Traditional portraits are reinvented in an exploration of concealment and identity by Shawn Huckins



#acrylic painting #art history #clothing #painting #portraits #textiles

“The Artist’s Wardrobe, Mary Greene (after Copley)” (2022). All images © Shawn Huckins, shared with permission

A new series of paintings by New Hampshire artist Shawn Huckins (previously) offers to think about how we wear clothes and textiles in a new light. Dirty laundry continues the artist’s interest in reinterpreting 18th and 19th century European portraiture, an artistic tradition steeped in symbolism and subtle commentary on wealth and social class. The clothing worn by the subjects of painters like John Singleton Copley or Adriaen van der Werff reflected their status and sense of self through clothing and accessories. Jean-Léon Gérôme’s portrayal of a Bashi-Bazouk, a soldier of the Ottoman Empire, is a prescient commentary on the nature of clothing and uniform, as enlistees were often unpaid and dressed in a random mix of coins they acquired while walking.

Huckins brings a playful and contemporary twist to the notion of self-expression through fabric by almost entirely obscuring the faces of his subjects, prompting the viewer to think about what it means to be masked or exposed. The artist recreated the compositions in the studio by draping a model with a variety of clothing, mimicking the direction and temperature of light in the original acrylic paint works.

With their faces completely covered, models are only identified through objects such as a string of beads, a beloved dog, or a handful of fruit. Huckins said in a statement that “everything more that could be known about these people remains hidden under piles of fabrics and clothing so ubiquitous that they could be our own.” Using modern fabrics like buffalo plaid or gingham, the artist considers how we all dress to convey information about ourselves.

Dirty laundry is also the title of the artist’s upcoming solo exhibition at Duran Mashaal Gallery in Montreal, which opens June 2. You can find more of his work on his website and on Instagram. (via CreativeBoom)

“Various fabrics, Bashi-Bazouk (after Gérôme)” (2022)

“Red and Black, Mrs. Freeman Flower (after Highmore)” (2022)

“Model #4, Winslow Warren (after Copley)” (2022)

“Yellow and Blue, Portrait of a Lady (after Hudson)” (2022)

“Various fabrics, Margareta Rees (after van der Werff)” (2022)

“Miscellaneous fabrics, John Park with dog (after Stuart)” (2022)

“American portrait, Elizabeth Murray (after Copley)” (2022)

#acrylic painting #art history #clothing #painting #portraits #textiles

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