A fundamental theme in the History of Art has been how the human being represents himself. Since the beginning of artistic manifestations we have felt the need to represent ourselves, hence one of the most recurrent genres is the portrait.
The pictorial portrait has a long tradition in art, but what happens when the mechanism that has traditionally fulfilled its function disappears: the realistic representation of a person. Portraying someone does not only mean accurately representing the physical features of their face, but it must represent their interior. Get to show through color and drawing the psychology of the person and his soul. For this, many times we must destroy the mask that hides our interior, showing the most intimate and personal self. For this reason, we ask the new contemporary portrait to be a work of art full of meanings, to provide a subjective gaze, even distorted and violent. A transformation of the genre more uncertain and unstable than ever. Turning the face into an enigma and a battlefield.
Although the saying "the face is the mistress's mirror" is the most popular, several studies contradict this maxim, inverting it and affirming that it is the face that is reflected in the soul. According to photographer Pierre Gonnord (1963), "the face is not the mirror of the soul, but the map of our life". If we modify our physiognomy we could lose the original identity. And that fear of losing our identity increases as a result of the speed of the times in which we live; aware that relationships with people and material belongings do not last long. A speed reflected in the technological context in which we are currently immersed, where an aesthetic of the posthuman is sharpened. Concepts such as genetic manipulation, robotics or artificial intelligence have modified the practice of portraiture, which has been affected by a present of vertiginous changes.
The loss of the face is an exhibition that invites us to reflect on issues that are absolutely relevant today, such as identity, the ideal of beauty, memory or gender. Through an investigation of interiority and expressiveness that is reflected in the disfiguration, deconstruction and transformation of subjective identity. Fluid, fragile and dark portraits that return our gaze, after having ceased to be a territory of identification and evidence.
The portraits in this exhibition reveal more about the author than about the portrayed person, hidden identities that are very much like a self-portrait. Irene Pérez (1996, Santander) portrays universal emotions and feelings in her paintings. It makes visible through abstraction the imperceptible before our eyes in the figure of the portrait. A chaotic mental state that is transformed into a pictorial scene that seeks to make the viewer feel identified. Pieces that not only deal with a physical appearance, but also with a possible hidden reality that is present in each one of us. Those portrayed by Marco Prieto (Madrid, 1992) are characterized by being painted with blows. His work reflects on the use of violence in painting and the material possibilities it offers. He replaces the brushstroke as a personal gesture, with the blow as a primitive, violent and transversal gesture in the human being. This use of violence and its consequent unpredictability within the pictorial framework allow him to break the boundaries of the concrete and expand the limits. On this occasion, to the impacts and blows, the strength of the fluorescent color is added. Henrik Uldalen's (1986, South Korea) pieces revolve around classical figurative painting, presented in a contemporary way. Exploring ideas that revolve around the absurd, nostalgia, loneliness and alienation, juxtaposed with fragile beauty. Paintings with an emotional content that fuse dreamlike atmospheres with expressionist elements. Santiago Pani (1990, Mexico) is inspired by anonymous characters and memories of people stored in our subconscious throughout our lives. Anonymous visitors who return to our minds while we are awake or asleep, to influence our story once again. A work that constantly questions and crosses the invisible line where abstraction and realism meet. Daniel Martin's Kinetic mass series (1982, The Hague) began as an exploration of new ways of building bridges between the traditional and digital art worlds. Abstract portraits that are physically created like traditional paintings, layered digitally through augmented reality. Thanks to this technology, the digital layers can be seen through a smartphone, making a mix between our physical and digital realities.
Portraits that offer us a disfigured realism wrapped in a disturbing atmosphere, while the figuration is invaded by layers of abstraction charged with emotions. An imperfect representation of beauty and feelings, which shows us the need to rethink identity, gender and face the loss of the face.
Óscar García García