Portraiture has the ability to create connections with viewers through their familiarity. However, often times they only portray themselves the way they want to be seen. Physical appearances only define the idealized self. My current body of work challenges that idea by representing both the subject’s staged persona (their “ideal”) alongside their hidden, inner realities they often hide away.
My paintings reveal that capturing the essence of a sitter has nothing to do with conveying an exterior resemblance, but instead involves viewers to delve deeper into the subject’s life and mind to unveil their hidden, inner realities. With the multi-sided canvas, I created multiple worlds for my subjects that reside beyond the world that I know and understand, in order to ask viewers to look past appearances and to discover hidden facets of the subjects. The same way we present ourselves in society the way we want to be seen, this body of work is about looking, and being looked at. I put viewers in a position of power with the small scale of my work, allowing them to take on the role of society and cast their judgmental gazes on my painted figures. But, by using myself in my paintings, I take control of the gaze’s agency and put myself out there to be looked at. Using myself in a variety of personas shows how identity can be fluid, as mine is throughout this body of work.
Through the process of veiling and unveiling figures, I conceal parts of a perceived identity, while revealing an interiority of the self. I reveal the omnipresence of a social mask, while also enticing viewers to find the essence of an individual’s identity. As my paintings deconstruct identity, they also rebuild the figures and challenge viewers to look beyond the façade. By employing the same degree of realism to the exterior and interior selves, my paintings ask viewers to question what is real and what is not. In some cases, the interior reality may be more telling than the external one.