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Jessica Mensch

As a portrait painter, I am interested in the relationship one has to oneself-more specifically, the relationship between the self a person deems socially acceptable and chooses to reveal-and the private self that is revealed publicly and unintentionally in moments of loss of self-control. Such loss need not be through a violent emotional state, but can occur passively in a moment of inattention. Whatever its cause, this loss of selfawareness reveals to the observer a deeper sense of another person's individuality.

As I paint portraits using the aid of photographs that I have taken, I look within my subject for this internal dynamic of the public and the private. Having your photograph taken is often an experience that alienates you from yourself. You struggle to become aware of yourself in a way that is impossible, i.e.. to see yourself objectively, as the photographer would. In my experience, a subject is often successful in controlling their body language, but less so their facial expression. It is this contrast between the emotional tone of the sitter's body language and their facial expression that, I believe, captures this internal struggle.

In depicting this struggle, I strive to move beyond the momentary static image that the photograph presents. Representing through form and colour the shifting interplay between the public and private, I introduce a temporal element to the image. In effect, my paintings invite the viewer to participate in their subjects' life, letting themselves be timed-and, hence, come into attunement with what they see.

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Melissa Cantwright James Mensch Tom Smith
Oil on canvas Oil on canvas Oil on canvas
36" x 36" 18" x 22" 20" x 26"
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