I am currently experiencing a painting journey through the complex world of portrait. As a young artist, I’ve spent the last 8 years exploring painting. I started by painting colorful and expressive canvases. Then, in 2019, I decided to test meticulous realist portraits. I’ve spent 2 years practicing realism, to finally understand that I now need to continue my journey in the world of painting through more expressive and spontaneous paintings. This mutation in my art came from my new practice of digital illustration. I now intend to explore colors, shapes, lines, but also painting as a medium and a matter through nature paintings influenced by my illustrative and graphic style.
“I have just begun a new period in my work.
Painting is a long journey. I have been painting seriously for almost 10 years – not counting my childhood and teenagerhood experimentation – and I now have the feeling that I have found a subject I intend to explore, which is portait.
Thus, I am now focusing on the complicated exercise of portrait and have been since several years.
- 2019-2020 – Through another medium
First, this interest in portrait started through a series of celebrities’ portraits I have started with actress Sophie Turner and burlesque performer Dita von Teese. The third protagonist of this series is the incredible actor and true artist Johnny Depp. I continued this series with joyful actress Julia Roberts and immense actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio. The sixth and seventh paintings of the series are portraits of the very talented singers Rihanna and Katy Perry. And then three more portraits : two showing David Bowie, and one representing Bruce Springsteen. I almost always use photo calls pictures since celebrities are then promoting something.
I then tried to show faces easily recognizable by all, yet unknown at the intimate level and to bring a new look on those people that in general only appear to us through a screen or from afar on a stage. Would our (unilateral) relation to these celebrities be different if we met them in person?
In this series called Through another medium, I tried to share my vision of these people – the celebrities – for once through the pictorial medium, under the painting’s touches and under the painter’s (my) look, instead of through an HD screen or a smartphone’s one.
And if people from different parts of the world see my work through Internet, then the men and women represented will be seen through a double filter: the painting and the screen. This is something we often forget: the difference between seeing an artwork in real and through a photo, printed or online. We all know the masterpieces of painting, but we haven’t all seen them in real in museums.
In some of the paintings of this series, the use of collage allowed me to insist on the fact that the painting (as well as the photo on which it is based) is a 2D image representing a real person whose intimacy is unknown, despite his/her public existence. The collage often comes from wallpaper, that is as much part of our everyday life as those celebrities. The collage pieces can be unpainted and contrast frankly with the rest of the portrait showing volume, or used, under the painting, as filigree that add layers – as filters – to the image. My inspiration here is the French artist Jacques Villeglé, who used lacerated street posters in order to create popular artworks. I use printed images to contrast with painted popular celebrities. I am also inspired by the Nouveau réalisme (new realism) movement and its ideas to bring art and life closer by using mainstream culture’s elements as a source of inspiration that can be included in artworks.
The subtitle of this series is Inspiring people. This series also has another purpose: I chose to portrait celebrities that I find inspiring, for different reasons, such as personifying creativity and extravagance, speaking about ideas that I value, encouraging self-acceptance, etc. Fame is a form of oligarchy that has always got the privilege of painting, but I prefer the term intelligentsia that emphasizes the power of music/TV/cinema/entertainment artists to promote creativity. Showing them through the medium of painting is also trying to give back to painting its original role that has today been taken by photography, and which in the past has always been representation and testimony of important people.
Ernest Pignon-Ernest is also an artist that inspires me a lot, particularly with his work of testimony of the Neapolitan life (1988-1995) during which he plastered real-size drawings of everyday scenes on the streets of Naples. My series of portraits aims to testify of dominant culture’s representatives who are celebrities, using the technique of acrylics portraits displayed on digital walls and art galleries walls.
Finally, perhaps I also tried to encourage people to get more interested in art and painting by associating them with the mainstream culture, as Pop art tried to free art from its elitist image.
- From 2021 – continuing portrait mixed with illustration and collage
Since the end of 2020, I felt that I had learned what I needed to learn from realistic painting. I started to feel again a craving for more spontaneous and expressive paintings. I have been influenced by my work as an illustrator. I want to show painting not only as an image, but also as shapes, colors, lines and matter.
Sarah Anthony, 2021. The images will follow.
2 portraits of this series, Dita von Teese and Julia Roberts have been exhibited at the Grand Palais during a major international art fair in February 2020.
Another one, David Bowie, has been exhibited in Galerie Thuillier, Paris in June 2020, and then at the Haute Loire international art fair, alongside my second David Bowie portrait in August 2020.
Here under are photographed details of my paintings. I like to see the evolution and the progress of my portait skills, one painting after the other. It is particularly visible when the pieces are together, even though the first paintings remain beautiful. I painted the portraits in the following order: Sophie Turner, Dita von Teese, Johnny Depp, Julia Roberts, Leonardo DiCaprio, Rihanna, Katy Perry.