Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Self-Portraits: An All-Star Gathering at Figureworks

My friend Stephanie had always wanted to explore Brooklyn, and what better way to do so than a gallery tour? Armed with smartphone apps NY ArtBeat ($1.99, absolute essential app for art lovers, including galleries and openings around the NY area) and Art & Absinthe Guide to Brooklyn (free, with whimsical artwork and cocktail recipes), we roamed around Williamsburg on one cold January Sunday. Out of the 5 or so galleries we visited, I enjoyed The Self-Portraits exhibit at FigureWorks the most. The friendly owner Randall was kind to share stories of the artists and works with us.

Figureworks Gallery

168 North 6th Street
Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Sat / Sun 1-6pm (also check schedule for 2nd Fridays in Brooklyn)
Self Portraits Exhibit runs through March 3, 2013
All Images courtesy of Figureworks [harris@figureworks.com], taken with my iphone 4S.

Elim Mak – heart illumination


This one immediately caught my eye because it reminded me of traditional Chinese watercolors. The silver lines of the fierce tiger profile and the soft brushstrokes create a fine contrast. The heart illustration (veins and all) is straight out of a science class but doesn’t seem out of place in this composition. Fun fact: she also does comic books! [artist link]

Howard Eisman – Portrait of a Renaissance Man


Steph and I were fascinated with this piece and Randall was able to help us piece the whole thing together. The artist uses this medium for his normal works. So it makes sense for his self-portrait to reflect his medium. While it looks like it could be translucent, the entire work is actually quite heavy. You have to look closer at the real thing (this photo doesn’t do justice) to see different aspects of life that he included inside the colorful collage. Some of his other works do not have the wooden backboard, so you can imagine an abstract form floating on the wall.
[artist link]

Fred Hatt – Self Portrait


Randall said that Fred (the artist) looks exactly like this self-portrait. At a meet-and-greet event, most gallery visitors were able to recognize him. I haven’t attended an event yet but you can view a photo of the artist on his website. In the gallery, there is a video of the creative process on display next to this portrait. Steph and I were both surprised to see how the artist worked his way through the picture, without actually outlining the face first. He went straight to the eyes with blue outlines, before the beard and mouths were even formed. [artist link]

Other Notes

There were many other self-portraits of different mediums and stories. I wonder if Randall will publish a catalogue of the different pieces along with their stories. The reason why I called the title of the show “all-stars” is because most of the artists had already had their own shows at FigureWorks. If you think about it, a gallery usually features one or two artists at a time. This show is actually a great way to meet 50 artists all at once and learn about their styles and stories.

This exhibit also made me ponder what my self-portrait would look like. Probably a mix of maps/city photos/music, a multimedia experience. When I wrote about my “welcome corner” [blog entry], Steph did say it was a way to reflect my personality. Maybe subconsciously I was already starting to make my own self-portrait.

What medium and materials would you use to make your self-portrait? If you need inspiration, check out the show at Figureworks.

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