By: Camille Tibaldeo
On March 1, 2018, as New York City geared up for an impending nor’easter, an appreciative crowd put aside weather concerns to join us in celebrating the opening of About Face. This group exhibition showcases a striking array of recent portraits created by Gallery artists working in a variety of mediums. Included in the mix are portrait subjects ranging from known to unknown: Among those “known” to us are a host of cultural icons, and – closer to home – Fountain House members.
Fountain House portraits by Byran Michael Greene
About Face is curated by independent art historian and curator Sasha Nicholas, who serves on the Fountain House Gallery Advisory Board. Sasha said about the show, "Portraits are a fascinating subject in today's culture. They are everywhere and inspire incredible creative invention, but we seldom pause to think about how complicated it is to make a portrait. Looking at the work of the six featured artists in this show gives us a chance to do just that. Their portraits offer rich, sensitive responses to the individuals they depict, but they also raise profound questions. On a personal note, it has been thrilling to work on this show, which feels like a second chapter to an exhibition of self-portraits I curated at Fountain House Gallery more than 10 years ago. It's a privilege to collaborate with this talented community of artists.”
The six artists featured in this show make images that record the likeness of an individual. At the same time, they transform this process into a springboard for creative invention. Using expressive brushwork, distorted form, vivid color, and other experimental techniques, these artists insist that portraiture is a subjective endeavor. Some, like Bryan Michael Greene, capture personal responses to close friends and intimates. Others, like Martin Cohen, Marina Marchand, and Gary Peabody, evoke the various ways we project our desires and dreams onto pop culture icons. Still others, including Anthony Newton and Barry Senft, depict fictitious people who appear startlingly real. Collectively, these works demonstrate that a portrait represents not simply an individual, but a complex encounter between an artist and their subject.
Ray of Light by Martin Cohen
As a special project for About Face, Fountain House Gallery artists created self-portraits to be hung together in a group installation. Emphasizing self-expression over faithful likeness, the more than 30 self-portraits on view follow the exhibition’s theme and testify to the diverse array of voices in this creative community.
About Face will remain on view through April 11, 2018.