...curated for you.
A very old art form, portraiture dates back thousands of years, at its core, the representation of a person’s likeness. But the subtlety of its use is far more expansive, and it has historically been used to tell rich narratives about the sitter, captured in a moment through expression, light, and the secondary scene often taken simply as background.
Their rich history is associated with power, royalty, political figures and commemoration, but with the advent of photography, portraiture has evolved in new, more democratic ways, and more so than ever, the form has become an emotive form of record, capturing life in a single frame.
Today, it remains popular amongst collectors, with contemporary and traditional explorations offering intimate and powerful works that give an insight into identity and humanity.
Portraiture that's featured across our exhibitions...
We soon realised that portraiture had featured far more heavily in our various shows than we had originally thought so to pick some highlights was tough but here are our nine pieces from the last few years that reflect the diversity of this form and the way in which artists make the form distinctively theirs.
Artist Close Up
Sculptures that stole the show...
Whilst figurative rather than purely portraiture we couldn’t miss this opportunity to highlight a 3D artist whom we have worked with right from the start.
Elisabeth Hadley is a Brixham based artist known on the English Riviera for Man and Boy, a public work celebrating the towns fishing heritage on Kings Quay Brixham. The pieces that we show at the gallery are slightly smaller in scale but have proved to be extremely popular with a most recent sale heading off to a new home in France.
Some contemporary takes...
The invisible and the unexpected...
Portraiture can't always be taken at "face-value". Here's some contemporary examples that do something a little different.
On the left, from a dedicated portraiture exhibition hosted back in 2018, a work from artist Becky Nuttall entitled called ‘Pot Family Tree’, which depicts a scene of pots from the Milton Head Pottery Brixham 1950 -1959. Each represents Becky and her family, all realised in her father's pottery and decorated by him.
And on the right, a piece from the Missing Series, by contemporary photographic artist Kirsteen Titchener. These are portraits defined by absence, the human form clear but featureless, as Kirsteen explores themes of human nature and identity.
A special experience
Sitting with portrait artist Dave Crocker...
We can’t talk about portraiture without mentioning our own experiences of sitting for Plymouth based artist, Dave Crocker, who in the run up to an exhibition of work with us had us do sessions sat in the window of the gallery; a truly unique experience, for us both and one which will always stand out as something we've been fortunate to do as part of our work. Take a look at the videos to see the incredible process from blank canvas to completed portrait.
Art that goes further
But won't break the bank...
There's several pieces of portraiture to be discovered in our #ArtistSupportPledge collections.
The national #ArtistSupportPledge movement was brought to the English Riviera Winter Open Exhibition with Artizan Gallery committing to support the work of the showcase by reinvesting in artwork from the show when they hit sales milestones outlined in the scheme.
Now, sales of any work from the site contribute to these goals which we recognise by the random purchase of a work from the #ArtistSupportPledge collection (works under £200).
The Great Big Art Exhibition...
For those who haven't heard about The Great Big Art Exhibition you're going to want to change that. It's a national event being pioneered by Firstsite, a Colchester based arts organisation, intended to get the UK creative during lockdown by turning their front windows into galleries whilst our exhibition spaces remain closed.
And the current theme just happens to be portraiture, isn't that convenient! You can check out submissions by following the hashtag #TheGreatBigArtExhibition2021 on Twitter and Instagram, or alternatively take a look at the "Devon Collection" at the link below, to find out about our own efforts to document the contributions from artists in our area.