Self portraiture pushes creativity inward to develop its outward expression. The act of creation becomes immensely personal, linked to identity and self hood, its multivalent quandaries and assertions. Historically, self-portraiture maintains a unique position. As artistic trends have shifted, so have the visual conventions of the genre. 18th century history paintings were rendered naturalistically in oils with artists hidden within scenes of large crowds or gatherings. Romanticism brought to the fore a melancholic and divided individual. By the end of the 19th century, the importance of coding through sartorial conventions became paramount in images of the aristocrat, nouveau riche, dandy, bohemian, and flaneur. The start of the 20th century saw new developments in self-portraiture as well. In the spirit of the avant-garde, images of self became liberated from convention. Individuals, like other topics in art, became fragmented, dissected, abstracted and conceptualized. The figure fell out of favor with World War II and today is making its return.
Historic trends remain in this exhibition. Throughout the selection process I looked for a diversity of visual languages, mediums and forms; derivation fused with originality, innovation paired with individualism. Artworks were selected while physically separated from the object, relying on digital images to convey quality, mood and meaning. The task was both daunting and exciting. Like a word find or great puzzle I poured over printed pages of thumbnails and clicked my mouse to view detailed images on the computer monitor. With color-coded markers in hand the circling began. X's and O's, checkmarks and scribbles led to the final selections. Their numerical codes were sent via email to the organizers of this show and from there the work continued.
The final product, before you in the gallery now, or on your own computer screen, presents an assortment of contemporary portraiture. Many images are accessible upon first glance. However, they become richer with contemplation and return. Explore these spaces and the individuals inhabiting them.
Director of Exhibitions and Collections, Krasl Art Center