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Portraiture at View Art Gallery

Portraiture There are many different ways of translating an image of a person on to a 2 or 3 dimensional format. At View we have researched many artsists who use different processes and medium to produce their own interpretation of portraiture. From the remarkable technical skills used in photorealism to the more abandoned approach in abstraction created from feeling, we have a variety of styles that are all original and unique.

Harriet White Photorealism is a style that could describe Harriet’s amazing technical ability, but doesn’t do justice to the creative flair that makes her work so special. At the basic level, Harriet captures real life images with an incredible precision in her oil paintings, usually sourced from her photography. But it is her eye that captures moments of drama in her subjects that form an absorbing composition. .

Harriet take’s photographs in an informal surrounding of the sitter’s choice, usually at their own home. She discusses ideas for the portrait, having decided on a canvas size beforehand. This is an important part of the process, not only to clarify logistics but also to get to know the face and character of the sitter. She then take the photos which, depending on the number of people to be photographed, usually takes 1-2 hours. Having reviewed the photos and noted any particular favourites, after returning to the studio, Harriet sends some options to discuss which ones work best. This process is critical, as it is very important that everyone is happy with the starting image. Commissions take up to 3-4 months to complete, depending on scale.

Carl Melegari Carl explores how the physicality of the paint combined with the density of pigment can give a sense of life radiating from the canvas, as if to evoke the vigour of the human form. Through the veils of layers, achieved by continuously accumulating and scraping back the paint, a figure emerges as if to suggest how the subject itself has become enveloped and partly obscured by the energy of the paint. He often uses a muted palette to replicate a sense of isolation and seclusion. He then applies paint liberally and without reserve, allowing it to drip spontaneously to both literally and symbolically mirror the personality of the sitter.

Emily Kirby Emily’s primary aim is to explore techniques in which to portray people in a free and powerful way, in a celebration of their identity. Born into a family of artists in Zambia, Emily has always been concerned with the study of people, finding the figure to be a landscape in itself and people’s emotions an invigorating challenge to capture. The use of the quick drying qualities of acrylic paint on canvas or linen is allows Emily to work quickly with a vital energy, enabling her to layer and repaint. A loose style and bold colour combinations have become a defining aspect of her work.

Alice Jones Alice describes fleeting moments of her sleep movements in a dream-like manner. There is a play between the delicacy and intensity of fine detail within her work, which when viewed from a distance intrigues the viewer to look closer. An ongoing investigation into the human figure and its environment has led her to capture elements of sleep, referencing analytical data and her own feelings. She uses different tones of coloured pencil on a black pigment ground to reflect and reveal the confusion of what we remember and what is truly forgotten.

Richard Twose Richard has a remarkable talent for seeing beyond the surface and extracting the complex characteristics of people. Through using his daughter and her friends as models, we see evidence of this in familiar contradictions of teenage confidence, angst, and vulnerability. Incorporated in many of Richard’s portraits are parallel stories influenced by mythology. This subtle introduction of symbols and creatures provides a unique way of reflecting the visible and hidden personality of his subjects.

Russell Oliver Russell looks at people through many different lenses. He comments on his early childhood experience in the dark ‘Portrait of Dead Self’, where he sits on a tombstone considering the collection of dead ravens at his feet. He looks through the eyes of teenage girls in a provacative group scene where they are presented as living dead, reflecting the teenagers’ apparent attitude to their lives. In many of his portraits we are presented with a hidden identity, as the intricate detail in unimportant data becomes the prominent feature, masking the face and leaving us to answer the questions.

Stewart Young Stewart’s metal constructions are a unique style of portrait. He refers to them as dual image portraits because of the primary and secondary images created. The primary image is figurative and appears in the form of a shadow, the secondary image is abstract and contains the shape that casts the shadow. This abstract shape may also have painting or engraving that acts as a piece of art in its own right. The shadow is usually cast by artificial light source although ghost shadows are also generated from natural light source. Stewart’s preferred material is stainless steel that is laser cut to construct the image.

Paul Bennett Paul aims to create a sense of intimacy between the viewer and the painting. He wants the experience to feel slightly detached and by doing so create tension and awareness. The figure is slightly abstracted, stylised and displaced, in a way that provokes the viewer to sever any personal connection with the subject. It then leaves us to interpret what we will from the painting and take away our own ideas on what is seen and experienced.

Paul Fenwick Paul produces some elements of his portraits directly from life but also realises the inherent restrictions in this process alone. Through working at a distance from his subject, using photographs and sketches, and eventually some more imagined features, the resulting paintings were somehow more true. Capturing the spirit of the person in front of him is Paul’s first aim, but the traditional set up of artist and sitter can become artificial and produce limited results. He believes that a portrait has more life the less it relies on traditional representational technique.

Peter Bullen The relationship between artists and model often influences life portraiture. Peter’s paintings portray two different experiences. In Peter’s life studies the model poses for him over many sittings and the result is often influenced by the relationship that builds. Peter adds conversation to the visual learning to create a personal interpretation of his subject. Painting from photography, Peter creates a more literal visual presentation but still uses his unique style to create an original portrait. In addition to the bold and striking oil paintings, Peter also creates sensitive portraits using pastels and chalk.

Patrick Palmer Whilst an element of realism is important, Patrick tries to move beyond artistic convention and avoid an image that is too predictable. “Realism is not enough - what you take away and what you add to what you see are what transform a picture into art. The decisions and selections you make allow you to express the personality into a picture, this distinguishes it from mere photographic representation. I believe that the viewer wants to see a degree of draughtsmanship from an artist but they want and deserve more than this. I want my pictures to touch people personally and to be considered works of beauty�.

Harry Simmonds Spontaneous, improvised, and unpredictable. Harry uses a multitude of unusual techniques to create unique images of portraits. In his ‘grid’ paintings, Harry only allows split second glimpses of his model to create small components of the final work. Each part is painted individually and in isolation. When completed, the components are assembled to show an unforeseen image that is edited to form the final view of the portrait. In this process, the important memorable elements are retained, whilst discarding the waste of conformity.

We hope you enjoyed our catalogue. To discuss any of the content, or for any other enquiry about the gallery please contact us using the details below. 159-161 Hotwell Road Bristol BS8 4RY 05603 116753


Portrait artists at View Art Gallery

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