Face Value

JoAnne Artman Gallery
Mar 14, 2019 7:01PM

Throughout history, conventional portraiture has aimed to render and convey a person’s physical likeness and individual essence. Challenging this tradition by obscuring or disguising their subjects, artists Anna Kincaide, Pedro Bonnin, Ray Turner, and Brooke Shaden create portraits that demonstrate the flexibility and complexities of identity. Addressing the figure in terms of space, context, and composition, the absence of facial details turns the viewer’s eye to other focal points within each composition. Exploring the duality of public appearance and private experience in constructing identity, these works investigate the roles embodied and presented to society.

Communicating emotion and narrative with limited assistance from her figure's facial expressions, artist Anna Kincaide creates cascades of flowers that cover her subjects to explore anonymity and transformation. Headless and bursting forth with florals, Kincaide’s figures showcase the idea of ambiguity between our bodies, identities, and thoughts. Through control and spontaneous disruption, she conveys femininity, confidence, beauty, and mystique.

Using pose and gesture to enhance and enliven his portraits, Pedro Bonnin demonstrates his knowledge of anatomy and his skill as a painter. Obscuring the faces of his subjects through their positioning and sunglasses, Bonnin maintains a sense of mystery and hidden attentions. His distinctive, suspended figures express drama, passion, attitude, and individualism all with concealed identity.

Pushing the boundaries of form, texture, mark making, and symbolism, Ray Turner’s portraits correlate to his devotion to line and form, while developing a complex language of pictorial cues and human expression. Visually prioritizing the brush strokes and shapes of the human face, emphasis is placed on the artistry of Turner’s rendering, capturing the essence of the subject rather than an immediate connection to distinctive facial features or recognition of the figure’s identity.

Photographer Brooke Shaden’s portraits are filled with psychological intensity. Capturing her subjects with vulnerability in their poses, Shaden reflects an emotional, and transformed image that reflects the beauty and darkness of human nature. Establishing a real human connection, her figure in Unformed emerges from a thick, syrupy substance. Metaphorically rising from the darkness to be born anew, the compositional focus is placed on the figure’s relation to her environment and the implied narrative rather than on human likeness or facial expression.

Diversely representing themes of expression, perception, and self, these unconventional portraits suggest the variety of ways we choose to conceal and reveal facets of ourselves.

JoAnne Artman Gallery