why so many Self portraits?
I often get asked why I draw so many self portraits. This is usually a loaded question said in jest, with implications of my own vanity. The truth is rather the contrary. There are a multitude of reasons why I have always felt inclined to use my self as my own muse. For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by prolific artists that specialised in self portraits; Philip Ackermann and Frida Kahlo immediately come to mind as very early influences since my school days.
Spending several hours meticulously focusing on depicting the shapes, lines & contours of your face directly onto a piece of paper, force you to truly and unequivocally accept who are. Facing your flaws in this intimately unique way ultimately enables self acceptance; especially considering the entirely different lifespan and significance the work acquires once it’s left the studio and hung on gallery walls - left to be interpreted in any which way the viewer feels.
Maintaining artistic integrity is of paramount importance to me, my works must be honest - freed from self flattery. Embracing imperfections in this way is integrally necessary as all of the self portraits I produce are representative of a conceptual narrative apropos to identity (such as themes of masculinity, vulnerability & ethnic empowerment). Most recently, I have used the rhetoric of re-imagined past experiences with a surrealist approach to explicitly convey the aforementioned ideologies informing the work.
Though still in the early years of my career, I can already take a step back and look at past works and I am immediately brought back to a specific place and time in my life relative to when any given portrait was made. These visceral moments of hindsight or nostalgia can in turn inform future works, allowing me to observe the perspective of exactly what kind of artist/person I want to be, questioning the intentions behind my pragmatic approach and hopefully leading to more impactful works.
Depicting my vulnerabilities in the work can be difficult at times but the positive feedback that I’ve received over the course of my career, with people reaffirming the fact my works have resonated with them and that, even at times brief, human connection reassures me that the purpose of the work is justified and viable. This "validation" has been furthered with the incredibly humbling response from collectors who are of similar backgrounds or upbringings as myself, that have acquired works that are of a profound sentiment to me.
With all of that said, I think Frida Kahlo put it best, “I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.”