The Masks We Wear

JoAnne Artman Gallery
Jun 15, 2019 4:39PM

In working with the human figure, artists take on numerous approaches to focus on facial features, expression, pose, and small details that provide information about the subject’s character, personality and personal history. In the works of Anna Kincaide and Brooke Shaden, both artists break from convention within the portraiture genre, opting to obscure and mask the faces of their figures. Utilizing the figure symbolically within their compositions, Kincaide and Shaden address the figure in terms of space, context, and composition, while omitting facial details that would cement their work as traditional portraiture. Raising questions of identity, concealment, mystique, and femininity, the absence of facial detail turns the eye to other focal points within the work, as Kincaide and Shaden play upon viewer expectations of the figurative genre.

Exploring the complexities associated with female identity and our relationships with society, Kincaide and Shaden literally and symbolically mask their figures. Alluding to the metaphorical masks we choose and then present to the world, their respective works touch on the extensive ways we hide, conceal, and protect ourselves against vulnerability and criticism. Investigating this idea of masks, and often how difficult it is to recognize and break free of them, Kincaide and Shaden’s works demonstrate a break from convention, acceptance, and conformity that is echoed by both their subject matter and technique.

“Through this series and examining identity, it is easy to believe that we can choose one identity for another; that we can swap masks as we please. I seek to naturally shift faces, to naturally become a new person throughout my journey for each new phase. Those identities grow within; I am the seed, my masks sprouting as from my gut, internal, awakening.” Brooke Shaden explains.

Yet despite some of the darker elements, the tone of Shaden’s new body of work maintains a sense of optimism and a playful lightness. Aptly titled, her current New York show, Begin Again, depicts a rebirth of self. Alluding to a reimagined future, reevaluated preconceptions, and a reinvention of the artistic process, Shaden thoroughly explores the idea of renewal and self-awakening.

Communicating emotion and narrative with limited assistance from her figure’s facial expressions, 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. Incorporating elements of fashion photography and contemporary socio- cultural emblems of status and identity, her figures define the separation between body and mind. Through control and spontaneous disruption, she conveys femininity, confidence, beauty, and mystique.

Begin Again: Featuring Brooke Shaden

Now on View at JoAnne Artman Gallery, New York

Flirting with Abstraction: Featuring Anna Kincaide and Matt Devine

Now on View at JoAnne Artman Gallery, Laguna Beach

JoAnne Artman Gallery