Suggested Viewing/Reading: Portrait Edition

– Ever since the Obama’s portraits were unveiled, there has been a lot of public discourse around their likeness. I recently wrote about how the portraits are important in helping us to experience and connect to our personal/collective identities more repletely. Contemporary art takes time to comprehensively interpret and viewers need to consider the multiple facets and meanings of an artwork when viewing it. The lack of meaningful reflection from many critics of the Barack Obama’s portrait was the basis for Seph Rodney’s article about how many Americans seemingly struggle to engage with art. “The Obama portraits should not be the subjects of hot takes. They are designed to be viewed through the distance of time” writes Chiquita Paschal, who says that the fervor over the paintings shouldn’t come at the expense of critical dialogue.

– Benny Andrews was a great documenter of his era, which included a strong cast of artists, poets, writers, and musicians. Two of Andrews’ portraits featuring his contemporaries will be on view at Forum Gallery in the exhibition titled “Artists By Artists: The Artist as Subject.” The first portrait by Andrews is a mixed media collage and depicts an unidentified poet, while the second portrait, rendered in pen and ink, features the Soyer brothers (Raphael and Moses). The exhibition will be on view through February 24th at 475 Park Avenue at 57th Street.

– Pollock, a play by Fabrice Melquiot, presents a theatrical portrait of Jackson Pollock and his complex relationship with Lee Krasner. However, Paul David Young argues that the play actually upholds the mythos of the ‘heroic male painter’, and does so at the expense of Lee Krasner.

– There is a great profile piece in the New York Times about the San Francisco based artist Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who is the grandson of the founder of the Pakistan Peoples Party (P.P.P.). In his work, which is comprised of visual and performance based methodology, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto “explores the intersection of Islam, sexuality and masculinity.”


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