Every face speaks a multitude
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“I find faces endlessly fascinating, constantly changing, from one moment to the next revealing and masking who we are. It all started with Beethoven. “Do another, do another”, my art teacher instructed blithely, and on the sixth or seventh try, a portrait of Beethoven emerged that seemed to speak of ‘Beethoven’. And then came another, and another, different ‘Beethovens’, but nonetheless ‘Beethoven’.
What surprised me at the time was that all these Beethovens were based on the same image. And after all these years, I still enjoy making paintings from a single image and seeing what comes up. For instance, one photograph produced a series of portraits in which the person appears to age fifty years. In painting a face – or indeed any object – numerous times, the physical likeness becomes, for me, subservient to something more essential that can surface if allowed. Faces can contain ambiguity, contradictions, hints of emotions, memories, tensions; and often, an existential questioning. Capturing the questioning, the subtlety of feelings barely seen, or an intense pile-up of emotion, is what absorbs me and keeps me at it.”