CURATOR'S SELECTION:
PORTRAITURE

“Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

The ability of portraiture to illuminate the artist as well as the sitter guides our focus for this month’s Curator’s Selection.

As a genre, portraiture dates as far back as prehistoric times, but an emphasis on physical likeness was not seen in the Western world until the period of classical antiquity. In Ancient Greece and Rome, paintings and sculptural busts realistically capturing the sitter’s features were used to memorialize and commemorate powerful or significant leaders and cultural figures. As portraiture evolved in the Renaissance, technical advancements saw artists paint with a greater sense of realism, introducing the three-quarter view portrait style that captured the sitter with added dimension. The proliferation of portraits during this time continued to be with posterity in mind, and additionally as political tools for negotiating marriage contracts and as symbols of command and leadership.

A shift in portraiture in the Baroque era came with the development of the convex mirror: for the first time, convex mirrors allowed artists to paint themselves with the same scrutiny levied on their patrons. This development added a new dimension to portraiture, ennobling and celebrating the artists themselves as well as their ability to capture the inner identity of the sitter.

Though portraiture became more commonplace in the years that followed, it remained a marker of social standing - portraits were expensive to commission! However, the development of the camera and, eventually, the affordable printing of photographs, irrevocably changed the significance of portraiture. Now, the genre was available to people en masse to help document the passing of time efficiently and with greater accuracy than before. It wouldn’t be until the advent of social media and the various platforms’ encouragement of constant image sharing that self portraiture would reach its current and most egalitarian form: the selfie taken from a camera phone. 

Portraiture remains a popular genre for artists and, as Oscar Wilde once observed, continues to offer as much insight into the creator as the sitter pictured. Erin Armstrong’s figures, composed of distilled shapes and mood-driven colour, reveal her interest in modernist painters and imagined identity as uniquely as Jill Greenberg’s portraits of grief-stricken children and smiling animals, whose raw and unfiltered sense of emotion enhance her immediate, hyper-real style of photography. Whether on his own or hidden within one of his layered paintings, Casey McGlynn usually depicts himself with a guitar, paying homage to his love of music. Chris Shepherd takes self portraiture one step further: with a nod to Jeff Wall, Shepherd photographs twenty camera phones or “self portrait machines” stacked in a meta-response not only to the device most used for portraiture today, but also the rapid and abundant way we snap and collect selfies in various poses.

Casey McGlynn artwork 'Self Portrait With Gibson and Japan Inspired Background' available at Bau-Xi Gallery Vancouver
Chris Shepherd Artwork | Geometric, sometimes monochromatic, close-crop photographs of architecture and urban spaces.
Chris Shepherd Artwork | Geometric, sometimes monochromatic, close-crop photographs of architecture and urban spaces.
40 X 40 in. - $6,050 CAD
Smear
Michael Wolf Artwork | Dramatic muted large-format architectural photographs of Hong Kong Chicago and Paris, portraits from the Tokyo subway.
48 X 36 in. - $6,200 CAD
Cut By The Light
Jill Greenberg Artwork | Colourful, cute and expressive studio portraits of monkeys, horses, bears and abstract paintings.
50 X 42 in. - Edition of 10
Jill Greenberg Artwork | Colourful, cute and expressive studio portraits of monkeys, horses, bears and abstract paintings.
50 X 42 in. - Edition of 10
Jill Greenberg Artwork | Colourful, cute and expressive studio portraits of monkeys, horses, bears and abstract paintings.
Chris Shepherd Artwork | Geometric, sometimes monochromatic, close-crop photographs of architecture and urban spaces.
Jill Greenberg Artwork | Colourful, cute and expressive studio portraits of monkeys, horses, bears and abstract paintings.
48 X 60 in. - $7,200 CAD
Self Help
Michael Wolf Artwork | Dramatic muted large-format architectural photographs of Hong Kong Chicago and Paris, portraits from the Tokyo subway.
48 X 72 in. - $8,250 CAD
Casey McGlynn Artwork | Colourful, symbolic, and autobiographical mixed media paintings that depict music icons, horses, boats, and numbers.
60 X 40 in. - $7,400 CAD
A Wander Through The Yard
Sold
50 X 42 in. - Edition of 10
Jill Greenberg Artwork | Colourful, cute and expressive studio portraits of monkeys, horses, bears and abstract paintings.
60 X 96 in. - $10,950 CAD
Drips
Oil
50 X 41 in. - Edition of 10
Oil
Michael Wolf Artwork | Dramatic muted large-format architectural photographs of Hong Kong Chicago and Paris, portraits from the Tokyo subway.
12 X 12 in. - $750 CAD
Casey McGlynn artwork 'Untitled (With Guitar)' available at Bau-Xi Gallery Vancouver
36 X 36 in. - $5,400 CAD
Swirls
Sold
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