Featuring new works by painters Jane Gotts and Ron Velasco, “Twisted Portrait” is an exploration of storytelling through the art of portraiture, according to Black Maria Gallery director Zara Zeitountsian.
“This is an entirely fresh take on the age-old tradition of portraiture,” Zeitountsian explained. “Though working from different thematic and stylistic perspectives, Jane Gotts and Ron Velasco share a passion for both subverting and honoring portraiture.
“Storytelling and psychological insight are key elements here, marked by unfettered imagination - by contrast, most portrait artists of the past lacked creative freedom as they were commissioned to present a literal rendition of their subjects.”
Zeitountsian said that Gotts’ new series of portraits pays homage to the characters that populate children’s literature and imagination. Evoking Renaissance art, Gotts casts children as beloved fairy-tale characters, in portraits that reflect typically childlike behavior: Sleeping Beauty awakes looking irritable; Alice holds the pig grudgingly; and Peter Pan appears mischievous, even deceptive. Behind them are background renderings of patterned Victorian wallpaper, a further reference to past eras, to decoration and the portraiture wall. Gotts’ series also includes smaller depictions of fairy tale-animals, painted on bark-framed wood slices.
“Ron Velasco’s approach is to take a portrait as a gateway to explore several layers of storytelling, several hidden realities, pertaining to a given subject,” Zeitountsian said. While he experiments with lines, textures, and subject matter in his drawings, Velasco expands the compositional definition of portraiture through the juxtaposition and overlapping of abstract images. Such images, which take the form of character study through narrative, might depict or symbolize personal memories, actual events, and mythic creatures harking back to childhood.
“Personal transformation is perhaps Ron’s overarching interest,” Zeitountsian continued.
“Twisted Portrait” will remain open until Sunday, July 15.