In our selfie-obsessed 21st-century world, what is the meaning of the portrait, self or otherwise? Portraiture has long been its own genre in art, addressed in endless variations and styles, and self-portraits are nothing new as Kolman & Pryor Gallery investigates in its new exhibition, The Portrait Show.
Curated by gallery artist and co-owner, Patrick K. Pryor, The Portrait Show includes work by guest artists, Vesna Kittelson, Charlie Thysell, Aaron Putt, Leslie Barlow, and Julie Buffalohead. The exhibition opens February 23 and runs through Saturday, April 6 with an artist reception on Saturday, March 9, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
“This show provides us with an excellent opportunity to work with guest artists we love who are not on our regular roster of gallery artists,” says Pryor. “Because portraiture is an essential aspect of art history, we’re thrilled to focus on the genre with artists whose perceptions of portraiture vastly differ from one another.”
With this goal in mind, Pryor selected several paintings from Vesna Kittelson’s Young American Series. “It was important to me as an artist,” Kittelson says, “to allow images and faces to grow out of my thinking process, my memory, and references to the photographs I took of the young Americans. I was not motivated to make traditional pretty, flattering portraits of them. I wanted their ‘intelligence’ to be the primary content.” Each portrait was painted with oil on prepared paper, and then cut with a scissor to catch the essence of the image.
Charlie Thysell’s approach to portraiture values the universal over the specific. “Faces,” he says, “have been part of my practice since 1985, an ongoing and ever-changing challenge. I call these works ‘faces’ because they are not strictly portraiture. Though many are drawn from memories of people I’ve known, many more are illustrated compilations; the lingering evidence of strangers, traces of passers-by. And though my faces seldom portray anyone in particular, it is my hope that all are recognizable to everyone.”
Aaron Putt says his portrait work “relates to wider concerns regarding the aesthetics of our built environment. Creating two and three-dimensional sculpted and cast reproductions selected from various architectural sites across Atlanta, Georgia, I recombine figurative and ornamental architectural details into sculptural collages. These works seek to examine these often-ignored elements of our environment, and the sometimes competing historical and cultural narratives reflected in these forms.”
Finally, Leslie Barlow’s and Julie Buffalohead’s work reflect personal experiences and relationships. Barlow’s artwork is inherently political in its subject matter and approach. She often creates works depicting family, friends, and personal experiences to reflect the subtle and not-so-subtle integrations of these ideas into individual lives and identities. And Julie Buffalohead’s autobiographical work offers glimmers into her life as an artist, mother, and Native American.
Gallery co-owner, Anita Sue Kolman, is delighted to produce an exhibition that is tied to art’s long fascination with recording what people look like in new, exciting directions. “Our guest artists draw from their political and cultural histories, interior psychological landscapes, the world they notice around them, and an array of material and technical approaches to create variations on the genre that we hope will cause viewers to see themselves in new ways.”