Subjective

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painted portraits by Becca Bernstein and Gwenn Seemel painted portraits by Becca Bernstein and Gwenn Seemel painted portraits by Gwenn Seemel and Becca Bernstein painted portraits by Becca Bernstein and Gwenn Seemel painted portraits by Becca Bernstein and Gwenn Seemel painted portraits by Gwenn Seemel and Becca Bernstein painted portraits by Gwenn Seemel and Becca Bernstein painted portraits by Becca Bernstein and Gwenn Seemel painted portraits by Gwenn Seemel and Becca Bernstein painted portraits by Gwenn Seemel and Becca Bernstein

January 2010 at the North View Gallery, Portland, Oregon.

March 2010 at the Arts Center, Corvallis, Oregon.

April 2010 at the Pence Gallery, Bend, Oregon.

April 2011 at the Art Festival Museum, Edmonds, Washington.


A blind collaboration between Becca Bernstein and myself, this series is a portrait of our two families. For it, Becca and I have painted ourselves and each other, as well as our parents, partners, and other relations. Subjective consists of two views each of ten subjects: twenty paintings of loved ones immortalized once by a stranger and once by their kin. This series reveals that there is much more to portraiture than mere imitation.

Portraits are very good at pretending. They convince you that they are human by inviting you to talk to them as you would their subjects. They call out to be named for the people they purport to represent: a portrait of mom naturally becomes “mom’s portrait” or simply “mom” in conversation. Portraits are deft impersonators, but they are not the person themselves—and not just because they are made of pigment and binding instead of flesh and blood.

A portrait is not a painting of a person because it is actually a painting of two people, or, more specifically, the space between those two people: the subject and the artist. When an artist paints an individual, she is actually painting a complex union of who that person presents to her and who the artist perceives the person to be, all filtered through a kaleidoscope of visual, societal, historical and psychological contexts. In that sense, the subject of a portrait is not actually the subject of that portrait. The subject of a portrait is the relationship between the artist and her sitter, whether momentary or lifelong.

To find out more about the making of Subjective, see Margie Boulé’s article or visit this section of my blog.


 
Subjective, introductory essay by Richard Brilliant

Subjective the book

Dr. Richard Brilliant authored the foreword for our exhibition’s catalog. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Anna S Garbedian Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, Brilliant has received many honors, including the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Fulbright grant.

The book is available for $25. This price includes shipping within the United States, but, if you would like the catalog to be sent elsewhere, please email me for details.

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$25




[Bernstein and Seemel share] an ability to see their portrait models as more than just flesh and figure.

     — - Margie Boulé, The Oregonian, January 2010 -- - full story

It’s an intriguing concept.

     — - Richard Speer, The Willamette Week, January 2010 -- - full mention

Their blind collaboration captures the subjectivity involved in portraiture, battling its reputation as a mere act of replication, a lesser form of photography.

     — - Visual Arts Readers’ Pick, The Portland Mercury, January 2010 -- - full mention




The Celebration Foundation awarded me a Project Grant for this series and for the catalog to go with it.



All photos of works from Subjective are by Jim Lommasson.