MarbellaIt’s Not Just A Portrait
Jonni Cheatwood, Matthew Eguavoen, Iván Forcadell, Amir H Fallah, Margaux Henry-Thieullent, Alexander James and Lucía Tello
When it comes to people, I realized that I have so much to talk about (and to write about it), from the way that we look to others, how we dress, the utilization of accessories, and the body. Starting with the contact through the hands when shaking them and ending up with the gaze that is able to transmit more than the words.
I will start from that first glance. This exhibition gathers a selection of paintings from artists coming from different countries, backgrounds, and cultures. In all of those artworks, the artist confronts himself with the portrait of two different patrons, the self-portrait and the portrait of the others and the personal gaze is always present. From family members as we can see in the portrait of James’ grandmother to the unknown personage by Cheatwood, passing by the paintings of Eguavoen in which he reflects on the slavery and the dilution of the history of his own country.
The portrait has always been an important player in art, from the self-portraits made in ancient Egypt, and the Middle Age to the Renaissance when it came to fame thanks to the large diffusion of the requests made by the royal families. It was somehow, a way to have a reminder for the future, to conserve a long-lasting photograph of a person but in a very unique manner. In every portrait, the artist has his own choices about what to show and how to position the subject. In most cases, if the subject is present, through the portrait we can know how the subject wanted to be depicted, or how the artist wanted to depict him/her.
There’s no possibility of finding a neutral portrait, I have been told, and it’s truly said. I pop-in at Lucía Tello’s studio, where the influence of surrealism and the toy world (where femininity values are present) took me to “Fetiche”, the work by her that is currently at the group show. Who is? are you? is someone you know? Lucía denies with the head. It’s a person created in her mind that has a large earring and that she loves it. Thus, she has built the face around it, the painting can take us to other people we met, to memories starting from neutral and becoming someone in our minds. This unknown earring carrier is placed within the gallery space looking towards Margaux painting. That once for all mixes the utilization of the pictorial language (in some parts with a digital approach) portraying a contemporary couple in full digestion of the news. Positioning them in a time when the entire world is engaged by the screens. A painting that inevitably has influences from the Picassian portraits and that takes us to a very familiar environment, especially for our proximity to Málaga.
Without going far from the familiar environment and indeed, the personages that take part, we stop by the paintings by Alexander where he seeks to explore how identities are created and subsequently shaped in the contemporary world. Artworks that have been created through the process of remembering faces, gestures, and photographs and always considering the relevance of the identity that can be connected with our mind through the traits. Those identities that he uses could be seen by different language in the body of work of Cheatwood where he simplifies the body down to the clothing and the hair of the subject. His portrayal of emotions appears in the mess of colorful lines in the face of those subjects. Again, the artist makes us think about the identity of the person that is behind that “amalgam” of colors. I couldn’t see any painting by Jonni with a face as we know them and I understood the task of finding one is the duty of the viewer. That can see the personal experiences from different points of view from the black portraits created by Matthew in which he speaks about specific difficulties of his home country to the personal affective relations that Iván addresses in his paintings speaking about how he sees the people around him and the interactions with them. Combining different techniques from painting to collage and even including found items, the utilization of the color palette is ongoing research that for him plays an important role.
The exhibition concludes with a portrait of Amir H. Fallah with a work where we find symbols and characters that take advantage of ambiguity to skillfully weave reality and fiction, while questioning how to create a portrait without representing the physicality of the model. The stories surrounding her themes are deeply personal and told through the intimate possessions they hold most dear, her work addresses generational experiences of movement, trauma, and celebration of immigrants. Fallah wryly incorporates historical references to Western art into paintings formally rooted in the pattern-based visual language of Islamic art.
Remembering the portraits generating new formalizations is the essence of this exhibition.
Courtesy of Badr El Jundi, Marbella