Our opening exhibition of the year explores contemporary approaches to the self-portrait in an age when outer appearance is becoming increasingly fluid; an age in which the humanistic view of the Cartesian self as whole, coherent and stable is challenged, a time when we can change our bodies and faces at will and relocate and reinvent ourselves on a whim.
By exploring these artists' use of multiple self-portraits this exhibition goes beyond the idea that a single self-portrait reveals the whole self. Instead, multiple selves are revealed as we move from one self-portrait to the next.
In Philip Akkerman's life-long project to paint only himself, the artifice is explicit as the artist adopts the guise of a sophisticated seventeenth century dandy, alludes to the martyrdom of Van Gogh in his late self-portraits, or suggests an uncouth savage. No one self-presentation is any more revealing of the artist's self than any other. Each suggests a different person.
Tony Bevan places his own body and head at the centre of his work and has even included multiple representations of himself in a single work. His image is at times recognisable, at other times abstracted, sometimes psychologically penetrating and at other times immensely physical.
Dryden Goodwin's meticulous drawings of his face suggest a refusal to fix the image in time or to allow one frozen moment to speak for more than that single moment. Whether represented on paper or on video, whether static or moving, the artist's form flickers before our eyes as Goodwin questions the ability of any medium to capture life.
In Peter Harris' self-portraits a turbulent inner life is suggested but we are also led to question whether this interiority is a revelation of character or a form of self-invention.
© 2021 James Hyman Gallery, PO Box 72888,
LONDON N2 2FH