What is real?
Posts Tagged ‘self portrait’
Most artist have more than a few self portraits lying around and I have shared a few to date. From “I am Simian” to “Quetzalcoatl at Chichen Itza” to name a couple, it is interesting for me to see how I have chosen to represent myself overtime and how that has evolved.
Real quick take a peak at my other self portraits in the archives. I’ll wait right here for y’ah. OK, now that you’ve taken look and made your way back, I hope I have a little context to draw from.
Self portraiture is a unique excercise in so far as it is any opportunity for an artist not merely to create, but literally to recreate themselves. I can’t remember who said it, but I remember some artist saying something to the effect that his subjects came more to look like his portraits rather than the othe way around. Somebody out there is jumping up and down, but settle down and consider this view in the context of self-portraiture and realize that there is something really aspirational there. Whether in renewal of a long held perspective or the casting off a tired lens, the process of deliberately recasting yourself has many profound implications.
The other school of thought and the one I have ascribed to more often than not, is that self portraits are a reflection in an exploration of self. In this case, it is not so aspirational, but the analysis is nonetheless revealing.
I think most people would think that there is a casam between the two schools of thoughts, but I would suggest that the distinction is not as great as it would appear. Maybe someone who has studied psychology could explain this better, but it is obvious to me that the line where ego proclaims “this is who I am” and an objective reflection of self is not an easy line to draw. I guess that is just another question subtly posed to the artist making a self portrait.
Today’s self portrait is definitely about the reflection of self rather than an aspirational view. I painted it sometime in or around 2006 and a couple of years removed it is hard for me to remember enough about that moment in time to offer much insight about myself back then. Why did I choose those colors? Why did I choose to tweak certain features? What does it all mean? I scrutinize myself for answers and find few. I enjoy looking though and feel that the puzzle pieces are there if I could only put them together.
Answers are few and far between in the exploration of self and frankly, I don’t think I need anything all that definitive. I hope you have enjoyed drifting along with me. Aspire, reflect, look inward, and as I have said many times before be free, create, and grow roots.
And so it was… as self portrait of myself, by myself.
“The fear of infinity is a form of myopia that destroys the possibility of seeing the actual infinite, even though it in its highest form has created and sustains us, and in its secondary transfinite forms occurs all around us and even inhabits our minds.” ~ Georg Cantor, Mathematician
This is the largest format self portrait I have ever attempted. It is unfortunate that I cannot convey the scale of the canvas in the digital realm effectively.
I was initially very pleased with my brush strokes and I still think the reflection in the lens of the goggles around my eye complete with an infinity sign came out rather well. Originally, I was contemplating painting a reflection of myself in the lens of the goggles and creating an infinity mirror. I loved the idea, but I decided I would convey the concept of infinity symbolically in my brush work.
Unfortunately, I spent some time working in my studio without adequate lighting and the result was some sloppy brush strokes down the stretch which I found incredibly frustrating.
The bottomline, is that I overworked the painting when it was already looking awesome. Sometimes the hardest, but the best decision an artist can make is knowing when to stop pushing and declare a piece complete.
“And a Man sat alone, drenched deep in sadness. And all the animals drew near to him and said, ‘We do not like to see you so sad.’ Ask us for whatever you wish and you shall have it.’ The Man said, ‘I want to have good sight.’ The vulture replied, ‘You shall have mine.’ The Man said, ‘I want to be strong.’ The jaguar said, ‘You shall be strong like me.’ Then the Man said, ‘I long to know the secrets of the earth.’ The serpent replied, ‘I will show them to you.’ And so it went with all the animals. And when the Man had all the gifts that they could give, he left. Then the owl said to the other animals, ‘Now the Man knows much, he’ll be able to do many things. Suddenly I am afraid.’ The deer said, ‘The Man has all that he needs. Now his sadness will stop.’ But the owl replied, ‘No. I saw a hole in the Man, deep like a hunger he will never fill. It is what makes him sad and what makes him want. He will go on taking and taking, until one day the World will say, ‘I am no more and I have nothing left to give.’”" ~ Old Story Teller, Apocalypto (2006)
A couple of summers ago, I went to the Yucatan Peninsula. Rather then spend my time on the beach in Cancun boozing and cavorting, we decided to partake in a proper cultural experience by exploring the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Uxmal.
Here my brother and are marveling at a particular Mayan pyramid at Uxmal.
I actually found Uxmal to be the far more interesting site even though Chichen Itza is more well known. Uxmal was quieter with fewer tourist and we were permitted to explore more at Uxmal. We even were allowed to ascend to the Mayan ruler’s throne. Just remember to climb the stairs of the Mayan pyramids sideways as, “not to offend the god’s” or more likely to prevent the unfortunate occurrence of falling and tumbling like an idiot to your death.
This ancient ruins of the Mayan civilization were something to behold and obviously they inspired the self portrait above. I am just glad that I got to go before the Mayan calendar comes to end in 2012 and the world comes to a cataclysmic end by shifting poles, an asteroid, sun spots, or some other misfortune.
“For if in any manner we can stimulate this instinct, new passages are opened for us into nature, the mind flows into and through things hardest and highest, and the metamorphosis is possible” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson