Archive for the ‘Practice in Context’ Category

Chuck Close once said, “Are you looking at me?  I’m the only one here.  So I painted myself.[1]”  This quote is a statement about his painting style and what I believe the artist wants to portray with his imagery.  Within this essay I will discuss the context surrounding this statement and how it relates to Close’s style and methodology.

To this artist the person posing for his portrait is not his only focus.  To demonstrate this we need to look closer to the painting in figure 1.  You find the overall image begins to blur and lose clarity, but are then surprised to see all the individual frames that make up this painting, and that each of these frames is an entity with its own space.  They make a statement that they should be there and do have a value in their own right.  In an interview Close once said, “From the beginning (what I) wanted to do was mitigate against the standard hierarchy of the portrait”[2].  Simply put, he wanted the subject of the portrait to be no more important than the process by which the painting itself was completed – all parts are to be equal.  This is the context that surrounds Close’s works and practice.

[1] David Tseklenis Chuck Close-a portrait in progress.  1

[2] Engberg S and Grynsztejn M Navigating the Self , 2

I found this youtube rendition of an interview with Chuck Close great.

The first connection to my essay and my last blog is with the video image itself, the way it is replicating his style of painting by digitalising the moving image. As Close moves in the video, the digitalised image moves, keeping pace and constantly changing. The black and white imagery is much bolder than if it had been in colour and provides much more contrast. It is amazing that by taking the focus out of the video, you lean back in your chair and listen harder to what is actually been said. I believe Close would have been pleased with this outcome, as he would liken to his initial desire to make all parts of his paintings to have the same importance – or – that no part is any more important than another.

The second connection is in the interview itself.  Close is talking about his style, and how some have credited him with predating the computer with his digitalised paintings. He doesn’t discount the thought, and he comments that some of the interest in his works may actually be related to that idea.