OBSESSED WITH OURSELVES: Chris Denovan

Show opens: 03 September 2015, 5pm - 9pm in conjunction with First Thursdays.
Guest Speaker: Roderick Clayton

Exhibition continues till 19 September 2015

61 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town.
Gallery hours: 10-5 weekdays, 10-2 Saturdays.
"Don't stare – it's rude." Every child must have been told that, and most of us by adulthood have curbed our natural instinct to gaze curiously and openly at other people. Perhaps that helps to explain the allure of portraits: they give us licence to stare. (Donaldson, Julia. 2014. Licence to Stare, an essay from BP portrait award catalog)

Why is the face such a popular subject? Why do we as humans find ourselves attracted to images of other humans? Our love for each other is a powerful thing; of all representational forms, portraiture elicits the power of empathy, activating our curiosity and understanding of another person. We all remember that moment when we have looked into anothers' eyes and were captivated by a physical trait or familiar characteristic. And we don't only enjoy looking at our loved ones; we can also be mesmerized by anyone we feel a connection to. Portraits are windows through which we glimpse lives lived, intrigued by something familiar or anomalous - or maybe we are just searching for small elements and subtle nuances in an attempt to find ourselves and feel connected to the human race. Whether we're actively scrutinizing someone or just simply enjoying the freedom of being lost in a reverie to an enthralling visage, we can all be accused, at one point in time, of that act we've all been told not to do; staring.

Our obsession with faces is part of our visual history, portraiture being one of the most popular subjects of fine art. On social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram we see how people are more obsessed than ever with the self-portrait, or ‘selfie’ as it is termed in popular culture; whether taking it, liking it or looking at it. This obsession with putting an image of our ‘best selves’, an edited version of ourselves for the public to see, is emulated in Denovan’s aesthetically pleasing paintings and his use of striking brush marks to emphasise the ‘beauty’ of his subjects. "I am attracted to painting those I see as ‘beautiful’ people and unashamedly embellish them with abstracted lines and colours that compliment." says Denovan.