- what was at issue were tears and a certain mourning of the gaze in the art of the portrait - Jacques Derrida
Portraits: Messages from the Beyond Sent Through Time
A few years ago something occurred to me, and I started to make a count that startled me. I have painted or drawn over fifty persons who have since died. Now many were made when I was still very young and the subjects were already old, as for instance my great-grandmother was at least ninety-two and I ten when I made my first great drawing.
Whether death comes in old age or way too early, the reality of a portrait is its remaining in the world afterwards. The portrait is ultimately a message from the beyond sent through time into an unknowable future.
A person well into that future may have a relationship with the face of someone living centuries before. In that silent comprehension, the greater the time between generations, the greater the compassion shared.
So, the person in the portrait need understand that he or she is submitting the Self to the scrutiny of time. The face welcoming the beholder may as well drop disguise and leave only naked honesty to bear witness that we all must bow to whatever fate sends us.
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