings gaze back out at us, we see their relationship to the artist, their wit, and their sense of self-image. We may even catch a glimpse of their history. A subject that gazes away, on the other hand, can provoke a sense of intrigue, which for some, will develop into fascination - a conviction that enough study will one day yield a revelation. Such is the power of portraiture.
- Jeremy Tessmer