Counter Reforming the Portrait

During my time in Europe I was struck by the gravitas of the portraits I saw in Museums especially the Holbein Portraits of the Gemäldegalerie Berlin and the Counter Reformation work of El Greco. I was also moved by the visions of ecstasy and surrender in the baroque churches of Munich and Prague. 

Baroque art is a total art: Painting; sculpture and architecture merge into wholes that surround and move the viewer, inviting us to transformation. 

Portrait of Jose  in Ecstasy 2015 
It is an art of passions and ecstasies; it places at centre stage bodies shaken by supernatural forces that are made visible by plays of light and gestural compositions. These carved and painted figures –as well as the architectural forms that surround them –are simultaneously utterly carnal and possessed by divine grace, eternally torn between matter and spirit,rise and fall

 Source: Careri, Giovanni 2003, Baroques, Princeton University Press, p.7.

Counter reformation artists reinforced the authority of the church and directed people towards a personal piety of suffering, sacrifice and ecstatic devotion

This series is a homage and usually comprises a central male figure often unclothed and photo-montaged with found background textures to alter light colour and perceptions of time and place.

This portrait by El Greco has always been a favourite .. it happened to be visiting the Prado in July 2014 when I was and it has such presence ..i drew a sketch quickly on site

 ..and recreated it when I was living in a former church in country Victoria using a Mexican model of Spanish origin Jose 

Portrait of Hortensio Félix Paravicino painted by El Greco circa 1609

Portrait of Jose in homage to El Greco 2014 Textures Central Victoria

Portrait of a Man  in a red cap Tiziano circa 1516 
The first works of formal portraiture were almost literal re-stagings of the portraits using a life model and found textures but over time I have been experimenting with the format. Although nude they maintain a sense of gravitas and usually have some contact between their skin and a fabric or texture, a homage to the skills of artists of this era in depicting fabric

Portrait of Andrew contemplating his future 2014 Model Berlin Textures Prague  

I have consciously used the techniques of the Counter Reformation in particular heightened realism and a strategic use of light to imply a sense of ecstasy or other worldliness.

Jose  crown of light 2014 Texture Dresden

Model architect Berlin textures Volubis Morocco  2014

DJ Berlin 2014

Textile artist posing with own work Melbourne

Saint Melbourne background Dresden

Detail Textile artist

recently I have been exploring notions of the gendered portrait especially significant to me as a queer artist working in a former Convent 

Annunciato  Convent studio 2015
Annunciation Non gendered Virgin 2016

Possible Exhibition Options
Formal Portrait gallery hang of selected framed works
For more of my portraits as works in progress see

I have been enjoying disssion with other artists about the content versus tools  of portrait making

I recently heard an historian say that historians now are neither better nor worse than previous generations they just use different tools. People without an education in modern and  contemporary art often assert that painting is better then photography I say they are just different what say you ? 

A wonderful image comparison of past and present-- when DaVincci and the masters were at work, it was painting- no comparing my work to theirs, but when I started photography it was film-- chemicals- darkroom processes-- today, with digital, that is ancient technology- from my standpoint, the tools are immaterial, except that an artist's work can viewed the world over, instead of a museum. In the hands of a talented artist, such as yourself, the tools expand the viewing audience to appreciate the work on a much wider level. Your work consistently demonstrates a melting of the classic period of painting with todays's digital photography. For me, it's not the tools but the artist working with the tools that arrive at the results
EurekaMichael Moments ago  Professional Photographer
thanks for  the compliment I just love your words
" Your work consistently demonstrates a melting of the classic period of painting with todays's digital photography.

For me, it's not the tools but the artist working with the tools that arrive at the results"

and to hear about your own journey through different media 

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