"Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself."
- Oscar Wilde
When combing through an archive as diverse and eclectic as the University of Lethbridge Art Collection, connections and patterns between multiple artworks often rise to the surface. Artists working in various time periods, with a wide range of media and from distinct aesthetic backgrounds, are still regularly drawn to depicting similar subject matter. The theme of portraiture is one of these recurring ideas; our contemporary digital snapshots of friends and family are akin to the allegorical figures in Renaissance paintings, or Caesar's profile on an ancient Roman coin. Artistic renderings of people evoke feelings of familiarity in the most basic human-to-human activity: eye contact and facial recognition. Whether the person depicted is well known or a stranger, the viewer is drawn in by the comfortable symmetry of eyes, nose and mouth and can feel a kinship with the subject without knowing them in the flesh.
A selection of portraits from the University of Lethbridge Art Collection will be featured in the exhibition Head Shots, on display in the Helen Christou Gallery from Sept. 11 to Oct. 23, 2009.
Jane Edmundson, University of Lethbridge Art Gallery