I have always admired people who could do self portraits. I think it takes a lot of chutzpah to stare at yourself for hours, unless you’re vain as hell.
When you stare in the mirror for a long time, and try to reproduce your own face on canvas -one brush or pencil stroke at a time- it can get pretty excruciating. do you fight the urge to idealize your face and diminish some of those faults, or do you exaggerate them and turn yourself into a caricature? Once you have finished the portrait will anyone recognize it as you, or will someone mistake your painting for Beyonce or Brad Pitt?
I was looking at the contestants in Jerry’s Artaramia self portrait contest. I wondered what the artists were thinking as they stared into their own eyes. Did they notice every blemish, every part that was too big or too small, too puffy or too saggy? How much did they glamorize themselves? Do they really look like that? Would I recognize them if they passed me on the street?
What the hell can you be thinking as you stare at yourself for hours? do all your childhood memories come back to you? do you get angry, or sad, or amused? Or do you look at your anatomy as a scientist looks at a protozoa?
I liked the idea of looking at the artist’s rendering of his/her own persona. How many times have I seen artwork and had no idea what the artist looked like? Not that I care. So seeing the artist looking back at me intrigued me more than I thought it would. Now I am looking at art by artist, making art of artist. It seems like an endless reverberation: a continual visual loop: a Möbius strip.
There were almost 2000 entries. We were supposed to vote on them. I don’t know if we could vote more than once since I didn’t vote at all. I didn’t think it would be fair. These were excellent artists, and some of the ones that had 5 votes were just as good as the ones who had 100+ votes. Some of the ones who got 100+ votes I didn’t like at all.
Some of the expressions were priceless. I saw pain, trepidation, defiance, and wistfulness. I saw people making fun of themselves. I even saw abuse, trauma and mental illness. Some just said, “Look at me. Aren’t I cute?” Those were fun to look at too.
I didn’t see any cartoonists. Usually my self portrait consists of curly hair, and a pair of glasses very quickly scribbled in black ink. that’s as far as I need to go.