Review of the ‘Naked Face: Self-Portraits’

Francesco CLEMENTE
I 1982
colour woodcut
36.0 x 51.0 cm (image); 42.7 x 57.1 cm (sheet)
ed. 84/100
Purchased, 1986
© Francesco Clemente

Last week I went to check out ‘The Naked Face: Self-Portraits’ at the Ian Potter Centre. I felt right in my element since the whole show was on self-portraiture. I was impressed with the variety of selected works of different media ranging from Renaissance until present. The exhibit, curated by Vivien Gaston, follows 6 key ideas explored about the human persona: identity, performance, myth and psyche, scrutiny, empathy, touch and trace. I was pleased to see one of the American photographer Cindy Sherman’s ‘Untitled 183-A’ from the ‘History Portrait Series’. I love the theatrical feel and the humour in the photo. I discovered unfamiliar artists such as Francesco Clemente; the multimedia artist Julie Rrap; the surrealist painter Peter Booth; the performance artist Stelarc and the artists Max Klinger and Stacha Halpern. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. But if an artist produces a self-portrait, would it be a definite reflection of who they are? I find that knowing about the artist’s background helps better understand their self-portraiture works. Think of the self-portraitist icons Van Gogh and Frida Khalo. The exhibit is worth seeing and runs until 27 February 2011.