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PORTRAITURE - AN EXHIBITION Curated by Shane Guffogg

  • Orange County Center for Contemporary Art 117 North Sycamore St. Santa Ana, CA 92701 USA (map)


An exhibition featuring selective work consisting of paintings, mixed media and drawings, by Southern California and internationally acclaimed artists,  Xander Berkeley, Don Bachardy, Jeff Britton, Shane Guffogg, Laura Hipke, Doro Hoffman, Michael Lindsay – Hogg, Deborah Martin, Ed Ruscha, Paul Ruscha, Vonn Sumner and Alison Van Pelt.

Deborah Martin Portraits of Autism -
Buhdda At Ten with Service Dog Mouse, 2017 Oil on canvas 42x52"

Deborah Martin's landscape paintings are stills that are seemingly lifted out of a film that is playing in our minds, with colors painted like a Polaroid that was left out in the California desert sun. Her landscapes are void of people, but we know they were once there from the man-made objects, like a rusting old Ford sedan that is parked in the front yard of a deserted house. These paintings are a documentation of our inability to see into the future, to see that progress and expansion comes at a cost.

Deborah's portraits of preteens with Autism exist in the same world as her landscapes.  Deborah's refined painting techniques create a sensation of inquiry about what her subjects are thinking and feeling. She has captured a snapshot of a distilled moment, where we see into her subjects, we sense their wonderment of the world around them and their fear that the world is unpredictable. These portraits are naked in their truth, with souls laid bare. They are unsettling because of their openness and willingness to be fragile. Most of us have a built in armor that has had years to toughen up against the harsh realities of life. Somewhere along the way, we shut down to the innocence we were brought into the world with. Deborah's subjects are portraits of what has been lost, both in our quest for the American Dream and the ability to stop and be in awe of the simplest pleasures that life has to offer.

- Shane Guffogg

Deborah Martin, Portraits of Autism -
Eddie at Five, 2017 Oil on canvas 42x54"

Portraiture goes back in time to the stone ages (some 30,000 plus years ago), and continues all the way through to today. Images of the human face have served as a vessel to carry ideas of who we were – and are – throughout the centuries, ranging from the idealized forms of the Sumerians and Egyptians, to the naturalized images of Greeks and Romans and back again to stylized images of the Byzantine era, only to find a new idealized form of realism in the 1400’s, now commonly known as the Renaissance.

Each style change was prompted or accompanied by a change of ideas of how the people thought about their world and their place in it. By the beginning of the 20th century, Picasso's portraits had run the full gamut of every style that had preceded him until he took his cue from the new ideas of science (relativity) and began fragmenting his images, creating multiple of views, simultaneously.

And then there is Andy Warhol and his use of photography and screen printing to replicate the mid 20th century's world of images, showing us not only how we see but how the images are made.

That leads us up to today. But one big difference between where we are now versus where we were, even 10 years ago, is that throughout history their have been trends that get coined as an “Ism” like French Impressionism. But in our technologically driven- information age, there is no one style or idea that dominates the artistic landscape.

In fact it is just the opposite because now with a click on the mouse or keypad, virtually any image from anywhere in the world is available. I like to think of the computer screen as a portal into a 4th dimension where the past and present are all there, existing simultaneously.

So what does that do to art and more to the point, portraiture? The answer, in part, is that any and all artistic styles are available to draw from. Until now, there really has not been any rules that claim what is fashionable or relevant. The main objective of portraiture, as best I can figure, is to really see ourselves – both physically and emotionally, and hopefully gain insight and understanding into what we call the Human Condition.

Portraiture is much more than capturing a likeness of someone. It goes deep into our past like an underground river, resurfacing as our future. The artists and artworks I have chosen for the Portrait exhibition at Orange County Center for Contemporary Art add to a larger picture that is both a vision of our reality and a psychological reflection of what that reality is. I admire what these artists are doing – making images- which is a tradition and form of communication that is as old as humanity itself.

Some of these artists tell stories, others imply stories, others depict a moment as fact. Some capture that moment with a gestural brushstroke that becomes a visual metaphor. In some, the colors are pushed into a seemingly different dimension. And some look like a strange scene from a film that was (maybe) never made.

They all add up to what I think of as a snapshot that is being driven by a need to understand and reflect about what it means to be human in the beginning of the 21st century.

Curator – Shane Guffogg

Earlier Event: July 28
Later Event: April 7