The Painting Center is pleased to present About Face: Portraits in Paint & Clay from June 18 to July 13, 2019 with an opening reception on Thursday, June 20 from 6-8 pm. The exhibition is curated by Patricia Spergel and Shazzi Thomas and funded by a generous donation from the Caroline Lowndes Foundation.
In this age of social media overload and written interactions using emojis which often substitute for true face to face conversations, it is most definitely a refreshing change of pace to stand in front of a work of art that insists upon engagement. Faces are a primal subject matter and traditional portrait painting has been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Yet making a portrait, be it observational or abstracted, of a human or an animal, with paint, pigment, clay or wax, can seem like a revolutionary act in 2019.
The phrase “About Face” has several meanings—it can straightforwardly refer to something about the face; or it can be a command given to soldiers to tell them to physically turn around and face the other way. Idiomatically it can mean a complete, sudden change of direction, position, opinion, principle or attitude. While this exhibition is intended to literally be “about faces”, it’s hard not to read any work with the subtext of the charged political environment. When one experiences a painting or a sculpture “face to face”, as opposed to seeing it on a screen, subtleties emerge much in the same way that speaking to someone in person rather than on the phone allows the conversation to include facial cues, tilts of the head, which can make the reading of emotions more clear.
The artists in the exhibition are: Dasha Bazanova, Jeff Bliumis, Alexandra Rutsch Brock, Deborah Brown, Pam Butler, Susanna Coffey, Kyle Coniglio, Donna Festa, Kyle Hackett, Ryan Michael Ford, Barbara Friedman, Lavaughan Jenkins, Catherine Kehoe, Aubrey Levinthal, and Elise Siegel.