Illuminating the relevance of self-portraiture, Stranger at Flowers Gallery examines the practice’s aesthetic value through each individual’s varied approach to self-representation. Each work illustrates an intimate conversation between the artist and the canvas, an exploration into self-perception through painting and drawing. Including a range of artists, those featured are Noah Becker, Tony Bevan, Aleah Chapin, David Hepher, Nicola Hicks and many more.
Back in 1987, Edward Lucie-Smith and Sean Kelly curated an exhibition at Flowers Gallery that focused on the importance of the self-portrait within an artist’s practice. The exhibition featured over 60 artists and included works by Ian Breakwell, Elisabeth Frink, David Hockney, Peter Blake and Eduardo Paolozzi.
This summer Flowers Gallery revisits the contemporary role of self-portraiture. Curated by Isabel Bingley, the primary aim of Stranger is to elevate the status of painting through the challenge of the self-portrait. Although the concept for Stranger has been influenced by the traditional format of self-portraiture, the realisation of these artworks has been left to the selected artists’ interpretation. From the consciously literal to the nostalgic, they experiment with their own reinvention.
All of the featured paintings have been completed over the past year, meaning each work is representative of the artists’ current objectives. In the past, the self-portrait was often used as a reference or educational tool; an honest depiction of an artist that reflected the environment in which he or she existed. The contemporary approach is slightly different, as demonstrated in Tom Phillips’ Doppelganger, where the traditional lone figure is accompanied by his “other self”. Ishbel Myerscough paints her daughter obscuring her own form and John Kirby’s figure references Britain’s final execution at Pentonville Prison and remains faceless. As such the modern manifestations focus on interpretation rather than truth in their work.
Stranger, 5 July – 31 August, Flowers Gallery, 82 Kingsland Road, London E2 8DP
1. End Game, 2013© John Kirby, courtesy Flowers Gallery, London.