Winston Wächter Fine Art, New York is pleased to present Unconventional Portraiture, an online group exhibition including works by Deb Achak, Alicia Brown, Sally Gall, Vik Muniz, Ethan Murrow, Tony Scherman, Peter Waite, Margeaux Walter, and Robert Wilson.
Portraiture was created as a way of recording the appearance of a person. With time, portraits have evolved to encompass a variety of ways to depict many subjects. This exhibition explores different examples of portraiture being used in both traditional and unconventional ways.
In works by Sally Gall and Vik Muniz, the female gaze is captured. Sally Gall’s photograph, Linda, Florida, 1978, taken on black and white film, takes a more traditional approach to portraiture. Gall captures the subject deep in her own thoughts gracefully wading in a body of water. In contrast, Vik Muniz, known for his recreations of historical artworks with unusual materials, depicts actress Ava Gardner using hundreds of diamonds, as she stares gracefully back at the viewer.
Robert Wilson explores portrait through videos that include numerous references to mythology, art history, and popular culture. Snowy Owl, 2006 lends the viewer to insight on how the artist interprets subtle movements of the animal. In this work, Wilson references the owl in Greek mythology which was often associated with Athena, goddess of wisdom, arts, and skill. The “Owl of Athena” has been a symbol of knowledge and discernment throughout the Western world. Tony Scherman looks to the history and mythology of Ancient Rome as he portrays a bull in the guise of universal god of fertility, Young Baal, 2018. The piece is classical in composition, evoking chiaroscuro effects of Old Master paintings, yet the handling of the media is more akin to Modernist abstraction.
Peter Waite’s work, JP Morgan Sol LeWitt Museum Studies, 2020, sheds a different light on capturing portraiture by depicting a bust of JP Morgan as the focal point to his painting. The origin of the bust can be dated back to be a Hellenistic Greek invention as a way of remembering important people. Waite’s art is often site-specific, painting from a photograph taken of the location.
Alicia Brown’s works with portraiture to bring a focus to historical tensions of colonization. She dresses her muses in objects such as collars, hair, pearls, spoons and lace that act as symbols of restriction and royalty/high society. Brown juxtaposes these elements with figures that highlight the ongoing class struggles in society. In her pieces, Specimen from Paradise #1, 2018 and Specimen from Paradise #5, 2018 shows two children drawn with incredible detail framed by a delicate silver painted doily.
Deb Achak, Ethan Murrow, and Margeaux Walter focus on the body language of their subjects rather then the face. In Deb Achak’s work, she explores the metaphysical and emotional link between the human and natural world. In Local Girl with Flowers, 2020, Achak captures a girl floating underwater with her face hidden behind moving flower petals. Ethan Murrow’s Reasonable Risk, 2019, drawn with graphite, shows his subject leaning back gripping a rope in a firm stance with no hesitation to the risk that may be ahead. This character from Murrow’s series, American Commerce, goes to great lengths to collect their arbitrary treasures, yet they remain completely oblivious to the harm they instill on the environment or their impact on native communities. Margeaux Walter’s work borders between reality and fantasy with touches of social satires. The piece In Grown, 2020, shows a woman in a monochromatic grey room hunched so far over her laptop that her face is covered. The only traces of color in the room come from the scattered green of the plants.