Self-portraits.

«Secundo fluctus» (Second Wave):

«Secundo fluctus» (Second Wave), 60 x 50 cm., oil on canvas, 2020. The theme of this self-portrait is the impossible dream that is never finally achieved — no matter how much success we or others may think we have achieved, the dissatisfaction is always there. That has been the plight of most artists throughout human history; and it is no less today — for artists, and for non-artists. The tremendous Saturn-influence enveloping us at this time insists upon the renewal of our dreams, our motives, our ways of seeing, acting, living … imposing a heavy reality check upon us all. It is not all negative from an overall perspective, but it takes a higher degree of ingenuity, creativity, and persistence in order to create the much-needed and long-overdue New Consciousness. This dark expressionist self-portrait entitled “Second Wave”, provides a subjective inside-looking-out acknowledgment of the present experience. The intention is to document the thick muddy gelé of fear + careful hopefulness that we are all enduring in this Winter of darkness. The observant viewer will note that the face is itself a mask, as is the masking Darkness.
“Lockdown — Summer fun”, oil on canvas, 55 x 46 cm., 2020, is perhaps self-explanatory. This painting is a continuation of my self-portrait series, in which I explore different ways of seeing and presenting myself — with various styles and painting techniques.
Vanishing Act, oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm., 2020.

«Vanishing Act», 46 x 55 cm., oil on canvas, 2020, is a raw self-portrait about being careful what we wish for. While many would wish for the rapid disappearance of the CoronaVirus (COVID-19), it would presently seem more plausible that such reference be most applicable to the Fade-Out Star (R Coronae Borealis). In the upper left corner one can barely make out a vanishing star, consumed by the Darkness of Uncertainty — truly Hell in its most natural form. The raw background hints of that in many well-known paintings by Old Masters, but here there is a messy disharmony that is threatening to consume the figure in the painting and the viewer — like an unavoidable train wreck … in slow motion. There are many important lessons yet to be learned from the COVID-19 experience. It is karmic, and in that understanding lies a solace that enables us to adapt to both life during struggle … and to the inevitability of Death. The figure — itself already vanishing behind protective gear — is waist-deep in the mire, but is yet optimistic — if not aloof to the dangers of chance and folly. The true challenge is perhaps not how quickly or how completely we can return to normality, but whether the former normality is actually the problem itself.”

Roll of the dice: The dilemma of losing our sense of touch, 60 x 50 cm., oil on canvas, 2020. COVID-19 can affect our senses, notably the sense of taste and the sense of smell. But avoiding the virus also entails restrictions upon another important sense: that of touch. Scientific study indicates that affectionate touches can affect the nervous system’s rest and digest mode, thus reducing the release of stress hormones while bolstering the immune system, and stimulating brainwaves that are linked with relaxation. This self-portrait (my sixteenth) is a commentary on the dilemma of avoiding touch, an activity which we sorely need in order to boost our life quality, our sense of well-being and our ability to maintain a strong immune system. We take chances with a mental roll of the dice: “Does this person have COVID-19, or not? I need to give and receive handshakes and hugs. But do I dare do so … or not?!!” The handshake doubles as hands being constantly cleaned with disinfectant (the most popular Norwegian brand being AntiBac), and the self-portrait is in complete darkness. The study of Light reflection in the bottle, and the negative light/shading in the cat-like curious yet restrained eyes were also challenging… as well as the sickly pink polka dots, which symbolize the COVID-19 virus cluster model wantonly spreading in a surrealistic background gives a psychedelic and psychological effect.
“Masquerade: COVID-19”, oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm., 2020, is self-explanatory at first glance. However, here I have left certain features slightly unfinished: the naked eyes, the disintegrating painted frame, etc.; this to suggest vulnerability and a sense of incompletion. COVID-19 presents the unanswerable questions of how effective we really are at masking fear of the unknown, and which “me” peers out from behind the superficial protective covering. This painting is a continuation of my self-portrait series, in which I explore different ways of seeing and presenting myself — with various styles and painting techniques.

 

“Moi, je et moi-même. Je suis Adam. Mais dans ces autoportraits … alors, entre nous, nous sommes tous Adam.”
— Adam Donaldson Powell

“This is my ongoing self-portrait series, in which I explore different ways of seeing and presenting myself — with various styles and painting techniques. I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone because I am the person I know best. I tried to drown my sorrows, but the bastards learned how to swim, and now I am overwhelmed by this decent and good feeling. Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is a strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light.”
— Frida Kahlo

I have gained much inspiration from visiting the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and several other art galleries and art museums in Europe whose exhibitions and permanent collections feature portraits. As a result, figurative art and portraiture have become new and exciting genres for my own artistic expression.

While I cannot say that I am following in Vincent Van Gogh’s footsteps by painting self-portraits, I do see the value in doing so to chart my personal and artistic development. These self-portraits teach me much as regards technique, and they allow me to explore many diverse painting styles — as I attempt to “redefine portraiture” in a contemporary sense — meaning incorporating portraits into contexts with relevance to far more than myself alone, and with styles that range from caricature to semi-realism.

Perhaps like the self-portraits of Vincent Van Gogh, my own painted selfies also reveal where my head is at — and rather candidly — at any given point in time. I have painted fifteen self-portraits to date. More are certain to come.

— Adam Donaldson Powell

NB. Van Gogh painted more than thirty self-portraits in the last five years of his life. Rubens painted seven self-portraits. Rembrandt painted more than forty self-portraits. And Frida Kahlo painted fifty-five self-portraits.

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Painting: Oil on canvas. “Photobooth”, 90 x 65 cm., oil on canvas is about the “old-style” selfie-taking … sitting in a photo booth and being photographed three times. I have attempted to duplicate the feeling of taking photos in a booth — all the same, yet slightly different — to capture the spontaneity, subjectivity, and self-appraisal of The Moment. I also wanted to play with “graphics” in a painterly and semi-realistic way that explores the nakedness of the experience of being trapped in a box, with little room or time to vary sitting position and expression.
Beauty and the Beast — the Kiss of the Fairy.

«Beauty and the Beast — the kiss of the fairy», 70 x 50 cm., oil on canvas. This playful self-portrait evokes fairytale analogies by way of combining semi-realism with cartoon-like expression. It is a story about love and friendship, and of eyeing boundaries and possibilities. An older man and a younger woman — both with their respective charm — in perfect dialogue, and yet each with secrets to be shared when the time is right. Unlike Edvard Munch’s dark painting entitled “The Kiss”, in this light-humored painting the kiss is not about becoming lost in one another, but rather about the play of friendship and flirtation.

“Don’t Ask”, oil on canvas, 40 x 40 cm., self-portrait.

DON’T ASK …

please don’t ask me how I am;
you can’t really expect
me to be any different
than I was yesterday.
we’re all really quite normal –
me, myself and I, and in
spite of our narcotic state can
be up and down simultaneously.
and don’t look at me too long;
I despise those “I know
how you must be feeling
eyes” and concerned tone.
why must you always misconstrue
the way my gaze avoids yours?
my anti-social disposition is
intended to protect you from us.
no — it doesn’t help to
speak slowly, pronouncing
each word with the sweetened
diction of a nun or nurse.
I honestly can’t tell you how to
act, for I have trouble enough
getting us to agree about
how we’ll shield you from me.
it’s really best to let me volunteer,
lest my unbridled demons unleash
their flame-throwing dragons to singe
the delicate threads of your own ego.
and you, so footloose, must avoid looking
back into the darkness whose glittering
maze of mirrors encapture those who poke
their noses where they don’t belong.
go ahead — ask me how I am …

(poem and oil painting by Adam Donaldson Powell)

«Il tessuto dell’Uomo», oil on canvas, 55 x 46 cm., explores Florentine textiles and the noblemen who adorned themselves with them. On a more conceptual scale, the painting alludes to «the fabric» of humanity itself.

One thought on “Self-portraits.

  1. God morgen Adam.

    Lekker hjemmeside, veldig bra presentasjon!

    Mvh fra,

    Per

    Sendt fra min iPod

    > 3. nov. 2019 kl. 21:35 skrev Adam’s World / My Way : > >  >

    Like

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