Daniel Maidman,
Daniel Maidman, "Saint Rebecca," (2018), 18” x 24”, Oil on canvas

Equity Gallery (NYC) recently announced “It Could Be You: Portraiture in a Constructed World,” a comprehensive group exhibition of contemporary portraiture juried by Hyeseung Marriage-Song, Beverly McNeil, and Patricia Watwood. The show features more than 30 international multidisciplinary artists whose artwork explores both the purpose and limits of portraiture, identity, and the self in the modern digital age.

Hyeseung Marriage-Song, "Selfie," (2017), 20” x 36”, oil on linen
Hyeseung Marriage-Song, “Selfie,” (2017), 20” x 36”, oil on linen
Andrew Cornell Robinson, "Lodrys," (2019), Graphite on cotton rag paper
Andrew Cornell Robinson, “Lodrys,” (2019), Graphite on cotton rag paper, 27 ⅝” x 21 7/16”, 70 x 55 centimeters, (frame 28 11/16” x 22 11/16”, 73 x 63 centimeters)
Trudy Borenstein-Sugiura, "Rising Son," (2018), 14” x 17”, Found Personal Papers and Documents
Trudy Borenstein-Sugiura, “Rising Son,” (2018), 14” x 17”, Found Personal Papers and Documents

More from the gallery:

Somewhere between the introduction of cheap camcorders and the proliferation of smart phones we became distrustful of our body’s ability to mediate directly with the physical world. To a large extent we have exchanged the sensual perceptions emanating from our surroundings for simulated experiences that mitigate reality through camera lenses and digitalized imagery. Once understood to be aide-mémoirs of life’s lived experiences, the media is reality—a reality comprising instantly shareable content validated or refuted by social media emojis.

Fielding Archer, "Julien," (2018), Egg oil emulsion on board, 19” x11”
Fielding Archer, “Julien,” (2018), Egg oil emulsion on board, 19” x11”

That’s a risky way to construct one’s universe. How can we hope to fix an identity, let alone one informed by ethical principles, on a mutating digital stage that is subject to the whims of marketing algorithms and bots on a mission? Given present conditions, it’s no wonder that our instinct to ascertain “what’s real” has devolved into an addicting stalk for pleasure hits that never quite satiate an appetite weaned on spectacle.

Natalie Italiano, "Remembrance," (2017), 30” x 22”, Oil on canvas
Natalie Italiano, “Remembrance,” (2017), 30” x 22”, Oil on canvas

That said, can we stake out what is abiding, true, and stable about us and our fellows? In an increasingly alarming and chaotic era, art that depicts what is actually there and recognizable is defiant — and nothing could be more necessary and reassuring at the moment than simply showing what we actually look like (and mean) to each other.

Linnea Paskow, "Portrait of C," (2019), 30” x 22”, collage of magazine and paint fragments
Linnea Paskow, “Portrait of C,” (2019), 30” x 22”, collage of magazine and paint fragments

“It Could Be You: Portraiture in a Constructed World” will take place at Equity Gallery from November 14 through December 7, 2019, and will have a second run at Portraits, Inc. in Birmingham, AL, from January 23 through February 20, 2020.


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