Oil on aluminum
24 x 20 in.

Portrait artist Lisa Kovvuri has released another work from her new series of portraits: Beyond Appearances.

Building on the success of her most recent solo exhibition, The Portrait Experience, at the Whistler House Museum of Art, Lisa Kovvuri is taking the genre of portrait painting to a personal level. Beyond representing a likeness, her new series serves as a catalyst for making connections and getting at the heart of what it means to be human. She’s taking a hiatus from painting commissioned portraits to embrace her desire to paint people in a context that can address the emotional and psychological experiences we all share.

“In this series my focus is on emotional presence more than a person’s identity. The sitters inspire ideas about states of mind and emotional moments we can all recognize. I see these portraits as a kind of mirror of humanity. The models I’ve recruited represent a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures. I’m particularly drawn to people who I don’t typically encounter in my usual circles, people I can learn something from. Painting them bridges a gap for me. It cultivates empathy, and that’s an important personal aspect of my work.”

Although the new portraits strive to go beyond appearances, they depict appearances in a remarkable way. Departing from the more impressionist-leaning approach of her earlier work, these emphasize sculptural form, texture, intricate detail and attention to surfaces, offering viewers a much more intimate experience of the subject’s presence.

“That feeling of intimacy is important to me. I want people to be able to get up close and engage their senses, to feel free of barriers that may otherwise be there in real life.”

Although just a handful of works have been released so far, these paintings are already creating a stir on the show circuit and garnering awards, most notably the Portrait Society of America’s 2020 International Portrait Competition in which her painting Sunday Morning received a Select 50 designation. Another, entitled Blue, was chosen as a finalist in the Portrait Society’s Members Only Competition in December, 2019. The Whistler House Museum of Art’s Whistler Award and The Salmagundi Club NY Ridgewood Art Institute Award were also presented to Lisa for Sunday Morning in 2019.

Paintings in the Beyond Appearances series are released through Lisa’s e-newsletter. Sign up to get a first viewing of each new portrait fresh from the easel, and updates on when and where to see them on exhibition. See more of Lisa’s work on her website, and get sneak peeks behind the scenes and of works in progress by following @lisakovvuri on Instagram and Facebook.