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Fran Carbonell / St. Mary's Project in Studio Art


My current paintings and drawings are self-abstractions; visions removed from a source, my mirror reflection, and separated for inspection by the viewer. Each portrait does not stand alone as a different and complete representation of myself. They function more effectively if viewed together as an amalgam of what an ideal and true self-portrait could potentially embody. Each one is simply an abstraction and no single one could hold the weight of being a true depiction of myself. They depend on each other to establish a dialogue that a viewer can dissect. Mostly I present myself in traditional head and shoulders format in life size or larger. The barrier that arises in my work between the viewer and the portrait, whether it is my actual painted hand or an element of discomfort in the gaze, interests me.

By using myself as a model, I feel that I have achieved an understanding of the complexity of figuration by turning it in on myself. In drawing myself repeatedly, I am seeking a more substantial understanding of what my humanness means in relation to the world, both concrete and spiritual. The works do not depict a figure in space, but rather they are depicting figure in mind. Therefore, there is no recognizable space in the works. The figures exist on a different plane as if to mirror introspection, not practical self-definition through duties or where ones place is within the actual world. The body of work represents a retreat from reality and an immersion into the mind to look for answers about self.

This past year, I have entered into a dialogue with other artists who are also engaged in self-portraiture. This dialogue, however, is not limited to artists because any viewer can partake by viewing the work and relating to the self-discovery and the different processes an artist goes through to convey meaning about him or herself. While many view the self-portrait as a window into the mythologized personalities of artists like Vincent van Gogh, as being eccentric or mad, I believe this misconception to be too narrow of an interpretation. There are as many different types of self-portraiture as there are artists making them.



Artist Statement

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