Likeness is an exhibition of busts – aka human heads and upper torsos – which complicate traditional notions of portraiture by acting as palimpsests for various identities. Although the form of the bust is unmistakable, particular likenesses are abstracted, contorted or omitted entirely. The works in this exhibition refer to classical busts or portraits, but are functionally closer to prehistoric modes of figuration, depicting groups or classes as opposed to specific individuals.
Anonymity is an anomaly in an era of selfies, avatars and facial recognition software. Heads and faces are documented, catalogued and broadcast at speed, enhancing our own predisposition to recognize faces, anthropomorphize everyday objects, and express ourselves through emojis. In an increasingly narcissistic culture, it’s refreshing to see busts, an atavistic form, as vehicles for humanistic ideas.
Amy Bessone (b. 1970, New York, NY). Her ceramic torsos of women are charged in their duality, performing as both monuments to the female form and critiques of objectification.
Vidya Gastaldon (b. 1974, Besançon, France) paints disembodied busts of divine beings, more Redon than Rodin, their eyes permeating through layers of semi-opaque, ethereal paint.
Trenton Doyle Hancock (b. 1974, Oklahoma City, OK). His works – ostensibly self-portraits – blend sci-fi, horror, and grotesque caricature into a complex, dreamlike narrative which extends well beyond autobiography.
Maren Karlson (b. 1988, Rostock, Germany). Her psychedelic paintings depict realms devoid of men, inhabited entirely by female witches, spirits and ghouls.
Lucy Kim (b. 1978, Seoul, Korea) complicates traditional portraiture by creating molds of the physique of different professionals, such as a geneticist and plastic surgeon. Their forms are stretched, warped, and flattened into wall relief, a liminal space between painting and sculpture.
José Lerma (b. 1971, Seville, Spain) makes “portraits” of historical bankers and politicians that are completely abstracted into globs of acrylic paint and caulk, serving as anti-monuments to famous capitalists.
Jean-Luc Moulène (b. 1955, Reims, France) creates tronches or “heads” resemble crude antiquities but are actually derived from artifacts of pop culture; in this case, a bloated head of comic villain Dr. Doom cast in concrete from a Halloween mask.
Woody De Othello (b. 1991, Miami, FL). His ceramics anthropomorphize everyday objects and isolated body parts into strange, humorous character studies.
Christina Ramberg (b. 1946, Ft. Campbell, KY). Her historically rich sketchbook drawings depict women’s heads enveloped in tightly wound braids or torsos bound in corsets.
Lui Shtini (b. 1978, Kavaje, Albania) makes mysterious paintings that read like classical court portraiture, if Rococo hair had swarmed the sitter’s face and dissolved facial features into geometric chins, collars and coiffure.