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about hidden portraits
The “Hidden Portraits” are photo collages. I create them by editing photos of historical portraits, concealing in various ways the faces of the people portrayed.
The entire face is covered by an absurd mask, piled-up fabric or a ceremonial wig. But nothing is added to the paintings. All the changes come from within the original itself.
Portrait paintings are the only pictorial testimonies of people until the invention of photography. They are defining our visual idea of a historic society. However, portraits were a luxury and limited exclusively to a privileged elite. The intention in portrait painting was not merely to depict individuals, but rather their representational significance. Thus, opulent clothes and elaborate accessories and attributes in the paintings attest to high social standing.
However, when the faces of the protagonists are concealed, their individuality retreats behind the symbols of social significance and opulent surfaces that bear testimony to the splendour of the upper class.
But the conventions of dress that could be taken for granted at the time the portraits were painted have ceased to be part of our everyday reality. We no longer understand them and see only the likeness in the picture. For the viewer, the focus in my modified pictures shifts away from being the expression of an individual and towards the integration of painting in a social context. The “Hidden Portraits” examine the context of art as a means of representation and the relationship between image and reproduction.
a note about framing
"Hidden Portrait" prints all come with a white border around the actual portrait. This is part of the artwork. One might be tempted to cover it up with a classical passepartout, but Volker's original intention is to keep the white edge visible - as a distinctly contemporary visual element setting a contrast to the otherwise classical aesthetics.
Apart from that, the framing is of course a question of taste. Our preferred solution is an alder wood object frame, leaving a bit of space between the print and the UV coated glass cover.