Facing my self portrait

I will be part of a three person exhibition coming up at the end of the month. The Art Gallery of Peel is in my childhood home town and the exhibition, entitled Points of Departure, features three artists: me, Phil Delisle, and Linda Martinello, who grew up in the region but have since moved away. We all find different points of departure for our work: portraiture is mine. The curator has asked me to include the self portrait I painted as part of my Dramatis Personae series.

Self portrait as director, oil on gessoed board, 16" x 20"

The portrait, painted on a piece of gessoed board, is now four years old, and has been languishing at the back of a stack of paintings in my studio. Today I pulled it out to consider how to frame it for the show. Facing an old self portrait always produces a bit of a Dorian Gray moment for me—except that it’s the flesh and blood me who’s changing. In this self portrait I was playing the role of a theatrical director so I tried to assume an expression of directorial authority. Looking at my other self portraits, though, it seems that my expression is always the same. Maybe the roles I try to project are all in my head. In any case, this exercise of reexamining an old self portrait with the objectivity of several intervening years is a bit strange. I remember the struggle for self-depiction and wanting to walk the line between self-flattery and self-deprecation. It’s always a fine line, no matter how we represent ourselves—in words, in paint, in facebook profiles. I’m sure I’ll paint many more self portraits over the course of my life—probably not with the same frequency as Rembrandt, but possibly with the same need to chronicle my own life and my painting style and ability in my changing face.

Points of Departure runs from February 25 – March 22 at the
Art Gallery of Peel located in the Peel Heritage Complex,
Wellington St. E.
Brampton, ON L6W 1Y1

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