In Eye Contact, contemporary figurative paintings from PAFA's permanent collection explore the concept of the gaze, and are arranged in this installation according to the subject's gaze. Reflect upon Kukuli Velarde's unyielding stare, Judith Linhares's nude couple looking skyward, or Barkley L. Hendricks's use of sunglasses to deny eye contact.
The concept of the gaze was developed by feminist film theorists in the 1970s exploring the dominance of masculine, heterosexual perspectives in visual art. The artists of Eye Contact use this concept of “othering” or “male” gaze to turn the gaze back on the viewer, to their own paintings and interior thoughts, or to the 19th-century masterpieces situated on the gallery's opposing walls.
“Many of the works on display are artist self-portraits—a strength of PAFA’s collection,” said Jodi Throckmorton, PAFA’s Curator of Contemporary Art. “The artists are making a statement about portraiture—how we see and judge ourselves and each other.”