Portraiture dates back to the maths-inventing, pyramid-building and medicine-experimenting days of ancient Egypt, where artists used portraits to depict the power and importance of their subjects. Although nowadays we’re constantly armed with the ability to photograph our subjects, this doesn’t diminish portraiture’s potency in the contemporary art world.
The function of a portrait in art is not only to appropriate someone’s face onto canvas, but also to convey the very essence of their identity.
Here’s how to to give your home the facial it deserves.
1. Keep it cool
The gentle sfumato technique used in Olga Bez’s portrait delicately exposes a sense of vulnerability in her subject, inviting the viewer to share her captivating gaze. Bez perfectly captures those fleeting looks exchanged with strangers throughout the day, freezing something so familiar into a work of art.
We Recommend: The cool colour palette and romantic spirit of Bez’s portrait makes it the perfect addition to a room intended for relaxation and contemplation. Powerful enough to stand alone, or tender enough to add to a gallery wall with some minimalist or nature paintings, this painting would be ideal in your sleeping space.
The bright tones and dynamic range of media used in Davide Damato’s painting would make it optimal for a high-impact statement piece. If you want the wow factor for you and your guests, then a piece that incorporates a vibrant colour scheme, range of shapes and infinite details is what you need.
We Recommend: This piece is certainly intended to be the focal point of the room, so try placing it in a position that allows you to admire every nuance of the piece, such as a dining room or living room. Setting the painting against darker furniture will also create a striking, modern look.
3. The one to draw you in
Inessa Healy’s hyper-realistic charcoal piece exudes elegance, powerfully capturing the intensity and depth of her subject. The incredible detail will leave you and your guests doing a double-take, as you question whether it is actually a monochromatic photo and not a hand-drawn representation.
We Recommend: The high contrast, small size and realistic nature of this piece means it would be an incredibly powerful companion to a room with brighter, or more pastel tones. We suggest using this piece to in a an entrance hall or stairwell, coupled with a few pop art paintings, or continuing the trend with some tasteful nudes.
Noah Borger’s guileless Basquiat-inspired portrait will instantly transform any room. Like the 1980s Neo-expressionist, Borger’s portrait questions not only the concept of visual representation and aesthetic identity, but the innately human issue of what portraiture means in society.
We Recommend: display this piece in a room with a dynamic range of furniture. Sharp corners and softer curves will complement the agitated texture of the piece, while the burnt oranges will provide a welcome addition to any wood-based furniture or artefacts.
It wouldn’t be a definitive list without at least one pop art painting, and when it comes to a contemporary take on the 1950s movement, Emiliano Cavalli is your guy. Pop art provides an immediate element of fun and vibrancy to your space, so it’s ideal to pair with other pieces or it can stand alone, and the square format makes it that bit more quirky.
We Recommend: to really make things fun, why not display your Salvador Dalì quarantine piece somewhere you or your guests would least expect it, such as the bathroom or guest bedroom so he can keep a watchful, socially-distanced eye on your visitors…