WARNING this post contains a nude portrait. (It’s OK, it’s not me).
It seems there is a trend amongst my artist friends to be doing self portraits. So I am jumping in, along with Carol Haywood and Rose Davies to share my recent versions.
I started drawing myself in March and then quickly fell by the wayside. I recently got re-inspired by Jennifer Higgie’s book the Mirror and the Palette, looking at the herstory of the self-portrait.
The portraits of older women artists are often the most experimental. Perhaps the most visceral portrait I know is by Maria Lassnig, (1919- 2014), painted in her 80’s, it really sorts the women from the boys. I saw it in Amsterdam in 2019 and it certainly hit me in the gut.
Alice Neel has also painted an unapologetic nude self-portrait in her 80’s, which is on display in a current retrospective of her work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. See here for a online veiwing of the exhibition.
You will probably be relieved to know that I don’t have the guts of Lassnig or Neel to do nude self-portraits. Maybe later. Maybe when I turn 80.
So here are the portraits I have made so far. Most, with the exception of the watercolour, have been sketched on paper roll from Ikea.
It’s a big year for women artists with the National Gallery of Australia showing, rather belatedly, a program featuring women artists called Know My Name. Works have been borrowed from around the country for the exhibition.
Meanwhile in other parts of the country State galleries are also turning their collective eyes to the work of female artists both within and outside of their collections. During a recent visit to Adelaide I took a look at the Art Gallery of South Australia’s offerings.
Leading the way in S.A. is this year’s Tarnanthi 2020: Open Hands exhibition, which is all by women artists
1. Warwiriya Burton, (born 1925), Pitjantjatjara people, Ngayuku ngura (My Country), 2018 synthetic polymer pigment on linen. 2. Warwiriya Burton, detail of No. 1
3. Iluwanti Ken, (born c.1944) Pitjantjatjara people, 2030, Walawulu ngunytju kukaku ananyi (Mother eagles going hunting), pigmented ink on paper.
4. Iluwanti Ken, detail of No. 3
In the Chromotopia exhibition:
5. Naomi Hobson, (born 1978), Southern Kaantju/Umpila people, Touch the River Floor, 2019, synthetic polymer on linen.
6. Virginia Cuppaidge, (born 1943), Second Transition, 1974
7. Annabelle Follett, (1955-2019), UN Knitted Forms, 2000, wool and plastic knitting needles
Elsewhere in the gallery:
8. Dora Chapman (1912-1995), Head Studies, partial image, 1969 and 1970, gouache and polymer paint on board
9. Top, Grace Crowley (1890-1979), Abstract Painting, 1953, oil on hardboard; Below, Dora Chapman (1912-1995), Abstract, 1943, synthetic polymer paint on board.
10. Bessie Davidson, (1879-1965), Artist’s paintbox with French coastal landscape, c. 1930 Guéthary, France, oil on wood panel in wooden artist box
My completely subjective view is that the work of women artists is definitely more visible in the galleries that I have visited this year. But 25% National Gallery of Australia???
The Countess Report is Amy Prcevich, Elvis Richardson and Miranda Samuels.
They are an independent artist run initiative that publishes data on gender representation in the Australian contemporary art world. They believe a focus on gender is a focus on power. Countess works in the legacy of institutional critique and research based conceptual art practices. Their goal is to inform and influence systemic change through data collection and analysis. While their evidence is often cited, they are not data analysts. They are artists and activists who are interested in investigating dynamics of power, value, labour, and collecting through the lens of gender. The work of Countess is both art and advocacy.