Choose your dates:

  1. Tuesday, April 16, 2024

  2. Wednesday, April 17, 2024


Creating Identity: Portraits Today

  • Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung (Chinese), In G.O.D. We Trust, 2009. HD 1080p30 single-channel video with sound, running time: 5:00 minutes.

  • Karine Giboulo (Canadian), All You Can Eat - Electronic Village, 2008. 3 mixed media dioramas enclosed in plexiglass.

  • Burt Barr (American), Roz, 2004. Single-channel video with sound, running time 5:40 minutes.

  • Jose Maria Cano (Spanish), Barack Obama (from The Wall Street One Hundred), 2008. Paraffin wax, pigment, encaustic on canvas.

  • Ain Cocke (American), Das Geheimnis des Garten, 2009. Oil on canvas.

  • Alain Declercq (French), R.I.P./Sarkozi, 2007. 4500 bullets in a pline wood

  • Germán Gómez (Spanish), Drawn VI (from Drawn series), 2007. Mixed media drawing.

  • Annie Kevans (French, England-based), Monica Lewinsky (Bill Clinton), 2009. Oil on paper.

  • McCallum & Tarry (American), Booker T. Holmes (arrest #7407), 2008. Oil on canvas and toner on silk.

  • Zanele Muholi (South African), Nomonde Mbusi, 2007. Gelatin silver print.

  • Julia Page (American), Heir Apparent, 2005. Video installation, running time 6:55 minutes loop.

  • Chris Radtke (Louisville-based), Reach, 2008. Lightening seared oak and shattered tempered glass.

  • Yinka Shonibare (British, Nigerian-born), The Age of Enlightenment – Gabrielle Emile Le Tonnelier de Bretruil, 2008. Life-size fiberglass mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton, mixed media.

  • Yinka Shonibare (British, Nigerian-born), The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (America), 2008. C-print mounted on aluminum. Collection of Jim Gray, Lexington, KY.

  • Yinka Shonibare (British, Nigerian-born), Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (Europe), 2008. C-print mounted on aluminum.

  • Mickalene Thomas (American), Oh Mickey, 2008. Monitor in artist's frame, single channel video, rhinestone and acrylic on panel.

  • Mickalene Thomas (American), Portrait of Qusuquzah, 2008. Mounted c-print.

  • Kehinde Wiley (American), The Prophet and the King II (Columbus), 2006. Oil on canvas.

  • Chuck Close (American), Lucas, 1993. Silk, linen.

  • James Croak (American), Dirt Man with Carp, 1987. Cast dirt and cast resin.

  • CutUp (British), Untitled (Lightbox), 2007. Reordered bus shelter advertising poster in light box.

  • Ben Durham (American), Natasha, 2008. Graphite text on handmade paper.

  • Nathalia Edenmont (Ukrainian), Lost, 2007. C-prints mounted to glass in wooden frames.

  • Ruud van Empel (Dutch), Moon #2, 2005. Dye destruction prints, mounted on diasec.

  • Keith Farquhar (Scottish), Teenager, 2007. Perspex, sweatshirt, garbage bag, wood.

  • Pieter Hugo (South African), Vernon Bernard, Somerset West, 2005. Archival pigment print on cotton rag paper.

  • Loretta Lux (German), The Bride, 2003. Ilfachrome print.

  • Sukran Moral (Turkish), Artista, 1994. Print on canvas mounted on chassis.

  • Eric Nehr (French), Calla 02, 2006. C-prints on aluminum.

  • Adriaan van der Ploeg (Dutch), Head Shots (Dutch/Belgian), 2007. 21 c-prints on aluminum.

  • Miguel Angel Rojas (Colombian), David 6 & 12, 2005. Lambda prints.

  • Jock Sturges (American), Nikki: la Riviere Dronne, les Peintures, France, 2001. Gelatin silver print.

  • Nicola Vinci (Italian), Silenzio dittico (Silence diptych), 2007. Light on plexiglass.

  • Bill Vuksanovich (Serbian), Ajay, 1990. Pencil on paper.

  • Albert Watson (Scottish), Golden Boy, 6 yrs. Old, NYC, 1996. Gelatin silver print.

  • © Gaela Erwin

  • Josephine Taylor (American), Bomb Landscape 1, 2006. Sumi ink, colored ink, gouache on paper.

About the Exhibition

Portraiture has played an important role throughout the history of art in defining the political and social climate of the day. Contemporary portraiture however has become less representational and increasingly conceptual as it addresses the complexities of personal identity through themes such as childhood innocence, loss, gender, race, and social inequalities. This exhibition of over seventy artworks by thirty-seven artists demonstrates how a diverse group of international and regional artists explore these themes and struggle with similar challenges of what it means to be an individual.

Looking to history as a reference, several artists in the exhibition portray traditional imagery to critique contemporary social issues. Exploring African American identity, Kehinde Wiley has inserted a black male in street wear into the canon of Western European portraiture posing him as a prophet.

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Artists today are also reinventing the genre of portraiture itself. The shattered glass spewing from the wooden structures of Chris Radtke’s self-portrait represents the artist’s exact body volume and the fragility of the human form. Germán Gómez has created self-portraits from photo-collages yet his own image is hardly visible.

Continuing in the downstairs Atrium Gallery, one can see how the portrait can reflect the artist’s reexamination of the innocence of youth and explore themes of loss and yearning. The subject of childhood varies from Jock Sturges’ idyllic depiction of youth to Ruud van Empel’s and Loretta Lux’s mysterious, unattainable innocence. This departure from innocence becomes even more pronounced in the work by Gaela Erwin and Miguel Ángel Rojas, where the subjects have encountered a very real form of loss or suffering.

The bombardment of media imagery, loosening of gender stereotypes, and reconsiderations of race are just a few examples of the pressures of contemporary society that challenge our identities. This exhibition demonstrates how artists today are using these challenges in their photography, sculpture, painting, video, and other art forms to redefine our ideas of representation. Art continues to be a barometer of our culture and the portrait shows us who we are and how we feel about who we are.